Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Teachers asked for deposit

Karnataka

Teachers asked for deposit

HUBLI: A large number of teachers, who were appointed to work for 12 months on contract basis in a government scheme, were reportedly forced to deposit one month salary as security by the recruiting agency illegally. The teachers have been alleging the agency of discriminating against the Kannada medium teachers by fixing less salary than what their English medium counterparts get.
The state government has outsourced around 2,500 teachers for Adarsh Vidyalaya and upgraded schools under Rastriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA). It has appointed Astrix Technologies Private Limited, a Bangalore-based consulting and IT service company to appoint the teachers. The agency which has appointed teachers for the next 12 months, has put a rider to the appointees that they have to deposit the first month’s salary as security.
However, the government has not permitted the agency to collect any such deposits. However, at the time of issuing offer letters, the agency has been collecting the amount through Demand Drafts (DDs).
The candidates were clearly told that it would be a ‘formal document’ and that they would stand to lose their posts if they did not pay the sum on time.
Apart from this, the government and the agency looking down upon Kannada medium teachers has been a cause for heartburn among many. While the Kannada medium teachers were offered a salary of Rs 12,000 per month, the salary was fixed at `14,000 for English medium teachers. With all this discrimination and unscientific recruitment, teachers all over the state have been thinking of quitting, according to sources.
Rajesh (name changed), a recently appointed Adarsh Vidyalaya teacher, told The New Indian Express that the agency has been appointing over 4,000 employees, including 2,500 teachers in the state and has collected over `5 crore as deposit.
“There was no intimation about ‘security deposit’ when the recruitment notification was published. It was only after completing the recruitment process that the appointees were asked verbally to deposit the amount. It shows that they are not collecting the deposit legally,” he said.
Astrix Technologies Pvt Ltd Director R Shankar told The New Indian Express that the deposit amount was ‘refundable’. If any candidate quits or abstains from classes, the agency has to pay Rs 1,000 per day to the government as a penalty. That is why we are collecting the deposit, he claimed. However, he agreed that it had not been mentioned in the MoU between the recruitment agency and the state government.

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Madurai: Headmaster surrenders in abuse case

Madurai: Headmaster surrenders in abuse case
TNN | Aug 31, 2011, 06.00AM IST
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Read more:Headmaster|abuse case
MADURAI: The headmaster of a government school, accused of sexually abusing school children, surrendered at a court in Madurai on Tuesday.

M Arogiasamy, 54, on the run for the past 45 days from the police, surrendered at the judicial magistrate court here in the evening. He was remanded to police custody and sent to the Central Prison here. He has been evading arrest ever since parents of the students of the school at Pothumbu, 12 kms from Madurai, lodged a complaint at the All Woman Police station at Koodalpudur on July 14.

The students had alleged that the headmaster was sexually abusing them for several months. He had reportedly faced similar allegations in the schools where he served in the past too and was transferred after it was brought to the notice of the education department officials. Though the education department suspended him soon after the complaint was lodged, the police failed to trace and arrest him.

Police officials claimed that they didn't know where Arogiasamy was all these days. "Only after we take Arogiasamy into custody and interrogate, we will come to know where he was all these days. We have planned to seek his custody on Wednesday," said a police official.

The failure of the police to arrest the absconding headmaster had turned into a major scandal after All India Democratic Women's Association, the women's wing of the CPM, took up the issue. AIADWA members had alleged that Arogiasamy was protected by the police because of his proximity to a senior district administration official. The AIADWA campaign received a fillip when CPM politburo member Brinda Karat visited Pothumbu on Saturday last and accused the police of ignoring the complaints filed by parents of the victimized students and their repeated pleas for the arrest of the HM.

The Madurai bench of the Madras high court had asked the Child Welfare Committee (CWC), a state body, to investigate the case after a parent approached the court. The committee submitted its report to the high court on August 4 and suggested action against all teachers in Pothumbu school as they were aware of Arogiasamy's crime. According to the report, the students had told teachers about their plight, but the latter didn't take any action. The committee also expressed shock at the police inaction.

In its nine-page report, the CWC has suggested counselling for all the victims - 97 students narrated their experiences before the committee-and called for restructuring rules governing school education in the state to end sexual harassment of children in schools.

India’s fast growth fails to lift primary education

India’s fast growth fails to lift primary education

By James Lamont in New Delhi

Primary education standards in India are as bad as in Papua New Guinea and crisis-torn Afghanistan and Yemen, according to a team of Indian development economists.

In a study of schools in the country’s most populous states they found that fast-paced economic growth has failed to improve India’s basic educational standards over the past 15 years. The Public Report on Basic Education Revisited showed some children were unable to read after three years of schooling across the Hindi-speaking northern belt.
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“When the investigators arrived, half of the government schools were still devoid of any teaching activity,” the report said. “In a functioning democracy, this would be a major national concern. Yet little notice has been taken in the corridors of power.”

According to Jean Drèze, one of the report’s researchers and a prominent Indian policymaker, India now finds itself in an adult-literacy peer group that includes Afghanistan, Papua New Guinea and Yemen.

The ratio of students to teachers in Indian primary schools was three times higher than in China, with a typical class in Bihar, one of the poorest states, having as many as 92 pupils.

“After 20 years of meteoric economic growth, there’s been so little improvement in terms of the living standards of the people,” Mr Drèze said. “There’s a very serious crisis. We have to wake up to the fact that we are relying too heavily on economic growth.”

There are 5.5m teachers in India, but at least 1.2m more are required. “The reason there aren’t any teachers in school is because states have not recruited them for many years,” said Kapil Sibal, minister of Human Resources Development.

The report’s authors said that it had taken years to analyse and verify data collected in states such as Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. One team member, A.K. Shiva Kumar, said that he and his colleagues had also reviewed educational data for the 2009-2010 year and found them to be “identical” to those of 2006.

The UN Development Programme’s Human Development Report for 2010 said Indians received just 4.4 years of schooling on average, compared with 7.5 years for China’s citizens. Sri Lanka outscores both with 8.2 years of schooling and is on par with China’s 99 per cent literacy rate for young female adults.

“Most developing countries are talking of [offering their children] 10 years of schooling,” said Mr Kumar, who is also a development economist and advises Unicef, the UN’s child welfare agency. “Here there’s lots of focus on growth rates but we are not looking at how India gets to 10 years of schooling.”

Meera Samson, a researcher at the Delhi-based Collaborative Research and Dissemination and report co-author, said head teachers had not been appointed at 20 per cent of the schools surveyed. At another 12 per cent of schools, only one teacher had been offered a position.

Last year, India’s parliament passed legislation requiring the state to provide universal education.

SC seeks action plan on execution of RTE in NE

SC seeks action plan on execution of RTE in NE

Posted on August 25, 2011 by iSikkim | Category: Governance Slider Post | 38 views | Comments Off

iGovernment

Supreme Court has asked the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) to prepare a plan for development of education system in the NE states

By Suresh K Tiwary

New Delhi: Taking a strong view on the poor condition of education system in the north-eastern states, the Apex Court has directed the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) to prepare a detailed scheme for implementation of Right to Education (RTE) for this region.
The three-judge bench comprising of Justices Altamas kabir, Cyric Joseph and SS Nijjar asked the NCPCR to come up with a detailed plan of action regarding the development of education system and implementation of RTE in this backward region of the country.

In 2007, a letter was sent to the Supreme Court regarding the apathetic condition of the malnourished children of the north-eastern states of the country and the Court has taken suo-motto cognizance of the same.
Posting the matter for further hearing on September 19, the court directed the NCPCR to study all the requirements in terms of educational infrastructure as per the affidavit submitted by various states and come up with a scheme for implementation of the RTE Act in the region.
Earlier, the court had ordered to enquire about the main reason for the apathetic condition of the children of north-east states, who ultimately migrate to Tamil Nadu for their education.

The enquiry report revealed that due to poverty and social background, the parents of the children handed over them to some persons, thinking that the children will be provided with better education and health care, but unfortunately landed up in orphanages.

Several States Lethargic in Setting up NCPCR

Several States Lethargic in Setting up NCPCR
The Minister of States for (I/C) of Women and Child Development Smt. Krishna Tirath today revealed in Rajya Sabha that majority of states have not set up National Commission for Protection of Child Rights.

She revealed the names of the states: (i) Andhra Pradesh (ii)Arunachal Pradesh (iii) Gujarat (iv) Haryana (v) Himachal Pradesh (vi) Jharkhand (vii) Kerala(viii) Manipur (ix) Meghalaya (x) Mizoram (xi) Nagaland (xii) Tamil Nadu (xiii) Tripura (xiv) Uttar Pradesh (xv) Uttarakhand (xvi) West Bengal (xvii) Andaman and Nicobar (xviii) Chandigarh (xix) Dadra and Nagar Haveli (xx) Daman and Diu (xxi) Lakshadweep (xxii) Pondicherry. The Act is not applicable to Jammu and Kashmir.

In reply to a question of Ministry’s persuasion efforts to the States for setting up the Commission, she revealed that the Commission for Protection of Child Rights (CPCR), Act, 2005 while providing for setting up of State Commissions for Protection of Child Rights, does not make it mandatory for the State Governments to do so. However, the State Governments have been urged from time to time by the Ministry in writing and during discussions with them at the Conferences of State Ministers/ State Secretaries that they should set-up these Statutory Bodies.

