Friday, December 31, 2010

Right to Education Enforced from 1st April, 2010; Model Rules Prepared and Notified; Process of Aligning the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan with the RTE Initiated Legislations for Reforms in Higher Education Sector Introduced in Parliament All Round Efforts by HRD Ministry to bring in Reforms in Education Sector

Right to Education Enforced from 1st April, 2010; Model Rules Prepared and Notified; Process of Aligning the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan with the RTE Initiated
Legislations for Reforms in Higher Education Sector Introduced in Parliament
All Round Efforts by HRD Ministry to bring in Reforms in Education Sector
17:52 IST

The year 2010 was a landmark year for education in the country. The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009, representing the consequential legislation to the Constitutional (86th Amendment) Act, 2002, was enforced with effect from 1st April, 2010.The RTE Act secures the right of children to free and compulsory education till completion of elementary education in a neighbourhood school. The Act lays down the norms and standards relating to pupil teacher ratios, buildings and infrastructure, school working days and teacher working hours. The process of aligning the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan strategies and norms with the RTE mandate was initiated.

PREPARATION OF MODEL RULES UNDER THE RTE ACT

The Model Rules under the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act have been prepared and circulated/sent to State Governments to adopt/adapt the same while making their own rules.

FRAMING OF CENTRAL RULES:

The Central Rules under the RTE Act titled “The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Rules, 2010” was published in the Gazette on 9th April, 2010.

NOTIFICATIONS UNDER SECTION 29 AND 23 OF THE RTE ACT.

The Central Government has issued the following Notifications on 5th April, 2010.



(i) in exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (1) of Section 29 of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009, the Central Government has authorized the National Council of Educational Research and Training would be the academic authority to lay down the curriculum and evaluation procedure for elementary education, and to develop a framework of national curriculum under clause (a) of sub-section (6) of Section 7 of the Act; and



(ii) in exercise of powers conferred by sub-section (1) of Section 23 of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009, the Central Government has authorized the National Council for Teacher Education as the academic authority to lay down the minimum qualifications for a person to be eligible for appointment as a teacher.

LAYING DOWN MINIMUM QUALIFICATIONS FOR APPOINTMENT AS A TEACHER

The National Council for Teachers Education (NCTE) has vide Notification dated 23rd August, 2010 laid down the minimum qualifications for a person to be appointed as a teacher in schools.

FORMATION OF NATIONAL ADVISORY COUNCIL

Section 33(1) of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 provides for constitution of a National Advisory Council (NAC) by the Central Government. The functions of the NAC shall be to advise the Central Government on implementation of the provisions of the RTE Act in an effective manner. The National Advisory Council was constituted under the chairpersonship of Minister of Human Resource Development. Notification to this effect has been published in the Gazette of India on 8th July, 2010.

GUIDELINES ISSUED UNDER SECTION 35(1) OF THE RTE ACT:

a) Clarifications regarding Duties of teachers under Section 27: “Duties relating to election to the local authority or the State Legislatures or Parliament relate to actual conduct of elections and the consequent deployment of teachers on the days of poll and counting, the time spent on training imparted to them and collection of election material for such deployment. All other duties relating to electoral roll revisions will be undertaken on holidays and during non- teaching hours and non-teaching days.”

b) Procedure for admission in schools under section 13(1) and section 12(1)(c) of the RTE Act – i.e. the unaided and ‘specified category’ schools shall follow a system of random selection out of the applications received from children belonging to disadvantaged groups and weaker sections for filling the pre-determined number of seats in that class, which should be not less than 25% of the strength of the class and for remaining 75% of the seats (or a lesser percentage depending upon the number of seats fixed by the school for admission under section 12(1)(c), in respect of unaided schools and specified category schools, and for all the seats in the aided schools, each school should formulate a policy under which admissions are to take place

c) Applicability of RTE to Minority Institutions - Institutions, including Madrasa and Vedic Pathshalas especially serving religious and linguistic minorities are protected under Article 29 and 30 of the Constitution. The RTE Act does not come in the way of continuance of such institutions, or the rights of children in such institutions and schools of minority organizations covered within the meaning of section 2(n) of the Act, will be governed by the provisions of the RTE Act, 2009.

d) Relax the minimum qualifications required for appointment of teacher for a period not exceeding five years as required under Sub-section (2) of Section 23 of RTE Act to a state along with the prescribed format for seeking relaxation by the State.

e) For maintaining PTR mentioned in the Schedule to the Act, the States may undertake two processes within a period of six months

i) Rationalize the deployment of existing teachers to address the problems of urban-rural and other spatial imbalances in teacher placements and

ii) Initiate the process of recruitment of new teachers to fill vacant posts as per the PTR stipulated in the Schedule.



Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan



Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan is the main vehicle for implementation of RTE Act, 2009.



The major achievements of SSA till September, 2010 are



(i) Opening of 309727 new schools,

(ii) Construction of 254935 school buildings,

(iii) Construction of 1166868 additional classrooms,

(iv) 190961 drinking water facilities,

(v) Construction of 347857 toilets,

(vi) Supply of free textbooks to 8.70 crore children,

(vii) appointment of 11.13 lakh teachers

(viii) In-service training to 14.02 lakh teachers.

(ix) Central budget provision for SSA for 2010-11 is Rs.19000 crore, out of which Rs.15212 crore has been released to States/UTs till 30.11.2010.



GRADING SYSTEM IMPLEMENTED IN CLASS 10



2010 saw the initiation of the grading system at the class 10 level . It has also been decided to do away with Class X board examinations from 2011 in CBSE schools affiliated up to senior secondary level, for such students who are not moving out of the CBSE System. Further, students of class IX and X will be assessed on the basis on CCE (Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation) to be implemented at the school level.

MODEL SCHOOLS

The government has decided to set up 6000 high quality model schools at the rate of one school per block. During 2010-11, 401 model schools in 5 States have been sanctioned and Rs.229.51crore released as first instalment of central share,

The Project Approval Board(PAB) has also recommended 53 more schools in 3 States as mentioned below:



(i) Assam 24

(ii) Uttar Pradesh 3

(iii) Tamil Nadu 26



RASHTRIYA MADHYAMIK SHIKSHA ABHIYAN



This scheme was launched in March, 2009 with the objective to enhance access to secondary education and improve its quality and the implementation of the scheme started from 2009-10. It is envisaged to achieve an enrolment rate of 75% from 52.26% in 2005-06 at secondary stage within 5 years by providing a secondary school within a reasonable distance of any habitation.

During 2010-11, based on the Annual Plan proposals submitted by the State/UTs government upto 30.11.2010, the Project Approval Board (PAB) has approved following interventions in 13 States/UTs:

Ø New/ upgraded schools : 1257

Ø Additional class rooms : 8511

Ø Science lab : 4101

Ø Computer room : 2554

Ø Art/craft/culture room : 5359

Ø Library : 5095

Ø Separate toilet block

& drinking water facilities : 4330

Ø In service training of teachers : 459215





NATIONAL CURRICULUM FRAMEWORK FOR TEACHER EDUCATION



“National Curriculum Framework for Teacher Education” developed by the National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE) was released this year. Two significant developments – the National Curriculum Framework, 2005 and the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009, have guided the development of this Framework. The document deals with preparing and re-orienting teachers for enabling the child to learn through activities, discovery and exploration of his environment and surroundings in a child friendly and child-centred manner, inclusive education, perspective for equitable and sustainable development, gender perspectives, role of community knowledge in education and ICT in schooling as well as e-learning



COBSE UNANIMOUSLY ENDORSES CORE CURRICULUM FOR MATHS, SCIENCE AND COMMERCE FOR THE COUNTRY FOR PLUS TWO STAGE



The Council of Boards of School Education (COBSE) approved in two meetings, in the first one in Delhi a common core curriculum in Science and Mathematics, and in a later meeting in Jaipur, a common core curriculum for commerce, for the plus two stage, for the country. Most of the Boards were in favour of the implementation of the core curriculum for science and maths from the year 2011 and for commerce from 2012..



MOU SIGNED BETWEEN HRD AND RAILWAY MINISTRIES



An MoU was signed between the Ministry of Human Resource Development and the Ministry of Railways to develop educational infrastructure in the form of around 50 Kendriya Vidyalayas in civil sector (about 20 during the 11th Plan and the balance during the 12th Plan), 10 Residential Schools on the pattern of Navodaya Vidayalayas ( to be set up by Ministry of Railways in collaboration with Ministry of HRD on mutually agreed terms), an appropriate number of Model Degree Colleges and Technical and Management institutions of National Importance to meet the demand for education including wards of Railway employees, either as per the norms specified under the existing schemes/programmes and projects being executed by Ministry of Human Resource Development or through special programmes and projects mutually agreed by the parties or through innovative financing under Public Private Partnership Models or any combinational thereof.



NCTE PORTAL LAUNCHED



An NCTE Portal was launched which provides for on-line application for recognition of teacher education institutions, on-line submission of appeals, on-line registration of teacher education institutions, teacher educators and teacher trainees, and electronic processing of applications submitted on-line through MIS-integration.



