Thursday, February 24, 2011

Himachal students to get hardship allowance for walking to school

Himachal students to get hardship allowance for walking to school

353 primary schools with low attendance to be shut, others will be merged with schools that have more strength

Students of nearly 353 primary schools in Himachal with an attendance of less than 10 students for the last couple of years will get a special hardship allowance of Rs 600 per annum as compensation from the government for walking to the next nearest school. These low attendance primary schools distributed evenly across all districts will be closed down from the next academic session beginning in April 2011.

There are nearly 2,300 students from these schools and they will now have to walk down to the nearest primary school, situated within a distance of three kilometres of their previous school, according to the norms laid down under the Right to Education (RTE) Act .

Director, Elementary Education, Rajeev Sharma said it was found during the rationalisation exercise that only 10 students each or less were studying in as many as 777 schools. “There are three categories of such schools. The schools with low attendance that have another primary school within a distance of 1.5 kilometres with a higher attendance will be merged with the latter. There are 248 schools in this category, but affected children of these schools will not be entitled to hardship allowance. The students affected from the closure of the second category of low-attendance schools (353), where the next nearest school is located between 1.5 km and 3 km away, will get Rs 600 per annum hardship aid from the government, said Sharma.

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The aid will be given to students at the end of the academic session. This is a unique feature introduced by any state as part of implementation of the RTE Act conditions, claims the director.

The third category has 177 schools with low attendance, but these will not be closed down or merged and instead run as branches of the next nearest school. “This is in case where the nearest school is beyond 3 km or has to be accessed after crossing through difficult terrain like gorges or dense forests. Such schools will get one teacher from the nearest school,” said Sharma.

The number of low attendance schools is highest in Shimla district — 161 — followed by Kangra (152) and Mandi (79).

Monday, February 21, 2011

Govt school heads to serve as private school exam controllers

Govt school heads to serve as private school exam controllers

Bid to curb copying in class X and XII board examinations

To curb the menace of copying in class X and XII board examinations, Punjab Education Minister Sewa Singh Sekhwan has recently issued instructions to all District Education Officers (DEOs) of the State to appoint headmasters and principals of government schools as examination controllers at the examination centers of private and affiliated schools. But with this decision, there is a hue and cry among affiliated schools of the state and they have threatened to boycott the examinations.

Speaking to Newsline, Punjab School Education Board (Mohali) Vice-President Suresh Tandon said, “This decision has been taken by the education minister to check copying in exams. However, it is not the Board’s decision.”

This decision has evoked a hue and cry among affiliated schools, who have alleged step-motherly treatment by the Education Department. Rajinder Sharma, president of PSEB-Affiliated Schools, said, “It is ironical that private and affiliated schools provide the best education to students and come up with 100 per cent results. But the state Education Department has been harassing us by withdrawing the powers of examination controllers from private and affiliated schools and handing these powers over to the headmasters and principals of government schools.”

Sharma further said that this way the department had been harassing them as well as students of private schools. He denied copying in board exams, saying, “We make students work hard and produce 100 per cent results on the basis of hard work. The examination controllers should be appointed as vice-versa, meaning the education department should also also appoint principals and headmasters of private and affiliated schools as examination controller of government schools.”

Sharma said, “There are abut 3,000 private and affiliated schools in the state and every years out of the merit list of 400, first 300 students are from these schools. Tomorrow we are going to hold a meeting of our association and hand over a memorandum of our demands to Education Minister Sewa Singh Sekhwan, as well as Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal. If our demands are not fulfilled, we will boycott the exams and will not pick up the examination material, ie question papers, answer sheets etc for the board exams.”

The PSEB class X examination will start on March 22 and that of class XII will start on March 11.

Education dept puts principal’s certificates under scanner

Education dept puts principal’s certificates under scanner

Dipti Sonawala Tags : Teachers’ Democratic Front, Vedprakash Singh, Dayashankar Tiwari of Jawahar Vidyalaya Posted: Mon Feb 21 2011, 00:30 hrs Mumbai:

A month after the suspension of five teachers from two reputed schools, a teachers’ union has filed a complaint against the principal of Jawahar Vidyalaya alleging he holds bogus degrees.

The allegations by the Teachers’ Democratic Front (TDF) have come over a month after five teachers were suspended by the education department on similar charges. Two of the guilty teachers had worked at Jawahar Vidyalaya for nearly 17 years.

Janardan Jangle, President of TDF, said, “We have filed a complaint against Vedprakash Singh. However, like earlier, the education department is treating the case in a very lethargic manner. It took us over a year to get the education department to initiate action against those five teachers. We will not tolerate this and will file a police complaint against the education inspector of the zone and even the headmaster.”

Vedprakash Singh, principal of Jawahar Vidyalaya, said, “The allegations against me have not been proved yet.”

In January 2011, the education department suspended Bhuvendra Pratap Singh, Birjuram Yadav and Awdhesh Kumar Girijashankar Shukla of the Swami Vivekananda English High School in Jogeshwari and Shyamlal Yadav and Dayashankar Tiwari of Jawahar Vidyalaya. The teachers had allegedly claimed they had completed their BA and B.Ed from Sampurnanand Sanskrit University, Varanasi and had been working as assistant teachers for the past 17 years. Singh also claimed he had completed his MA and B.Ed from the same university in 1986.

P R Pawar, education inspector for western zone, Mumbai, said he has already sent the degree certificates for verification. “We have received a complaint against Singh and have requested the concerned university to verify his certificates. Once the verification is completed, we will take action against Singh if found guilty. We are taking the matter seriously and if his certificates are found bogus, we will cancel Singh’s approval as a teacher.”

He also said the education department would soon issue circulars to get the degrees and certificates of teachers coming from other states verified at the earliest.

TDF also alleged that the schools are not following orders passed by the education inspector. Jangle added, “After cancelling the approval of the five teachers, the education department had issued orders to both the schools to file an FIR against the teachers. Nothing has been done so far.”

Punish teachers if they hit students, officers told

Punish teachers if they hit students, officers told
Publication: Times of India
Date: Sat, 2011-02-19

HYDERABAD: District education officers ( DEOs) and mandal education officers ( MEOs) were on Friday directed to take strict action against teachers found guilty of corporal punishment in state schools.

R Satyanarayana, commissioner and director of school education, issued orders to the officers in view of a State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) directive asking the state to curb corporal punishment in schools.

Responding to a petition filed by AP Bala Sangham president Achyuta Rao, SHRC asked Sambashiva Rao, principal secretary, secondary education, to submit a report on corporal punishment in schools by February 28. The commission has also asked the state to take action against teachers under the Right to Education (RTE) Act if they are found guilty of physically harming students.

According to the petitioner, a sample study done by the organisation in 20 schools in the state revealed that students get beaten by teachers on a daily basis. "Students are hit with metal objects and in some cases even sharp objects like blades are used to hurt them. Teachers indulge in gross violation of child rights by claiming that students have to be disciplined," Rao said.

According to the Bala Sangham survey, students drop out of schools mostly because of corporal punishment. "When Right to Education clearly bans corporal punishment, the students should be protected. The state government has failed to do it so far," said Achyuta Rao.

In the petition, Rao stated that about 32 cases of corporal punishment were reported in the state in the last one week. Hearing the petition, SHRC also observed that the state should take immediate action against the culprits.

Digital classrooms: The future of young India

Digital classrooms: The future of young India
Kalpana Pathak / Mumbai February 21, 2011, 0:47 IST

Keeping pace with students who are becoming more tech-savvy, schools in India are taking to the concept of digital classrooms — a new education technology that assists teachers with course-ware and maintenance support in digital format.

When Mrinalini Kaura, the principal of Venkateshwar International School (VIS) in Dwarka, New Delhi, heard of this concept, she did not think twice before digitising 45 classrooms. Barely a few months into revamping the classrooms, Kaura was so impressed with the results that she plans to implement it in the remaining 23 classes of her school.

Kaura says she sees digital classrooms as the way ahead for all schools because it makes both teaching and learning simple: Better assessment system, real-time paper evaluation and abstract concepts made easy to understand.

VIS is not the only success story with Educomp Solution’s smartclass in its classrooms. Several schools in Ludhiana – including Kundan Vidya Mandir, Satpaul School and BCM School – too, have caught up with the trend and are experimenting with technology to impart knowledge to up to class VIII students.

Educomp, till a few years ago, was the only player in the digital classroom segment, but today the market has over half-a-dozen players – like Everonn Education, EdServe Softsystem, Core Projects and Technologies, NIIT and Manipal K-12 Education – who have made learning easy through IT-enabled systems.

There’s no denying the fact that schools and educational institutions are waking up to the opportunity of IT-based solutions and service providers are reckoning its potential.

Chennai-based Everonn Education lists its growth plans for its iSchool. “This segment will see huge growth in the days to come. At present, we are in 1,370 schools. We plan to take that number to 5,000 schools over the next three years,” says P Kishore, founder and managing director of Everonn Education.

Educomp has 5,534 schools – including Delhi Public School and Bal Bharti in New Delhi – and 3.9 million students using its Smartclass solution.

The digital classroom services include: setting up of infrastructure and technology in schools; providing digitised course-ware and maintenance support to teachers; educating teachers and the management on technology usage and conduct special interactive sessions, sometimes through VSAT.