Most states have no child rights panel: Krishna Tirath

Most states have no child rights panel: Krishna Tirath
Submitted by admin4 on 25 August 2011 - 7:37pm

India News

By IANS,

New Delhi : Many states in the country, including Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Haryana, have not set up the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), Women and Child Development Minister Krishna Tirath said Thursday.

Tirath said in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha that state governments have been urged from time to time about setting up state commissions for the protection of child rights.

However, a majority of states had not set up the NCPCR, which is an apex body that safeguards the rights of a child in the age group of 0 to 18 years, she said.

The other states are Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Kerala, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand, Andaman and Nicobar, Chandigarh, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu, Lakshadweep and Pondicherry.

The act is not applicable to Jammu and Kashmir, she said.

Most states have no child rights panel: Krishna Tirath

Most states have no child rights panel: Krishna Tirath
Submitted by admin4 on 25 August 2011 - 7:37pm

India News

By IANS,

New Delhi : Many states in the country, including Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Haryana, have not set up the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), Women and Child Development Minister Krishna Tirath said Thursday.

Tirath said in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha that state governments have been urged from time to time about setting up state commissions for the protection of child rights.

However, a majority of states had not set up the NCPCR, which is an apex body that safeguards the rights of a child in the age group of 0 to 18 years, she said.

The other states are Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Kerala, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand, Andaman and Nicobar, Chandigarh, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu, Lakshadweep and Pondicherry.

The act is not applicable to Jammu and Kashmir, she said.

DAN Govt to filter ‘Bogus’ teachers

DAN Govt to filter ‘Bogus’ teachers
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Al Ngullie | DIMAPUR | August 24


New directives to School Edu deptt; those appointed
without sanctioned posts to be considered as bogus

Ruling Legislators of the Democratic Alliance of Nagaland (DAN) Legislature Party today took a number of sweeping decisions concerning the alleged dubious appointments of school teachers in the School Education department. The DAN Legislature Party meeting, presided by Planning Minister TR Zeliang, has decided to ‘filter’ sections of the teachers who are currently under censure. The teachers include those probed by the Vigilance Commission’s Special Investigation Team (SIT), those under the purview of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) and Rastriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan and the third, the “aggrieved teachers.”
TR Zeliang, also Parliamentary Affairs minister, interacted with The Morung Express tonight and informed of the decisions taken during the meeting, said to have been convened primarily to discuss the “bogus teachers’ issue.” Zeliang said the legislators have directed the School Education department to submit a number of reports concerning appointments of teachers.
“We have asked the (School Education) department to bring the latest report of the SIT; latest reports of the SVC (Special Verification Committee) and reports on the SSA and RMSA appointments,” Zeliang informed over the phone. The Commissioner & Secretary and Director and other officials of the department were also in the meeting, it was informed.
According to the DAN leader, the legislators have decided to ‘ask’ the School Education authorities to submit ‘latest report’ of the RMSA and the SSA. All ‘sanctioned posts’ falling within the two institutions should be advertised and then interviews conducted, he explained.
Likewise, he said, the legislators have decided to ‘ask’ the department to terminate teachers – those probed by the Vigilance Commission’s SIT – and were found to have used ‘forged signatures’ or appointed “without sanctioned post.” As for all the “doubtful ones”, he said, their case should be “kept in abeyance.”
Queried about the fate of a section of teachers who call themselves the “aggrieved teachers,” Zeliang said the department has been ‘asked’ to examine their case and study whether they were appointed “against sanctioned posts” or not. “Those appointed without sanctioned posts are to be considered as bogus” he said. He said the department must ‘initiate action’ against the “appointing authority” for appointing them “without sanctioned posts.”
The minister explained that “appointment without sanctioned post” is the chief reason behind imbalance in the distribution of teachers, that is, surplus teachers in some schools and shortage in others.

'Principal withdraws schools fund, misuses'

'Principal withdraws schools fund, misuses'
Source: Hueiyen News Service

Imphal, August 21 2011: Democratic Students Alliance of Manipur (DESAM) has charged the Principal of TG Higher Secondary School, K Sumati for wrongfully withdrawing and misusing School's fund amounting to Rs 14,70,840 .

Breafing media persons at a press conference the General Secretary of DESAM, M Angamba said that for the current academic session altogether 530 students have been admitted in class eleven in Arts, Science and Commerce stream.

From these students an amount of Rs 10,12,250 have been collected as admission fees and was deposited in Imphal Urban Co-operative Bank.

Another amount of Rs 8,70,225 was also deposited in State Bank of India.

But when the school officials check the bank balance in Imphal Urban Co-operative Bank recently an amount of Rs 4,00,635 only was found in the account.

Similarly the bank balance in SBI was also drastically been reduced to Rs 11,000 only.

This came to light when the students of the school went to the bank to withdraw the enrolment and registration fees of the students amounting to Rs 2,00,500 from the bank.

He further said that from the total amount deposited in both the banks which amounts to Rs 18,82,475 a sum of Rs 14,70,840 have been transected by the then Principal of TG Higher Secondary School who is now the Principal of Anand Singh Higher Secondary School.

She is also the DDO in-charge.

Principal K Sumati was unable to produce any account statement and cash book and other related documents related with the withdrawal of the said amount when the student body questioned her.

She instead requested the student body that she will bring out the account statement in October which clearly shows that she has misused the whole lot of amount transected by her.

A joint meeting in this regard was organized and memorandums have been submitted to the Education Minister, Vigilance Commissioner, Principle Secretary (Education S) and other top officials.

Consequently K Sumati was also transferred as the Principle of Anand Singh Higher Secondary recently.

General Secretary of DESAM further said that this act of K Sumati is a clear sign of violation of the Right to Education Act.

She should be dismissed at the earliest possible time.

Surprisingly she was recommended by the Education Department for the National Teachers Award.

Must read for Madhya Pradesh students — an RSS magazine

Must read for Madhya Pradesh students — an RSS magazine

The students of government-run primary schools in Madhya Pradesh are now compulsorily reading what their counterparts in the RSS-run Saraswati Shishu Mandirs have been doing for a long time. The first copies of Devputra, a children’s magazine published by Indore-based Saraswati Bal Kalyan Nyas, have reached over 83,400 primary schools across the state.

The Hindi monthly, which boasts of a circulation of 1.3 lakh, has devoted a special issue to RSS ideologue M S Golwalkar in the past. Senior RSS functionary Krishna Kumar Ashthana heads the trust that brings out the magazine.

The magazine will cost the exchequer Rs 1.5 crore. The School Education department had last week issued a circular to Block Resource Coordinators asking them to ensure prompt delivery to schools. The periodical will register a quantum jump in its circulation with each of the government primary schools getting two copies.

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“We haven’t made any changes in the content. It’s a regular issue like the previous ones,” the publication’s managing editor Vikas Dave told The Indian Express.

When the BJP government mooted the proposal last year, officials in the Education department had raised concerns as a major chunk of fund under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan to get children to read books was being diverted towards paying annual subscription of Devputra.

Education Minister Archana Chitnis had, however, said, “There’s nothing wrong in prescribing good literature for students.”

The Congress has termed the exercise as “saffronisation of school students”, alleging that the magazine usually serves to reinforce the core ideology of the RSS. Congress spokesman Pramod Gugalia called it a conspiracy to expose students to RSS ideology.

Delhi civic agency to hire teachers online

Delhi civic agency to hire teachers online
The whole process of appointment for 1,600 teachers on contract will be online, right from inviting applications to declaration of results
Submitted on 08/24/2011 - 06:27:03 AM

New Delhi: After engaging with people on social networking sites such as Facebook, the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) is now set to try an online recruitment programme for the first time, an official said.

"After introducing e-Governance in the local body, the MCD would conduct online recruitment for teachers in its schools for the first time. This would be for engagement of 1,600 teachers on contract," MCD's Education Committee Chairman Mahinder Nagpal said.

"The whole process of appointment will be online, right from inviting applications to declaration of results," he added, reports IANS.

According to the civic agency, online recruitment will add to transparency in the process of recruitment in over 700 MCD schools.

DPS COVERED UNDER RTI ACT: CIC

DPS COVERED UNDER RTI ACT: CIC
PRESS TRUST OF INDIA
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New Delhi, Aug 24: Central Information Commission today declared that one of the schools of prestigious Delhi Public School comes under the ambit of RTI Act as it received substantial funding from the government in the form of subsidised land.
The transparency panel said that Delhi Public School, Rohini is a public authority within the ambit of the RTI Act as it is controlled by different agencies under the Delhi administration like DDA and Directorate of Education.
The case relates to an RTI applicant Mohit Goel who sought information from DPS, Rohini on admission procedures and admissions made under the policy framework specified by the Department of Education for 2010-11 for pre-school.
The school refused to give any information saying that the RTI Act is not applicable on it as it is a private unaided organisation and also cited clause of exemption of personal and private information.
Before the Commission, Goel challenged the reasons put forth by the school saying that over 10,000 sq m of land has been allotted to the school by the DDA at a nominal rent of Rs 10 per annum while another 6,000 sq m has been allotted at the concessional rate of Rs 65 lakh per acre.
He said the school is under indirect government control in as much as the regulating, governing and controlling of the school is as per provisions of Delhi School Education Act and Rules, 1973. Goel said two nominees from the Delhi Administration(Directorate of Education) hold important positions of control in the management committee and the Directorate of Education is also custodian of all information related to the school.
Information Commissioner Annpurna Dixit pointed out that the letter of grant of land says that "DDA reserves the right to alter any terms and conditions on its discretion thereby establishing its control over the way school uses this land given free to the school by the DDA in a prime area of the capital which at today's rate, is valued at several crores of rupees".
She directed the school to make arrangement for the processing of the RTI applications and pro-active disclosure as mandated under the section four of the transparency law.
"India is facing the difficult task of ensuring social justice and equity to all people and the model chosen by the government spreading welfare and its benefits through private schools, which are tasked and assisted for this purpose is commendable. The crucial role that information plays in achieving this objective cannot be understated," she said.
Dixit added that it is in this context that section 2(h) recognises that non-state actors may have responsibilities of disclosing information which would be "useful and necessary for the people they serve".