MOU SIGNED BETWEEN HRD AND UIDAI



Ministry of Human Resource Development and Unique Identification Authority of India have signed a Memorandum of Understanding on 27th October, 2010 The proposed MOU would be helpful in tracking student’s mobility by creating an electronic registry of all students right from primary/elementary level through secondary and higher education, as also between the institutions. It would also be useful in the implementation of Mid-Day Meal Scheme. Imprinting of UID number on performance record of individual students (Marksheet.merit certificate, migration certificate) will also be helpful to prospective employers and educational institutions. UID number will help in tracking problems of fake degrees. UID can also be utilized while dematting of academic certificates as also education loan and scholarship schemes.



SAAKSHAR BHARAT



The Prime Minister launched Saakshar Bharat on 8th September, 2009 and it was operationalised w.e.f. 1st October, 2009. By 31st December, 2009, which is within six months of the Government’s decision, the Mission has been rolled out in 167 districts in 19 States, covering over 81,000 Gram Panchayats, with a budgetary outlay of Rs.2524 crore up to 31st March, 2012. In all 3.82 crore non-literate adults will be benefited in these districts. The Government of India’s share of Rs.374.35 crore, as the first installment, has been sanctioned. In 2010-11, 43 more districts are being taken up for implementation of Saakshar Bharat to cover over 11000 Gram Panchayats.





AN AUTONOMOUS OVERARCHING AUTHORITY FOR HIGHER EDUCATION AND RESEARCH BASED ON THE RECOMMENDATIONS OF YASH PAL COMMITTEE AND NATIONAL KNOWLEDGE COMMISSION.



The restructuring of the Higher Education sector, in the context of a knowledge economy that thrives on innovation, the ceaseless germination of new ideas and raising the consciousness of people, requires a new spirit of regulation that respects the autonomy of institutions amidst the need for accountability with opportunities for access to all. The establishment of an over-arching institution with power, inter-alia, to prescribe academic standard, norms of accreditation and mechanism for financing and governance of institutions, will enhance the endeavour to promote credible standards of higher education and research in the country. A Task Force has been constituted for aiding and advising the Government in the establishment of the Commission. The Task Force has submitted its report to the government on 21st October, 2010.



A LAW TO PREVENT, PROBIBIT AND PUNISH EDUCATIONAL MALPRACTICES



There is public concern that technical and medical educational institutions, and universities should not resort to unfair practices, such as charging of capitation fee and demanding donations for admitting students, no issuing receipts in respect of payments made by or on behalf of students, admission to professional programmes of study through non-transparent and questionable admission processes, low quality delivery of education services and false claims of quality of such services through misleading advertisements, engagement of unqualified or ineligible teaching faculty, forcible withholding of certificates and other documents of students. Responding to this concern, a comprehensive legislation that would prohibit and punish such practices has been introduced in Parliament in the month of May, 2010 to provide for prohibition and punishment for adopting of unfair practices.



A LAW FOR MANDATORY ASSESSMENT AND ACCREDITATION IN HIGHER EDUCATION THROUGH AN INDEPENDENT REGULATORY AUTHORITY



Objective quality assurance frameworks are needed for the student community to make informed choices about institutions and courses. Presently, accreditation is voluntary as a result of which less than one-fifth of the colleges and less than one-third of all universities have obtained accreditation. Mandatory accreditation in the higher education would enable the higher education system in the country to become a part of the global quality assurance system. A legislation has been introduced in Parliament in May this year to provide for mandatory accreditation of all institutions of higher education and creation of an institutional structure for the purpose. This is in accordance with the general principle of moving from “inspection approval” based mechanism of recognizing institutions to a “verification assessment” method, the attainment of which has often been stressed in public policy discourses.



A LAW TO REGULATE ENTRY AND OPERATION OF FOREIGN EDUCATIONAL PROVIDERS



A large number of foreign educational institutions are reportedly operating in the country. Some of them are resorting to various mal-practices to allure and attract students, particularly in smaller cities and towns. There is as yet neither any centralised policy nor regulatory regime for Foreign Educational Institutions in the country. The regulation on entry and operation of Foreign Educational Institutions is in the public interest to maintain the standards of higher education within the country as well as to protect the interest of the student’s community. An ideal regulatory framework could be one in which reputed institutes are able to enter and operate in terms of India’s national policy, while at the same time sub-standard or ‘fly-by-night’ operators are checked and controlled. The legislative proposal to regulate entry and operation of foreign educational institutions has also been introduced in Parliament.



A LAW TO ESTABILISH A TRIBUNAL FOR FAST –TRACK ADJUDICATION OF DISPUTES CONCERNING STAKEHOLDERS

The existing justice system suffers from delays and prolixity. Educational disputes need a fast-track and affordable adjudication mechanism. For this purpose, a legislation to establish Tribunals at the states and at National level, has been introduced in Parliament to perform the role of providing an independent, enforceable, speedy, fast track adjudication of disputes in a quasi-judicial manner in regard to students, teachers and other employees, between institutions and between institutions and the regulators. This legislation has already been passed by the Lok Sabha and is before the Rajya Sabha for consideration.

A LAW TO PROVIDE FOR ESTABILSHMENT OF UNIVERSITIES FOR INNOVATION

Another facilitating process has been set in motion, which contemplates creating institutions of excellence to attract world class faculty, advanced learning facilities and pure research oriented atmosphere. . Despite having one of the largest higher education systems in the world, only a few institutions of learning have been able to make a mark on the global stage. The contribution of the alumni of the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), the Indian Institute of Sciences and the Indian Institutes of Management(IIMs) have been widely recognized all over the world. Recognizing this, the government has proposed establishment of Innovation Universities aimed at world class standards. These Universities would be at the fount of making India and global knowledge hub and set benchmarks for excellence for other Central and State Universities. The proposal would also facilitate participation of reputed private sector agencies in establishment of these universities in PPP mode. A legislative proposal in this regard has been already formulated by the Ministry and the proposal in the stage of inter-ministerial consultations.

A LAW TO PROVIDE FOR NATIONAL ACADEMIC DEPOSITORY

The ministry has also formulated a legislative proposal for creating and maintaining a national electronic database of academic records and awards in de-mat form. What is envisaged is a shift from the current practice, through dematerialisation of certificates, to a technology-based solution that would ensure confidentiality, authenticity and fidelity, enabling online verification and easy retrieval of academic qualifications. Holding of academic qualifications in an electronic depository would provide immense benefit to educational institutions, students, alumni and employers by enabling online access of academic qualifications, eliminating the need for persons to approach educational institutions for obtaining transcripts of such qualifications or for verification as well as reduce the need for institutions to preserve records related to academic performance of students over a long time. The system could also eliminate fraudulent practices such as forging of certificates and mark sheets through facilitating online verification.

INDIAN INSTITUTES OF TECHNOLOGY (IITs)

The Government has set up eight new IITs in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Orissa, Punjab, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh (Indore) and Himachal Pradesh. Out of these 8, Classes for B.Tech. couses have been started from 2009-10 in IITs at Mandi (H.P) and Indore (M.P.). classes had already been started from July-August 2008 in 6 new IITs in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Orissa, Punjab and Gujarat .

INDIAN INSTITUTE OF MANAGEMENT (IIMs)

In view of the felt need for expansion of facilities for high quality management education, during XIth Five Year Plan seven new IIMs have been established in the country. The IIMs at Rohtak, Ranchi & Raipur have commenced their academic session from 2010-11. The IIM at Tiruchirappalli will be operationalized in 2010-11 with executive programmes and the IIMs at Udaipur & Kashipur would become functional from 2011-12.

LOW COST ACCESS –CUM-COMPUTING DEVICE UNVEILED

The Union Minister for human Resource Development unveiled a low cost computing-cum-access device in July this year. The price of the device is expected to be around $35 per piece. The aim is to reach such devices to the students of colleges and Universities and to provide these institutions a host of choices of low cost access devices around Rs. 1500/- ($35) or less in near future.

GATE ONLINE IN TWO SUBJECTS



Indian Institutes of Technology at Bombay, Delhi, Guwahati, Kanpur, Kharagpur, Madras, Roorkee and the Indian Institute of Science Bangalore successfully conducted online Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE) 2010 for two out of 21 papers this year. Examinations in two subjects, namely Textile Engineering and Fiber Science (TF), and Mining Engineering (MN) were conducted using computers by these institutes. About 1700 candidates were registered for these examinations which were conducted simultaneously in eight cities over two shifts.



E-GOVERNANCE MODEL FOR AICTE



The web portals of the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) and National Board of Accreditation (NBA) at URL://www.aicte-india.org and URL://www.nba-india.org respectively were launched in order to bring in transparency, accountability, efficiency and swiftness in its decision-making process. Through this portal, the processing of applications for approvals has been made on line this year.



