Oman Parents and Schools Can Track Student Performance With CampusLIVE

Computer-based systems are available in modern schools and universities across the world. Oman is adopting its own. CampusLIVE, a software that allows students to create their own academic profile, can allow their parents and educators to access their accounts and review information regarding their academic performance to their yearly fees.

According to the general manager of the IT company who made the software, Shiv Gupta, CampusLIVE allows routine sending of updates to parents by e-mail or SMS. Parents may view their student’s education, sports and extracurricular activities using different web links.

The school may also post tips on dealing with bullies, career development and supplementary educational material for their students. Teachers may also share resources with families to help them identify the possible career their children could have. Disciplinary remarks may also reflect on the child’s profile in the network.

Private schools, such as Assafwah Private Schools, are welcoming the system and said they parents of their students have a huge interest in the development of CampusLIVE and its implementation.

As of today, 11 schools in Oman are using the system. The Oman-exclusive software will also be released with fully Arabic features and will feature effective security measures depending on the clearance of the student, parent, teacher or school official.


Economists See PPI as a Booster to the UK Economy

A survey done by reveals that majority of consumers are using their PPI refunds to have vacation holidays or to purchase a new vehicle. A small majority only saves their refunds or uses it on clothing and gadgets. The survey also showed that UK consumers were quick to spend their PPI refund, contributing greatly to the UK economy.

Economists said the payout of £13.3 billion, which had already reached consumers, is equivalent to 1% of the UK GDP, a very effective “spend” signal that is better than quantitative easing or tax reductions. An increase in car sales from 2012 to the first quarter of 2014 is attributed to PPI.

An average PPI can pay out at least £2780-3500 for consumers. The amount is enough to afford medium-cost travel packages or a down payment for a new vehicle.

The survey showed that at least 19% of consumers who received their PPI compensation used it to purchase new home appliances. Some 17% of the recipients used the money to pay existing debt. The remaining saved the money or used them to buy apparel and groceries.

Mis sold PPI is the UK’s largest financial scandal in history with banks, including the Big Four major banks, setting aside £20 billion for mis sold PPI claims.

Oman’s Teachers Double in Number Within a Decade

According to the Oman National Centre for Statistics and Information, the number of teachers in the classroom had doubled from one teacher for every 19 students in 2002, to one teacher per 10 students in 2012. The numbers show that the number of students enrolled in classes had declined boosting the ratio to close on each other.

However, it was also due to the efforts of the government to improve the educational standards in the country. The Oman Ministry of Education spending had increased by 279.8 million Rial to 925.2 million Rial in 2012. Education accounted for 6.8% of total government expenditure in 2012.

The Oman MOE had also provided 59.8 million Rial to construct new educational facilities and to upgrade existing facilities. The number of general education schools in Oman had increased from 1,019 to 1,043 in 2012.

Oman currently has 444 private schools, 39 foreign schools, six vocational centres and other literacy centres.


US and Iran Must Support Each Other to Stop Middle East Violence

As Syrian regime troops continue to push on against rebel positions in Aleppo in Syria and Egypts’ political climate is still at its worse, the US and Iran become key figures in helping to avert the crises in the middle east. However, in conflict with each other, political analysts advise that the only way through the middle east conflicts is support from both sides.

Iran recently refused its role the US suggested on the Syrian peace talks or Geneva 2, which is to happen on January 22. Aside from Iran, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the opposition rebels will be in attendance in the Geneva 2 talks. Despite the slated date, exchanges between Syrian regime and rebels continue.

Syria is also in danger of al-Qaeda militant invasion, which is using Iraq as a “safe passageway” towards fierce fighting in Syria.

However, Washington and the Syrian opposition is arguing that Tehran had supported Assad with manpower and arms as the uprising continued in the country. UN Special Envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi had also backed Tehran’s involvement.

Despite the US-Iran sanction and nuclear enrichment reduction, there is minimal improvement on the outlook of the US against Iran regarding the Syrian civil war.

