Education news


In this section, we will provide you with all the relevant information on the education sector of India.

Education updates/news

Kerala row and beyond: Governor’s role in state, central universities

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What is the news?

Kerala Governor has written a letter to the Kerala Chief Minister expressing his desire to step down as Chancellor, alleging political interference in the universities. 

What is the role of Governor in State Universities?

The governor of the state is the ex-officio chancellor of the universities in that state. As the chancellor, he presides over the university convocation and also appoints the Vice-Chancellor.

But the Governor’s exact power as the Chancellor are laid out in the statutes that govern the universities under a particular state government.

For example: In Kerala, the Governor’s official portal states that as Chancellor, he acts independently of the Council of Ministers and takes his own decisions on all University matters.

On the other hand, the website of Rajasthan’s Raj Bhawan states that the Governor appoints the Vice Chancellor on the advice/ in consultation with the State Government.

What about Central universities?

Under the Central Universities Act, 2009, the President of India shall be the Visitor of a central university.  

With their role limited to presiding over convocations, Chancellors in central universities  are appointed by the President in his capacity as Visitor. 

The VCs too are appointed by the Visitor from panels of names picked by search and selection committees formed by the Union government. 

The President, as the Visitor, also has the right to authorise inspections of academic and non-academic aspects of the universities and also to institute inquiries.

Source: This post is based on the article Kerala row and beyond: Governor’s role in state, central universities published in Indian Express on 13th Dec 2021.

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NITI Aayog and Bharti Foundation announce the launch of ‘Convoke 2021-22’

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What is the news?

NITI Aayog in partnership with Bharti Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Bharti Enterprises, has launched Convoke 2021-22.

What is Convoke?

CONVOKE is a National Research Symposium for Teachers and Heads of Schools.

Aim: To address challenges in imparting education and strengthening its quality with special focus on all teachers, educationists, heads of schools across India. 

Through this platform, School Teachers/ Heads/Principals of Government Schools and teachers from Bharti Foundation network will be encouraged to use research-based solutions through scientific approach. It would showcase their efforts taken at the grass-root level in improving learning outcomes.

What is the significance of this initiative?

Firstly, the initiative will promote the suggestions of the National Education Policy 2020 on recognizing novel approaches to teaching that improve learning outcomes in their classrooms. 

Secondly, it will help in creating a culture of using research-based pedagogy to improve learning outcomes in school education.

Thirdly, Teachers over the years have been coming up with innovative solution to help support students and even more during lockdown. Through Convoke they’ll be able to share their micro research papers. The shortlisted Research Papers will be presented during ‘National Research Symposium’ scheduled in January, 2022.

Source: This post is based on the article “NITI Aayog and Bharti Foundation announce the launch of Convoke 2021-22” published in PIB on 10th Dec 2021.

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Parliament passes National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education & Research (Amendment) Bill, 2021

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What is the news?

Parliament has passed the National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (Amendment) Bill, 2021.

About National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (Amendment) Bill, 2021

The Bill seeks to amend the National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research Act, 1998. 

Aim: To ​​accord the status of ‘institute of national importance’ to six more institutes of pharmaceutical education and research, and also set up an advisory council for them.

Note: An Institution of National Importance refers to an autonomous institute established under an Act, with the power to hold examinations, grant degrees, diplomas and other academic distinctions or titles. These institutes of national importance also receive funding from the central government.  
What are the key features of the bill?

New institutions of national importance: The Bill declares six additional National Institutes of Pharmaceutical Education and Research as Institutions of National Importance. These institutes are located in: (i) Ahmedabad, (ii) Hajipur, (iii) Hyderabad, (iv) Kolkata, (v) Guwahati, and (vi) Raebareli.

Establishment of the Council: The Bill provides for a Council to coordinate the activities among the institutes under the Bill to ensure development of pharmaceutical education and research and maintenance of standards. The council will be chaired by the Minister having administrative control of pharmaceuticals.

Source: This post is based on the article “Parliament passes National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education & Research (Amendment) Bill, 2021 published in AIR on 10th Dec 2021.

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Make the mental well beings of teacher a priority

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News: Pandemic has impacted the lives of all in one way or another. Teachers are also not an exception in this.

What are the issues faced by the teachers due to the pandemic?

