Festival of India being Organized in Cambodia from 10th January to 16th February, 2017


Anna Ekström to visit India




On 7–13 January, Minister for Upper Secondary School and Adult Education and Training Anna Ekström will travel to India to take part in the Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit and for bilateral discussions. During her trip, Ms Ekström will meet India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and several of the country’s ministers.

Ms Ekström will take part in the Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit, which is India’s equivalent to the summit in Davos between representatives of governments and the business sector. This year, the Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit will focus on innovation, education, research, vocational training, start-ups, economic growth and social justice.

Selected programme points:

Monday 9 January

Visits an Indian vocational training school for young men and women in the automotive, textile and other similar industries.

Meets the Chief Minister of Gujarat, Vijay Rupani.

Takes part in the opening of the Vibrant Gujarat Trade Show and the Swedish pavilion together with Prime Minister Modi. At the Trade Show, Ms Ekström also meets Minister for Science and Technology Harsh Vardhan and Minister of Finance Arun Jaitley.

Takes part in the opening of India’s first smart city, Gujarat International Finance Tec-City, and an exhibition organised by Nobel Media.

Tuesday 10 January

Delivers the opening address at a symposium on basic research and applied research and its importance for innovation, organised by Nobel Media.

Speaks and takes part in the opening of the Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit together with Prime Minister Modi.

Takes part in a round-table discussion with Prime Minister Modi and others.

Wednesday 11 January

Speaks about the importance of basic education and vocational training at the Sweden Country Seminar, and takes part in seminars on smart manufacturing and smart cities.

Meets Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Nirmala Sitharaman.

Thursday 12 January

Meets Minister of State for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship Rajiv Pratap Rudy and Minister of Defence Manohar Parrikar.

Speaks at dinner for Nobel Laureates at the Swedish residence.







Press release: Equal opportunities for people who use British Sign Language



For the first time, British Sign Language (BSL) will be accepted as an alternative qualification to functional skills in English for apprentices where BSL is their first language.

Functional skills are qualifications that help people gain the essential, practical skills in maths and English they need and enable them to be confident in life and work.

This change will mean that apprentices will be able to take BSL as an alternative to functional skills in English – removing the unnecessary barrier that has been preventing them from getting on.

BSL isn’t simply English with hand signs, it is a different language with its own grammar and sentence construction. It is also totally different to other sign languages such as American Sign Language or Japanese Sign Language.

Skills and Apprenticeships Minister Robert Halfon said:

I am committed to breaking down barriers to ensure people of all ages and all backgrounds get on the ladder of opportunity through an apprenticeship.

For those whose first language is British Sign Language, this simple change will allow them to achieve their full potential. I look forward to implementing more changes like this to make sure apprenticeships can work for as many people as possible, whatever their background.

More people with disabilities have been taking advantage of high-quality apprenticeships. Figures show that in 2015 to 2016, 50,640 of those starting an apprenticeship declared a disability or learning disability (LDD). This is 9.9% of total starts and an increase of 14.8% on 2014 to 2015.

High-quality apprenticeships are essential to support our employers and address skills shortages facing industry so that everyone, regardless of background, gets the chance they deserve to succeed. English and maths are a key element of this.

Engineering apprentice Max Buxton (pictured) said:

Being deaf and dyslexic, I find English tests really hard. It’s very difficult to translate BSL into English and for it all to make sense. My employer has said how well I’m doing and doesn’t think my language skills are an issue, but I still can’t complete the apprenticeship without passing that test. It’s an unfair, unnecessary rule that has created a lot of stress, so I’m very pleased things are changing now.

Although more disabled people than ever before are doing apprenticeships, there is still work to be done to make opportunities more accessible to disabled people. A taskforce, led by Paul Maynard, has focused on issues faced by people with disabilities and made a range of recommendations which are now being implemented.

Notes to editors

  1. Find more information on the Maynard Review recommendations online.
  2. The Get In Go Far campaign is designed to inform and inspire young people to consider apprenticeships as valid and credible routes to a rewarding career. It also aims to increase interest and demand from employers in running apprenticeship programmes.
  3. It’s estimated that there are about 9 million people in the UK who are deaf or hard-of-hearing – it’s the third most common disability in the world. For more information, visit the British Deaf Association website.
  4. Max Buxton is an 18-year-old engineering apprentice with an electrical company from Nottinghamshire. He is both deaf and dyslexic and uses BSL.







News story: £52 million for UK universities to lead pioneering research projects in engineering and the social sciences



Imperial College London and the London School of Economics (LSE) have been awarded a share of £52 million to lead cutting-edge research in biomedical engineering and the social sciences.

The universities are the first research projects to be funded in the fifth round of the UK Research Partnership Investment Fund (UKRPIF) supporting the UK’s world-leading research sector to develop and transition high quality research from ideas to real-world solutions – delivering benefits to millions around the world and helping to boost the UK economy.

Imperial’s biomedical project will look to develop new treatments for some of the most pressing healthcare problems of our time, and LSE’s project aims to give us a deeper understanding of the causes and nature of inequality around the globe and the associated social, economic and political consequences.

Universities and Science Minister Jo Johnson said:

“Capitalising on the incredible research and innovation taking place in universities up and down the country is key to the UK’s long-term success.