The market has evolved with the Central government’s move to fund Sarva Siksha Abhiyaan for ICT@Schools programme with a Rs 15 lakh per district per year budget. Under the government’s Technology in Education Initiative, out of a total 10,00,000 schools in the country, the programme will cover 6,42,600 schools at the primary, upper primary and secondary levels.

Every school will have a server, five PCs, printer and internet connectivity. State governments will outsource installation andmaintenance of hardware, content and training to a private party. The information and communication technology (ICT) business is tender-based. It functions under the build/own/operate/transfer model.

Many service providers are using the powerful channel of 3D animation videos to explain concepts like formation of block-mountains or volcanic formation. And, schools are using the available technology to explain and simplify concepts in subjects like Chemistry, Physics, History, Biology and Science. “The key is to make learning as interactive as possible,” says Kaura.

According to analysts, visually improved presentation through use of graphics increases students’ interests in classrooms. With more and more companies realising the potential, analysts expect the market to grow ten times in the next five years. ICT inflows to private-sector players is pegged at around Rs 4,500 crore by March 2012.

The service charges vary for each player. For instance, while Educomp charges between Rs 155 and Rs 160 per student per month (for an average class comprising 40 students), Everonn charges Rs 15,000 for one classroom.

Everonn, however, provides a 50 per cent subsidy if it caters to the needs of more than five classrooms in a school. Industry experts believe that by March 2013 around 200,000 public schools will be able to offer computer training to their students.

While Educomp did not divulge how much it spends on digitising an existing classroom, Everonn said renovating each classroom costs between Rs 60,000 and Rs 100,000.

Pass or fail, grow in Uttar Pradesh schools with age

Pass or fail, grow in Uttar Pradesh schools with age
Published: Sunday, Feb 20, 2011, 23:37 IST
By Deepak Gidwani | Place: Lucknow | Agency: DNA

Children aged between six and 14 yearsin Uttar Pradesh, who have had no prior schooling, would now get admissions in primary schools according to their age and not on the basis of the last class passed, under a unique arrangement worked out by the UP Basic Shiksha Parishad.

The new scheme is expected to go a long way in drawing lakhs of children, hitherto deprived of basic education, to schools.

At the same time, it would also help in cutting down the dropout rate drastically.

“Till now, children, mainly from the backward and poor classes, without any earlier schooling were admitted to schools in standard I, regardless of their age. Even an eight or 10-year-old child going to school for the first time would have to start studies in class I,” explains a senior education department official. But, under the new scheme of things, a child aged eight would be admitted to standard III, according to his / her age.

The state programme director for Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan(education for all) in Uttar Pradesh, K Ram Mohan Rao issued orders to this effect recently.

Every school would have two specially trained teachers to help such fresh students getting admission to a higher class cope with their studies, he said.

The training of the teachers has already begun, and the new arrangement for fresh admissions would be implemented in the session beginning July 2011.

The children admitted thus would undergo a specially designed course for six months before attending classes with the other students.

Key govt plans falter owing to shortage of manpower

Key govt plans falter owing to shortage of manpower
Subodh Varma, TNN, Feb 21, 2011, 01.10am IST

Four mega-programmes of the government, meant to tackle big-ticket issues like child nutrition, school education, health and employment, appear to be faltering not because funds are short but because adequate manpower has not been put in place. This is the surprising finding of a new study done by the Center for Budget and Governance Accountability (CBGA), a New Delhi based think tank.

The four mega-programs are Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), which delivers nutrition to under-6 children; Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) for elementary education; National Rural Health Mission for delivering basic health services to rural areas; and Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) for providing employment in rural areas. The UPA government has spent Rs.2,55,033 crore over the past four years on these programs, which involve the country's whole population between them.

The root of the problem lies in the state governments' drive to lower their budget deficit by restricting non-plan expenditure, under which staff for development schemes could be appointed, says Subrat Das, director CBGA. The Center too has been unwilling to help by giving more "untied" resources to states over the past decade.

"In the absence of adequate number of trained personnel, the States are struggling to expand the coverage of flagship schemes. Hence, actual expenditure falls far short of the sanctioned budgets for schemes, and the quality of expenditure remains sub-optimal," he says.

ICDS functions through anganwadi workers and helpers deployed one each per thousand population. They are guided by supervisors and project officers. The CBGA study found that 16% of helpers' and 22% of workers' posts were vacant countrywide. In some states vacancies are much more – in Chhattisgarh 44% workers' posts and 40% helpers' posts were vacant, while in Bihar 93% of supervisors' posts are vacant. Nationally, 43% of supervisors and 36% of project officers have not been appointed against sanctioned posts. For the 11th Plan, ICDS had been allotted Rs.42400 cr over 5 years. In four years they should have utilized about Rs.34000 cr. But actual utilization is only Rs.27,384 cr.

In the National Rural Health Mission, there is a shocking shortfall of 64% among doctors and other specialists at the community health center level. Among the states showing massive vacancies in specialists, Gujarat (93%), Haryana (89%) and Jharkhand (82%) are prominent. At the primary health center level, 16% of doctors are yet to be appointed. The frontline health delivery is done by ASHA's – one for each village. Although 8.3 lakh ASHAs have been appointed, only 3.2 lakh have received the stipulated 5-module training. 11th Plan allocation for NRHM was nearly Rs.90,000 cr. About 80% should have been spent by now but actual expenditure is only 58%. Data till September 2010 shows that over Rs.10,597 cr was lying unspent with state governments.

UPA government's most ambitious scheme MGNREGS is implemented through gram panchayats. In the past 4 years, Rs.121861 cr have been spent on it. That's 122% of the 11th Plan allocation. Yet, some of the key personnel which guide its implementation at the ground level are absent. The pointperson at the village level is the Gram Rozgar Sahayak. In several states they have not been appointed. There are 83% vacancies in MP, 63% in Uttarakhand and 51% in Punjab. Another key functionary is the engineer or technical assistant who prepares plans for the civil works to be done. In Punjab and West Bengal 70% of these posts are lying vacant, while at the national level 34% posts are vacant. Over 28% posts of accountants and 23% posts of computer assistants are also vacant.

In SSA, the government has spent Rs.54,371 cr in the past 4 years. Yet, the most crucial element in education – teachers – are not being appointed. Of the 10.8 lakh teachers posts sanctioned, 8.8 lakh teachers are in place, leaving a shortfall of nearly 2 lakh teachers. This shortage of teachers may open the door for appointment of ill-qualified para-teachers spelling doom for the lofty goal of providing 'quality' education under the Right to Education Act. That quality education is at low priority is also shown by the fact that of the Rs.4000 cr allocated for teachers' training in the 11th Plan, only Rs.1444 cr, that is 36% have been spent in 4 years.

Minithon to save Bandra's civic schools

Minithon to save Bandra's civic schools
Publication: Times of India
Date: Sat, 2011-02-19

MUMBAI: Concerned over the recent closure of six municipal schools in H (west) ward and the Birhanmumbai Municipal Corporation ( BMC) eying the lands for profit, residents of Bandra have now taken it upon themselves to save other civic schools from a similar fate. They are organizing a minithon on February 27 to send across the message that everyone has the right to education and municipal schools must be saved so that the poor are not denied that right.

Residents of the upscale western suburb, who usually take up civic issues, want to ensure that underprivileged children are educated. The H (west) Citizens' Trust and Wake Up Bandra, an NGO, have organized the minithon with a view to create awareness among residents before the issue becomes a major societal problem. Their group- Mumbaiites for Child Rights (M4CR)-aims to empower citizens with information on facilities, amenities and insurance provisions that should be provided by municipal schools.

On February 27, a Mast Run will commence from St Stanislaus High School ground on Hill Road in Bandra (W) to convey the message that the remaining 37 municipal schools in the ward must be saved. "Citizens have to be concerned about kids going to municipal schools. Despite a huge budget, the number of municipal schools is dwindling every year. In H (W) ward, 41% of the residents live in slums. If municipal schools are shut, it would lead to larger problems in the society later on. Besides concentrating on civic issues, we want to focus on lower income bracket ," said Nitin Wadhwani, member, M4CR.

Volunteers from Kripa Foundation, recovering from substance abuse along with around 100 children will also be part of the minithon. The Archdiocese of Mumbai has announced to spread the message of minithon in all its parishes. There's no entry fee for physically challenged, senior citizens and municipal students.

State education dept follows CBSE pattern for teaching maths

State education dept follows CBSE pattern for teaching maths

For teaching mathematics, the state education department is following the pattern of Central Board of Secondary Education, Delhi.

Disclosing this, Sanjeev Kumar Taneja, District Coordinator for mathematics under Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan, Punjab, said, “From December 2010, we have included project work of 10 marks in mathematics for the students of classes VI to class VIII. And from coming session we are going to provide a project workbook to these students for mathematics. There will be coloured and graph papers in it and students will be taught geometry and theorems through activity. This will certainly sharpen their mathematical skills and moreover make children more confident. The projects of mathematics will provide practical knowledge to kids and they will find it more interesting.”

Meanwhile, the education department today conducted a state level mathematics quiz of ‘tables’ at RS Model Senior Secondary School, Shastri Nagar . About this, Taneja said,”Teams from each district of Punjab participated in it. We prepared students for this quiz through about 190 Mathematics Master Trainers in Punjab just in the span of two months and it worked our really very good. The students from classes VI to VIII participated in it. There were five rounds to test their knowledge about tables. The teams were asked statement based questions. This whole project was the dream child of Krishan Kumar the former Director General School Education.”