INDIA AUSTRALIA EDUCATION COUNCIL TO BE CONSTITUTED



A landmark initiative to constitute the India-Australia Education Council has been agreed on by India and Australia A first of its kind, this Council will bring together government, academia, business and industry of both the countries to further bilateral collaboration in the education sector. Shri Kapil Sibal, Union Minister of Human Resource Development, and Ms. Julia Gillard, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, Australia decided upon this in a meeting held in Melbourne, Australia, in recognition of the fact that education is central to sustained, inclusive and equitable growth.



HRD MINISTRY FINALIZES SCHEME FOR INTEREST SUBSIDY FOR EDUCATION LOANS



Ministry of Human Resource Development has finalized the modalities for implementation of a new Central Scheme to provide full interest subsidy during the period of moratorium on educational loans for students belonging to economically weaker sections (with parental family income from all sources of less than Rs.4.5 lakh annually) from scheduled banks under the Educational Loan Scheme of the Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) for pursuing courses of studies in professional/technical streams from recognized institutions in India. The modalities have been finalized in consultation with the Indian Banks’ Association. The Scheme is effective for all IBA approved educational loans sanctioned in form of eligible students’ in respect of approval course of studies from the academic year 2009-10.



YALE UNIVERSITY ENTERS INTO PARTNERSHIP WITH IIT KANPUR AND IIM KHOZIKHODE FOR DEVELOPING LEADERSHIP PROGRAMMES



Indian Institute of Management (IIM)-Kozhikode, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) – Kanpur and Yale University, USA have entered into a partnership to advance higher education in India through academic leadership development programmes for higher education leaders in India and through research on Indian higher education..The flagship programme of the partnership will be a new “India – Yale University Leadership Programme,” to be developed by Yale University in consultation with IIM – Kozhikode and IIT – Kanpur, that will expose university and academic leaders in India at the levels of vice-chancellor, director, and deans to the best practices of academic administration and institutional management in the United States.



NATIONAL VOCATIONAL EDUCATION QUALIFICATION FRAME WORK

The HRD Ministry has initiated the process for the preparation of a National Vocational Education Qualification Framework. The first two round tables have been organized by the All India Council for Technical Education, (AICTE) for the development of a national vocational education qualification framework, the first one with regard to the automobile sector, and the second one with regard to the IT, ITES and Telecom Industry. More round tables are proposed to be organized in order to address a gamut of vocations. Subsequent to the discussions, to develop the course curriculum, core groups have been constituted for the preparation of the curriculum for the automobile, for the telecom and for the IT sector.. These groups are to submit their recommendations to the HRD Ministry within 3 months.
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'Will protest if schools hike fees'

'Will protest if schools hike fees'
By: Vatsala Shrangi Date: 2010-12-31 Place: Delhi

Parents' associations apprehensive of new admission guidelines in Delhi

Just a few hours left for 2011. And if your child is eligible, do remember that nursery admissions begin in Delhi schools tomorrow.


Parents and Guardians Queue up for the Nursery Admission Forms at
St. Michael's School in New Delhi. file Pic

The city government has basically left it to the institutions to decide their own criteria as long as norms of Right to Education (RTE) are adhered to. But parents' associations remain circumspect. There is a real possibility that schools might hike fees to accommodate the costs incurred by reserving 25 per cent seats for children from Economically Weaker Sections (EWS).

"We will certainly protest in front of every school building, if the schools hike fee in any form. It is against RTE. We condemn the actions of various schools in harassing and persecuting parents by adopting various illegal methods," said Ashok Aggarwal, President, All India Parents Association (AIPA).

School federations have hinted a fee hike, either of transport or extra-curricular activities. The burden would of course fall on those who are in the unreserved category.

"It is just not done; we will not let it happen. Also, we will install small camps near the schools to help parents through the admission procedure," said Aggarwal.
Coming of age

Children aged more than three years as on March 31, 2011 are eligible for nursery (pre-school) while four years will be the minimum age required for KG (pre-primary). However, parents can relax only after the high court decides on the issue in a hearing scheduled for January 11. "We have asked schools to keep the same age criterion as last year. The minimum age for pre-school is 3+ and it's 4+ for pre-primary. It's been like that for last so many years," said state education minister Arvinder Singh. However, confusion over age started after a petition was filed in the Delhi high court last week by NGO Social Jurist stating that Delhi government had not changed the entry-level age in schools from three to four years despite submitting an affidavit in the court in 2007.

Schools flouting RTE: Social Jurist to Minister Lovely

Schools flouting RTE: Social Jurist to Minister Lovely

Nursery admissions in Delhi schools have yet again run into a roadblock. After filing a petition in the High Court against the nursery admission guidelines finalised by the Delhi government, NGO Social Jurist has yet again written to Education Minister Arvinder Singh Lovely regarding various schools flouting the Right to Education (RTE) Act.

In the letter, Social Jurist has stated that advertisements placed by Shri Ram School, Vasant Vihar; Apeejay School, Sheikh Sarai and Pitampura; and Delhi Public School,

East of Kailash, have announced that they will admit children who are “three-plus” years of age to pre-school classes.

“Children admitted in pre-school of these institutions would be automatically promoted to pre-primary and then to Class I. In short, these schools are admitting children at the age of three-plus instead of four-plus, and are running two years’ classes below Class I. All this is in violation of the law,” it read.

Ashok Agarwal, advocate and Social Jurist president, said, “Admitting children aged three-plus to nursery classes is against the RTE Act. The child will still be five-plus when he/she gets into Class I, which is against what the RTE Act stipulates.”

The letter also said that the Education department had, in one of its 2007 affidavits, said that it would enforce four-plus as the entry age from the academic session 2008-09. “The same has not been implemented,” Agarwal said.

It sought that “immediate action be taken against the afore-mentioned erring schools, and also against other schools found violating the age rule”.

A new approach needed

A new approach needed
Higher Education
WE HAVE TO BE MORE INNOVATIVE IN OUR METHODS TO ACHIEVE BETTER RESULTS, SUGGESTS DR.FAROOQ AHMAD PEER
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The Department of Education was created in 1945 which was latter on converted into a full-fledged Ministry of Education and Higher Education was the first sector of education to receive attention of the Government of India. As a first step, the University Education Commission (1948-1949) was appointed, which recommended brisk and vigorous expansion of Higher Education as the main concern. Earlier, it was available for the privileged few who could afford to send their children for higher studies in posh cities but now, a huge number of institutions of higher learning have been established not only in urban areas but also in rural localities and the prospective learners are free to make choice for their studies keeping the deliverance of quality education in view. It is now imperative that any novelty made in the field of education should not be directed towards politicizing education but be directed towards a sincere effort of providing quality education which could make our lot someway fitting in the changing global higher Education system.
Kapil Sibal, the Human Resource Development Minister for the Union of India is fast establishing his reputation as a man who wants to reform the education system in India. Sibal intends to set up a Higher Education Commission (HEC) to keep under check the academic, financial, and accreditation aspects of Indian universities encompassing the roles currently played by the University Grants Commission (UGC), All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE) and Medical Council of India (MCI). Sibal had tried to introduce the Education Tribunal Bill during the last parliament session by ignoring the recommendations of the HRD studying Committee; he was combated by the angry reactions from the members of his own party led by K.Keshava Rao in the debate. He was compelled to drop the bill.
The much hyped innovation of Kapil Sibal’s Right to Education (RTE) legislation is also under stiff scanner from the state governments who put the point that they will be unable to bear the 35 percent share of the extra cost necessary to meet the target. The states like Bihar, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh are refusing to share the financial burden. Bihar needs Rs 28,000 crores to implement (RTE). Three lakh teachers are to be recruited and 1.5 lakh additional classrooms are to built to implement the programme. The state Government wants the centre to review its financial commitment before the Act is implemented in April 2011.The Right to Education is a central legislative which needs solid financial support to implement it. The West Bengal Government has estimated that Rs 20,000 crores shall be needed to implement the programme. Another innovation which Kapil Sibal wants is the Foreign Universities Bill (FUB) which is being examined by the Studying Committee, has come under the antagonism from the Health Ministry and Planning Commission. The government argues that the entry of Foreign Universities will help students’ access higher education with international standards but the Health Minister has raised objections that the mushrooming of Foreign Universities will lead to an exodus of trained medical faculty to these institutions. The Ministry stresses that at present there are no safeguards or protections to keep hold of their trained staffers. The HRD Ministry has refused to address their concerns and at the same time Studying Committee members are favourably inclined towards the Health Ministry’s concerns. Sibal also wants to have a Common Entrance Test (CET) for admissions to undergraduate and postgraduate courses for all Central University colleges and institutions.
With the expansion of knowledge at global level, the education sector especially the higher Education system has mushroomed recently throughout the world to meet the ever-increasing need of trained manpower for mounting economies of the world. The Countries, notably, America has adopted a target of providing higher professional education on mass scale to meet the ever- increasing demand of professional education for millions of people. In fact, education has been a driving force in shaping the civil society and also the catalyst for extraordinary economic growth and generation of employment opportunities for millions of young people. Post-independence India has witnessed a greater need of professional education and the 21st century promises to be harbinger of a different environment for human development in all walks of life including education. It is going to be a knowledge drama century resulting into a need of greater reform and innovation in all education-related activities like teaching, pedagogy, learning processes, evaluating methods, curriculum-renewal, academic administration, etc. In the era of global competitiveness, we have to exercise paramount care to preserve our concerns to perceive that our higher education system does not lose relevance in international arena.
In the era of these fast emerging changes, there is a need for global managers with qualities of leadership and competencies in global standpoint. To achieve this goal, higher education of high quality enabling the trained managers to face effectively the global as well as local issues, is needed.
If we look at the higher education system of our J&K state, deficiencies and shortcomings are evident at every stage and everywhere. Our state without having a concrete policy and planning has tried to make a mushroom growth of institutions in the shape of colleges and Universities. The establishing of colleges and Universities has taken place more on the basis of political rather than on societal/ideological considerations. If we look at the past 18 new colleges were established in 2005 and 18 in 2008 in the state to make higher education accessible to the remotest areas. Another score of eleven colleges is to be realized and one of these colleges has been announced as well as located. The colleges established are offering traditional courses to pursue which have lost relevance in the emerging economic scenario of the world. Moreover, these colleges are still under-staffed, without buildings, infrastructure and other necessary facilities. The Provosts of these colleges put the point that requisitions for the ministerial as well as teaching staff have been put up before the Government but are still under consideration. The two Central Universities established before two years are yet to be realized into reality about which a great commotion was created in the state. The Central Universities have been given only Vice-Chancellors and other officials to notify advertisements and the slow growth of these may take two decades for the aspirants of education to dream of preferring their studies here rather than roaming in other states for admissions. Recently, Greater Kashmir in its Editorial dated December 20 2010, Monday (13 Muharram 1432 AH) had stressed that Kashmir valley needs more Engineering Colleges to create skilled and professional human Resource. The argument of the editorial is sound because we will have to do away with the traditional kind of colleges and create colleges which offer courses for which our students visit the outside states while investing huge money. It is the time now to convert eleven more colleges into professional colleges and establish them at suitable locations. This bold decision by the Government will be a big feather in its cap.
In spite of these hiccups of our Educational sector, the J&K state may be the first state to support Kapil Sibal’s adventures or misadventures and there is no surprise that J&K state may ask Kapil Sibal to announce a foreign University in the state without any philosophy. The need of the times is to ponder over our policies about the educational system while keeping in view the new trends at the global level. Certainly, our colleges and universities are providing traditional and redundant kind of knowledge to our students and it may reform and refine them with sound ideas but it may not make them a force which could escalate the economic strength of the State. The towering world leaders like the President of America, France and China have made it clear that economic integration is their goal to lift their nations. They want their younger generations to become a skilled and trained workforce. Our educationists, policy makers and yeomanry need to realize that our institutions of learning also now ought to provide such education which produce best managers who in turn may boost the State’s economy. Instead of establishing traditional/ habitual colleges and universities, we need to change our attitude and establish such institutions which produce workforce with IT blending as to accelerate the social capital which is seen as one of the critical factors in developing and maintaining competitive advantage.
The winds of education have now become stronger after globalization. Economies of the world have become rapidly integrated and a fast trend is emerging to unite the world countries through this kind of innovation. We as a Kashmiri nation cannot remain alienated and isolated from the rest of the world and our contact with the world is possible only when we follow the modern and unique approach of higher Education adopted by the advanced countries. New approach in education will play a key role in our rapid economic growth paradigm coupled with rising income levels which shall usher a change in our lifestyles.

