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Headlines for December 4 – 10, 2021

In this week’s headlines: Korea pilots robots in preschools, Shanghai plans to pilot and refine new digital teaching and learning experiences, Germany’s new ruling coalition plans to modernize the country’s education system, Quebec has announced scholarships for in-demand sectors, and Singapore plans to distribute mental health and cyber wellness toolkits to families.

Korea Pilots Robots in Preschools to Prepare Students for High-Tech Future

Preschoolers love sing-a-longs and read-a-louds. The “Alpha Mini” robot happens to be great at those tasks. That’s why schools in Seoul are piloting the tiny robots to be teaching aides in preschools. The robot stands at about 10 inches tall and responds to conversation by blinking and winking. It can also lead physical activities and engage with learners ages 3 to 6. A camera on its helmet takes photos that are sent to a tablet for instant viewing. “In the future, knowing how to manage AI and related tools will be very important,” says Han Dong-seog, from the Seoul government’s child care division. Read more in The Guardian.


Shanghai Plans for Digital Transformation of Education System


In the coming years, schools in Shanghai will pilot and refine new digital teaching and learning experiences. These will include immersive lessons incorporating augmented or virtual reality, so students can “visit” biomes or explore the insides of cells. Technology will facilitate cross-school collaborative teaching and peer-to-peer feedback conducted over the web. Artificial intelligence will diagnose student needs and develop individualized learning plans. Students and teachers will be able to access a unified digital infrastructure for tracking assessment results, grades, credentials, extracurriculars and parent-school interactions. That is all according to a “digital transformation plan” recently released by Shanghai’s Municipal Education Commission. China’s Ministry of Education has announced that Shanghai will serve as a test case for other municipalities. Read more here.

Modernizing Schools Part of New German Government’s Platform

Germany’s new leaders have pledged to modernize the country’s schools, including more money toward improving technology and broadband connectivity. Germany’s “traffic light” coalition, led by Social Democrat Olaf Scholz, was sworn in on Wednesday. As it rolls out its agenda, the three ruling parties say they want to create “contemporary learning environments and creative laboratories” in the classroom. They say they’ll give special attention to schools in socially disadvantaged areas, too. Read more about the agenda from Deutsche Welle.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz

Quebec Creates Scholarships for In-demand Fields, Including Education


Quebec’s Ministry of Finance announced CAN$1.7 billion (US$1.3 billion) in scholarships for students in six in-demand sectors to help address the province’s labor shortage. The fields are: social services, education, early childhood education and care, engineering, information technology and construction. Students are eligible for between  CAN$9,000 and CAN$20,000 (US$7,000 and US$15,700) toward completing their training. The government also announced paid internships for students in these sectors. Read more at MTL Blog.

Singapore Develops Mental Health and Cyber Wellness Parent Resources

Singapore’s Ministry of Education will distribute mental health and cyber wellness toolkits to families. They will help parents engage their children in open and constructive conversations about mental health issues. A recent survey of young people aged 12 to 35 found that 98 percent of respondents felt stressed, 88 percent felt lonely, 89 percent felt lost, and 36 percent have felt suicidal at some point. “We realize that parents may not know what is the appropriate language to use when their children share with them a mental health issue,” says Minister of State for Education and Social and Family Development Sun Xueling. She adds, “We want to normalize conversations around mental well-being issues—to let young people and, in fact, a whole society know that it’s okay to reach out.” Read more in The Straits Times here.

Singapore Minister of State for Education and Social and Family Development Sun Xueling
Singapore Minister of State for Education and Social and Family Development Sun Xueling