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The first three winner teams were awarded with cash prize. However, about the remaining teams, Taneja said, “We will continue to train these children for the next quiz and I am sure that this will remove their mathematics phobia.”

It was observed that when the quiz was on, many Mathematics Master Trainers were also taking equal interest in it and were busy solving the sums.

'Who bothers about education here? Men need booze, and they get it'

'Who bothers about education here? Men need booze, and they get it'
Bhaskar Mukherjee, TNN, Feb 21, 2011, 05.25am IST

SIRSA: For a colony which played a significant role in helping the district administration top total sanitation campaign in 2008, Singi Kaat Mohalla presents a dismal sight today. The slum seems to have emerged as the hub of ragpickers in the district and teeming with young "foot soldiers" — lugging ransacks instead of schoolbags and scouring open, defecated spaces for garbage and food.

"A big plastic sack is their school bag, which holds garbage and filth instead of books, the stinking places they move around in while looking for unused plastic and paper their classrooms and the junk dealer, their class teacher," rued Jagmati Devi, a mother of five and a resident of Singi Kaat Mohalla. Her word, though harsh, are not much off the mark. All her children, between 5 to 10 years of age, are into ragpicking.

There are 2,000 families living in the area, and each household has at least 3 children. Most kids don`t have any formal education since they never attend school. Most families are generally in need of extra income from their children. An unofficial general survey conducted by a local resident 2 year ago revealed that 80% of the children in the age group of 4 to 11 are involved in ragpicking and earn anywhere between Rs 50-80 daily.

"Most men here don`t work and we are totally dependent on our children (for income). That is why we avoid going in for family planning operations," she added.

Considering the slums queer conditions — complete lack of governance and unhygienic conditions — it comes as no surprise that the place has become a happy hunting ground for quacks and corrupt. Saanga Ram, the president of Singi Kaat community, added, "We don`t remember when we last saw teachers here. Who bothers about good education here? Men need booze, and it is taken care of by their political gurus. As for others, they have kids to bring in earnings every day."

Scrap a little on the surface and underlying rage at the conditions prevailing is obvious. "Please don`t talk about social development and awakening here. It feels good to talk about such things and write about them, but very difficult to inculcate them in your lives. Ultimately, it is your husband you have to live with, not the government," said Sunita, a mother of 12 children. As for failed government campaigns, she added, "They (politicians) just need us for their votes. For this, they would take our men for granted."

Minister of state for home, sports and industries Gopal Kanda, who is the local MLA, when approached by TOI, said, "I have visited the mohalla two times and tried to understand the ground situation. I`ll order the officials to take care of the residents and also take up the issue of their needs and demands with the government."

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Basic education is still a poor child

Basic education is still a poor child
TNN, Feb 18, 2011, 11.03pm IST

VARANASI: Will Union Budget 2011-12 offer greater monetary share for the promotion of basic education? As it is the first budget after the implementation of Right to Education Act, the expectations from the finance minister are high. Many human rights activists have started making noises, asking for an increased share in the budget to ensure the fundamental rights of children.

"The finance minister disappointed all in the last Union Budget (2010-11) by allocating only 4.6% share for children who constitute about 44% of the total population of the country," said UP convener of Campaign against Child Labour (CACL) and president of Human Welfare Association (HWA) Rajni Kant. According to him, at least 6% of the budget should be allocated only to basic education sector while at least 8% share is needed to take care of the fundamental rights of children.

"The share of child health care should be increased to at least 5% and there should be a special component to counter the problem of malnutrition among them," said Lenin Raghuvanshi, president of Peoples Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR). The issues of children belonging to marginalised groups like weavers and artisans should be taken up prudently, he pointed out.

HAQ Centre for Child Rights, a New Delhi-based organisation working for children, observed in the last budget that out of every rupee spent in the budget, a share of only 4.63 paise was allocated to children. And the allocation to elementary education was only 3.2%. However, there was a rise of 15% in the outlay for Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) and 18% increase in the the mid-day meal scheme. But, the government got revenue through the education cess from people, said Kant and added the last budget gave a share of only 0.49% to child health, while development had a share of 0.90% and protection 0.04%.

Referring to the report, he said there were 164 million children in the 0-6 age group in the country. According to the report of ministry of women and child development, around 69 million children aged 6-72 months were covered by the Supplementary Nutrition Programme under Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) and only 34 million children were covered by any kind of pre-school initiatives.

"Since India is the signatory of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), adequate budgetary allocation should be made to protect their rights," said Kant. Both Kant and Raghuvanshi were worried about the inadequate infrastructure for elementary education of children. "This is because the children (up to 18 years) are not voters. Hence, they are ignored," claimed Kant.

According to district basic shiksha adhikari (BSA) Suryabhan, there should be a government primary school for a population of 300 at a distance of every one kilometre and an upper primary school for a population of 800 at every two kilometres. But, according to the records of the basic education department, there are 1,812 primary and 929 upper primary schools in the district. Besides, there are also other institutions including private, non-government schools and madrassas in the district. If the norms are followed, there should be more schools in the district having a population of 31,38,671 (2001 census). With the enforcement of RTE Act, it was mandatory for the government to fulfill norms to provide education to all children. The budgetary allocation should be increased to fill the gap.

The district also faces the problem of child labour due to lack of facilities and poverty. According to activists, most of the children who do not attend schools are engaged in some form of work. The report of the ministry of labour and employment also suggest that the country continues to host the largest number of child labourers in the world. According to the Census 2001, there were 12.7 millions economically active children in the age group of 5-14 years. According to labour department records, over 5,000 children working in hazardous and non-hazardous industries were identified and rescued so far since December 1996 in Varanasi, Chandauli, Jaunpur and Ghazipur districts.

The Voice of people (VOP), a people's organisation working for the rights of children in 15 districts of the state, conducted a survey in the recent past. According to the survey, only 51% children are enrolled in government primary schools in the surveyed districts. The VOP, with 14 organisations partnered by CRY (Child Rights and You), undertook a community-based study in 570 schools for assessment of functioning and sufficiency in terms of workforce, infrastructure, budget deployment and quality education, said Raghuvanshi, also the campaign coordinator of VOP. The campaign was taken up with an objective of sensitising and raising awareness about the provisions of RTE Act.

Denied nursery admission, student moves court

Denied nursery admission, student moves court

February 19, 2011 | RSS | Tell a friend | Printable Version

New Delhi: A response from the city government and six private schools has been sought by the Delhi High Court regarding a plea for doing away with a draw of lots that was conducted for admission into nursery for economically weaker sections (EWS).

According to the plea, the draw conducted for nursery admissions was in violation of the Right To Education (RTE) Act.

The court has also asked the Directorate of Education (DoE) to probe the allegations made by a minor, Kanishka Panwar, who had approached the High Court through his mother Kavita and had alleged that he had been denied admission to schools as his father's annual salary was Rs.1.4 lakh.

The notice to the Education Department of the Delhi government was issued by Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw and replies from schools have been sought by March 11 regarding the plea by Kanishka for being denied admission under the 25% quota for EWS category, which is in violation of the RTE Act.

The Education Department has also been asked by the court to submit a report by March 11 by conducting an enquiry into the matter.

Kanishka had said in his petition that he filed through advocate Ashok Aggarwal that the schools neither considered his father's annual income for admission nor the fact that he belonged to the OBC category and therefore, was eligible for admission through the EWS quota.

The petitioner's council said that the parents had made a representation against the schools that allegedly denied admission to Kanishka. However, the government has not yet taken any action against them.

Education dept organises mashaal march to increase enrollment

Education dept organises mashaal march to increase enrollment

To increase enrollment in government schools, the education department today started a three-day-long mashaal march from Government Senior Secondary School, Jagraon. Bhag Singh Malla, Chairman Mandi Board lighted the torch and flagged off the march.

The Mashaal march covered many villages of the district, including Leela Mekh Singh, Ramgarh Bhullar, Sidhwan Bet, Bhundari, Ayali, Aaliwal, Bhatti Dhooha, Hambran, Salempoura, Partap Singhwala and concluded at Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan Office, Ludhiana.

The employees of education department participating in the march and distributed pamphlets to the people making them aware about facilities being provided to the students in the government schools.

Anil Matharoo, district coordinator of SSA, Ludhiana said, “Tomorrow, the Mashaal march will start from the SSA office and will visit different villages.”

`Schools of godmen holding entrance test against rules'

`Schools of godmen holding entrance test against rules'
TNN, Feb 20, 2011, 12.27am IST

HYDERABAD: The state government may have banned private educational institutions from conducting admission tests for students, but some schools are giving the rule a miss.

The secondary education department on Februrary 18 submitted a report to the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) stating that they have banned all private schools from conducting entrance tests, but schools run by Satya Sai Baba and Bala Sai Baba have reportedly not called off the screening tests.

The admission tests of the Sai Baba chain of schools are slated to be held in May this year and the advertisement for the same has appeared in the widely publicised magazine of the Sai Baba trust- `Sanatana Sarathi.' Lakhs of students from the state appear for these tests, stated activists who have petitioned the school education department demanding them to impose the ban strictly.

According to Achyuta Rao of AP Bala Sangham, the child rights NGO which had approached SHRC seeking a ban on the screening tests, schools run by the godmen located at Kurnool, Anantapur and Hyderabad were neither issued a warning nor asked to issue advertisements cancelling the tests. He said that Balasangham has also found that parents are being told that the tests would be conducted as per schedule. "This is a gross violation of Right to Education rules and the state government should take action against the concerned parties without fearing the consequences,'' Rao said.