Security: Teachers who teach in low-fee private schools often have low salaries, poor working conditions and no systemic protection.

Read more: The decline of the Budget school

Constant monitoring: New type of “bullying” is faced by the teachers who work in medium-range, urban private schools. They are in constant ‘watch’ of parents who pointed out even the tiniest mistakes, including variety in pronunciation in online classes.

They are also under constant pressure to submit records of efforts made to keep learning ‘alive’.

Media reports: During the pandemic, media reporting of teachers drew salary without any work, affecting the self-image and self-respect of teachers.

Deployment in other activities: Under COVID-19 duty, they are deployed in undertaking door-to-door COVID-19 survey, distributing immunity booster tablets, disciplining queues outside liquor shops and other activities, led them to a sense of ‘loss of identity.

Cut off with children: Many teachers got stressed because of total cut-off from contact with children during the initial months and during and after the second wave.

Also read: “The world is changing rapidly and teachers must meet its challenges”
How to improve the mental well-being of teachers?

Supportive environment: Space should be created for teachers where they can easily discuss their stress and other issues.

Teacher Training:  Regular teacher training should be conducted for their mental health, well-being, and management.

Objective Recognition Programme: It should be focused on the small achievements of teachers. It should also help in building an environment focused on improving the strengths of teachers.

Read more: Naomi Osaka Episode and Mental health in India – Explained, pointwise
What should be the way forward?

To create an environment where our children feel secure, safe, and protected with professionally well-trained teachers, then there is a need to take care of the mental health of our educators as a priority.

Source: This post is based on the article “Make the mental well beings of teacher a priority” published in The Hindu on 11th December 2021.

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Challenges in NIRF: Recast this apples-and-oranges ranking method

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News: Ranking of state-run Higher Education Institutes (HEI) with centrally funded institutes (CFI) like IIT’s under the National Institute Ranking Framework (NIRF) is not a good step.

What is National Institution Ranking Framework?
Read here: National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF)
Why it is not a good step to rank both state-run HEI and CFI altogether?

Allocation of financial resources: According to a study, there are 184 CFI, to which the Government of India allocates its financial resources. While, in comparison, State public universities didn’t receive adequate financial resources. This is after the fact, that out of total school enrolment, the number of graduates is largest in the state public universities.

No level playing field:  State-run HEI often struggles with the resources. Also, no cost-benefit analysis of State versus centrally funded HEI was done by any agency on economic indicators like return on investment government made into them.

Parameters: State-run HEI is also lagging among the different parameters on which NIRF ranked. These parameters are:

1) Adequate faculty strength, Learning and resources: This is because of continuous retirement, and low recruitment, which further weakened the student-teacher ratio.

2) Research and Professional Practice: Laboratories of State-run HEI are often lacking in modernized infrastructure and also not meeting the market demand.

Also, in spite of more share of Ph.D. students (29.8%) in State-Run HEI in comparison with institutes of National Importance(23.2%), central universities(13.6%), fewer funds have been received by them.

Emerging Technologies: State HEIs are struggling to embrace emerging technologies involving artificial intelligence, machine learning etc, while CFI has this facility.

So, NIRF should plan an appropriate mechanism to rate the output and the performance of institutes in light of their constraints and the resources available to them.

Source: This post is based on the article “Recast this apples-and-oranges ranking method” published in The Hindu on 4th December 2021.

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Our National Education policy could yet rescue school students

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News: On the recommendations of the Kothari Commission, the first National Education Policy was released in 1968. The government has again introduced the National Education Policy 2020, which aims to transform the basic architecture culture and approach of Indian education.

Also read: National Education Policy (NEP) 2020: Implementation Plan for School Education
How can the National Education Policy address the learning challenges post covid?

First, NEP’s comprehensive and systematic response to tackle problems of basic literacy and numeracy can help students overcome challenges created by the covid pandemic. With proper on-the-ground implementation and policies commitment to transforming the care and education of children, use can be made of the ‘Foundational stages’.

Second, As envisaged by the national curriculum framework, there is a need to re-configure and cut down the syllabus to the essentials to meet the learning goals and recover the learning loss. This will help to move children away from rote learning.

Third, there is a need to completely redesign the approach to education in 9 to 12 classes, including how board examinations are conducted.