Corporate cash for education- Govt removes legal shackles

Corporate cash for education
- Govt removes legal shackles
BASANT KUMAR MOHANTY

New Delhi, Dec. 30: The government today threw the education sector open to investment from corporate houses in a big way by allowing them to set up institutions under Section 25 of the Indian Companies Act, a demand denied so far.

The private sector was so far allowed to set up educational institutions only as registered trusts or societies. The Union human resource development (HRD) ministry will now allow these to be set up as not-for-profit institutions under Section 25.

These institutions can make surplus from education but cannot divert it for any purpose other than expanding the same institution.

The decision is expected to lead to a rapid rise in private investment in higher education. The Reliance Group recently said it planned to set up a world-class university.

HRD minister Kapil Sibal announced: “We will henceforth allow companies registered as non-profit entities under Section 25 of the Companies Act 1956 to establish technical institutions to allow good corporates to set up institutions. However, no joint venture can apply for this.”

Corporate houses have been demanding such a provision for a long time, saying it is much easier to function as a Section 25 company than as a trust or society.

“It is a good decision. A lot of serious players will come now. They will set up institutions and provide quality education,” said Anjan Roy, economic adviser to business chamber Ficci.

P.T. Giridharan, joint director at the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, said Section 25 companies are formed as not-for-profit organisations to promote commerce, art, science, religion, charity or any other useful activity.

He said that like any other company, these educational institutions set up under Section 25 will now be regulated by the ministry of corporate affairs.

“They will have to submit their income-expenditure statements to the Registrar of Companies under the ministry of corporate affairs. In case of any irregularity, the ministry can order inspection under Section 209 of the Companies Act,” Giridharan said.

Unlike limited companies, though, these institutions will get exemption from certain strict provisions of the Companies Act, such as convening statutory meetings of members.

“Education is on the concurrent list of the Constitution. Now this decision will bring these types of companies under the realm of central legislation, namely, the Companies Act 1956. Trusts’ functioning comes under state laws,” Giridharan said.

Like a society but unlike a trust, a Section 25 company can be dissolved. After dissolution and settlement of all debts and liabilities, the company’s funds and property can be distributed among its members if the memorandum signed at the time of registration says so, an official said.
Top

Dropouts drop your frowns, Goa to get own open school

Dropouts drop your frowns, Goa to get own open school
Gauree Malkarnekar, TNN, Dec 30, 2010, 01.15am IST

Panaji: Goa is set to get its own open school when the new academic year begins. The Goa board of secondary and higher secondary education deliberated on the nitty-gritty of its set up at its general body meeting last week. A sub-committee will be formed to discuss the various aspects related to the school's formation.


Goa Board secretary, D R Bhagat, confirming this development said, "We are planning to set up an open school from which dropouts can benefit." The state open school, like the one set up by Karnataka and Maharashtra, is being proposed with the aim of drawing school dropouts back to classrooms by providing them with an organized system of education.


While Board officials did not wish to reveal further details without their executive council's nod, sources informed that the board is planning to admit only those students that have passed the standard VII exam and completed at least 15 years of age to the Goa State Open School. "This way students will not be tempted to leave regular school and join open school instead," sources said. "There will, however, be no upper age limit restricting students' entry to the school" they added.


If everything goes according to the Board's original plans, one centre will be set up in each talukawhere classes will be heldwith the main office in Panaji. Open school students will appear for five subjects in the standard X and XII exams. The Board is also planning to offer vocational subjects such as photography, hotel management and others related to the tourism sector so that, the curriculum is appealing to students and also provides them with career opportunities.


The school will provide education up to class XII outside of formal schools. However, there were two schools of thought shared by the Board's general body members. While some were of the opinion that the Goa Board itself should run the open school and conduct its exams, others felt this would lead to more students dropping out of schools to appear for the open school exams. It was, therefore, decided that a sub-committee should be formed to discuss and chalk down the best means to operate the school.


The State Open School will either follow the state board syllabus or a separate syllabus could be mooted as per the state's requirements, aimed at reducing dropout rates. The school will get the status of an independent body, but will be looked after by the Goa board of secondary and higher secondary education.


As per the Goa Board's estimates, over 4,000 students from the state answer the class X and XII board exams from the national open school every year. Around 13,500 students appear for the class XII exams under the Goa Board each year and approximately 17,000 appear for the class X public exams every year.


As per the statistics of the National University of Educational Planning and Administration (NUEPA), the transition from primary to upper primary level in Goa was 79.22% as against the national average of 81.13%. The average dropout rate in Goa according to the statistics was 13.18% as against the national average of 9.36%.

Kerala madrasas ahead of north counterparts: Study

Kerala madrasas ahead of north counterparts: Study

New Delhi An NCERT (National Council for Education Research & Training (NCERT) study terms Kerala madrasas as “reformed” networks that are introducing a variety of modern subjects and pedagogical tools — in contrast to the stereotypical madrasas of north India.

The study titled, A Study of Madrasas of Kerala: An Overview, has been conducted by Prof Sushma Jaireth, Reader in the Department of Women’s Studies of NCERT along with junior fellows Shiraz S and Khadija Siddiqui. While there is no madrasa board in Kerala, the madarsas — most are concentrated in Malappuram and Thiruvananthapuram districts — by and large boast of a reasonable infrastructure, the study reveals.

The study has further found that madrasas are fast embracing the English language and computer education.

“A lot of emphasis is given to English and computer education along with Islamic education. These skills are imparted in a specialised manner by these institutions from first to final year,” the NCERT study notes.

Those in Malappuram were even found going the extra mile to help their students not only do their 10+2 level but also complete their graduation and post-graduation from recognised universities.