When contacted, Sambashiva Rao, principal secretary, secondary education department said that he was not aware of the announcement of the tests. However, he added that under the RTE rules recently approved by the cabinet sub-committee all screening tests will have to be banned. "Whoever is conducting the test will have to stop it. The commissioner and director of school education were also asked to inform schools to cancel such tests. We will look into the matter and act accordingly,'' said Sambashiva Rao.

Read more: `Schools of godmen holding entrance test against rules' - The Times of India

For a transparent admission process

For a transparent admission process
Michael Dickison, Bangalore, February 19, DHNS:

RTE seeks to ensure that the admission process is just and transparent

Admissions to schools will be ‘random’ once the Right to Education Act (RTE) is
implemented in Karnataka.

The RTE, brought into force by the Central Government last year, will standardise education processes with the aim of levelling the playing field for all socio-economic groups.

Though the full rules for implementation are yet to be finalised by the Karnataka government, the Act imposes certain frameworks nationwide to ensure equality.

“The RTE Act is anchored in the belief that availability of equal educational opportunities to children belonging to different social and economic background will reinforce the idea of equality enshrined in our Constitution,” says the official admissions guidelines document for the Act, released by the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development.
To this end, the Act contains a provision banning any “screening processes” — meaning any interviews, tests or other selection methods that put particular students or socio-economic groups at a disadvantage.

“There shall be no profiling of the child, based on parental educational qualifications,” the guidelines say.

Schools cannot deny admissions for lack of proof of age, because applications are made later than the extended periods prescribed for admission, or on grounds of religion, caste, race or place of birth. Schools are prohibited from collecting any capitation fees.
The admission process begins with the physical placement of schools.

In respect of children in classes one to five, a school serving a neighbourhood must be established within a walking distance of one km. For children in classes six to eight, a school must be within a walking distance of three km from the neighbourhood.

Applicants from such neighbourhoods are then split into two broad categories, with at least 25 per cent of student placements reserved for students from weaker sections and disadvantaged groups. Schools fill these places under a system of random selection.

The Act also stipulates that the disadvantaged students be provided with free and compulsory elementary education till completion.

Schools must ensure that they are neither segregated from other children in their classrooms nor taught in classes held at different places and timings.

They must not be discriminated against in any manner with regard to entitlements and facilities such as textbooks, uniforms, extra-curricular activities and sports.

For the other 75 per cent — or less, if more than 25 per cent are admitted voluntarily from disadvantaged groups — schools may further categorise applicants, but individual students within such pools must be selected at random. Criteria for these categorisations must be made public and formulated on a “rational, reasonable and just basis”.

The Act also specifies timings of admissions. Schools must allow an extended period of admission of six months from the date of commencement of the academic year. Where a child is admitted to a school after the extended period, he or she must be eligible to complete studies with the help of special training, as determined by the head of the school.

The reforms come amid criticisms of Karnataka’s admission processes. An official report as recently as 2008 concluded that the State faced a “serious social problem”, with parents put in a “terribly confused state” and many children traumatised by discriminatory interviews.

“It is a matter of great concern that... we have not been able to provide opportunity for admission to children who come from middle class families, in schools of their choice,” said the report, led by the State’s commissioner for public instruction.

The commission’s recommendations, however, were never adopted, leaving the injustices uncorrected.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Safety first

Safety first
Megha Basavaraj

The Hindu Chindren's play equipment. Photo: Special Arrangement

Providing risk-free play equipment for children is a challenging task.

Playgrounds are a child's paradise where it spends a majority of its free time. But did you know that the slides, swings, see-saws, merry-go-rounds, mazes and other play stations could cause grave injuries to the child? How safe is the playground your child plays in?

Non-fatal injuries are caused to the child when they fall while playing in unsafe playgrounds. From 1990 to 2000, at least 147 children have died from playground equipment-related injuries. Nearly 70 percent of these deaths occurred on unsafe playgrounds. About 45 per cent of injuries are severe, which include fractures, internal injuries, concussions, dislocations and amputations. With such mishaps looming over a child, parents and schools need to exercise caution while setting up equipment for the playground.

Most countries have clearly laid out guidelines on the manufacturing and installation of playground equipment. The European Standards for Playground Equipment EN1176 is implemented in Europe and the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) in the U.S. No such guidelines or regulations are drafted in India for playgrounds in parks, schools and apartments.

“Play equipment are manufactured in India without a second thought about the safety of the children using the equipment. In the absence of stipulated guidelines, chaos ensures, causing accidents. Safety has been relegated to the background,” rues Roben Dass, Chairman and Managing Director, Koochie Play Systems International. The company's products can be seen at Eurokids, Shloka Montessori House, Amity School and Birla School in Bangalore.

SCERTs should be part of varsity system: seminar

SCERTs should be part of varsity system: seminar
G. Mahadevan

The State Councils for Educational Research and Training (SCERTs) should be made an integral part of the university system in India and need to have comparable faculty positions and academic activities, a national seminar on ‘Curricula Reforms in School Education,' which concluded here on Friday, has resolved.

Representatives of the councils from 18 States took part in the three-day seminar. The SCERTs should also have close academic links with university professors who work in various aspects of education across disciplines. Mere revisions in textbooks would not lead to any meaningful reforms in the school education system.

Emphasis has to be placed on reforming the teacher-education processes and those relating to evaluation.

Capitation Fee Soon to be a Cognisable Offence: Sibal

Capitation Fee Soon to be a Cognisable Offence: Sibal
Mumbai | Feb 07, 2011

Government will soon bring a bill which will make levy of capitation fee by educational institutes a cognisable offence, Union HRD Minister Kapil Sibal said today.

Educational Malpractices Bill proposes to prosecute institutions who provide wrong information and levy capitation fee, he said, delivering the 8th Nani A Palkhiwala Memorial Lecture on 'Emerging Scenario in the Field of Education'.

Sibal said he was for opening up of the education sector and ending the license raj.

"The new bill does not propose for inspection of educational institutions. Instead, at the start of the academic year, the institutions have to themselves declare on their website information about infrastructure, fees, faculty and the kinds of service they provide. The information will be stored in the HRD Ministry and if the facts are wrong, the Ministry shall prosecute the institutions," he said.

The Centre will announce the national vocational qualification framework in May. The framework will provide vocational courses for students from Std 9 to 12th, he said.

Stating that education was all about expanding one's mind, Sibal said Foreign Education Providers Bill envisages collaboration with Indian universities and investment in the skill development courses.

The minister lamented that a large number of politicians own educational institutions and this was standing in the way of reforms in the key sector.

Education policies needed to be developed on what the children want and not what the government wants, he said. "I believe democracy is freedom in the classroom."

Sibal said he favours continuous and comprehensive evaluation of the attributes of a child rather than a board exam to test his/her memory. "We need to change the way we teach our children."

Stating that the Right to Education Act cannot be enforced overnight, the minister said it needs three years for implementation and five years in the context of teachers acquiring minimum qualifications.

"We need the co-operation of the civil society and all the stakeholders in education. The Centre cannot do it alone."

Sibal said education was a national priority which requires national effort. "No politics should be brought into this."

He called for addressing the wide chasm in the field of education. "In a country of 1.2 billion people, 220 million go to school, of which only 13 million reach college. This is a frightening scenario," he said.

Earlier, the Nani Palkhiwala award for outstanding work in upholding civil liberties was given to Chaman Lal, a former IPS officer who worked in Punjab and Nagaland when terrorism was at its peak.
Filed On: Feb 07, 2011 22:42 IST , Edited On: Fe

Punish teachers if they hit students, officers told

Punish teachers if they hit students, officers told
TNN, Feb 19, 2011, 05.58am IST

HYDERABAD: District education officers ( DEOs) and mandal education officers ( MEOs) were on Friday directed to take strict action against teachers found guilty of corporal punishment in state schools.

R Satyanarayana, commissioner and director of school education, issued orders to the officers in view of a State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) directive asking the state to curb corporal punishment in schools.

Responding to a petition filed by AP Bala Sangham president Achyuta Rao, SHRC asked Sambashiva Rao, principal secretary, secondary education, to submit a report on corporal punishment in schools by February 28. The commission has also asked the state to take action against teachers under the Right to Education (RTE) Act if they are found guilty of physically harming students.

According to the petitioner, a sample study done by the organisation in 20 schools in the state revealed that students get beaten by teachers on a daily basis. "Students are hit with metal objects and in some cases even sharp objects like blades are used to hurt them. Teachers indulge in gross violation of child rights by claiming that students have to be disciplined," Rao said.

According to the Bala Sangham survey, students drop out of schools mostly because of corporal punishment. "When Right to Education clearly bans corporal punishment, the students should be protected. The state government has failed to do it so far," said Achyuta Rao.

In the petition, Rao stated that about 32 cases of corporal punishment were reported in the state in the last one week. Hearing the petition, SHRC also observed that the state should take immediate action against the culprits.

No year loss even if students fail in 2 subjects

No year loss even if students fail in 2 subjects
TNN, Feb 19, 2011, 04.51am IST

AHMEDABAD: The Gujarat Secondary and Higher Secondary Education Board (GSHSEB) just made it difficult for students to fail and waste a year in SSC. The board on Friday decided that students who score D grade in two subjects will be allowed to appear for the supplementary exams which are held in the month of July. The decision was taken at the general body meeting of GSHSEB held in Gandhinagar.