Fourth, school complexes should be restructured for better outcomes. They should be transformed into communities of schools, teachers and learners. This should be taken up urgently by the states.

Fifth, NEP’s thrust to empower teachers and grant autonomy to institutions will enable institutions to be adaptive and flexible.

Source: This post is based on the article “Our National Education policy could yet rescue school students” published in Livemint on 2nd December 2021.

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Common entrance test for central varsities: plan, criticism

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What is the News?

University Grants Commission (UGC) has written to central universities to take appropriate measures for conducting the Central Universities Common Entrance Test (CUCET) for admission in undergraduate and postgraduate courses from the 2022-23 academic session.

What is the Central Universities Common Entrance Test (CUCET)?

CUCET was launched in the year 2010 to conduct Common Entrance Test for Central Universities.

Currently, 12 central universities hold CUCET with the assistance of the National Testing Agency(NTA).

What are the changes that will be made now?

From the 2022-23 academic session, a common entrance test is likely to be conducted by the National Testing Agency(NTA) across all central universities in India for admissions to undergraduate and postgraduate courses. 

This marks a departure from the current predominant pattern of screening based on class 12 marks.

The test will cover sciences, humanities, languages, arts, and vocational subjects, and is likely to be held at least twice every year.

However, the test does not have under its ambit engineering and medical courses that are offered by some of the central universities.

What is the rationale behind a Common Entrance Test?

The National Education Policy,2020 envisages that a common entrance will test the conceptual understanding and ability to apply knowledge, and will aim to eliminate the need for taking coaching for these exams.

Moreover, this decision of a common entrance test for all universities comes at a time when unrealistic cutoffs for admission to premier institutions like Delhi University have underlined the need for alternatives. The UGC hopes that CUCET will create a level playing field.

What is the criticism against this decision?

Common entrance tests will not be an improvement to unrealistic cutoffs. This is because children come from very different socio-economic backgrounds and to expect them to sit together and tackle a centrally-set paper will not be fair. 

Source: This post is based on the article Common entrance test for central varsities: plan, criticismpublished in Indian Express on 1st December 2021.

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Remote education was inaccessible to most children, says survey

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What is the News?

According to a survey conducted by ICRIER and LIRNEAsia, a think tank focusing on digital policy, remote education was inaccessible to most children in India.

What is remote learning?

Remote learning is where the student and the educator, or information source, are not physically present in a traditional classroom environment. Information is passed on through technology such as discussion boards, video conferencing and online assessments.

About the survey

The survey covered a nationally representative sample of 7,000 households. Only Kerala was excluded, due to high COVID-19 cases. 

What are the key findings of the survey?

Source: The Hindu

Access to Remote Education: Only 20% of school-age children in India had access to remote education during the pandemic. Among them, only half participated in live online lessons.

Dropped out of School: Around 38% of households said at least one child had dropped out of school due to COVID-19.

Access to the Internet: Around 64% of all households with enrolled school-age children had internet access, while the remaining 36% did not have access to the internet.

Among children aged 5-18 years, the survey found that 80% of those who were enrolled in schools prior to the pandemic did not receive any educational services at all during school closure.

Source: This post is based on the article Remote education was inaccessible to most children, says surveypublished in The Hindu on 13th November 2021.

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National Achievement Survey 2021 has been conducted successfully across the country, with enthusiastic participation of schools and students

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What is the News?

National Achievement Survey 2021 has been conducted successfully across the country. As per initial, nearly 96 percent of schools and 92 percent of the targeted sampled children participated in the survey.

What is the National Achievement Survey?

​​National Achievement Survey(NAS) is a nationally representative large-scale survey of students’ learning undertaken by the Ministry of Education.

Purpose of the survey: To provide structured feedback on student learning levels at District, State, and national levels. These inputs are used for policy planning and designing pedagogical interventions to improve quality and ensure equity in learning.

Which classes were covered? The survey covered students of Class 3rd, 5th, 8th and 10th standard. It covered government, government-aided and private schools.

The survey is conducted every three years. The survey was last conducted in 2017 and was scheduled to take place in 2020. However, due to the COVID-19 situation, it was postponed. 