On the other hand, madrasas running an Islamic course under Majlissu Talimul Islami, the NCERT study says, have a specially designed curriculum, which is a mix of subjects like Arabic, Sociology, Economics and Commerce offered at graduate and post-graduation levels.

“It is significant to mention here that the whole Islamic education system has been highly influenced by Islamic reformist movements like Jamaat-E-Islami Hind, Kerala Chapter and Kerala Nadvathul Mujahideen, which have brought radical changes in the school of thoughts and philosophies, hence modernising people’s mindsets”, notes the report. While the medium of instruction in most madrasas is Arabic or English, some also use Malayalam.

Elephant in the room

Elephant in the room
The policy of having a school near every habitation has built in a difficult challenge for our schools and teachers

I am writing this from Shorapur, a 10-hour drive from Bangalore, and I am admiring India’s achievement in the past couple of decades of having schools at accessible distances from habitations. In this truly remote block, every village that I have visited has a government school with a decent building.

This is not surprising, because by 2006, 98% of habitations in India had a primary (up to Class V) school within 1km, and 86% had an upper primary (up to Class VII) school within 3km. The numbers have grown since, with a clear focus on “being near every habitation”.

This means a staggering increase in the number of schools. At the time of independence, India had about 130,000 schools. Today we have about 1.4 million. About 7 million people work in our school education system. This is by far the largest education system in the world.

Factor in the cultural, linguistic, socio-economic and developmental diversity, and you also face the most complex education system in the world. This system has about 210 million students.

This massive expansion has not resulted in actual learning in those schools. We have lots of schools now, but precious little real education. The causes and challenges are many, this column is about a specific one.

The design of this expansion has inadvertently “in built” a difficult challenge for our schools and teachers. This is one of the hurdles in the path towards real learning and improvement in quality of education. As a result of this strategy of “being near every habitation”, the number of students in our schools (especially rural ones) is small. Each school has just about as many as can come from the nearby habitation. Within that small number, the students span all age groups. A school may have 115 children, but the children will span an age range across 6 to 13.

Now, even if this school were to have three teachers, which is more or less at the current national average of one teacher per 39 students, the teachers would need to handle multiple age groups simultaneously. This is called “multi-grade” teaching—in this case seven “classes” would have to be handled by three teachers.

If you talk to practitioners, they say this is much more difficult then handling a class of same age children. It requires special training, different methods and different skills.

And we have built this challenge of “multi grade teaching” into almost all village schools by the way we have handled the expansion. One of the most complex teaching challenges has become a part of the everyday job of most village teachers, who by general admission are inadequately equipped and ill supported to deal with academic challenges.

It’s not as though we did not have a choice of another model of expansion. China in comparison has about 700,000 schools, including vocational training ones, and spanning about 250 million children.

The Chinese system has about half the schools, and about 20% more students, compared with India. Roughly, the average student number per school in China is 2.25 times that in India. China has followed a route of consolidation; we have followed one of dispersion. The former leads to an exponential drop in the “multi-grade” load of teachers, as is the case in China.

Two factors played a dominant role in the choice we made.

The first was our policymakers’ single-minded focus on “literacy”, and keeping learning outcomes and quality of education on the backburner. The second was the pragmatic assessment that getting children to travel away from their habitations, with our kind of infrastructure, was not possible. There seems to have been an almost implicit assumption that “let’s do literacy first, and then we will see about quality”. The whole expansion got designed for that. I would speculate that things like “multi grade teaching” and its challenges were practically overlooked.

Those choices were made under certain circumstances. Sure, these could have been better, but they could also have been a lot worse. What matters is that there is now no way to unwind or reconfigure the system.

We can and must still deal with it. That requires significant teacher capacity development, improved classroom practices and appropriate curriculum. It’s these fundamentals that need to be worked on and invested in

In fact with a capable, well-trained teacher and appropriate curriculum, multi grade teaching can be a learning enhancer. In Machagondal Camp, 10km from Shorapur, I met Uma who, in her early twenties, is a government teacher in the local school. She has handled class 1 toV for the past two years, all on her own, and the children have learnt. She was the only teacher in this one room school till a couple of months ago.

I have seen this happen in other government schools in this block, alive with enthusiastic well-trained teachers, using the “nali kali” curriculum.

There is hope, but to truly address the problem, we have to first notice and acknowledge the elephant in the room, inadvertently let in by having schools in every habitation.

Anurag Behar is co-CEO of AzimPremji Foundation and also leadssustainability initiatives for Wipro Ltd. He writes every fortnight on issues of ecology and education. Comments are welcome at othersphere@livemint.com

To read Anurag Behar’s previouscolumns, go to www.livemint.com/othersphere

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Private schools in Karnataka may have their way in implementing RTE

Private schools in Karnataka may have their way in implementing RTE
Published: Wednesday, Dec 29, 2010, 9:21 IST
By Maitreyee Boruah | Place: Bangalore | Agency: DNA

Considering a suggestion from the private school lobby, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), Karnataka, is toying with the idea of scrapping the powers vested in the Block Education Officers (BEOs) under the Karnataka state draft rules of the Right to Education (RTE) Act, said an official of SSA.

A special committee is likely to be constituted by the SSA to look into the matters which were previously entrusted to the BEOs.

A BEO’sjob is to manage schools in his or her jurisdiction. The primary responsibilities of a BEO under the RTE Act include keeping a close vigil of schools to know whether they are providing free education to 25 % underprivileged children, mapping of schools in the neighbourhood, framing of the academic calendar and fixing the date of examinations of schools among others.

The SSA official told DNA that most private schools in Karnataka had expressed their reservations against arming the BEO with powers to decide on academic and administrative functioning of schools.

The private school lobby includes schools affiliated to the state, Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE) boards.

Before the RTE Act came into force, the CBSE and ICSE schools were functioning independently and decided on their own curriculum and school calendar. However, under the RTE Act, all schools would come under the purview of BEO.

“The idea is to empower a group of selected people under a committee to take key academic and administrative decisions, instead of the BEO,” said Prabha Alexander, junior programme officer of SSA.

“We have come to the conclusion of forming a committee and scrapping the powers of BEO after receiving suggestions from several private schools,” she added.

Sources in the state department of public instructions said most recommendations and suggestions received by the SSA clearly showed that the private school lobby was determined not to lose its autonomy under the RTE Act.

According to figures available with SSA, Karnataka has about 200 educational blocks, which is further divided into 2,500-odd clusters. Approximately, 47,000 government schools with Kannada, Urdu, Tamil, Telugu and English as their medium of instruction are operating in these clusters.

But, it’s not about students, is it?

But, it’s not about students, is it?
Compiled by Shruthi Balakrishna

While the implementation of RTE heralded a new era in the country’s formal schooling process, the scrapping of MCI aimed at cleansing the medical education system in the country. The field of education has seen a revolution of sorts in 2010.

As far as education is concerned, 2010 has been quite an eventful year. Be it the scrapping of the 76-year-old Medical Council of India (MCI) or the implementation of the Right to Education (RTE) Bill, the education sector has seen it all. Here’s a quick look at some important developments that took place in the field of education in 2010:

*National Commission for Higher Education and Research (NCHER) will replace UGC, All India Council for Technical Education and National Council for Teachers’ Education. Once NCHER comes into existence, all higher educational institutions will have to seek authorisation as per norms laid out by the new body. As per the draft, all universities will, for the first time, be brought under the ambit of the Right to Information Act on the ground that they are public institutions.

*The prestigious Common Admission Test (CAT) 2010 was conducted smoothly, unlike last year, when technical glitches marked the exams. Over 2 lakh candidates across the country appeared for CAT.

*Karnataka Government hiked the fee for all engineering courses by Rs 5,000.

*Tentative dates for CET 2011 have been announced as April 27 and 28.

*Bangalore University has made provisions for transgenders in its post-graduate application forms. Unfortunately, the university has not even got a single student. The National Law School of India University (NLSIU) is also contemplating on making similar provisions for transgenders in the Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) 2011.

*The Human Resources Development (HRD) Ministry has derecognised 44 deemed universities, spelling uncertainty for nearly two lakh students who are enrolled with them. The ministry's decision amounts to an acknow-ledgement of irregularities in conferring the “deemed” tag to these institutions under the first UPA Government.

*HRD Ministry is planning to create a national database of academic qualifications in the electronic format to authenticate and reissue certificates.

*The National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) will redesign curriculum for students of Class 1 to 10 wherein various areas such as body, food, nutrition, social life, sports, health, hygiene, emotional and psychological factors will be covered.

*The Central Board for Secondary Education (CBSE) has taken a huge step towards offering equal opportunity to all children seeking education, including those with “special needs”. The Board has reminded its schools that admission cannot be denied on the ground that students are differently abled.

*The Union Cabinet cleared the Foreign Educational Institutions (Regulation of Entry and Operation) Bill, which aims to allow foreign universities to set up campuses in India.

*The much-delayed Bill that will allow Karnataka to set up its first private university was cleared. The university will train teaching and non-teaching staff in imparting quality education to students from primary to high school. It will also offer degrees and diplomas in subjects such as education management, education policy, elementary education, technology education, etc.