Earlier, students who failed only in one subject were allowed to appear for supplementary exams in July. Those who failed in more than one subject had to appear in the board exams which were held next year. Since the supplementary exams are held in July, those students who pass, will not lose a year and can enroll in class XI in the same year. "The decision will benefit students. We found that dropout rates were high among students who failed in two subjects. We want more students to get a chance at higher studies", said H K Patel, vice-chairman, GSHSEB.

Patel said that in the SSC exams held in 2010, 83,000 students had failed in one subject while 1,15,949 students failed in two subjects. "The decision, to allow students who score D in two subjects, will benefit an estimated 25,000-30,000 students", Patel said.

This year the board has introduced grade system where students will get grades instead of marks. Students who score 33% and less will get a D grade and will have to appear for the exam again.

Currently, students in Rajasthan and Maharashtra are allowed to appear for supplementary exams even if they fail in two subjects.

Parents wary of rising cost of kids' education: Survey

Parents wary of rising cost of kids' education: Survey

New Delhi, Feb 18 (IANS) A majority of parents in the country are concerned about the rising cost of their children's education, even more than their health, lifestyle or marriage, a survey released here said Friday.

The report 'Aviva Education Insights', by research company IMRB International reflected the concerns and aspirations of young parents for their children's education.

'About 81 percent of parents are concerned about their child's education and 30 percent of these mention that they are more concerned over the expenses incurred on the child's education than the quality, admission, performance or marks,' the survey found.

One of the key concerns of parents was the rising expense on children's education with 39 percent parents concerned about the cost of their education in the future.

'The survey highlights that the rising cost of education has become a major cause of worry for parents, and they now want additional funds for their child not only for higher education but during the schooling years as well,' said T.R. Ramachandran, CEO and MD, Aviva Life Insurance.

The survey also highlighted the fact that 51 percent parents believed that insurance was the most effective tool to cushion the child's education cost.

The survey was conducted in 11 cities across the nation with a sample size of 2,402 parents.

All documents provided: Edu dept

All documents provided: Edu dept
TNN, Feb 17, 2011, 01.22am IST

PANCHKULA: A day after the counsel of private schools stated that they had never received detailed guidelines related to the RTE policy from the Panchkula administration, an official of the Education department informed the court on Wednesday that they had supplied the entire policy to the schools and the department had no further document to be given in this regard.

Judge Renu Rana recorded the statement of the official, Jagat Singh, and reserved the order for Thursday.

During the hearing on Wednesday, the counsel had again contended that the document produced by the education department before the court was incomplete and more details were required for implementing the 25% quota in the admissions. Petitioner Pankaj Chandgothia contended that the counsels for private schools were raising frivolous objections just to avoid implementation of the Act. Chandgothia hoped that the schools would be restrained from finalising admissions for the academic year 2011-12, without implementation of the 25% RTE quota, as per government policy.

The petitioner had sought directions for the immediate framing of the guidelines.

The petition filed by advocate Pankaj Chandgothia and his wife Sangeeta had stated that they had experienced trauma, tension and worry which parents undergo during the admission process,

since they are parents to two sons, aged 9 and 11 years. They had stated that the tension multiplies when the administration puts-up road blocks in the admission policy by the way of making certain rules and regulations which are ambiguous, thereby adding to more confusion in the already tedious admission process.

They had contended that there was no clarity about the number of seats in each school under the EWS quota, identification of students eligible under the quota and whether schools could increase fees of private students to cope up with the losses which they would incur due to the implementation of the quota.

Delhi HC issues notice to schools for violating RTE admission norms

Home: Delhi HC issues notice to schools for violating RTE admission norms
Delhi HC issues notice to schools for violating RTE admission norms

The Delhi High Court today issued notices to six unaided private schools in the Capital for violation of the Right to Education (RTE)Act, 2009 and directed the Director of Education to hold inquiry into the allegations made by a student of the economically weaker section (EWS).

Notices were issued to Father Agnel School, St Anthony Senior Secondary School, Manav Bharati India International School, Delhi Police Public School, Apeejay School and Laxman Public School.

Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw also directed the Director of Education to submit report on March 11, the next date of hearing.

Kanishka, a student, had filed petition seeking quashing of the draw of lots conducted by these schools as no mandatory seats were reserved for EWS students like her.

She also sought directions to schools for conducting fresh draw of lots for admissions, including seats for EWS students.

Her counsel Ashok Agarwal contended that being unaided, private schools under clause (iv) of section 2(d) of RTE Act, 2009 were obliged to provide 25 per cent to children belonging to weaker sections and disadvantaged groups in nursery class.

The OBC petitioner belongs to the disadvantaged group within the meaning of section 2(d) of RTE Act, 2009 and therefore, entitled to be considered by schools under 25 per cent quota, he added.

Friday, February 18, 2011

SC seeks answers from schools in RTE case

SC seeks answers from schools in RTE case
18.02.2011 | 08:20
New Delhi
Upmanyu Trivedi

In the ongoing final hearing of the public interest litigation (PIL) challenging the clauses in the Right to Education Act (RTE) that mandates 25 per cent seats for children from poor/ disadvantaged section in private un-aided schools, Chief Justice of India SH Kapadia questioned the private schools to show how this could be termed reservation and the same as “un-reasonable restriction”.

The Supreme Court Bench of Chief Justice SH Kapadia and Justices KS Panicker Radhakrishnan and Swatanter Kumar while hearing the PIL filed by private un-aided schools through an NGO Society for Private Un-aided Schools asked them to explain how the provision could be termed reservation. Section 12(i) of the RTE mandates private un-aided schools to set-aside at least 25 per cent seats for children from weaker sections for admission to class 1.

Article 21 (Right to Life and Liberty) of the Constitution according to the Bench has many facets and ‘education’ is one of them. The Bench observed that the question involves many facets like “inter-generational equity” because those children are considered as assets for future by the government. The Bench further stated that the new laws emerging with time see a difference between reservation, affirmation and prioritization - “What one can call reservation other can view it as prioritization”.

Senior counsel Vikas Singh appearing for private un-aided schools claimed that the Act restricts their “right to choice”. On questions by the court he stated that he is neither challenging the legislative competence to enact the Act nor is the statute itself being challenged. He argued that only sections 12 and 3 of the RTE which make it mandatory for these schools to admit at least 25 per cent seats for children from weaker sections in admission to class 1 has been challenged.

Singh emphasised that clause 12 and 13 restricts fundamental rights of schools and violates right guaranteed under Article 19 (1)(g) of the Constitution. Article 19 (1)(g) of the Constitution makes it fundamental right of every citizen to practise any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business. He argued that the right of minority and private unaided schools to “establish and administer educational institutions of their choice” stands violated under the impugned clauses.

The Bench however sought answer on whether the same could be described as reservation and asked Singh to give written submissions showing how the restriction imposed is not “reasonable”.

The matter has now been posted for further hearing next Thursday.

United in excluding the disabled?

United in excluding the disabled?
Publication: NDTV
Date: Fri, 2011-02-18

New Delhi: Educating five-year-old Karan, who has a physical disability, is proving to be an uphill battle for his parents. First, the government school in his neighbourhood in New Delhi denied him admission.

Karan eventually did get admission after the school was served a notice by his parents as the Right to Education Act states that no child can be denied admission on the ground of disability, but there continues to be a violation of the law on many counts.

"There is no basic infrastructure, no toilet facility, and no drinking water facility. Although the High Court has ordered that there has to be a water purifier installed, none of the schools have installed it," says Ritu Mehra, Founder, Pardarshita.

Children with disability do not have a useable toilet within his school. "The toilet is a mess. It stinks and is full of water. A child could slip and fall," said Kishen, Karan's father.

Six-year-old Dipanshu, like Karan, is among the disabled children who have to walk home to use a toilet. Parents are summoned to escort them home and back.

"If we don't hold on to him, he falls down. So he can't use the toilet there. I have told the teacher to call me and send him home," said Suman, Dipanshu's mother.

While the principal refused to speak to NDTV, experts say an overwhelming majority of private and government schools exclude children with special needs and have made no provision for them.

"There is no arrangement for students like my son. They roam around in the school. The teachers often don't include them in the class. And if they are in class, they are made to sit on the backbench. The teacher pays no attention to them," said Samina Hussain, mother of a disabled child.

Over 90 per cent of disabled children in India do not get any form of schooling. Though the Right to Education Act holds out the promise of creating a system for disabled children, it has so far failed to fulfill the expectations of parents.

Bridge gap between EWS & well-off, Sheila tells schools

Bridge gap between EWS & well-off, Sheila tells schools
TNN, Feb 18, 2011, 04.54am IST

NEW DELHI: Principals and teachers of nearly 100 schools in the city came together to discuss the 'emerging changes and challenges in education' at the 38th annual meet of National Progressive Schools' Conference (NPSC) that began on Thursday at the India Islamic Centre. Chief minister Sheila Dikshit inaugurated the two-day conference while entrusting schools with the responsibility of bringing together children from different sections of the society.

Referring to the new right to education and its provision to implement 25% quota for the economically weaker section in all schools, Dikshit said schools needed to bridge the gap between students belonging to the economically weaker section of the society and those from comparatively well-off families.

Professor Dinesh Singh, vice-chancellor of Delhi University, delivered the keynote address at the conference. He emphasized on the inclusion of technology in school education.