Who designed the framework for the survey? National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT)

Who conducted the survey? Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE)

Subjects assessed under the survey: The survey was conducted in Language, Mathematics & Environmental Studies for class 3 & 5; Language, Mathematics, Science & Social Science for class 8 and Language, Mathematics, Science, Social Science and English for class 10. The test was conducted in 22 different mediums of instructions.

Besides student achievement tests, pupil questionnaires, teachers questionnaires and school questionnaires were also obtained to understand the various settings and perspectives of students, teachers and schools.

Significance of the Survey

The survey will enable states and UTs to identify gaps in learning outcomes and take remedial steps. 

It will also help in the capacity building for teachers and officials involved in the delivery of education in the country.

Source:  This post is based on the following articles: 

  • National Achievement Survey 2021 has been conducted successfully across the country, with enthusiastic participation of schools and students published in PIB on 12th November 2021.
  • Govt. to assess learning gaps via nationwide test” published in The Hindu on 12th November 2021.
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School students to prepare projects on lives of gallantry award winners under ‘Veer Gatha’ initiative

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What is the News?

The Government of India has launched the Veer Gatha Initiative.

What is the Veer Gatha Initiative?

Under the initiative, school students across the country will prepare projects in the form of poems, paintings, essays or multimedia presentations on the lives of gallantry award winners.

Aim of the Project

The aim of the project is to make school students aware of the gallantry award winners and to honour the acts of bravery and sacrifice of India’s brave hearts. The initiative also aims to celebrate the valiance and courage of armed force officers and personnel.

Ministries Involved: Ministry of Education along with the Ministry of Defence

Eligibility: Students of Class 3rd to 12th can participate in the initiative.

After preparation, the projects will be first vetted by the State Council of Educational Research and Training (SCERTs) following which a committee will be appointed by the Ministry of Education. The committee will pick 25 best entries at the national level, which will get awards on the coming Republic Day.

Source: This post is based on the article School students to prepare projects on lives of gallantry award winners under ‘Veer Gatha’ initiativepublished in “Indian Express” on 21st October 2021.

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The decline of the Budget school

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Synopsis: The private budget school ecosystem is collapsing, which is a threat to millions of children who rely on it.

Introduction

The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic is visible in almost all the sectors, and the schools are no exception to it. Today, most private budget schools are facing the problem of financial crunch and are on the verge of lapse owing to shut down and transfer of students from schools.

What are the problems faced by the parents?

The pandemic has caused financial instability in many homes. With the frequent lockdowns and the slowdown of the economy, they are struggling to pay their children’s fees to private institutions. Apart from the fees, there are other expenses like books, internet and school uniforms, which most of the families are unable to afford in the pandemic period. So the parents have no choice but to transfer their students to government schools.

Read more: Long term Impacts of School Closure – Explained, pointwise
What are the problems faced by the private budget schools?

Fall in the strength of students: There has been seen a decrease in enrollment of students during and after the pandemic. This led to problems of paying the staff, school building rent and other expenses. Some student entrepreneur claims that approx tens of thousands of private schools are either shut down or on the verge of closure.

Death Incidents: There are also many instances of private school promoters and teachers are committing suicide. With the people lost their jobs and reduction in salary led to less admission of students in schools. Budget schools already running on the minimum fee. So, they found it difficult to pay salaries to staff. According to the National Independent School Alliance, private schools are facing an annual loss of 77,000 crores in the aftermath of the corona pandemic.

Mismatch: With a cut in teachers’ pay rates and fewer teachers in schools, their workloads have been increased. Also, there is a mismatch in the teacher-student ratio. Even the low-budget schools are struggling to provide digital solutions to students owing to the lack of resources. The only digital medium they are using is Whatsapp.

Read more: Blended model of learning – Explained in detail

What should the government do?

Government should treat private budget schools as MSME. They should be given concession or relaxations should be provided on loan repayment. Also, it should focus on covering the learning loss of students.

Source: This post is based on the article “the decline of the Budget schoolpublished in Livemint on 20th October 2021.

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Education is a powerful enabler of climate-change containment

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Synopsis: At this critical juncture in the history of humanity, we must now re-imagine education as a tool that can play a transformative role in mitigating climate change. Education can become an active agent in catalysing climate mitigation and adaptation in line with the global agreements.