Lastupdate on : Wed, 24 Aug 2011 21:30:00 Mecca time
Lastupdate on : Wed, 24 Aug 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Thu, 25 Aug 2011 00:00:00 IST

DPS covered under RTI Act: CIC

DPS covered under RTI Act: CIC
PTI | 08:08 PM,Aug 24,2011

Goel said two nominees from the Delhi Administration (Directorate of Education) hold important positions of control in the management committee and the Directorate of Education is also custodian of all information related to the school.Information Commissioner Annpurna Dixit pointed out that the letter of grant of land says that "DDA reserves the right to alter any terms and conditions on its discretion thereby establishing its control over the way school uses this land given free to the school by the DDA in a prime area of the capital which at today's rate, is valued at several crores of rupees".She directed the school to make arrangement for the processing of the RTI applications and pro-active disclosure as mandated under the section four of the transparency law."India is facing the difficult task of ensuring social justice and equity to all people and the model chosen by the government spreading welfare and its benefits through private schools, which are tasked and assisted for this purpose is commendable. The crucial role that information plays in achieving this objective cannot be understated," she said.Dixit added that it is in this context that section 2(h) recognises that non-state actors may have responsibilities of disclosing information which would be "useful and necessary for the people they serve".

Jharkhand to launch Healthy School Project

Jharkhand to launch Healthy School Project
The Unicef backed project, to be launched on September 5, envisages detailed medical check-up of school students at the interval of six months
Submitted on 08/30/2011 - 11:49:30 AM
By Chandrabindu

Ranchi: The Jharkhand Health Department in collaboration with Unicef has decided to introduce health card facility for children enrolled in government schools upto class eight.

As part of the proposed Healthy School programme to be launched on Teachers’ day (September 5), the new facility would make medical check-up a mandatory exercise for all students to undergo at the interval of each six months.

Students found to be suffering from serious disease would be referred to advanced diagnostic check-up and treatment to major government hospitals.

Health cards, to be upgraded for biometric operation later, carry details of the students along with their medical history.

“Entire cost of preparing the health cards and arranging for medical examination and treatment would be borne out by the government,” said Jharkhand Primary Education Director DK Saxena.

To begin with, the Healthy programme would be launched at over 1200 primary and middle schools across Ranchi. Upon successful operation, the facility would be extended to rest of the State by next year.

“In Ranchi, about 1.50 lakh students will be benefited from the programme,” Saxena added.

Citing the findings of National Family Health Survey, officials said about 70 per cent of teen-aged girls enrolled in government schools suffer from anaemia.

About 25 per cent of students are found to be suffering from ear-nose-throat (EnT) and skin problems, which often leads to prolonged absence of the students in classes.

SC seeks action plan on execution of RTE in NE

SC seeks action plan on execution of RTE in NE
It has asked the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) to prepare a plan for development of education system in the NE states
Submitted on 08/25/2011 - 12:20:20 PM
By Suresh K Tiwary

New Delhi: Taking a strong view on the poor condition of education system in the north-eastern states, the Apex Court has directed the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) to prepare a detailed scheme for implementation of Right to Education (RTE) for this region.

The three-judge bench comprising of Justices Altamas kabir, Cyric Joseph and SS Nijjar asked the NCPCR to come up with a detailed plan of action regarding the development of education system and implementation of RTE in this backward region of the country.

In 2007, a letter was sent to the Supreme Court regarding the apathetic condition of the malnourished children of the north-eastern states of the country and the Court has taken suo-motto cognizance of the same.

Posting the matter for further hearing on September 19, the court directed the NCPCR to study all the requirements in terms of educational infrastructure as per the affidavit submitted by various states and come up with a scheme for implementation of the RTE Act in the region.

Earlier, the court had ordered to enquire about the main reason for the apathetic condition of the children of north-east states, who ultimately migrate to Tamil Nadu for their education.

The enquiry report revealed that due to poverty and social background, the parents of the children handed over them to some persons, thinking that the children will be provided with better education and health care, but unfortunately landed up in orphanages.

Demand for corporal punishment-free schools through RTE

Demand for corporal punishment-free schools through RTE
TNN | Aug 28, 2011, 01.58PM IST

MANGALORE: Students, teachers and educationists unanimously demanded that the state frame rules under the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act to make schools free of corporal punishments and mental harassment to children.

People raised the demand at a public hearing organized by Mathews Philip, representative appointed by National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) for Karnataka to monitor the implementation of RTE Act, at the SDM Law College here on Friday.

Mathews said that no child shall be subjected to physical punishments or mental harassments under Section 17 (1) of the RTE Act. Similarly, the Section 17 (2) of the Act specifically directs higher authorities to recommend disciplinary action against errant teachers or head of the institutions. Further, parents also can approach the child welfare committee under the Juvenile Justice Act, if a child was subjected to physical or mental torture in an institute.

A majority of the participants demanded that infrastructure be provided and quality of education be ensured in all government schools. Revision of curriculum, inclusion of moral education in curriculum, appointment of teachers for special children, filling all vacant posts of teachers, formation of RTE Act monitoring committees at Panchayat levels, abolition of rank system in private schools and making local governments more responsible towards education are some of the major suggestions put forth by participants in the consultation.
Mathews said that he would hold consultations in all districts in the state in the days to come. A consolidated file of suggestions will be submitted to the NCPCR, he said and added that a copy of the file will also be submitted to minister for primary and secondary education Vishweshwar Hegde Kageri.

Slew of school education reforms announced

Slew of school education reforms announced
Special Correspondent
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Holding that the common syllabus alone did not amount to uniform system of education, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on Friday unveiled a package of comprehensive measures, including reduction of schoolbag load.

Making a statement in the Assembly under Rule 110, the Chief Minister announced the appointment of 21,487 teaching and non-teaching staff, creation of the posts for 16,549 part-time teachers for physical education, painting and vocational education and a Rs.1,082.71-crore project for infrastructure development in schools. The launch of trimester pattern, issue of mark sheets incorporating photographs and secret codes for students clearing 10{+t}{+h} standard and 12{+t}{+h} standard examinations and the project of ICT [information and communication technology] @ schools were among the new initiatives of the State government.

Sixty five primary schools would be upgraded as middle schools and 710 middle schools as high schools. This would entail an expenditure of Rs. 419.6 crore to the government. She ordered the creation of 13,300 posts of teachers during the current academic year. Of them, 9,735 would be graduate teachers and 3,565 posts secondary grade teachers. This would cost the exchequer Rs. 315.3 crore. Emphasising the importance of co-curricular activities, the Chief Minister said 16,549 part-time teachers would be appointed to teach physical education, painting and vocational education to students of sixth to eighth standards. The estimated cost was Rs. 99.29 crore.

“As mentioned in the report of Dr. Muthukumaran Committee [constituted by the previous DMK government in September 2006 on the implementation of the concept of uniform system of education], the provision of basic infrastructure is imperative.” The infrastructure development in the schools would be carried out at a cost of Rs. 1082.71 crore.

All the steps would form part of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and the Rastriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan. In upgraded higher secondary schools, 3,187 post-graduate teachers' posts would be created in two phases, starting from the current year. In government high and higher secondary schools, 5,000 non-teaching staff, including conservancy workers, would be appointed.

The government would incur an annual expenditure of Rs. 60 crore. Students of the government schools and those institutions aided by the government would receive uniform school bags, geometry boxes, colour pencils and maps, all of which had not been given so far. Ms. Jayalalithaa said from the next academic year, the trimester pattern would be introduced. At the end of each semester, examinations would be based on continuous and comprehensive assessment.

Chess would be introduced for school students between the age of 7 years and 17 years. To improve the system of teaching in the government–run schools, a scheme – ICT@ Schools, Tamil Nadu – would be implemented.

The content of textbooks would be computerised and would be disseminated through computers in class rooms which were linked to the main server, the Chief Minister added.

Mangalore: SICHREM Calls for Implementation of Right to Education Act

Mangalore: SICHREM Calls for Implementation of Right to Education Act


Pics: Spoorthi Ullal
Daijiworld Media Network - Mangalore (PS/CN)

Mangalore, Aug 27: "Karnataka is one of the states which has failed to implement the Right to Education Act which was enacted in April 2009 with the objective of providing free and compulsory education to every child in society. Moreover, there is need for collective opposition to the cancellation of 25 percent reservation for poor students in private schools," opined Philip Mathew, director, South India Cell for Human Rights Education and Monitoring (SICHREM).

He was speaking at the awareness programme organized at SDM College hall on Friday August 26.

"Already 60 petitions are pending in the Supreme Court urging cancellation of such reservation. This is against the interest of society and children of poor people will be cheated of an education," Mathew said and called for a people’s movement to create awareness on the issue.