“The successful bids from Imperial College London and the LSE demonstrate the breadth of the UK’s scientific expertise, and are exactly the types of projects our upcoming Industrial Strategy will look to support. This announcement – along with our investment of £2 billion per year by the end of this parliament for scientific research and development – highlights our commitment to ensuring we remain at the forefront of global science.”

Launched in May 2012, the UKRPIF supports higher education research to attract greater investment and strengthen the contribution of research to the UK economy. The fund is managed by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) in collaboration with other UK higher education funding bodies. All funding proposals are assessed by an independent assessment panel to ensure value for money and real scientific benefit.

The fund has already allocated over £450 million to 32 projects which are helping to support key UK industry sectors including life sciences and healthcare, telecommunications, manufacturing and engineering, aerospace, automotive, and energy; including Cranfield University’s Aerospace Integration Research Centre; University College London’s Institute of Immunity and Transplantation; University of Oxford’s Li Ka Shing Centre for Health Information and Discovery and the Energy Safety Research Institute at Swansea University.

HEFCE Chief Executive Madeleine Atkins said:

“These two projects demonstrate the role that our universities play in providing outstanding research for the benefit of the economy and society. They both bring together researchers from a range of backgrounds to pool their knowledge and expertise to create maximum benefit in biomedical engineering, and inequalities respectively.

“The UKRPIF programme gives excellent value for public funding by double matching finance from external sources.”

Harnessing the UK’s strengths in science and research is a priority for the government and will form a key part of the upcoming Industrial Strategy. An additional £2 billion per year for research and innovation will be invested by 2020/21 to unlock the full potential of the UK’s research base in areas such as robotics and biotechnology.

Further information on the Imperial and LSE’s research projects:

Biomedical Engineering Hub – Imperial College London – UKRPIF funding: £20 million

The Imperial College Biomedical Engineering Hub is a visionary new facility that will bring engineers, scientists and clinicians together, collaborating to develop solutions to some of the most pressing biomedical and healthcare problems of our time.

Based in the Michael Uren Biomedical Engineering Research Hub on Imperial’s new White City Campus, the facility will house a clinical facility side-by-side with multidisciplinary laboratories and offices for translational research initiatives. It is designed to facilitate the seamless translation of cutting-edge research into real-world clinical solutions.

The International Inequalities Institute – London School of Economics and Political Science – UKRPIF funding: £32 million

Understanding the complex causes, nature and consequences of rising inequalities is a pressing global challenge. The risks to social cohesion, democratic systems and economic prosperity demand evidence-based interventions.

The International Inequalities Institute will become the world’s premier centre for interdisciplinary research on inequalities. It will pool and facilitate the best research, and create a generation of scholars with the complex social science tools necessary to understand current and future inequalities. Purpose-built research facilities will spark new ideas and innovative solutions, involve research users in conception, design and delivery, and bring research ideas to practical implementation.







A New Year, A Fresh Perspective



Even though we are halfway through the school year, the start of 2017 is the perfect opportunity for a fresh perspective on my classroom. Just like I did with my home over break, I plan to reorganize my room and purge any resources that I no longer need. If I haven’t used it yet at this point in the year, chances are I don’t actually need it and it should go. Of course, I don’t want to throw out anything that could be useful to someone else, so I will give them away to a teacher, tutor, or student that will put them to good use. After all, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. A freshly cleaned classroom is a terrific landscape for exciting new projects.

By January, the routines and activities that we have in place can become dull and redundant to students, so this is a prime time to shake things up and try something different. I have always been interested in the idea of passion projects, and while I worry that third graders might be too young for it, I also remind myself to never underestimate the power of my students. Even if it doesn’t turn out the way I envision, I’ll never know what can be improved if I don’t try it, and there will be many lessons for all of us to learn as we go through the initiatory process. I will start by helping the kids identify problems they are affected by and brainstorming ways to solve them. No limits either, because I want them to aim high and see where it takes us. I plan to integrate technology, encourage kids to blog about their challenges and successes, and incorporate other pieces of our curriculum to model a project-based learning environment, which has been a goal of mine for a long time.

Setting new goals is another traditional part of the New Year, and that shouldn’t be limited to our personal lives, so I have been thinking about professional goals that I would like to reach in 2017. Since teacher leadership is a personal passion of mine, my list of things to do includes submitting applications for the plethora of opportunities that now exist. Most run on a calendar year so the deadlines are usually sometime in January. And, I’m excited to see what I can accomplish with summer professional development opportunities, too! I would be remiss if I didn’t plug the U.S. Department of Education’s School Ambassador Fellowship which is now open for applications until January 23rd. This Fellowship has stretched my thinking and taught me so much about policy and the importance of teacher voice, so I encourage you all to apply for a life changing experience!

While some may humbug New Year resolutions, I believe that it is always a good idea to reflect and improve, especially when it comes to how we engage with our students. I encourage you to take a few minutes and set some small goals for your classroom, too! Happy New Year!

Melody Arabo teaches third grade at Keith Elementary School in West Bloomfield, MI and is a 2016-2017 Teaching Ambassador Fellowship.