Introduction

In the lead up to CoP-26, more countries have been committing themselves to achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. This includes using regulation and policy to improve energy efficiency, develop alternative energy sources, reduce overall energy consumption and minimize wastage.

Education, as a tool to further climate change, has still been untapped though.

Must Read: Shaping India’s green future
How education can play a transformative role wrt climate change?

Promoting universal values: Universal values such as global citizenry and sustainable development must be incorporated into mainstream, foundational and formative years of study. This will help students become self-directed, raise self-awareness, enable a cultural transformation, and change the mind-sets and lifestyles of future global citizens.

This is why young leaders like Greta Thunberg and Malala Yousafzai are inspiring millions of young people around the world to make societies smarter, greener and more inclusive and resilient.

More investment and better quality of expenditure in education to scale up learning, particularly for disadvantaged and marginalized groups including girls and women is the best strategy to support sustainable development. The more well-educated people there are in a country, the better the capacity and agility of that country to prevent or mitigate future hazards.

Education can be more responsive in producing experts, innovators, and leaders with the skills to tackle climate change and other related development challenges. Such challenges include converting waste to energy, increasing food production and minimizing food waste to feed the growing population sustainably, transitioning to clean energy and transport and creating and preparing for green jobs.

How govts and global institutions are striving to impart Climate change education?

There are already good examples of climate change education led by some governments.

Italy: it requires all students to take more than 33 hours of climate change classes each year in higher secondary education.

Philippines; The Department of Education has committed to intensify climate literacy and support climate action in schools.

The Republic of Korea: it has started a project to transform schools into green campuses that will showcase education programs for environmental protection and use eco-friendly energy.

The Paris Agreement: it calls for its signatories to undertake educational and public awareness campaigns on climate change and ensure public participation in programmes to achieve its targets.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB): it launched the Climate Change Fund in 2008 and has since actively pursued ways to mainstream climate change issues in education. The bank is supporting clean energy in several education projects including preparing graduates with green skills.

What more needs to be done?

Developing the climate change education system will require comprehensive cooperation between central and local governments, schools, universities, communities, non-government organizations (NGOs) and the private sector.

This collaboration is critical to develop education policies that will prepare and engage students in sustainable development through science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) projects.

The international community, multinational corporations and international NGOs are equally critical in harmonizing and providing this support.

Source: This post is based on the article “Education is a powerful enabler of climate-change containment” published in Livemint on 19th October 2021.

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NEET hasn’t created the equality of opportunity it had promised

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Synopsis: The recent move of the Tamil Nadu government to bypass the NEET exam requires careful analysis of the issues surrounding the NEET.

Introduction

The government of India cleared the way for making NEET a common entrance examination for all medical colleges across India. This was opposed by many states including Tamil Nadu.

What steps have been taken by Tamil Nadu?

The government of Tamil Nadu appointed a committee under Justice AK Rajan. The committee found that NEET is biased towards the pattern of the CBSE syllabus.

Based on the recommendations, the government of Tamil Nadu passed a law that provided that NEET is not the only means through which admission can be secured in medical colleges in Tamil Nadu. The bill, however, has not yet received the President’s assent.

Read more: National Entrance cum Eligibility Test(NEET) – Issues and Significance- Explained, pointwise

What are the challenges created by NEET?

The first challenge is the inequality of participation. NEET assumes that all students have the same social-economic background and are equally placed. This is what political philosopher and Nancy Fraser called “parity of participation“.

According to him, maldistribution of resources is an impediment to parity of participation. With regard to NEET, socio-economic inequalities and the absence of objective conditions are unfair because they hinder the parity of participation.

Secondly, it crushes what sociologist Arjun Appadurai called “capacity to aspire of Marginalised students. The report stated that coaching institutes create an impression that these exams cannot be cleared without repeated coaching sessions. Given the price and cost of these coaches, they remain out of reach for a majority of the students.

Read moreInequity and injustice writ large – Regarding NEET 

What can be the solution?

National Education Policy ,2020  provides some initiatives which can solve the problem. It focuses on multi-lingual learning. It also focuses on educating in the mother tongue as that is regarded as the best medium to learn any subject or concept.

There is also a need to restructure the focus of NEET such that it can encompass the varied school curriculum and regional languages. The methodology should be innovative and should not require repeated coaching.