"In a few ‘prestigious’ educational institutions only academically brilliant students are given admission which is again violation of the Right to Education Act. All these issues will be brought to the notice of the government," he said.

In the debate session held with the audience, the parents grabbed attention by raising issues like punishment for acquiring less marks, upper floor class rooms allotted to LKG and UKG students, and a preference for English medium education among others.

Responding to the issues, Mathew said that complaints about these should be lodged with the local DDPI. During the discussion, people said that there is a need for the government to consider employing expert English teachers in government schools. Also, the government should not use school teachers for other government activities.

Human rights activist R Manohar was present.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Lessons must Be learnt from Education cess

Lessons must Be learnt from Education cess

Before starting a health insurance scheme, the government must ensure that taxpayer money does not go down the drain

Illustration: Anand Naorem
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The ‘Trickle Down’ Trick
Fingers crossed, India awaits budget
No fringe benefits

I INDIAN TAXPAYERS may have to shell out more. The Union government has announced plans for a universal health insurance scheme to provide minimum healthcare for everyone in the country. The Planning Commission’s expert panel has not yet recommended how the money would be collected but even a 1 percent levy would yield around Rs 9,000 crore for this year. This brings us to the more important question about the education cess, which has been in force for the past few years: How has it been spent? I am not against a cess to fund social schemes but it is important to monitor the monies, to check whether they have been adding to the morass of corruption.

The education cess on taxable income has been collected under two heads — primary education and higher education. The government began with the primary education cess in 2005 that has been credited into a non-lapsable fund called the Prarambhik Shiksha Kosh, which would be utilised for schemes like the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and the mid-day meal.

In 2007, the government introduced the higher education cess to fund its various ambitious initiatives to push the growth of higher education in the country. A part of that cess was to be diverted into setting up the National Higher Education Finance Corporation (NHEFC), to provide concessional loans to higher education institutions. It has been four years since the proposal was mooted.Then apparently the Planning Commission shot down the concept. The government seems to be dragging its feet on the proper implementation of the monies collected under the higher education cess. The state of stasis here reflects the limbo in which the government finds itself.

The money collected under the primary education cess goes into a non-lapsable fund that focusses only on the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and the mid-day meal. We are aware of the mismanagement that has come to characterise government schemes and their ineffective delivery mechanisms. Speaking of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, the Department of School Education & Literacy outlines the aims on its website, which includes “to provide useful and relevant elementary education for all children in the 6-14 age group by 2010”. Other objectives include:

(i) All children in school, setting up of an Education Guarantee Centre, Alternative School and ‘Back-to-school’ camp by 2003

(ii) All children complete five years of primary schooling by 2007

(iii) All children complete eight years of elementary schooling by 2010

(iv) Focus on elementary education of satisfactory quality with emphasis on education for life

(v) Bridge all gender and social category gaps at primary stage by 2007 and at elementary education level by 2010

(vi) Universal retention by 2010

None of these objectives have been fulfilled. If you look at the stupendous amounts of money allocated, it is mind-boggling. According to the Union Budget, the government has spent Rs 28,000 crore on the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan from the Prarambhik Shiksha Kosh in the past three years. But it doesn’t have much to show.

The government does not have efficient monitoring mechanisms to plug the leakages

The mid-day meal scheme is again a good idea. It is the largest such scheme in the world, supposed to cater to more than 11 crore children. The government has also spent more than Rs 17,000 crore from the Prarambhik Shiksha Kosh in the past three years on the meal scheme. However, implementation is important and the government does not seem to have efficient monitoring mechanisms to plug leakages and loopholes.

The government has fallen short of its promises. The leakages are rather substantial and the government should wake up to the reality. The education cess might be welcome theoretically but its implementation shows that taxpayer money is going down the drain.

Roomy Naqvy is Assistant professor, Jamia Millia Islamia.
roomynaqvy@gmail.com

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Parliamentary standing committee raps Kapil Sibal, HRD ministry for not consulting all stakeholders while framing key rules

Parliamentary standing committee raps Kapil Sibal, HRD ministry for not consulting all stakeholders while framing key rules


NEW DELHI: It is not just Team Anna that is unhappy with human resource development minister Kapil Sibal. The parliamentary standing committee on human resource development, headed by senior Congress leader Oscar Fernandes, too has expressed its displeasure with Sibal and his ministry.

The parliamentary panel has rapped the ministry for not undertaking consultations with all interested parties and stakeholders while framing crucial legislations aimed at reforming higher education.

In its reports on key reform-oriented legislations relating to foreign education providers, prohibition of unfair practices, and national accreditation authority, the Standing Committee expressly stated its displeasure with the "level of consultations undertaken by the department".

"It is evident that consultation with all the stakeholders, which should have been ideally the starting point for formulating such a crucial piece of legislation for quality control of higher education sector in the country, remained the least priority issue for the department," the standing committee's report on the National Accreditation Regulatory Authority for higher educational institutions bill states.

The parliamentary panel sought to remedy this lapse- inadequate consultations with state governments, private and public stakeholders, academics- by inviting active participation, soliciting views and appearances by stakeholders before the committee.

The panel in its deliberations on the Prohibition of Unfair Practices in Technical Educational Institutions, Medical Educational Institutions and Universities Bill, 2010 found that there had been no consultation with any of statutory regulatory authorities.

"The Committee is dismayed to observe that other major stakeholders, that is, statutory regulatory bodies like UGC, MCI, AICTE, etc remained a part of the formal exercise onlya¦ the ministry has candidly admitted that no direct consultations with regulatory bodies like MCI, DCI, etc have been undertaken," the Standing Committee's report states.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Kids with disabilities don’t need no special education

Kids with disabilities don’t need no special education

In 2004, Latika Sargar’s dream for her eldest son seemed to fall apart. Sachin, who has mild mental retardation, was thrown out of a government school for repeating a class thrice.

“They asked me to take him to a special school at a far off place in Malad,” says Sargar, who lives in a one-room shack in Andheri. “I could not take him there.”

Sachin has two younger siblings. “My husband told me we must educate them, and could not afford to educate Sachin,” recalls Sargar. They decided to keep the child at home. For three years, Sachin’s main tasks involved taking care of his siblings, helping out with the household chores or simply walking on the streets with hands buried in his pockets, smiling at no one in particular. “I felt very sad. My younger children were studying well and it was my dream to send Sachin to a school, too. But I did not have a choice,” says Sargar.

It’s a birthright
Sayali Masurkar came to Sachin’s rescue. Married with kids, she admits there were certain hiccups at home regarding her job as a social worker. “But I was sure I wanted to do only this,” says Masurkar. The Persons with Disabilities Act was passed in 1995 (with an aim to ensure that children with disabilities have access to free education in an appropriate environment till 18 years of age). Masurkar was one of the first few people to get a copy of the Act in 1996, even before it was circulated to schools. She took copies of it and went to schools that denied a child admission to argue the cases.

She came to know about Sachin’s case in March 2008 and helped him get an admission in a mainstream school within three months. “It is possible to educate a child with mild disabilities in mainstream schools, where they belong,” asserts Masurkar. “Only then can they can be integrated into mainstream society.”

Concept on paper
Inclusive education — where the whole environment of a mainstream school is attuned to the needs of a child with any kind of a disability and every one is made aware of his/her special requirements — is not a new concept. The 1995 Disabilities Act calls for access to free education in an appropriate environment, which could also mean a mainstream school. Translating the idea into action called for years of hard work. Even if children did make it to schools, the focus lay on curbing the dropout rate.

It is the children in rural India who suffer the most due to lack of awareness about inclusive education. Rajendra K R, regional representative of Leonard Cheshire Disability International South Asia Regional Office (based in Bangalore) argues that most parents, teachers and education departmental heads are not even very aware of the Act and its provisions. “Children with disabilities in rural India do not even have the disability identity card. How can we except the government to ensure that the provisions of the Act are made accessible to people?” asks Rajendra. He insists that “the current educational system is not equipped to deal with the issues of children with disabilities.” The reasons: children with learning disabilities being out of school or dropping out, inefficient teachers, a lack of trained human resources in government institutions and an evaluation or monitoring system that is not disabled-friendly.

Making it possible
Sukanya Venkataraman is the Principal of Swami Brahmanand Pratishthan Centre for Special children in Belapur. “I think only 1 per cent of schools in Mumbai actually follow inclusive education. I remember an autistic child who came to me once after being denied admission in a mainstream school. He was talking to me about water preservation and how he would devise a way for it!”

Education specialists have been sceptical over the success of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (a programme that aimed to achieve the goal of universalisation of elementary education of satisfactory quality by 2010). However, Sudhir Khochare, Coordinator, SSA, insists that an overwhelming majority of children go to schools now. “There may be exceptions, but 90 per cent of children in Mumbai go to school.” Venkatesh Malur, education specialist, UNICEF, too, agrees that the number of children in enrolling in mainstream schools have gone up in the past five years. “School toilets are more spacious, there are railings for support in schools, for children with special needs,” he explains.

Sherly Abraham, National Coordinator, Leonard Cheshire Disability, however, feels otherwise. “Accessibility is one area that we have scope for improvement. Schools are admitting more children with special needs, but they often don’t have the right infrastructure in place. The government should take the initiative to implement these at least in municipal schools. Other schools will then follow.”