The chief minister and the vice-chancellor also felicitated Padmashree awardee, founder member of NPSC and chairperson of Springdales Education Society, Rajini Kumar, at the conference.

RTE furore: Court stays admissions at 6 private schools in Panchkula

RTE furore: Court stays admissions at 6 private schools in Panchkula

In the resumed hearing on the Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act, the district court of Panchkula today stayed admissions in classes I to VIII at six private schools of the district. The court of Civil Judge Renu Rana passed interim orders staying admissions to 25 per cent of seats in classes I to VIII at Hansraj Public School (Sector 6), Bhavan Vidyalaya (Sector 15), Chaman Lal DAV Public School (Sector 11), DC Model School (Sector 7), DAV Public School (Sector 8) and the British School (Sector 8) for the coming academic session 2011-12, without compliance of the Right to Free and Compulsory Education policy, framed by the Haryana Government.

These schools are respondents in the case. The orders came on a petition filed by a Panchkula-based couple, Pankaj and Sangeeta Chandgothia, who sought implementation of the Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009, in Panchkula schools.

The petition was filed under Section 91 of the Civil Procedure Code, which relates to action against "public nuisance", on November 13, 2010. The Haryana Education Department, after much delay, presented the policy and guidelines to the court on February 14, whereafter the case is being heard daily. The case has now been adjourned till March 8 for further proceedings.

SC roots for school quota

SC roots for school quota
- CJI says egalitarian system a govt priority

New Delhi, Feb. 17: The Supreme Court today spoke up for a 25 per cent school quota for the underprivileged, asking private schools who have challenged the Right to Education Act on this ground to explain how they were claiming a right to fill all their seats as they pleased.

A three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice S.H. Kapadia, asked the schools to explain under what law they were claiming the right to decide their student intake without any say either of the government or the legislature.

“Show us under which Article (of the Constitution) you have the exclusive right to admit 100 per cent students,” Justice Kapadia asked.

“Reservation, affirmation and privatisation are different. You can call it reservation. I can call it priority. It has to be based on an egalitarian system,” he said.

The bench observed the law was intended to enable the poor to lead a life of dignity.

“Think of inter-generational equity. A disadvantaged (person) can also be an asset,” Justice Swantanter Kumar remarked at one point of the hearing on a batch of petitions filed by some Rajasthan private schools.

On the first day of the hearing, the schools opened their arguments through counsel Vikas Singh.

He claimed that private schools had a right to decide who they wanted to take and the state could not set aside 25 per cent of it for weaker sections and disadvantaged groups. Singh claimed that the quota amounted to a reservation.

But the bench pointed out that what the schools referred to as a “reservation” could be a “priority” for the government. The government had the power to bring in such a law, Justice Kapadia said.

The bench said that it intended to examine the entire scheme of things in the Constitution before it took a call on the legality of such reservations.

Singh also claimed it was an “unreasonable restriction” on their right to run schools guaranteed by Article 19.

But Chief Justice Kapadia said: “To say that it is an unreasonable restriction would be difficult to answer. It can’t be answered without going into the directive principles of state policy.” The directive principles enjoin the state to provide free and compulsory education to all children below 14.
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Budget should focus on Infra, education: Infosys

Budget should focus on Infra, education: Infosys

Press Trust of India, February 17, 2011 (Thiruvananthapuram)

Continued investment in education sector, allocation for development of infrastructure and investment in technology to improve e-governance were the three key areas that the coming budget should lay focus on, according to Infosys CEO, Kris Gopalakrishnan.

"My request to the government is to focus on development of infrastructure including education and improvement of governance in the coming budget," Gopalakrishnan said, addressing a press conference here.

He said the service tax and income tax problems being faced by companies should also be resolved by making processes simple so that business friction was reduced.

India would become the important centre for IT services in the next five to ten years. "We have a growing pool of engineering talent. If we had four lakh engineers coming out annually ten years back, the number now is 14 lakh," he said.

No other country, except China, was growing at this rate. In United Sates, the sector was stagnating. Infosys was focussing on emerging markets like India, China, Mexico, Brazil, Middle East, Australia and Japan, he said.

Gopalakrishnan said 63 percent of Infosys' business was centred in North America, 23 percent in Europe and 14 percent in the rest of the world. "Our target market is large businesses like banks, financial services, retailers and transportation logistic companies.

"Infosys is projected to grow faster in the coming year. But still, clouds are there," he said, citing unrest in the Middle East, growing unemployment in the developed world and volatility in financial markets which were challenges for any business.

"If the global economy slows down, this industry will also slow down," he said. Stating that he was an optimist, Gopalakrishnan said there about 2.4 lakh recruitments across the IT industry last year and it would continue be around two lakh this year also.

Gopalakrishnan said the Infosys centre here had fetched Rs 440 crore revenue in the first nine months of the current fiscal and revenue was growing at 30 percent annually.

"Though it is a small beginning here, there is great opportunity for the centre to continue to grow. We have got quality employees here and the quality of work is also good."

The centre was doing a lot of work on mobile technology, digital commerce and enterprise mobility, he said. The company officials had visited 24 campuses in Kerala last year and had already made 1,600 offers.

The annual ITES exports from Kerala were worth Rs 2,400 crore which was not a small amount, he said. On the general perception that Kerala was not an investor-friendly state, he said the company's experience had always been positive.

Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi were among the top ten IT destinations in the country for their attractiveness, Gopalakrishnan said.

Meghalaya ranks poorly in elementary education: report

Meghalaya ranks poorly in elementary education: report
2011-02-17 22:40:00

Shillong, Feb 17 (IANS) Meghalaya ranks way below the national average in imparting elementary education in the country, according to the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER), 2010.

The national average of children in the 3-4 years age group in 'anganwadi' schools is 75.7 percent, whereas Meghalaya's average is way below at 46.7 percent, revealed the report, released Thursday by Leader of Opposition Conrad K.Sangma.

According to the report, the national average of children in the age group of 6-14 out of school is 3.5 percent and Meghalaya's average is more that double at 7.2 percent.

Moreover, children between ages 3 and 6 years not attending any kind of pre-school is very high in Meghalaya and the percentage of such children in the state is increasing year after year since 1997.

Amongst the seven districts of the state, Jaintia Hills fares the worst in imparting elementary education, the report stated.

The report comes as no surprise since pre-school teachers, mostly in rural areas, are still getting a salary of Rs.1,800 despite many appeals to the government. This salary has remained unchanged for the past ten years, so many of these teachers juggle between several jobs to make ends meet.

'Many of the elementary school teachers have outsourced their jobs to others. In return they get 50 percent of the salary and carry on other work,' the report said.

'In such a scenario, how can the state expect to do well in imparting elementary education,' Sangma said.

He also claimed that the central government's flagship programme - the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme - has also lured children away from the schools in the villages.

'Many school children are not attending their classes and are taking up jobs under the MGNREGS. The state government must ensure that such instances do not take place,' Sangma said.

ASER is the largest household survey on elementary education in India.

Confusion prevails over Class V, VIII

Confusion prevails over Class V, VIII

Education Board Posted: Fri Feb 18 2011, 23:46 hrs Ludhiana:

While school board is not conducting the exams from this year, schools don’t know yet who will set question papers — SSA or teachers

Barely a few days are left for the annual examinations of Class V and VIII to begin, but government schools affiliated to the Punjab School Education Board, Mohali, are yet to start arrangements as they are confused if the question papers will be provided by the Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) or teachers will have to set them at the school level.

The confusion is a fallout of the board’s decision not to conduct the examinations of Class VIII from this year. The schools are, however, yet to receive clear instructions on who will set the question papers.

“Usually, the SSA gives us online instructions about everything. But this time, we have received no instruction from the SSA either about the question papers or the evaluation,” said the headmaster of a government school here.

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A high school teacher said: “We have prepared the question papers of all subjects for both classes, but have not given these for printing. We are waiting for the instructions of higher authorities on whether we should get these printed from the school fund or the SSA will send us the question papers.”

Ludhiana District Education Officer (Secondary) Harnam Dass, meanwhile, said: “The question papers of four subjects of Class V are sent by the SSA. But that physical education, Punjabi and Hindi will be prepared by the school. Similarly,

the question papers of Class VIII for English, social studies, mathematics and science will be sent by the SSA and for the remaining subjects, teachers will have to prepare them at the school level.”

Barred from attending school, teenager kills himself

Amartya hails Bangla school education

Amartya hails Bangla school education
TNN, Feb 18, 2011, 01.52am IST

KOLKATA: Appreciating the primary and secondary level of education in Bangladesh as compared to that in India, Amartya Sen said the percentage of girls going to school in Bangladesh is much more than that in India, which makes a significant social difference. After the country attained independence, women have taken a major role in its progress, he said.

Pratichi Institute, inaugurated by Amartya Sen on Thursday, would carry out extensive research on education. Sen, chairman of the Pratichi Trust with its focus on education, health and gender equality, said the institute would function from the present building for the next two years till it shifted to its own building at Salt Lake IA block.

Lauding the right to education for having given a "definite direction" to the mission of education, Sen said the country was moving in that direction. Ruing that the pace was not "very fast", he, however, appreciated the role of mid-day meal to attract children and prevent drop-outs. A lot of people now take a keen interest in this model.

The trust studied elementary education in Bengal, Jharkhand and Bihar and made some recommendations, many of which were being incorporated by governments. tnn

Free education is part of right to life: Court

Free education is part of right to life: Court

J. Venkatesan

“Can you say access to education is an unreasonable restriction imposed by State?”