All the steps taken together can solve the challenges related to NEET and also help realize the vision of national education policy.

Source: This post is based on the article “NEET hasn’t created the equality of opportunity it had promised” published in the Indian Express on 16th October 2021.

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Doctor cure thyself: On revising queerphobic medical textbooks

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Synopsis: The social issues in India are not just societal problems, but also ingrained deepens our educational system.

Introduction

Recently National Medical Commission has issued an advisory to all medical universities and colleges. It asked them to bring changes in the teaching methods and opt methods that are not derogatory to the LGBTQIA+ community.

What is the discrimination faced by LGBTQIA+ in the medical profession?

The medical profession mostly treats homosexuality as an illness. This plays a significant role in the stigmatization of non-heterosexual identities. Madras High Court in its recent judgement also raised concerns as it tells “queerphobia continues to be rampant in medical education

Read more: Madras High Court guidelines for mainstreaming LGBTIQA+ community

The medical curriculum describes lesbians as “mental degenerates” and force them to conversion therapy. There are various medical practices that continue to try to alter various sexual orientations instead of recognizing them as a normal variant of human sexuality. According to American Psychiatric Association, these kinds of treatments are unethical as they can cause depression and self-destructing behavior.

Read more: Need to ban the Conversion therapy of the LGBTQIA+ community
What needs to be done?

Our medical institutions still propagate the age-old band practices like the two-finger virginity test. So, change needs to be brought not just in the curriculum but in the mindset.

Source: This post is based on the article”Doctor cure thyself: On revising queerphobic medical textbooks” published in the Times of India on 16th October 2021.

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Education Ministry report: At least 40% school children in 7 large states lack access to digital devices

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What is the news? 

The report, “Initiatives by the School Education Sector in 2020-21“, released by the Union Ministry of Education talks about the response to challenges thrown up by the Covid-19 pandemic. 

What are the key findings of the report? 

The report shows that 40% to 70% of school-going children in seven large states do not have access to digital devices. These states are– Assam (44.24%), Andhra Pradesh (57%), Bihar (58.09%), Gujarat (40%), Jharkhand (43.42%), Madhya Pradesh (70%) and Uttarakhand (41.17%). 

In absolute numbers, prepared on the basis of surveys of various sample sizes by the states and UTs in 2020 and 2021, 29 crore students, including 14.33 crore in Bihar, were found without access to digital devices. 

The digital divide has hit some states disproportionately hard, while a few may have coped well due to the adequate availability of smartphones and television sets. 

Among the better-placed states and UTs are Delhi with around 4% students without access, Kerala 1.63%, Tamil Nadu 14.51%. 

What is the significance of the report? 

Report once again spotlights the grim reality of differential access to education, made starker by the pandemic-induced disruption and the consequential digital divide. 

The official figures also validate the concerns expressed by non-profits working in the education sector. 

The report also highlights the interventions at various levels to bridge the divide, but those interventions did not emphasise enough on the need to scale up the efforts. 

What are the challenges associated with the report? 

There are questionable claims like that of Rajasthan that it does not have students without digital access. 

The true picture remains incomplete in the absence of data from states such as Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. 

Source: This post is based on the article “Education Ministry report: At least 40% school children in 7 large states lack access to digital devices” published in ‘Indian Express’ on 08 October 2021. 

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The pandemic is a reminder of education being a public good

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Synopsis: Indian school education system faces various challenges like large vacancies of teachers, vulnerable private schools, etc. The government must act to improve the public school education system.

Introduction

The recent UNESCO report State of the Education Report (SOER) for India: “No Teachers, No Class”, highlighted various challenges associated with school education in India.

Click here to know more about the State of the Education Report (SOER) for India: “No Teachers, No Class”
What are the challenges associated with Teachers and their performance?

Vacancies skewed towards states: The UNESCO report highlighted that India’s school system is facing an acute shortage of teachers. According to the UNESCO report, the bulk of the vacancies are in rural schools. But these shortages are skewed towards states with relatively fast-growing populations. For example, Uttar Pradesh, with a shortage of 3,30,000 teachers, Bihar 2,20,000 and West Bengal 1,10,000.

This implies that a large cohort of India’s future workforce will be insufficiently educated at a time when technological transitions in both services and manufacturing demand a high minimum standard of education.