Case study
How a school made it click
Beacon High School in Khar, Mumbai, has eight to 10 special educators and admits students with all kinds of disabilities — except the profoundly challenged. “Children with special needs are seated in a class according to their age. They sit in the same class as others and take part in the same extra curricular activities,” says KS Jamali, principal.

“We have children who are slow learners and autistic. We even had a wheelchair-bound child, who had cerebral palsy,” she adds.

Jamali feels that more schools must open up to the idea. “Schools use the excuse that they don’t have the infrastructure to start admitting such children in their school. But what do I have? I don’t even have a ramp!” Each special needs child is put on a syllabus that is specifically designed by a special educator, explains Rukshan Vakil, psychologist at the school. Depending on the severity of their disability, they are also given one-on-one classes.”

Basti, in UP, is known to be an educationally backward district. But Shikshit Yuva Sewa Samiti, a charitable trust, has been working towards making physically and mentally challenged population literate. “Many kids with special needs enroll in mainstream schools,” explains Gopal Krishna Agarwal, Director, SYSS. He, however, admits that in terms of quality services, they still have a long way to go as schools still do not offer proper facilities to retain them.

Pedagogy of the oppressor

Pedagogy of the oppressor
[Print]
Shampa Dhar-Kamath
Last Updated : 20 Aug 2011 11:49:38 PM IST

Independence Day just went by, leaving India’s citizenry with memories of a long weekend and reams of special-issue publications packed with trivia that would be of huge value once—if you had school-going children with homework projects to do.

The old thinking was that homework gave children the opportunity to revise and internalise what they had been taught in school; that it prepared them for the next day and taught them independent thinking. But that was then; when homework was limited to a quick look-see through chapters and exercises that the teachers at school had already ploughed through. Even holiday homework was fun—a reading list that threw open the doors to a new horizon; math exercises that teased the brain and science projects that necessitated leafing through old magazines, clipping out articles and technicoloured visuals.

But then, the world changed. Homework began filling in for class work, as a bloated octopus of a school curriculum flexed its tentacles and grabbed every minute of the students’ free time. The teachers—burdened by too many official diktats and unappreciative students and supported by too flimsy a system—scampered out of the way.

Home assignments now entailed, besides basic Q&As and maths, 3-D projects on topics like Water Management, Difference between Private and Public Healthcare, Dealing with Visually Impaired and Sewage Disposal Systems. And this was just for Class 7. Old favourites like ‘Top Indian Festivals’ still cropped up but had to be done in PowerPoint.

Unsure about what to do and lacking direction on how to do it (even if they had the infrastructure), students turned to their parents for help. Fathers were called in from office early; siblings sent out to buy the tools, and working mothers were ordered to download and print all the relevant material (and the misuse of the office facilities be damned). Dining table cleared, dinner forgotten; the entire family sat down to do the 12-year-old’s home assignment.

The education ministry doesn’t want our school children to be burdened with annual exams; so it’s pelleting them with weekly assignments instead. What no one seems to factor in is the kids’ contribution—or lack of it. The teachers know that the beautifully-finished project reports, filled with thoroughly-researched data, turned in by the kids cannot be the latters’ doing. The foreign hand is obvious, but goes ignored.

Children think homework should be banned because they are at school all day and then get home only to encounter more work. Or at least the supervision of the work—as done by the parents. Parents who can’t spare the time or handle the stress believe homework should be banned too. Meanwhile, they outsource—to tutors, the extended family, stores selling science projects and, increasingly, to ‘homework websites’. Nothing apparently is too difficult for these sites. Not only can they ensure that the kids ‘pass that class’, they also help with SAT revisions; Science Fair models, and teach your child ‘How to be a Mathionaire’.

Confucius said, “I hear and I forget, I see and I remember; I do and I understand.” Well, someone is understanding a lot; pity that it can’t be our children.

shampa@newindianexpress.com

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Teachers to answer RTI queries

Teachers to answer RTI queries
Mallica Joshi, Hindustan Times
New Delhi , August 15, 2011

Multitasking — work related to census, elections and Pulse Polio campaigns — seems to pass for teaching in Delhi. But the latest demand from the Delhi Directorate of Education has had the government school teachers fuming. The ever-shrinking teaching hours notwithstanding, answering queries under the Right to Information Act (RTI) now appears to be a part of a teacher’s duty. Earlier this month, the directorate forwarded a copy of an RTI application they received to government schools.

The application asked for a decade’s worth of data regarding enrollment, pass percentage, the number of students scoring above 60%, the number of reserved category students and their academic performance.

This, however, is part of the very information the schools have to feed into the database of directorate every term. Which means the information is with the directorate already.

The schools, however, have been asked to send all details to the applicant directly. For the last 10 days, classes have been suffering, as the teachers have been busy collating the data.

“Tasks unrelated to studies are heaped upon us and then we are asked why the results are suffering,” said a teacher from a government school in south Delhi who refused to be named. The Directorate of Education has put a strict gag order on principals and teachers. “When we submit this data to the directorate every term, why can’t they send the reply themselves?” the teacher demanded.

“I received calls from colleagues from other government schools, complaining about the attitude of the directorate,” said an irate principal of a government school in Janakpuri. “When the computerisation of records was introduced, we thought our burden would be reduced, but we have to do double the work now. First feed the data into computers and then supply the same as and when asked.”

The RTI applicant is confused as well. “I did not ask schools to send me the data, I had asked the department,” said Bhushan, a retired government official. “I received a lot of calls from teachers across the city, asking why I need this information.”

Education minister Arvinder Singh was not available for comment.

Lessons to be learnt

Lessons to be learnt
SANGEETA BAROOAH PISHAROTY
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Teachers can play a crucial role in making children interested in learning. Photo: Abhijit Dev Kumar
Teachers can play a crucial role in making children interested in learning. Photo: Abhijit Dev Kumar

The RTE Act talks of upgrading teacher quality in Government schools. But that's easier said than done, notes Sangeeta Barooah Pisharoty

India is among the few countries to have a day specially dedicated to teachers besides a clutch of awards to recognise their good work. Yet somehow, these gestures have failed to send out a strong message to most teachers in our government schools — the largest provider of school education in the country — that they are actually doing a crucial job for the society. There's good reason too. Poorly paid for a long time (till the Sixth Pay Commission was implemented), teaching has often been seen as a thankless job, many times the last resort to grab a government job. With little motivation from the government to excel, no mechanism to attract only those who truly want to teach and hardly any importance given to accountability, many teachers have long stopped performing at their optimum, marking presence only to earn their wages. For elections, census, RTI work, etc., they are often shunted out, in what amounts to a covert admission that there are more important tasks to be done than just classroom transactions. Naturally, all this affects children attending school.

What holds out hope, however, is the clear mandate of the Right to Education (RTE) Act to ensure that all schools and their teachers meet certain specified norms. This was long due, say experts in the field. The challenge to arrive at success is enormous though, they point out.

“There are many training institutes but there has been a lack of commitment to make it a success. Now with the Act, we are asked to prepare many new teachers to tutor more children joining school besides training the existing ones. The number runs into lakhs and it is clearly not an easy task,” states Kuldeep Aggarwal, director, National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS), one of the agencies earmarked by the Government to train primary school teachers under the RTE Act. Unbelievable, but in West Bengal, many primary level teachers are only Class 10 pass. “Such teachers will have to be taught what education is all about. So we have a big job on hand.”

Aggarwal and his team are working on a curriculum for a two-year training course on the lines of D.Ed which will begin by the end of the year. “The course will put a thrust on what RTE says should be the teachers' role. We will also have regular workshops and face-to-face interactions to help teachers understand the course better. States will select teachers and send them to us for training. So far, Jharkhand and West Bengal have sent us requests.”

But many States are yet to wake up to the call. The deadline of 2017 to implement the Act entirely looks impractical. Shanta Sinha, chairperson, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), the nodal agency to implement the Act, calls the deadline difficult. “The first year has been slow in achieving its target, but I feel time is not an issue, if there is commitment from the States,” she says.
A matter of will

Since education is a concurrent subject, a lot depends on the willingness of the States to implement the Act successfully. Sinha says each state has a way of responding to the Act. But hope lies in the fact that no State can get away from it. Sinha was recently been in news for re-opening schools in the Maoist-infested tribal belt of Chhattisgarh. She disagrees with the common view that the poor don't want to educate their children. Her trip to Maoist infested areas despite warnings from the police was to hammer home this point. “In a Maoist area, I saw students, parents, grandparents so keen that schools should reopen. They want their children to study. The marginalised people have realised the importance of education and how it can better their lives. So it's time now to deliver.”

During public hearings as part of the Act, she has sensed the same feeling in Orissa and Andhra Pradesh. “I am going to Manipur for a public hearing this week besides two other places in West Bengal.” Right now, the NCPCR is in the process of looking at the entitlements of children in schools like books, facilities, scholarships, etc. It is yet to look at teacher training.” When time comes, we plan to propose a dialogue between the teacher unions, parents and students for a mutually reinforcing environment,” says Sinha.

Akshay Dixit, a teacher for 12 years in an MCD school in the Chhattarpur area, feels teachers need to do more than just attend training courses. “There has to be a feeling within children that the teacher loves him. To achieve this, the teacher has to make an effort; no training can teach you how to do it.” That is why only those who really love to teach should come to teach, he says.