*The Union Cabinet has cleared the long-pending Right To Education Bill, which provides for free and compulsory education to children in the 6-14 years age group.

*CBSE plans to set up health and wellness clubs in all its schools across the country to promote safe sanitation practices.

*The decision to give 15 minutes extra time to students appearing for SSLC exams was taken to give students sufficient time to read the question paper carefully and revise their answer scripts.

*The Karnataka Secondary Education Examination Board (KSEEB) revised the exam paper pattern. The focus shifted to more essay-type questions after there were complaints from various quarters that objective-type questions hampered students’ writing skills.

*Union Minister Jairam Ramesh, at a convocation ceremony of the Indian Institute of Forest Manage-ment, Bhopal, ripped off the convocation gown he was wearing and described it as a “barbaric colonial legacy”. He also ridiculed the custom of young graduates tossing their hats up in the air.

*The State Government changed the school timings for the academic year 2010-11. Following requests from parents and teachers, the government decided to begin school at 9.30 am and close at 3.30 pm.

*Tainted with charges of corruption, the 76-year-old Medical Council of India was dissolved and replaced by a six-member panel of eminent doctors to carry out its duties.

An ordinance dissolving the all-powerful body, formed to regulate medical education in the country, was signed by President Pratibha Patil and notified by the Law Ministry. The six-member panel is headed by eminent doctors.

*In the largest act of philanthropy by an Indian, Wipro chairman Azim Premji will give about Rs 8,846 crore ($2 billion) to improve school education in India.

*The CBSE-conducted engineering and medical entrance examinations could be redesigned and held online if the premier education board has its way. The Centre for Assessment, Evaluation and Research, which CBSE has planned to set up with a partner organisation on public-private partnership mode to carry forward reforms in education, will have a core group which would go through this entire exercise. The group will fall under the Centre’s Department of Research and Assessment and assume responsibility for developing SAT-equivalent assessments.

*The Karnataka State Council for Higher Education will soon release a common academic calender with information on admission dates of various universities and when the results would be announced. A decision has also been taken to prepare a perspective plan for higher education in the state within the next six months.

*Nearly 20,000 seats have gone abegging this year, leaving empty classrooms across 187 colleges in Karnataka. The speed at which engineering colleges were opened in the state has not kept pace with demand for BE courses. This year, only six colleges have filled up all their seats.

*Visvesvaraya Technological University (VTU) Vice-Chancellor H Maheshappa landed in trouble for allegedly submitting false and misleading information at the time of his appointment.

*The Medical Education Department has given its nod to add 930 MBBS seats in nine colleges across the state.

*Bangalore University has come out with another shocker after the recent decision to collect admission fee every year from students. Now, the varsity plans to nearly double the fee for distance education courses.

*The prestigious National Law School of India University (NLSIU) could take the lead among L-schools by setting up an offshore centre in Dubai for its distance education programmes.

*Brand IIM finally goes overseas. With the HRD Ministry giving the IIMs the green signal to open centres abroad, IIM-Bangalore will launch its first long-duration executive education programme in Muscat (Oman) in January.

*The government has made it clear that both children and parents should not be subjected to testing and interviews during admissions.

*Bruhat Bangalore Maha nagara Palike (BBMP) has decided to introduce CBSE syllabus in its schools. In wake of this, BBMP schools, which have poor infrastructural facilities and moderate academic records, might get a revamped look. The pilot project will be taken up at Srirampura School to facilitate quality education to children from the marginalised sections of society.

*Australia’s once-booming education sector is now bracing for tougher times with tighter immigration rules and attacks on Indian students resulting in falling enrolments, prompting experts to question the government's policies.

*The Bar Council of India (BCI) has decided to derecognise more than 30 law colleges while 20 others have been sent notices to improve infra structure. In addition, unlike in the previous years, the BCI has decided to approve only 20 of the 70 applications for the setting up of new law colleges.

*The Karnataka Government will soon set up a Pre-University Examination Board to iron out glitches in the career-critical second PU exams. The PU Exam Board will kick off in 2011 and will handle only exam-related activities.

Parents worry as schools prefer neighbours to siblings

Parents worry as schools prefer neighbours to siblings
Published: Thursday, Dec 30, 2010, 0:10 IST
By Puja Pednekar | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA

Gone are the days when having a sibling already studying in the school of your choice guaranteed admission.

This admission season, educational institutes have begun following the Right to Education Act (RTE) guidelines that give preference to neighbourhood students over siblings of existing students. Parents, who have one child in the school but who live far away, are concerned that their other children may not get admission into the same school.

Jigna Dholakia, a resident of Kandivli (West), has a son studying in Senior KG at Thakur Public School, Kandivli (East). She is finding it difficult to get admission for her second daughter in that school.

“The school is giving preference to parents from Kandivli (East), and so we are at the bottom of the list. In the past, admission was virtually guaranteed for siblings. I had selected Thakur Public School because it gives equal importance to sports and academics. No other school in our area has a similar policy,” she said.

Deepti Srivastav, a parent whose daughter studies at Children’s Academy, Malad, said that her son was unable to secure admission in the same school. He is now studying in a school close to her house in Goregaon. “It’s a nightmare to have two children studying in different schools. It becomes difficult to coordinate their schedules, school activities, and trips,” she said.

Most of the schools in the city are following an RTE clause that requires them to prioritise neighbourhood children.

“The RTE talks about neighbourhood schools, where students living in the vicinity are given admission before those who don’t. We are following the law,” said Shama Mohan, principal, Thakur Public School.

Seema Buch of Gundecha Academy said that this clause is a nuisance for schools as well. “We used to admit siblings of existing students, because we had a history with the parents. We knew that they were responsible. But now this new clause forces us to admit parents we know nothing about,” she said.

While the law gives priority to neighbourhood children, parents argue that it is beneficial for them to have their children studying in the same school, as it helps in time management. “Having two children in separate schools can be a parent’s worst nightmare. It becomes easier to coordinate their open house days, sports days, annual days, etc,” added Dholakia.

Also, in times of emergency, it is easier to pick children from one school itself instead of running helter-skelter between schools, say parents. Moreover, parents feel that having both children in the same school increases the bonding between the siblings. “If they are in the same school, we feel secure that they will be there for each other. They are also able to help each other out with their homework.”

Meanwhile, some schools continue to follow the traditional procedures of admission. “In our school, we still give preference to siblings. But mostly the admission is on first-come-first-serve basis. Whether the parent lives in the neighbourhood or has a sibling in the school, he or she will get admission only on the basis of who filled the form first,” said Swati Popat, head of Podar Jumbo Kids.

Notify rules before issuing instructions: Schools to education dept:

Notify rules before issuing instructions: Schools to education dept:

In response to a notice issued recently by the UT Education department instructing schools to conduct draw of lots for admissions up to Class VIII, private schools have said the notice cannot be followed until the instructions are notified.

“The RTE (Right to Education) is applicable only after notifying the rules framed by the respective states. It is clearly instructed by the Centre that each state and Union Territory needs to notify its respective rules in accordance to the Act. The schools will not have any issue in following whatever is legal, but till that time, the administration cannot force us on such instructions. If the UT Administration is late in getting the rules notified, why should the schools pay for it?” said H S Mamik, president, Independent Schools Association.

Some schools termed the notice as a decision taken without deliberation and in a hurry.

“The Education department seems to be in a hurry in implementing the Act. At the same time, it should not be forgotten that the implementation has to be initiated from the entry classes. The department needs to get its act together and work on the implementation in the government schools,” said Gurpreet Bakshi, Principal, St Kabir School.

“Schools can follow instructions only to a certain extent. The school follows the first-come-first-serve system for admissions to entry classes,” said Harold Carver, Principal, St Stephen’s School.

DPS principal Reema Dewan said the draw of lots is not the only solution. “It would be a compromise with the quality of children being admitted to the school. If this is implemented for higher classes, merit would not have any significance and it would all be based on the luck of a child. There can be certain interpretations of the Act and if, through deliberations, certain modifications are made, it should be accepted by the administration,” she said.

St John’s School principal Kavita Dass said such instructions cannot be imposed on a minority school like St John’s.