New Delhi: Providing free and compulsory education is intended to allow all children in the age group 6-14 live with dignity, which is a facet of “right to life' under Article 21 of the Constitution, the Supreme Court said on Thursday.

A three-judge Bench of Chief Justice S.H. Kapadia and Justices K.S. Radhakrishnan and Swatanter Kumar was hearing arguments on petitions challenging the validity of the Right to Education Act, under which every child aged 6-14 shall have free and compulsory education in a neighbourhood school till the completion of elementary education.

Senior counsel Vikas Singh argued that the Act directing schools to provide free and compulsory education to 25 per cent students violated the petitioners' fundamental right to establish and administer the educational institution. The Act was violative of the fundamental right of private, unaided schools enshrined in Article 19(1)(g) — right to profession.

The CJI told counsel that the right to education should not be read in isolation; it should be tested on the touchstone of Articles 14 (right to equality), 19 (1) (g) and 21.

When counsel argued that unreasonable restrictions had been imposed on educational institutions, the CJI said, “What we are concerned [with] here is egalitarian equality and not formal equality.”

When Justice Kapadia asked whether the legislature could restrict the age to a particular group, counsel said it had such a power. The CJI then pointed out that similarly the legislature in its wisdom had carved out a particular class of disadvantaged people to provide free elementary education. “Can we not say that this is a reasonable classification within Article 14 itself?”

The ‘Right to life' had undergone a sea change; it would include the right to education and the right to proper health care and “when you test the legality of the law, you have to test the inter-relationships with reference to the Directive Principles of State Policy also. If the object of the Act was to provide inter-generational equality, it would come under right to life,” the CJI said.

Justice Kapadia further said: “When the state says that by providing free elementary education we want every child to live with dignity, can you say that access to education is an unreasonable restriction imposed by the state.”

‘Cannot interfere'

Counsel, quoting the TMA Pai judgment, argued that admitting 100 per cent of the students to an institution was an absolute right and the state could not interfere with it.

Only a regulation

Justice Swatanter Kumar pointed out that it was only a regulation and the right to admit students was not taken away. Counsel argued that it was for the state to provide access to education in government schools, Kendriya Vidyalayas or aided schools, but it could not compel “me to admit 25 per cent of students as it affected my right to admit students of my choice.”

Arguments will continue on February 24.

CBSE schools will soon have an international curriculum

CBSE schools will soon have an international curriculum
Anahita Mukherji , TNN, Feb 18, 2011, 02.05am IST

MUMBAI: Confused about whether to put your child in an international school, or one that follows an Indian board? Soon you will be able to do both. The CBSE board has pulled out yet another rabbit from its hat. Sources within the CBSE board say that schools will be allowed to adopt CBSE-I-the board's own international curriculum.

The educational format has been introduced at CBSE schools based abroad. Many feel this will drastically reduce the cost of an "international" education which has, so far, been the preserve of the elite. Currently, few middle-class students have access to international schools. CBSE-I will provide students with an international perspective at a fraction of the fee charged by other international boards.

The board plans to commence with its new venture in the next academic year. Initially the pilot project will be started in 50 schools across the country. CBSE administrators are yet to finalize the list of 50 schools. In the coming years, the board hopes to throw open the new curriculum to all those who are interested in adopting it. A year ago, the board introduced CBSE-I in 30 schools, across nine countries, including Japan and Singapore.

The "internationalized" version of the CBSE curriculum, draws from the strengths of the International Baccalaureate (IB) syllabus. CBSE-I will involve a compulsory component of social work and will also focus on developing critical thinking skills.

CBSE's international curriculum focuses a great deal on research projects and case studies as well as extra-curricular activities such as performing arts, gymnastics and even gardening. The course includes a component of information communication technology which aims at keeping students updated about the latest developments. "Drawing from other international boards, the CBSE curriculum has been tweaked to bring in a global perspective. CBSE-I has subjects like 'History of Knowledge', like it is in the IB course content," said Avnita Bir, principal of R N Podar, a CBSE school in Santa Cruz.

CBSE's international curriculum has a number of unique features, such as a greater focus on history.

"Instead of simply studying the history of India, students will get a chance to explore the city or state in which they live. At the same time, they can study about various other countries of the world," said an educator connected with the CBSE board.

CBSE-I also includes two levels of mathematics-advanced and basic. Bir is keen on implementing CBSE-I in her school once the curriculum is launched in India.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Educating India

Educating India
February 16th, 2011
By Jayant V. Narlikar

The following story from a particular edition of the Ramayana sets the tone of this article. In the aftermath of the destruction of Ravan, Ram returned to Ayodhya to set up his rule. Ram Rajya, as his rule was called, became synonymous with good and just rule. Anyone demanding justice had full access to the king. So one day a dog with a ferocious appearance entered Ram’s court asking for justice. Ram asked him to state the details of his complaint. “Sire,” said the dog, “I was following a sanyasi as he went around begging for alms and with no provocation on my part, he kicked me. He is standing outside and I demand that he be suitably punished.” Ram called the sanyasi who readily admitted to the act. But he gave a reason. He said: “Sire, I was begging for food to eat and wherever I went, the housewife who opened the door immediately shut it on seeing this ferocious dog. As a result I went hungry. Since it was all because of this dog, I took my anger out on him by kicking him. I agree that it was an unjust act on my part and the dog cannot be held responsible for how he looks. So I am willing to accept any just punishment.” Then Ram turned to the dog and asked him what he thought would be a just punishment. The dog thought for a while and then said: “Sire, I suggest that you create a vidyapeeth, and make him its kulapati”. “But that is an honour, not a punishment!” said Ram. “I beg to differ, Sire!” said the dog. “The responsibility of running a vidyapeeth will cause him enough mental anguish which would be a good punishment for what he did to me.”

The situation prevailing today in the Indian universities is no different. The atmosphere in which a vice-chancellor (VC) has to function is volatile with pressures coming from students, faculty, the non-teaching staff, outside threats to him and to the security of the university et cetera. Although the university is autonomous, there is enough political interference from outside and the last word often rests not with the VC but with the babus in the secretariat. The days when VCs, like Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan or Acharya Narendra Dev, were towering personalities commanding respect are long past. The post itself has been seriously devalued by the procedure of selection. Would you have expected the personalities just named applying for the post, being short-listed and interviewed?

It could be argued that this procedure followed in Maharashtra, a supposedly progressive state, is a necessity today because no other action involving selection for such an important post is credible enough. The procedure whereby the chancellor (or the appointing authority), after receiving expert advice, invites a distinguished academician to accept the post, would be viewed with suspicion. The fact that the system worked well in the old days of pre-Independence (and even for a few years post-Independence), speaks for the steep decline in moral values in our public life. For example, I was shocked to read about a VC of a very old university publicly thanking the state education minister for keeping his word by making him the VC.

The situation at the other end of the spectrum — in school education — is equally dismal. Government-aided schools are asked to admit more than 80 children per class because there is a shortage of schools. What can a teacher do with such a large number of pupils? Naturally, because of bad or no teaching in the school, students seek the help of coaching classes outside. In addition, there are government missives: fail no student until Class 8. If student is really weak in a particular subject, it is the responsibility of the teacher to stay after school hours and teach the student to the required level. Which teacher — who is already overworked and underpaid — is going to accept this extra responsibility? So all students are declared passed. The parents are blissful and satisfied that their wards are doing well, until they reach Class 8 when they discover with a shock that the kids cannot even add, subtract or read and write.

In 1980, when I was on a sabbatical visit to the University College, Cardiff, the headmaster of the primary school in our neighbourhood sent circulars to all the houses in the neighbourhood urging parents to send their children to his school stating that in order to increase the number of students the entry age had been reduced by six months to five years. He had done so because reduced birth rate had decreased the school student population and the government was threatening to close down schools with a low number of students. This example illustrates the economics of supply and demand for available schools versus students seeking admission.

Logic dictates that in India, where there is a grave shortage of schools, we reduce the number of students per class to half, and double the number of schools. The number of teachers needs to be increased even more since the present numbers are already inadequate and teachers are being hired on a contract basis at shamefully low “daily wages”, barely above the legal lower limits. This will require huge increases in the budgetary provisions of the ministry of human resource and development. But whichever political party is in power, this department is always kept on the backburner. There may be innumerable discussions and reports on education but when it comes to the implementation of any recommendation the result can be summarised by the four letter word, “zero”.

The Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, himself a distinguished academic, and our Nobel laureate, Mr Amartya Sen, have stressed the need to empower our youth through education. If India aspires to be a developed nation by 2020, it needs to develop huge human resources and education is the most crucial qualification that adds value to the human being. Despite many declarations from the pulpit, politicians of all parties do not seem to appreciate the truth behind this dictum. Or, perhaps, they do, and see in the educated electorate a threat to their continuation in power!

_ Jayant V. Narlikar is a professor emiritus at Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics, Pune University Campus, and a renowned astrophysicist

SC Begins Crucial Hearing on Right to Education

SC Begins Crucial Hearing on Right to Education
New Delhi | Feb 17, 2011

With the admission season on, the Supreme Court today began a crucial hearing on the validity of some provisions of the Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act with minority and private unaided institutions opposing the mandatory reservation of 25 per cent seats for economically backward sections under the legislation.