Iran had given no indication to take any of the US’ suggestion regarding its role in Syria.


Mis Sold PPI Refunds Help UK Economy Grow Further

The increasing numbers of consumers getting back their complete refunds were also music to the ears of UK economists. Experts said that payment protection insurance contributes heavily to the United Kingdom’s economic recovery as more households mobilize local economies and increase interests in properties.

An average PPI claim could cost around £3000-3500. However, lenders such as Halifax or HSBC could possibly introduce you to higher fees for your insurance policy. If you’re making a PPI claim from Halifax for example, their PPI and other financial repayment are also included in an increased interest rate.

According to economists £3000-3500 in cash instead of a tax deduction makes the money more a windfall and helps motivate people to spend. The motivation to spend, use the money as down payment for further investment or re-invest the money in the stock market helps the local economy, which improves prices.

The Office of National Statistics previously had a theory regarding PPI withholding consumer spending in the past few years. In the first two quarters of 2013, they reported a 15% increase in the number of car registrations with over 27,000 new vehicles named in different areas of the country.

The PPI scandal could be the most expensive scandal to hit the UK with a projected total of £20 billion, but the timing for economic recovery and better reclaiming services could not have been better.

Sultanate of Oman Donates $1.8 Million to Smithsonian Museum

The Smithsonian National Museum of African Art announced that the Sultanate of Oman had given a $1.8 million donation in support for the programs intended to celebrate the Omani and East African arts and culture. In its official press release, the museum said that it was the “largest single donation to the museum” that it ever had.

The National Museum of African art is dedicated to the collection of Africa’s traditional and contemporary artworks. The museum’s new programs will begin in 2014.

The programs will highlight the cross-cultural connections of East and Northern Africa and the two’s relation to the Middle East. The programs also highlight the evolution of Oman’s arts and cultures, focusing on the beauty of Omani arts and the connections it has with East Africa.

According to the museum’s director, Johnetta Betsch Cole, the donation from Oman marks a significant milestone for the entire museum. The unique gift, along with an extended collaboration with the Sultan Qaboos Cultural Centre in Washington, makes the entire 50th Anniversary of the museum a very special occasion.

She said that they intend to bring the Omani arts, culture and tradition into greater global awareness as it is a very special and unique culture that is not too known in the mainstream.


Friends of Syria, Arabian Foreign Ministers to Discuss the Syrian Crisis

The Friends of Syria group, comprised of Egypt, France, Italy, Jordan, Qatar and other Arab nations will convene in London to discuss how they could resolve the Syrian crisis through a peace conference in Geneva on November. Britain Foreign Secretary William Hague said that the meeting aims to persuade the Syrian opposition to unite with a single decision in discussing peace treaties with the Syrian regime.

The Syrian Opposition had agreed to attend the talks, but still, factions in its core do not agree to meeting a negotiation halfway with the Syrian regime. The Syrian regime and President Bashar al-Assad said that the parties involved in the peace talks were people only representing their countries and not the Syrian people, which shows his perspective that the peace talks may be less fruitful than expected.

President Bashar al-Assad said that he will be running for re-election in 2014. The Syrian National Coalition had said that it will not agree to any negotiations if al-Assad remains in power.

US Secretary of State John Kerry also observed the same notion and said that Assad, who had bombed and launched a chemical attack against his people has no right to stay in power and the Syrian opposition sees that he has no legitimacy to remain in power in the future.

Egyptian Courts Ban Muslim Brotherhood Activities

According to experts, banning the activities of the Egyptian political party the Muslim Brotherhood will only increase the tensions between pro and anti Mohammed Morsi supporters. Egyptian courts have banned all the activities of the political group, which might threaten the presence of Islamists in the Egyptian political system.