There is also the need to have a more interactive curriculum. Aggarwal says countries like Australia don't set a curriculum. “The teachers sit with students and decide what to teach. That way, they both get involved with each other.”

Within the present curriculum, Dixit tries to do something similar. “I go to the class and ask children what I should take up. By doing that I am making them a part of the learning.”

Kiran Bhatty, head of NCPCR'S RTE division, points out “a social distance” between teachers and students. “It has come out in the first public hearing we had in Delhi some months ago.”

At that hearing, organised by the NGO Josh in Trilokpuri area, many glaring examples of teachers working at cross purposes came to the fore. A 15-year-old girl said she left a Delhi Directorate of Education-run school because she didn't like her teacher.

“I loved going to school, was the class monitor, joined the Scouts too. Yet, one incident led me to decide not to attend that school anymore. During the exam, my classmates were openly helped by their brothers who came into the hall with chits. The teacher looked the other way. She knew I didn't cheat yet I was given the lowest marks. I was told to shut up when I pointed it out,” said the girl, Madhuri, who has now joined the National Open School.

Then there is Ajay, a class seven student of another Delhi Government school. “My teacher asked me to get him beer from the nearby liquor shop. He and another retired teacher drink in school during school hours. Many students are asked by them to buy cigarettes.” Ajay's mother now says, “He is being threatened by the teacher for saying all this during the public hearing.”

Anjana, a student of a Rajakiya Vidyalaya of the area, says she was made to pick up stones by the teacher because she forgot her homework. “Once, I didn't wear full uniform and the teacher made me mop the floor. Rules are for us to follow while she keeps talking on the mobile phone in the class.” Time has now arrived to listen more carefully to voices like these.

Mid-day meal

Mid-day meal
OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT

Calcutta, Aug. 17: The government has requested the Centre to extend the ambit of the mid-day meal scheme to include students up to Class X, school education minister Bratya Basu said in the Assembly today.

At present, mid-day meal is provided up to Class VIII in state-aided schools.

Basu said Mamata Banerjee would soon write to human resource development minister Kapil Sibal requesting him to look into the issue.

New national policy on education coming

New national policy on education coming
Aarti Dhar
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PM's announcement in I-Day address went unnoticed in public focus on corruption

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's announcement on Monday on setting up a commission “to make suggestions for improvements at all levels of education” has largely gone unnoticed amid the public focus on corruption. Even though his Independence Day address did not elaborate on its mandate, sources in the government indicated, the recommendations of the proposed commission should add up to what could be a new National Policy on Education.

According to reliable sources, the commission is expected to be headed by an eminent educationist, assisted by experts from the fields of higher, technical, medical, secondary, elementary, vocational and other sectors of education. It will also have inputs from the reports of the National Knowledge Commission, the Yashpal Committee and the Valiathan Committee.

NPE of 1986

As the existing National Policy on Education, 1986 (NPE) was conceived during Rajiv Gandhi's tenure, it may be politically daunting for the United Progressive Alliance Government to wish away its vital elements. Political instability during the late 1980s led to delays in the launch of the policy, which was reviewed by the Acharya Ramamurty Committee and could be brought into force only after the Congress returned to power in 1991 and gave shape to the Action Plan of 1992 for the NPE. Thus Dr. Singh's announcement is expected to pave the way for a new policy after nearly two decades.

The NPE of 1986 itself has suggested not only periodic reviews of the policy but also a revision in the long-term. It was also a major departure from the national policy adopted on the recommendations of the Education Commission under Professor D.S Kothari, which in 1966 had called for a common school system as well as for a Plus-Two stage of schooling beyond Class X. Strengthening of research in the university system was another major recommendation.

It is a different matter that even the recently enacted Right to Education Act has also shied away from the common school system.

The 1986 policy led to encouragement to emerging sectors like Information Technology, which witnessed an upsurge following the opening up of the technical education sector, particularly in capacity expansion in the private sector. Although the 1986 policy spoke against commercialisation of education, the explosion in the number of private engineering and medical institutions, according to educationists, has only given a further impetus to the menace of capitation fee.

The rapid expansion of private institutions has also, according to the Yashpal Committee, resulted in deterioration in quality. The concerns over quality led the Centre to review all deemed universities.

Corruption cases

Several cases of corruption against functionaries of the regulatory authorities such as the All-India Council for Technical Education, the Medical Council of India and the Council of Architecture are under CBI investigation.

It is against this backdrop that the Education Commission, announced by the Prime Minister, is expected to come up with recommendations which could result in a new NEP as well as with directions for the future of all levels of education.

Notwithstanding the recent differences between the Health and Human Resource Development Ministries over the establishment of the overarching regulatory bodies for higher education and research (NCHER) and human resource in health (NCHRH), the proposed commission would address all sectors of education irrespective of the domain interests of Ministries.

With increasing globalisation of education, including the likely passage of the Foreign Education Providers Bill, now before Parliament, it will be interesting to see whether the proposed commission will co-opt foreign experts.

As a matter of fact, the Radhakrishnan Commission on University Education, which gave its report in 1949, had eminent academic leaders from universities in the United Kingdom and the United States among its members.

Plan panel for uniform education till class XII

Plan panel for uniform education till class XII
Sanjeeb Mukherjee / New Delhi August 18, 2011, 0:43 IST

A uniformity in the pattern of education till class XII across the country will help provide quality education, more so at the secondary and higher secondary levels, according to an expert panel of the Planning Commission. The body has also suggested that the six-year-old National Mission for Secondary Education (NMSE), also known as Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan) must include education up to class XII.

The expert panel, which the government constituted to suggest measures to improve quality of education for inclusion in the 12th five-year plan, has also called for a thorough review of the 10+2+3 pattern of education currently in operation across many states. It has also proposed its possible integration into one, observing that the current system was ineffective in meeting the goal of providing quality education.

There is also a suggestion to review the teaching methods of science and mathematics in schools so as to make them more job-oriented. Officials said some panel members are of the opinion that children should have the option to choose subjects at class IX itself rather than make them wait till XI.

This, the panel said, would help them in preparing better for future challenges. Noted an official: “The teaching of science and maths needs to change to address the current challenges and problems.”

The recommendations could form part of the approach paper to the 12th five-year plan which is in its final stages of preparation. The NMSE was conceptualised in 2005 at a meeting of Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) chaired by (late) Arjun Singh who was then human resource development minister.

As a follow-up to the deliberations in the CABE meeting, a committee was then constituted under Rajasthan’s education minister Ghanshyam Tiwari. It had recommended uniform education up to class 9th-10th across the country. The NMSE was to start from 2009-10, but that was delayed. Now, the expert panel of the Planning Commission has not only recommended immediate launching of the mission, but also sought to make it more broad-based.

This April, in a presentation made by the Planning Commission to the full plan meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh listed universalisation of secondary education by 2017 as one of the primary objectives. Officials said members of the expert panel were of the view that emphasis hitherto had been on primary and higher education — and not on secondary education.

They said central schools or schools, which are affiliated to the Central Board of Secondary Education, currently have a uniform course curriculum till 12th even as several states schools follow the pattern of the local state boards. Bihar and Haryana have several schools affiliated to the state board that does not follow the same curriculum. Hence the need to change over to a uniform course structure.

The 11th five-year-plan initially allocated a sum of Rs 269,873 crore for the ministry of human resource development, of which Rs 1,84,930 crore was for department of school education and literacy. The rest was for the department of higher education.