Relearning the lesson

Relearning the lesson

Teaching is one of the most idealised professions in the world. We’ve all seen movies where a teacher transforms a rowdy and self-absorbed bunch of kids into well-behaved and self-actualised creatures. We’ve also seen grim news stories about brutal disciplining methods and open exploitation and shaming that occur in the classroom. Now, in an attempt to bridge the gap and restore “dignity and integrity” to the job, a four-member panel of the National Council for Teacher Education has recommended a 23-point code for teachers across public and private schools. Like doctors and lawyers, educators will also be subject to a set of ethical do’s and don’ts which will span contentious areas like private tuitions and corporal punishment. New teachers will be administered an oath to abide by, and schools will set up ethics committees to deal with violations, which could face serious consequences like revoking the licence to teach. Teachers are the first figure of public authority one ever encounters, and it makes sense not to let that authority be untrammelled. Their every action makes a strong impress, and their behaviour is a powerful determinant of a child’s cast of mind. They can’t afford to appear arbitrary or self-interested.As the Right to Education Act becomes reality, we will have to explore ways of making teachers accountable. Internal regulation is a good idea, but has often foundered in practice — the Bar Council of India and the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India have been conspicuously tardy in identifying and punishing professional and ethical breaches, and the Medical Council of India was a whole sorry saga by itself. These bodies have also tended to distort higher education in their res-pective fields, often twisting the process of accreditation and recognition for personal profit. The ambit of the educator’s code may not be that wide, but it covers important ground — for instance, not using the classroom as a pulpit for any personal belief or propaganda, not accepting any kind of gift from students, parents or educational publishers, and maintaining the confidentiality of student information. Whatever final shape the teachers’ code takes, it is bound to be a step forward.

RTE light flickers in the storm of resistance

RTE light flickers in the storm of resistance
Arunima Rajan and Shamsheer Yousaf, Bangalore, Dec 28, DHNS:

The educational climate in the State witnessed positive changes this year, thanks to the Right to Education (RTE) Act, which provides free elementary education to children aged 6 to 14.

The year began on a high note with the UPA government enforcing the Act on April 1. Addressing the nation, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said: “In my childhood, I read under the dim light of a kerosene lamp. I am what I am today because of education, and I want every Indian child, girl and boy, to be so touched by the light.”

The Act is a breather for almost 85 lakh children in Karnataka who rely on State-run schools for their elementary education. Some of the benefits proposed for children include free admission in a neighbourhood school, quality education, etc.

Despite resistance from the private school lobby, the Karnataka government is busy preparing draft rules for the Act. According to recent figures released by the Sarva Siksha Abhiyan (SSA), the implementing agency, it has received nearly 2,000 suggestions from various stakeholders. The SSA is in the process of finalising the draft rules by the end of the current year. Later, they would be submitted to the State government.

Favouring the Act
Supporters of the Act say it has brought the private school lobby under the scanner of the State government.

“The Act gives power to the state government to monitor the private school lobby. Further, it enlists numerous parameters for delivering quality education in schools,” said A S Seetharamu, an SSA consultant. The retired professor of ISEC also noted that the Act had also decentralised the management of schools as they also have to set up a committee.

The State already has a headstart with respect to other states on the formation of school management committees (SMC), the monitoring agencies for the RTE at the school level. The existing school development and management committee (SDMC) will function as the SMC under the RTE Act. However, SDMCs currently do not extend to private aided and unaided institutions.

“SDMCs will be extended to private aided schools, while the existing Parent Teacher Association (PTA) in private schools will function as School Management Committee,” an SSA official said.

Under the RTE Act, the State government is to establish a school within a walking distance of a kilometre of the neighbourhood for classes I to V, and three km for classes VI to VIII. In order to achieve the objective, the SSA is planning to launch a school mapping exercise that will identify all children, including children in remote areas, with disability, belonging to disadvantaged groups, and to weaker sections of society. The SSA has decided to use a GIS-based system to collect such data from field surveys.

Draft rules
Nevertheless, there is a lot more to be achieved. Private schools are continuing to resist the legislation in many ways. According to experts, some key clauses of the RTE Act, such as 25 percent reservation, would be difficult to implement in the coming year as the SSA is yet to submit the draft rules to the government. Even if the SSA manages to submit the draft rules to the government by early January, implementation of the key clauses will remain doubtful. Most private schools started their admission process as early as November and will wrap it up by early next year.

Moreover, the State has appeared to miss the deadline on a host of other issues. For instance, as per the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Rules, 2010 (Central), the State government is yet to estimate the teacher requirement, and also to notify the sanctioned strength of teachers to schools.

The State is also yet to compute the reimbursement of expenditure per child, which is supposed to be paid by the State government to schools for enrolling children from poor and weaker sections of society.

Primary, upper primary school records to go online

Primary, upper primary school records to go online

Come March and information about primary and upper primary schools in each block of the state will be available online.

The state Education Department, under the Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), will computerise all its Block Resource Centres (BRCs) and make information of each primary and upper primary school available online. The step, say officials, will help them maintain records of the schools and keep track of the number of children studying in each school.

The state project director, K Ram Mohan Rao has already issued orders to districts for purchase of computers and other equipment, which has to be completed by December 31. The computerisation of the records will be completed by March 2011. Funds have been released as well.

“This is a big project and will help us create transparency and track each and every student in the government primary and upper primary schools,” said an official. “So far, all records of these schools were only on paper. Often, we got complaints that in order to inflate the number of students enrolled, a child’s name was featured in two different schools in the block. But now, when all the records will be computerised and available online, it will be easier for us to keep track.”

The BRCs are centres created by the education department under the ‘upgradation of skills and providing quality education project’.

There are 820 BRCs across the state providing training to teachers and resource material on innovations in education. Under the project, each BRC will be given Rs 1.20 lakh to purchase computers and kiosk set. The department also plans to connect the BRCs through broadband connection, but since telephones and electricity are still a problem in rural areas, it will be done later.

Apart from details like the location, infrastructure, number of students, number of teachers and contact details of the principal of each school, other documents which will be computerised include attendance records of students, which will be monitored quarterly.

Basic Shiksha Adhikari of Allahabad, Brijesh Mishra, said: “After the computerisation of BRCs, it will be easier for us to make all the information available online. Resource persons will not have to run to the district office to give information. They will just email it and it will be uploaded on the district website.”

Computer textbook goes red with errors

Computer textbook goes red with errors
OUR CORRESPONDENT
A page from the computer textbook marked with mistakes. Telegraph picture

Guwahati, Dec. 28: How many spelling mistakes can you expect in a school textbook supposedly prepared by a body of experts and released to the students after several rounds of revision?

If you go through a computer textbook, provided under the Rajiv Gandhi Computer Literacy Programme and being read by thousands of students in the government schools of Assam, you will find an average of six to 12 mistakes on a page.

These books, written in Assamese and distributed to students from Classes V to XII, have been prepared by NIIT, a well-known institute of the country.

Thousands of students have been reading these books since 2004, the year the programme was introduced in the state.

The errors include misspelt words, missing symbol and letters, wrongly and unnecessarily placed symbols and strange words and phrases inserted in sentences.

For example, instead of the symbol used for the vowel “o”, one will find recurrent use of the symbol meant for “hraswa u”. Again, instead of the letter “mudhoinnya ta” one will find “kha”. The textbooks are a storehouse of hundreds of misspelt words. Incorrectly used personal pronouns make some sentences extremely funny.

The All Assam Computer Teachers’ Association (AACTA), which brought the problem to light this afternoon, has appealed to organisations like the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU), the Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chatra Parishad (AJYCP) and the Asom Sahitya Sabha to take steps against such “distortion of the Assamese language”.

The association alleged that the state education department was turning a blind to this “extremely important aspect” and by distributing these books among the students the state government would ruin their future.

“The misspelt translations of computer technical terms confuse the students. They often cannot make out the head or tail of the sentences,” a teacher, who is a member of the association, said.

The association said Dispur’s entire effort to impart computer education to students had become practically useless because of mismanagement, lack of infrastructure and negligence.

It also alleged “misutilisation” and “siphoning” of money sanctioned by the Centre for the project.

“The Rajiv Gandhi Computer Literacy Programme has failed to serve the students properly as the state government has entrusted profit-oriented private companies to implement the task. Instead of concentrating on providing proper education, these companies are only concerned with churning out maximum profit,” the association’s general secretary, Hiranya Kumar Bora, said.

He said neither were the computer textbooks distributed on time this year not could the examinations be conducted on time because of numerous problems.

“Moreover, as the supply of electricity remains disrupted for days in most of the rural areas, we cannot teach the students,” he added.

Bora said the 3,500 teachers appointed under the Rajiv Gandhi Computer Literacy Programme would start a statewide agitation from January 1 to press for removal of these problems.
Top

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Nursery admission age to remain 3 years

Nursery admission age to remain 3 years
TNN, Dec 29, 2010, 04.48am IST

NEW DELHI: While parents fret over whether the minimum age required for nursery admission this year is three plus or four years, government insists that the schools will go by the same age criterion as last year. Going by this, children aged more than three years as on March 31, 2011 are eligible for nursery (pre-school) while four years will be the minimum age required for KG (pre-primary). However, parents can relax only after the high court decides on the issue in a hearing scheduled for January 11.

"We have asked schools to keep the same age criterion as last year. The minimum age for pre-school is 3+ and it's 4+ for pre-primary. It's been like that for last so many years," said state education minister Arvinder Singh. However, confusion over age started after a petition was filed in the Delhi high court last week by NGO Social Jurist stating that Delhi government had not changed the entry-level age in schools from three to four years despite submitting an affidavit in the court in 2007. The court had then asked for a list of schools admitting children below three years of age. "The government had accepted in the affidavit that there would be just one class before primary and the entry age would be four years. They still have two classes pre-school and pre-primary. The admission process will get stalled if the court decides otherwise," said Ashok Aggarwal, founder, Social Jurist.