Experts said that this was a crucial blow to the Muslim Brotherhood and both supporters and opposition to the group might view the move with conflicting interpretations. To supporters and the political group itself, experts said that they might see it as the return of their condition during the dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak, who banned all the activities of the Muslim Brotherhood.

However, analysts also said that the Brotherhood also brought itself to its demise because it could have persuaded Mohammed Morsi to step down from office voluntarily, thus avoiding the great civil unrest in the country. Their hesitation to accept other social and political forces, namely in writing the Egyptian constitution that began the entire situation, had brought them to this state.

The military and state government also played a great negative role in the crisis. Ousting the president and declaring co-political party members as terrorists who threaten national security urges the people to view the Egyptian military as having their own agenda.

Egypt Military Assault Kills Several Sinai Militants

A coordinated advance by the Egyptian military had left several Sinai militants killed in the northern Sinai Peninsula. At least nine militants were killed. The Egyptian military lost two soldiers during the skirmish.

The assault is part of a military operation that would hunt down Sinai militants responsible for the attacks in the region since former Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak’s deposition in 2011. According to military officials, some of the Sinai militants belong from an al-Qaeda group that intends to establish an Islamic region in Northern Sinai.

Increased activities from these militant groups continue as the Egyptian military deposed President Mohammed Morsi from office. Many Sinai locals said that armored trucks and vehicles with militant men have moved around the villages.

Military officials said that they aim to clear the region of militants. Army spokesman Col. Ahmed Mohammed Ali confirmed the kill of nine militants. A great number of suspected militants were caught. Those who escaped fled into the mountainous areas in central Sinai.

In the last two months, the Egyptian military had destroyed many underground tunnels that served as the passageway of the militants, which they use as a smuggling network for resources, weapons and people.

However, many people said that the Egyptian military might also have a hidden agenda. Many anonymous residents admitted to local reporters that the military also attacked some civilians and pro-government locals.

Mr Mugabe Vows To Further ‘Empower’ Black Zimbabweans In Private Sector

Robert Mugabe has once again won the election in his country and has been quick to pick up where he left off, as he vows to press on with his policy of forcing all companies to cede economic control to black Zimbabweans.

“Indigenisation” was also one of his main campaign issues for last month’s election. Mr Mugabe duly rejected all claims by his opposition that the voting was rigged. During his speeches, Mr. Mugabe has constantly brought attention towards his view that black Zimbabweans need help as they faced discrimination during white minority rule, which ended in 1980. His controversial policy of seizing most of Zimbabwe’s white-owned farms is widely seen as having caused the country’s economic collapse from 2000-2009.

Mr Mugabe says giving black native Zimbabweans further control of the business sector is the next step in his plans for the country. He also said the election result had given him a “resounding mandate” to do so. He added that the policy was in fact the “final phase of the liberation struggle” and “final phase of total independence”. Foreign-owned companies have already been heavily pressurised to ensure they are at least 51% locally owned – again, a controversial policy which some analysts say has scared off potential investment from abroad. The main targets of Mugabe’s nationalistic policies have been local operations of foreign-owned mining companies, according to Reuters news agency, while experts say banks could be next.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which says Mr Mugabe had rigged the election, boycotted the rally to mark Defence Forces Day. Mr Mugabe lashed out at his opponents by saying that his critics could “go hang”, in his first public speech since the suspected disputed election. It was the establishment of a power-sharing government, in 2009, that stopped Zimbabwe’s economic meltdown, through which the local currency abandoned. Mr Mugabe’s allies have suggested that the Zimbabwean dollar could now be re-introduced but they have expressed their concerns that this would not happen soon.

His critics have protested that much of the land seized from white farmers, occasionally partnered with multinational firms, was either given to his cronies or to people who simply lacked the expertise or resources to use it productively. In return, Mr Mugabe retorts that Western powers are sabotaging Zimbabwe’s economy because of his anti-colonial stance. The Constitutional Court is beginning to consider Zanu-PF’s legal challenge on Wednesday, following a two-day public holiday.