A Bench comprising Chief Justice S H Kapadia and Justices K S Radhakrishnan and Swantanter Kumar took up the matter on a priority basis keeping in mind that the admission process for the nursery has to be completed by April.

Opening the arguments for some Uttar Pradesh-based minority institutions and Association of Unaided Schools from Karnataka, former Additional Solicitor General Vikas Singh put up a 3-point opposition to the law contending that it violated the rights of private educational institutions under Article 19(1)(g).

He said the Act was coming in the way of autonomy of private managements to run their institutions without government interference.

Singh said it was for the state to ensure the right to education to children between the age of 6 to 14 years but it has no right to impose any reservation on minority and unaided private schools.

Further, the Act, he said, violates the rights of private institutions guaranteed under Article 19(g) as "minority and private unaided institutions have a right to admit students of their choice".

"Any legislation cannot interfere with that right," the senior advocate submitted.

He said private and minority institutions cannot be forced to work under the Act as it would amount to interfering with their right to administration which is recognised by the CBSE, ICSE or the state board.

During the hearing on January 21, the court had taken note of the government affidavit which said the issue did not involve Article 15(5) of the Constitution.

The court said a three-judge bench can hear the matter if the issue of of basic principle of the Constitution was not raised.

The main petitioner Society for Un-aided Private Schools, Rajasthan, and a host of associations representing various private schools have questioned the validity of the Act on the ground that it impinged on their rights to run the educational institutions.

The apex court had noted that since the amendment to the Constitution which led to the enactment of the Right to Education Act has been challenged, the matter would be placed before a larger bench to decide its legal validity.

The petitioners had contended that the issues involved in the Act relate to Article 15 (5) and to Article 21(A) of the Constitution.

The court was hearing a batch of petitions which claimed the Act violated the rights of private educational institutions under Article 19(1)(g) which provided maximum autonomy to private managements to run their institutions without governmental interference.

The Act, which made free and compulsory education a fundamental right for children between 6-14 years, also mandated that private educational institutions have to reserve 25 per cent of the seats for children from poor families.

Article 21(A) says the state shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of six to fourteen years in such a manner as the state may, by law, determine.

Article 15 (5) of the Constitution enables the state to make provisions for advancement of education for weaker sections of society relating to admission in educational institutions.

The petitions contended that the RTE Act, 2009, is "unconstitutional" and "violative" of fundamental rights.

The petitioners cited the Supreme Court's 11-judge Constitution bench ruling in TMA Pai case wherein it was ruled that maximum autonomy should be provided to private educational institutions.

Ensuring children learn a challenge

Ensuring children learn a challenge
HRD ministry is seeking a budget of Rs34,000 cr for implementing the RTE. This is a significant jump from last year’s elementary education allocation of Rs22,667 crore
School Economics | Yamini Aiyar

Budget 2011 is all set to give elementary education a significant boost. Media reports indicate the human resource development (HRD) ministry is seeking a budget of Rs34,000 crore for implementing the Right to Education Act (RTE). This is a significant jump from last year’s elementary education allocation of Rs22,667 crore, of which Rs15,000 crore was allocated to the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), the primary vehicle for delivering RTE.

Also See | Literacy: A Mixed Report Card (PDF)

There is little argument that more money is needed if schools are to comply with RTE norms. The challenge lies in ensuring this money is spent efficiently and effectively to ensure that children actually learn. And if there is one lesson that SSA affords us, it is that the business-as-usual model is simply not good enough. Here’s why.

To begin with, as we reported in this series last year, significant portions of SSA funds remain unspent. Expenditure has seen some improvement—in 2009-10, 83% of SSA funds were spent, an improvement from 70% expenditure in 2008-09 (expenditure includes unspent monies from previous years). But for a 10-year-old programme, this persistent under-spending is a sign of inefficiency.

Moreover, delays are rampant. For the last two years, my colleagues and I have been tracking receipt and expenditure of SSA grants at schools through a project called PAISA. Annual surveys are conducted between October and December every year—halfway through the fiscal year. A mere 50% of the schools involved reported receipt of funds at the time of the survey. This improves to about 80% by March-end, suggesting money moves slowly through the system and reaches schools at the end of the fiscal year.

No surprise then that the bulk of SSA expenditure occurs in the last three months of the year. Late arrival of money results in schools rushing to incur expenditure to meet reporting deadlines, without giving adequate consideration to their needs and plans. The result: money gets spent poorly and often remains unspent. Pouring more money down this inefficient system without addressing the delays will only exacerbate this trend. Another structural problem with the business-as-usual SSA model is the weak planning architecture. By design, SSA budgetary allocations are made on the basis of annual work plans. The process begins, at least notionally, with school plans that get aggregated at the district and, finally, the state level. The objective is to ensure that plans and subsequent expenditure allocations reflect school needs and priorities.

Ironically, despite a move toward decentralized planning, Central government planning guidelines allow little room for flexibility and de facto, plans remain centralized. Here’s an interesting example. SSA introduced an innovation fund that provides a Rs1 crore grant at the district level. But the scheme formulated guidelines that narrowly define innovation into computer education—half the funds are meant for purchasing computers, girl’s education and early child care, among others. As a result, if a district wants to use its innovation fund to improve training, introduce a pedagogical experiment or even monitor schools, it can’t. Interestingly, computers are rarely found in schools. According to the latest Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) report, 92% primary schools do not have computers and this is one of the reasons that countrywide only 61% of innovation funds were spent in 2009-10. This centralization pervades all the way down to schools, where rigid funding guidelines determine both the quantum of funds that ought to reach a school and how this must be spent. So schools have little flexibility in allocating resources to school-specific priorities, reducing school planning to a fictional exercise.

There are two consequences of this de facto centralization. One, that centralization creates disincentives for creative planning and, as a result, planning has become a mechanical annual top-up of funds, one which doesn’t account for financial performance and school needs. Inefficiencies of one year simply transfer on to the next. Second, states that do innovate—Punjab recently introduced various efforts to improve outcomes and Bihar has significantly improved its enrolment—do so either by adopting low-cost strategies or by finding alternative financial streams. As a result, SSA expenditure has a limited impact.

How can the plan process be strengthened? The answer lies in a radical overhaul of the current model to one that invests in planning capacity at the ground level. Greater flexibility is key but equally, plans need to be made on the basis of clearly defined goals rather than centralized planning guidelines. This requires strong state leadership. Second, planners need to have real-time information about annual expenditure and learning levels. So, a greater investment in tracking and reporting is essential.

Above all, if plans are to result in effective expenditure they need to be bottom-up. Schools need to be genuinely empowered to demand resources and allocate them based on their priorities. RTE, with its provisions for school management committees tasked with making school development plans, is an opportunity to do just this.

Focused investments on empowering school committees is the only way to alter the business-as-usual model of simply increasing budgets without addressing key structural problems. Only then will the proposed Budget expansion for elementary education result in the right to education being realized.

(Data collected and analysed by Avani Kapur and Anirvan Chowdhury)

Yamini Aiyar is a senior research fellow and director of the Accountability Initiative of the Centre for Policy Research.

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Teachers protest delay in appointment

Teachers protest delay in appointment
Gaurav Bhatia, TNN, Feb 16, 2011, 10.59pm IST

LUDHIANA: Even as the city's government schools face shortage of teachers, the education department seems to be taking its own time to make fresh appointments. On Wednesday, those selected for the teacher's post held a protest outside the office of district education officer, demanding that appointment letters be issued urgently.

The alleged lackadaisical attitude of the department is not only costing the teachers dear, but also spelling trouble for students who're suffering due to the shortage.

Interestingly, while candidates with higher ranks are waiting for there turn to get the appointment letter, those who secured ranks above 300 have got the same. All these candidates were selected under Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan as maths, science, Hindi, Punjabi or English teachers.

One of the candidates, Amandeep Singh, said, 'With the 16th rank, I had hoped to start working soon. But I're still waiting for the letter.''

Another candidate, Sunita Prabhakar, said she left her previous job because she was selected under Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan. ''But my future is uncertain now. Neither will I get salary from my previous school nor from the education department as I have not been allotted a school.'' Candidate Anil said this delay could lead to a problem of seniority in the long run.

''Candidates with lower ranks will claim seniority because they joined much earlier,'' he explained. Parminder, a teacher, said on one hand there was shortage of teachers in schools, on the other, appointment letters were not being

Expressing helplessness in the matter, district education officer Harbhajan Ram said, ''We have been instructed not to issue appointment letters to the ones who got higher ranks. It's not only Ludhiana but candidates to be posted at Khanna, Samrala and Jagraon who are affected by this decision. But I hope spoken to the higher officials of the department and we hope to issue the letters in a day or two.''

Literacy: a mixed report card

Literacy: a mixed report card
The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan was the government’s marquee programme to fix this literacy deficit

Six decades after independence, India is yet to achieve 100% literacy and, in fact, lags some of its immediate neighbours such as Bangladesh in female literacy in the younger age groups. The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) was the government’s marquee programme to fix this literacy deficit.

Also See The Literacy Report Card (PDF)

However, a review, using government data, of this scheme by the Accountability Initiative of the Centre for Policy Research reveals while substantial funds have been earmarked for SSA, problems of utilization and absorption remain. This is the second in the four-part series ahead of the Union budget due to be presented on 28 February.

Also Read Our complete Budget 2011 coverage

Compiled by: Prashant K. Nanda/Mint

Graphics by Yogesh Kumar/Mint; Illustrations by Shyamal Banerjee/Mint