Multi-crore SSA ‘irregularities’ go unnoticed

Multi-crore SSA ‘irregularities’ go unnoticed
Teachers Forum Concerned; Going For Audit: Govt
FAHEEM ASLAM
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Srinagar, Aug 18: Reports of alleged large-scale frauds, mismanagement and kickbacks in the implementation of much-hyped flagship programme Sarva Shikshsa Abhiyan in Jammu and Kashmir have largely gone unnoticed over the years. This is notwithstanding official documents which have many times corroborated ‘irregularities’, primarily with regard to construction of school buildings under the programme.
Official documents in possession of Greater Kashmir reveal communication between officers in the School Education Department and the SSA authorities with regard to use of ‘sub-standard material’ in the construction of Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalas (KGBVs)—the residential schools providing education from Class 6 to Class 8, especially for girls belonging to marginalized communities under the SSA.
This, as has been reported by this newspaper in 2010 as well, is risking the lives of thousands of young girls studying in the KGBVs. The SSA is Government of India’s much-hyped flagship programme aimed at universalization of elementary education (UEE).
Documents reveal serious lapses in the construction of KGBV buildings during 2010 and 2009. This, the documents reveal, include dilution in the type, design and estimates thereof without any approval from the competent authority.
In one of the letters, a former State Project Director and SSA’s Accounts Officer reveal that “Engineers have furnished the work-done statement placed across the file of various KGBV buildings of Kashmir division for release of payments thereof. While verifying the claims of these work-done statements, it has been observed that the estimates enclosed with the bill have been prepared by the JEs and signed by the Executive Engineers which is against the codal procedure. The estimates should have been got prepared by the Drawing Branch (Draftsman) and then approved by the Executive Engineer and the State Project Director since the latter is the drawing and disbursing officer of the SSA. The DDO powers rested with the Executive Engineers is a misnomer and no such powers have ever been delegated to them.”
Interestingly, the issue also came to fore in 2010, with the Minister for Education, Peerzada Muhammad Sayeed, assuring probe into the allegations. However, according to sources, the inquiry was conducted just for the heck of it and some of the engineers just did some “minor repairs” in the KGBVs to get the payments released.
On 30 April 2010, the then Commissioner/Secretary, Education Department, GA Peer, shot a letter to the SSA’s State Project Director after the former received a complaint against then executive engineer, SSA. “This department is in receipt of a complaint submitted by JE, SSA, District Anantnag (Islamabad). The allegations levelled against the Executive Engineer are of grave nature. You are advised to investigate the matter and issue show-cause notice to Executive Engineer and furnish report alongwith your comments within a week,” Peer wrote vide letter No Edu/PS/Secy/11/10.
On May 21, the SSA Project Director issued a ‘show-cause notice’ to the Executive Engineer asking him to explain his position. “Whereas JE has levelled the allegation that a cut of 13.5 percent used to be made by Executive Engineer, Draftsman and Data Entry Operator for release of the funds for construction of KGBV buildings and Rs 6 lakh were retained by the Executive Engineer ever after certification,” he wrote vide letter No Edu/SDP/SSA/467/25685-95/10. “You are hereby asked to explain your position in this behalf failing which action under rules shall be initiated against you.” But the explanation hasn’t evoked any response.
Interestingly, on the same day (May 21, 2010), the then SPD SSA ordered a probe against the Junior Engineer who complained against the Executive Engineer. “A committee is constituted to probe into the conduct of JE associated with the construction of the KGBV building in Zone of Qazigund, Srigufwara and Achabal, in view of the discrepancies observed in construction of these KGBV buildings during the visit of the SPD,” read the order no. 136 Ujala of 2010.
Official documents also revealed that material amounting to lakhs of rupees has been purchased from the open market without observing codal provisions.
“In most cases the purchases have been made at connivance from the suppliers who appear to be in a malafide league with the purchases. Financial prudence demands that the purchases should have been made after observing codal formalities like invitation of tenders, quotations which does not seem to have been done and the purchases have been made at the whims of the Junior Engineers,” the Accounts Officer, SSA mentioned in one of his missives last year. “Material at site account has not been enclosed with the bill and it is inferred that the same has not been prepared at all. Same is the case with stock register. Though the guidelines have been issued in December 2009 and the works have been executed earlier but the guidelines which are synonyms with the public works code should have been adhered to. Material such as wood and iron should have been purchased from the IKSFC and SAIL but the same has been managed privately.”
The officer has asked the SPD to conduct an on-the-spot assessment of the works executed. “It would also be advisable if the works executed in the entire Kashmir division are got evaluated by a third party to give its assessment of the works executed besides the material required/consumed vis-à-vis the maintenance of the quality work done. The payment, if it is to be released, can only be made after the evaluation report of the third party,” he writes.
In December 2010, when this newspaper carried stories about SSA bunglings, the Minister assured action. But it has been reliably learnt money was later released in most of the cases.

TEACHERS FORUM CONCERNED
In July this year the Jammu and Kashmir Teachers’ Forum chairman, Abdul Qayoom Wani, urged the Government to evolve a proper mechanism for assessing the utilization of funds being provided under centrally sponsored schemes like SSA and RMSA to the School Education Department in the State.
Addressing Forum office-bearers here, Wani said, “We fail to understand as to why there is lack of infrastructure in Government schools when sufficient funds are pouring in under SSA and RMSA. We need to constitute a departmental audit cell to conduct the audit of funds provided under the SSA to all schools from the last 10 years at all levels. We also need to ascertain the work and performance of the teachers engaged in SSA cells in district and zonal offices for distribution of funds and monitoring their utilization,” said Wani. “I believe that most of the private schools would get closed down if the Government constructs its own school buildings in Srinagar city and monitor properly the utilization of funds provided under MDM, SSA and RSMA.”

OFFICIALS SPEAK
The incumbent State Project Director of SSA, Yasha Mudgal told Greater Kashmir that they are going for accounts audit of the SSA “to see if the expenditure has been rightly made.” “Every year we are supposed to do audit of accounts under SSA by a private firm. We are doing that to see whether codal formalities have been followed while making the expenditure,” she told Greater Kashmir.
She said they have now put in place an inbuilt mechanism to monitor different works undertaking under the SSA. “We have also constituted purchase committees at district levels to monitor the purchase of civil components. This mechanism I suppose has been put in place after certain complaints in press that codal procedure was not being followed,” Mudgal said.
She however claimed that the KGVB buildings were nicely made. “I have visited some buildings and found them accurate. But there is always room for improvement,” she said.
The SPD has already invited ‘expression of interest’ for the SSA accounts audit from reputed firms.

Lastupdate on : Thu, 18 Aug 2011 21:30:00 Mecca time
Lastupdate on : Thu, 18 Aug 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Fri, 19 Aug 2011 00:00:00 IST

NCPCR to prepare scheme for implementation of RTE in North-East states

NCPCR to prepare scheme for implementation of RTE in North-East states
16.08.2011 | 20:03
New Delhi
Soibam Rocky Singh


The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) to come up with a detailed plan of action regarding the development of education system and implementation of Right to Education in the north-eastern states of the country.

A bench of Justice Altamas Kabir, Justice Cyriac Joseph, and Justice Surinder Singh Nijjar gave the direction after the court in 2007 took suo motu cognisance of a letter sent to the Supreme Court on the condition of malnourished children, mainly trafficked from the north-east states, in the orphanage at Kanyakumari District of Tamil Nadu.

Pursuant to the court order, an enquiry was done and it was found that these children with the help of an elder person travelled from Manipur, Assam, and other northeast states to be admitted to schools in Tamil Nadu. But later they ended up at the orphanage.

The initial inquiry revealed that the parents of the children handed over them to some persons due to poverty and social background, thinking that the children will be provided with better education and health care, but unfortunately landed up in such orphanage.

Pursuant to the investigation made by the Police, all children were repatriated to their respective state sent back to be with their respective families.

The NCPCR was later directed by the Apex Court to conduct an inquiry with regard to large scale transportation of children from one State to another. In its report, the NCPCR had highlighted to a peculiar problem of armed/security forces occupying the Schools, Hostels, and Children Home Complex mainly in the north-east states.

After assessing the report, the Apex court directed the Ministry of Home Affairs to ensure that the para military forces vacate the school and hostel buildings occupied by them and submit an Action Taken Report to the Court.

Today, Additional Solicitor General Harin Rawal appearing for the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) submitted before the court that the armed/security forces have vacated all the occupied schools and hostel building as per the order of the Supreme Court.

Additional Solicitor General Indira Jaisingh appearing for NCPCR today contended that the rehabilitation or prevention of re-trafficking of children from the region can be prevented only if proper funding on education system is ensured. She also emphasized the need for a comprehensive plan which could deliver the educational needs of the children of the north-east states.

Amicus Curiae Aparna Bhat submitted that the North-East state such as Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Manipur and Nagaland have submitted their requirements in terms of educational infrastructure, such as construction of school buildings, hostels and children homes for support by the Ministry.

The bench has directed NCPCR to study all the requirements in terms of educational infrastructure as per the affidavit submitted by various states and come up with a scheme for implementation of the Right to Education Act in the North-Eastern region.

The bench has posted the matter for further hearing on September 19.

Poor Indian pupils tagged in smart private schools

Poor Indian pupils tagged in smart private schools
Poor and low-caste 'quota' children are being 'tagged' and segregated at Indian private schools, child rights campaigners have claimed.
Dean Nelson

By Dean Nelson, New Delhi

9:05PM BST 15 Aug 2011

The Indian children's charity Padarshita said it had received a series of complaints from parents of poor children admitted to smart private schools under new government rules to boost 'social inclusion.' Ten per cent of all places must be given free to children from the 'economically weaker sections.'

But according to the charity, nursery age and primary schoolchildren are being kept in separate classrooms from fee-paying pupils, forced to sit on the floor and barred from using the school lavatories. At one school, quota children have had the word "freeship" written on their shirt collars to identify them.

Twenty-five children were admitted to St Andrews Scots School in New Delhi under the scheme earlier this year, but their parents later complained they were being discriminated against and stigmatised for being poor. Many of the parents are casual daily labourers earning less than £3 per day.

A spokesman for Delhi's Commission for Protection of Child Rights said any segregation or branding of children according to their family's wealth would be illegal. The complaints are under investigation, he said.

Ritu Mehra of Pardarshita said parents were forced to lodge a 'Right to Information' case to have their complaints investigated. Several parents dropped their complaints because they feared their children's places would be jeopardised, she said.

A spokesman for the school denied the allegations and said the claims had been "made by people who are trying to malign our institution."

Jharkhand to open residential schools for ST girls

Jharkhand to open residential schools for ST girls
The schools, to be set up at 17 different places across the state, will provide free-of-cost schooling to all ST girls residing in the school premises
Submitted on 08/18/2011 - 08:04:36 AM
By Chandrabindu

Ranchi: Emboldened by the Centre’s promise to provide monitory support, the Jharkhand Government has decided to construct 17 primary residential schools for scheduled tribe (ST) girls.

The proposed schools will be located in 17 different districts, including Chatra, Gahrwa, Palamu, Giridih, Pakur, Sahebganj, Godda, Deoghar, Koderma, Bokaro, Dumka, Hazaribag, Gumla, West Sighbhum, Dhanbad, Ranchi and Lohardaga.

Confirming the move, State Welfare Department Deputy Secretary Vinod Shankar Singh said the department has initiated the process of opening the residential schools for ST girls.