Surprisingly, government had not mentioned anything about the minimum age required in the admission guidelines issued on December 15. But speaking to Times City on Tuesday, Singh insisted that the government was already following the age criterion as mentioned in the affidavit. "We had submitted that the minimum age at entry level would be 4+ and that's what it is for pre-primary where formal schooling starts," Singh said.

Supplementary readers for classes VI to VIII in Jan

Supplementary readers for classes VI to VIII in Jan
TNN, Dec 29, 2010, 12.33am IST

CHENNAI: Designed to encourage children to read outside of their textbooks, a new set of supplementary readers is set to reach schools in the state in January. In the second phase of the initiative, the books will cater to students from classes VI to VIII.

"We plan to give a set of books to each school, 47 books for English, 50 for Science, 15 for Social Science and 47 for Tamil. The books are light, reader-friendly and have been made attractive for children with a lot of pictures," an official associated with the project said.

Intended to sharpen students' observation skills with each book slated to have a learning outcome woven into it through activities like storytelling, the books for Social Science and Tamil have been prepared by teachers and block resource teacher educators (BRTEs) from the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan while Science books are being developed in consultation with the Tamil Nadu Science Forum (TNSF) while the English books are being sourced from the National Book Trust, the official added.

Teachers will be instructed to allow students to read these books for 45 minutes during the lunch break since middle school students have lunch breaks that last an hour and a half. "We are planning to send out a circular asking teachers of each classroom to maintain a log indicating the usage of the books. The log would contain details of the name of the student, which book the student had borrowed and a student's impression of the book," an official said.

According to TNSF vice-president N Madhavan, the organisation had given the SSA the copyright for one-time publication of books since it had supplementary readers on themes such as science, society, nature and science inherent in transactions in the kitchen.

As an English teacher at Panchayat Union Middle School, Venkatesapuram, Kancheepuram district, he added, "A large proportion of students from government schools hail from downtrodden families who don't find books other than their textbooks at home. These books are intended to make children curious, make them want to learn more about various developments around the world. They are designed to create an appetite for reading in children and I have seen it work on students before."

More classrooms for Meghalaya- Target to boost education in villages

More classrooms for Meghalaya - Target to boost education in villages
OUR CORRESPONDENT

Shillong, Dec. 27: The Meghalaya government has recently decided to construct an additional 1,000 classrooms even as it is preparing for the implementation of the Right to Education Act.

The aim is to boost education in the rural belt.

Speaking to this correspondent, education minister Ampareen Lyngdoh said: “Come next year and we will be given sanction for the construction of 1,000 additional classrooms in government schools under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan.”

“We want to restructure the academic cycle especially at the elementary level so that we are able to provide better services to the children,” Ampareen said.

She said construction of the classrooms would be done in a phased manner and cost of construction of each classroom had been pegged at Rs 5.25 lakh.

On engaging teachers to teach in the additional classrooms, Ampareen said it would depend on the institutions.

She, however, said the education department would be training teachers for institutions that are in need of teachers.

Ampareen said as of date, the department has a corpus fund of about Rs 2 crore for the purpose of training teachers.

On the Right to Education Act, Ampareen said her department would issue a notification to all government and deficit schools by the first week of January for the implementation of the act.

She said on January 10, she would meet officials from the state social welfare department to discuss the need to institute the commission for the protection of child rights which is mandatory under the act.

“The commission, which would be a quasi-judicial body, would be at the state, district and sub-divisional levels,” Ampareen said while adding the commission would ensure that children are not left out of schools and they get quality teaching.

While stating that the implementation of the act would be the biggest challenge in 2011, Ampareen highlighted the major achievements of her department this year.

“Apart from restructuring the department, we have been able to appoint teachers in lower primary schools while we have also managed to appoint teachers in the various vacant posts in the upper primary, secondary and higher secondary schools,” she said.

She said for the first time the department had decided to allow students appearing for the secondary and higher secondary board examinations to get their answerscripts re-evaluated.

“We will be sending the examiners and evaluators for special training programmes so that they are able to know how to shorten the evaluation period of answerscripts,” she said.

Ampareen also said the education sector expected to receive around Rs 4 crore annually from the cess imposed by the government on cement factories.
Top

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Digital record of students to track dropouts

Digital record of students to track dropouts

The state government has decided to maintain digital database of all the children in the age group of 6 and 14 years to help it implement Right To Education in an effective manner. Through the database, the government would monitor every child that would help them identify the school dropouts.

“There will be a co-relation between the data available with the local authorities and the data with school education department that would help in identifying the school dropouts and bringing them back to schools,” said Dibyen Mukherjee, Director, School Education.

“Project Dipankar — Child Tracking system” has been already been launched in four districts — Howrah, Hooghly, North 24-Paraganas and Kolkata — as a pilot project. Officials of school education department said the districts for the pilot project were chosen on the basis of the availability of resources present there to carry out such an exercise.

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The state has a school dropout rate of 5.7 per cent, as per the latest figures of Annual Status of Education Report published by an organisation called Pratham. While in a majority of the districts, the school dropout rate is below the state average, in districts like Malda and Murshidabad it is as high as 10.5 per cent and 8 per cent respectively.

According to Mukherjee, the data available from the pilot project would pave the way for the implementation of the scheme in rest part of the state.

As part of the exercise, the officials will collect the details of every child enrolled in Class-I. The details will include student’s name, address, photograph and the school where he or she is enrolled.

These data will be stored in computers and a database will be created from these details. The child’s attendance will be monitored and once the school dropout will be identified, the officials could reach to the child’s family by making use of the database.

Implementation of RTE Act highpoint of education in 2010

Implementation of RTE Act highpoint of education in 2010

NEW DELHI: Implementation of the Right To Education Act heralded a new era in the country's formal schooling process while deferment of a key bill on tribunals came as a major setback for the government in its efforts to reform higher education sector during the year.

The government came up with four crucial education reform bills including one on allowing entry of foreign universities in India, but the deferment of the tribunal bill threw a spanner in its efforts to carry through the reforms process.

The Oscar Fernandes headed Parliamentary Standing Committee, to which the tribunal bill was referred, questioned the HRD Ministry's "hurry" in rushing through the bill without holding proper consultation with all stakeholders.

While it made several recommendations, HRD Minister Kapil Sibal rejected them, triggering resentment from Opposition in Rajya Sabha including his own party member K Keshava Rao.

Similarly, the Foreign Educational Bill came in for criticism from Left members who contended that allowing "foreign teaching shops" would "distort the already elitist educational structure in the country", bringing further discomfort to Sibal.

It has been referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee.

Sibal, however, pushed ahead with his reforms agenda announcing 14 new innovative university and allowing IITs to start courses on medicine and recruiting foreign faculties to meet teacher crunch.

His ministry also decided to set up a committee to suggest a suitable entrance model for engineering examinations while doing away with multiple entrance tests and reducing burden on students.

All these measures came as the Prohibition of Unfair Practices in Technical Educational Institutions, Medical Educational Institutions and University Bill, the National Accreditation Regulatory Authority Bill were also introduced during the year.

On the RTE front, the government committed Rs 2.31 lakh crore till 2014-15 for the programme but poor school infrastructure and shortage of teachers still remains a challenge.

In November, fresh guidelines were issued under the Act amid confusion among schools about admission norms, with the government making it clear that children or parents should not be subjected to "testing and interview".

It said there should be no profiling based on education or qualification of parents.

City needs 20 new govt schools: Survey

City needs 20 new govt schools: Survey

If school mapping recently undertaken by the UT Education Department for the implementation of the Right to Education Act is to be believed, as many as 20 more government schools are required in Chandigarh. Depending upon the population density in certain areas, new schools have been proposed in certain pockets. Not only the requirement of new schools has been proposed but additional infrastructure has been been sought in the existing 105 government schools in the union territory.

“Of the 20 schools, nine are approved and the construction has started. Three schools would be developed under the Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) while the remaining would be sent for approval soon,” said Secretary Education Ram Niwas.

The survey revealed that Manimajra requires the maximum number of schools. In addition to the existing 5 schools, which includes two senior secondary , one model high and two elementary schools, 3 elementary schools are required in the area.

“At present, there are around 15,000 students enrolled in these five schools. Still, there is a requirement for three more schools. Two of them have already been approved under SSA and the third would be sent for approval to the Government of India,” said Director Public Instructions (Schools) P K Sharma.

About the periphery areas, one new school each would be developed in Daria, Kishangarh and Hallomajra. In the city, a total of four new schools would be developed with one school each in sectors 45, 48, 49 and 51.As per the authorities, as far as developing additional infrastructure in the existing schools is concerned, the model high school in Sector 12 would be upgraded to the senior secondary level. “The infrastructure would be upgraded at an estimated cost of Rs 6 crore. In addition to these schools, stress would be laid on upgrading the Alternative Innovative Education Centres from the coming session. This year, the number of students enrolled in these centres is 8,000 which is expected to increase in 2011,” said Sharma.