“We have sought the expression of interest from various organisations including those of the non-government organisation to set up and maintain the proposed schools,” Singh said.

The proposed schools are supposed to provide free-of-cost schooling and education to all ST girls residing in the school premises. Each school will have the capacity to enrol 100 students. “As per the existing plan, we have decided to equip the schools to teach the students upto class five, which could be upgraded to class eight level later,” added Singh.

Under the proposed scheme to set up residential schools for ST girls, the Centre is supposed to provide 90 per cent of the total cost of education on girls enrolled in the proposed schools, while the State government would be requiring the rest amount at its own.

NCPCR directs education dept to address cases related to RTE

NCPCR directs education dept to address cases related to RTE
Published on August 18, 2011 in Top Stories | 0 Comments and 1 Reaction
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IMPHAL August 18: The second day and the concluding session of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights public hearing on Right to Education Act, child trafficking, child labor, disabilities and other child rights was conducted today at Kangla Hall, Imphal.

The two day public hearing concluded today on the note that several cases regarding infrastructure and maintenance on school systems had to be addressed by the concerned director of schools and other concerned officials.

The four member NCPCR team led by chairperson Shantha Sinha passed directives to the said director and other concerned officials after hearing the petitions of 24 separate petitions tendered to the commission.

Mention may be made of a case petitioned by five schoolchildren of Molnoi village, Chandel district. The case mentioned that Molnoi village aided Primary school has been functioning without adequate facilities such as free textbooks, uniforms, desks, benches, drinking water, toilet facilities and mid day meals. It mentioned that there is regular absence of teachers posted in the school. Two local youths have been hired to teach the students of the said school and the quality of education is hence very poor.

Deposing at the hearing, director (S), W Rajen Singh stated that the matter has been taken up and intimated to his subordinate officers. The concerned ZEO in the regard replied to the commission inquiry that he has not been at the village due to poor road communication.

Chairperson Shantha Sinha pressed the director and the ZEO that the matter was brought to the director’s notice in June last and nothing has been done to rectify the situation.

She blamed the department of gross ignorance and directed the concerned to tender the action taken report to the commission at the earliest.

It was also brought to the commission’s notice that the parents of the children were threatened from certain quarters for complaining against the school authorities.

Other petitions were brought up in regard to lack of teaching staff, mention may be made of Ithing Government Primary school,

Bishnupur having only one teacher who is also the head of the school. There are 66 children in the school including 36 girl students belonging to the economically weaker sections and only two classrooms are available. The director clarified that there is shortage of staff but the recent induction of 1423 teachers in the education department will be able to rectify the issue within a few days time.

Related cases of poor infrastructure of the physically handicapped students with complaints of inaccessibility to classrooms, toilets and admission charges taken by government schools were brought up with proof by the petitioners. The cases were heard by the commission and called for taking up necessary redressal from the concerned departments.

Government Plans Blanket Ban on Child Labour

Government Plans Blanket Ban on Child Labour


New Delhi, Aug 19 (IANS): The central government is contemplating a blanket ban on child labour, Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal informed the Rajya Sabha Friday.

Presently, child labour in India is banned for work involving hazardous activities, defined as manufacturing or handling of pesticides and insecticides, tobacco processing, warehousing, use of machinery, cashewnut descaling and processing, and working as domestic help and in restaurants, among others.

In response to a question on child labour in agriculture, Sibal said: "There is an inter-ministerial group which is thinking to put a blanket ban on child labour in every walk of life."

In agriculture, child labour is banned only in processes where tractors, threshing and harvesting machines are used and for chaff cutting. According to an International Labour Organisation (ILO) report, 80 percent of the child labour in India is in agricultural sector.

The minister also said that there was a need to open more schools in remote areas to address the need of sending these children to school.

"We are very concerned because real problem arises in rural areas... so state governments are required to set up neighbourhood schools," Sibal said.

The minister said provisions for setting up schools were provided in the Right to Education (RTE) act, but detailed work for population mapping was needed.

"The number of children and requirement of schools will have to be calculated," he said.

The RTE act provides for free and compulsory education to all children in the age group of 6-14 years.

Transcending generations in education

Transcending generations in education
Dileep Ranjekar
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A radical re-organisation of schools and classrooms and the teaching-learning process has become essential to meet the needs of the current generation of students.

It was the year 2003. As a part of my efforts to understand schools and children of all ages, I happened to visit a Bangalore school that had a pre-school section. I followed the standard strategy of being a “fly on the wall,” observing, absorbing, and when the situation was conducive, asking questions to students, teachers and administrators there.

The four-year-old in the junior kindergarten class was smart and highly communicative. She was very forthcoming with her responses. I asked her what she liked and what she did not like in general. She loved her school, her teacher, her mother, and her grandmother. She did not like it when her elder brother fought with her. She also did not like it when her grandmother told her bed-time stories!

This was rather strange, since I had believed that most children liked stories told by the elders in the family. So I was wondering why she did not like her grandmother telling her bed-time stories. Maybe the grandmother saw too many “Ramsay Brother” movies and told her some horror stories — so I thought.

After some patient interaction, the little girl told us: “When she tells me the stories, I go to sleep. But she wakes me up and asks me — the moral of the story!” I was stunned by her unexpected explanation. What struck me personally was the girl's ability to explain her discomfort. I also began to think about several misconceptions that elders have about issues related to the next generations.

Such as that we believe the stories are told in order that they would understand the moral of the story. Or that children go to the school to learn. Or that employees go to office to work.

Is it correct to assume that children go to school only to learn? They could be going there because that is what is expected of them by their parents. Or because they like to be with their friends in school. Or for the one teacher who tells them nice stories. Or they like the playground and the sports facilities.

The children are not even at a stage to understand the “moral” of the story. They may understand it cumulatively through several stories — which would be sunk in several layers of their understanding, only to emerge later. Or their moral of the story would be different than what we understand it to be. What about the pure enjoyment of the story by itself? What about several other uses of the story — such as understanding the language, relating to the characters, imagining the ethos, the feelings, and so on?

Third-generation learners

As in many spheres of life, one of the biggest challenges in the educational system is that we have a first generation of leaders and educators that decide the education policy, the second generation of teachers that are responsible for facilitating education for the children who belong to a third generation.

Understanding third-generation children is a complex process and needs special efforts on the part of all concerned, including parents.

The third-generation children are fearless, articulate, independent, rational (capable of a high degree of analysis on “what is right and wrong” for them), impatient, non-hierarchical, and have wider methods of accessing knowledge. Therefore, what is likely to work with them is not position, age, seniority, power and experience, but strategies that promote equality, democracy, placing before them hard data for them to analyse and infer, and where required, allowing them to take charge of their own learning.

The steps needed

This requires a radically different organisation of schools and classrooms, including in terms of the seating arrangements, the teaching-learning process, methods and material, and the quality of interaction with the children. Parents and teachers must jointly understand that comparing situations with their own childhood and therefore expecting certain types of responses from the children, will not work.

The first step towards making this happen is to completely overhaul the teacher education agenda. Today's teacher education must educate them with multiple current and future scenarios, provide ample opportunity for teachers to interact with the current generation, understand them in a more systematic way and evolve effective processes to interact with them based on this understanding.

The second big requirement is to develop excellent “Teacher Educators” who have such an understanding — since the teacher educators are even more far removed from the current generation of children and hence add to the list of challenges.

The third important step is to find a method to educate parents to accept the fact that their children are bound to respond differently to situations than what the parents did when they were children.

The fourth requirement is to sensitise the educational functionaries outside the schools to appreciate the need to transcend generations, while determining and understanding the needs of the schools, the school administration and the education system.

Children and their future must be at the heart of any decisions about curriculum, classroom practices, examination system and school management system.

(Dileep Ranjekar is chief executive officer of the Azim Premji Foundation.)

Pre-school education sans formal teaching

Pre-school education sans formal teaching
Special Correspondent
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Children at a pre-school centre in Dondaparthi, Visakhapatnam. Photo: C.V. Subrahmanyam
The Hindu Children at a pre-school centre in Dondaparthi, Visakhapatnam. Photo: C.V. Subrahmanyam

Universalisation of secondary education in 12th Plan

Education without textbooks. This is what the government is contemplating for pre-school children.

“We would like to move forward, hopefully, in the next few years to bring pre-school education on the formal education agenda without formally teaching children between four and six years,'' HRD Minister Kapil Sibal told the Rajya Sabha on Friday.

Replying to a question on the steps taken to extend the purview of the Right to Education to children in the age group 0-6, he said: “No, I hope that we don't extend the RTE to age zero. But, certainly, the government is thinking about pre-school education at this point in time [to children] between ages 4 and 6.”

The government was looking at putting the onus of imparting pre-school education on anganwadis in the initial stage.

The RTE Act, 2009 obligates the government and the local authority to provide free and compulsory education to all children and ensure that every child in the age group 6-14 attends school during prescribed hours.

The Minister also said the government was considering universalising secondary education which could come through during the Five-Year Plan period beginning 2012. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, in his Independence Day speech, mentioned universalisation of secondary education.

Mr. Sibal said an inter-ministerial group was thinking of putting a blanket ban on all forms of child labour. The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986, prohibits engaging children below 14 in all occupations barring agriculture. Even in that sector, they could work only where tractors and threshing and harvesting machines are used. They cannot cut chaff or handle pesticides and insecticides.