Teachers and their non-teaching activities: Teachers are involved in several non-teaching activities too such as coordinating midday meals, registering children for Aadhaar, election duty and vaccination drives.

Interstate differences in recruitment and transfer of teachers: Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand see rules of recruitment being changed year to year, suggesting political influences, while Karnataka and Tamil Nadu have “a systematic, technology-based, transparent system of recruitment, employment and transfer”.

Further, the spread of teacher eligibility tests is helping to improve standards, but these tests only do subject testing, not teaching practice of individuals.

What are the lessons learned from the pandemic on school education?

The pandemic exposed the vulnerabilities of private schools. Not all private schools are bad. Many are of good quality and are truly bothered about the education and welfare of their students. But an overwhelmingly large proportion of private schools are run only for commercial purposes.

For example, running a private school is a business in India. During the past 18 months, they have done nothing to engage children. But they have always demanded fees.

On the other hand, many government schoolteachers have often reached homes and communities to teach students. So, these schools have lost all trust and a few have even collapsed. This has boosted enrolment in the government (public) school system. 

Read more: Long term Impacts of School Closure – Explained, pointwise
What needs to be done to improve school education?

There is no substitute for an equitable, strong and vibrant public education system. So, the energy in the public-school system with this rising enrolment must be effectively harnessed.

India now needs to incentivise smart young people to take up the teaching profession and train them well. Apart from that, India also needs to upskill the existing teachers.

Source: This post is based on the following articles

  • Teacher, you learn too: Filling school vacancies is essential. So is doing this professionally rather than politically published in Times of India on 6th October 2021.
  • The pandemic is a reminder of education being a public good published in Livemint on 7th October 2021.
  • Learning disabilities published in Business Standard on 7th October 2021.
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India’s school system faces acute shortage of teachers, says UNESCO report

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What is the news?

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has recently released its 2021 State of the Education Report (SOER) for India: “No Teachers, No Class”.

About the State of the Education Report (SOER) for India

It is an annual flagship report of UNESCO New Delhi. So far, two editions have been released in the past and this is the third edition of the State of Education Report.

The UNESCO analysed two data sets for the preparation of the report. These are the Unified District Information System for Education (UDISE+) 2018-19 round and the Periodic Labour Force Survey 2018-19.

What are the key findings of the State of the Education Report (SOER) 2021?
UNESCO's SOER 2021
Source: UNESCO

Lack of teachers: The data suggests that the teaching cadre is generally young, with over 65% of teachers aged less than 44 years. But, in about 15 years, 27% of the current workforce will need to be replaced. The workforce has a deficit of over 1 million teachers (at current student strength).

Apart from that, almost, 69% of teachers in India are working without job contracts in private schools.

SOER 21
Source: UNESCO

Poor student-teacher ratio: The overall number of teachers (around 9.5 million) looks perfect to maintain a good pupil-teacher ratio. But there is a segmental disparity. For instance, the pupil-teacher ratio (PTR) at senior secondary schools is 47:1 as against 26:1 of the overall school system.

Prevalence of single-teacher institutions: At the national level, 7% of schools are single-teacher schools, the percentage is far higher in several states. Around 10% to 15% of schools in several states were single-teacher institutions.

Prevalence of under-qualified teachers: 7.7% of teachers in pre-primary, 4.6% at the primary level and 3.3% upper-primary are under-qualified.

Women make half of the teacher workforce: Half of India’s 9.43 million school teachers are women. In some states and union territories (UTs) over 70% of teachers are women. These include Chandigarh (82%), Delhi (74%), Kerala (78%), Punjab (75%) and Tamil Nadu (75%).

Low retention rates: Overall retention is 74.6% for elementary education and 59.6% for secondary education in 2019-20.

Low access to the Internet: Access to the internet in schools is 19% all over India – only 14% in rural areas compared to 42% in urban areas.

Technological challenges: The use of technology in education has exposed a range of issues – lack of devices and Internet bandwidth for a significant proportion of students, lack of preparedness of teachers in the use of technology, and lack of resources in Indian languages.

What are the key recommendations of the SOER report?

The report recommended the following things,

a) Improve the terms of employment of teachers in both public and private schools.

b) Increase the number of teachers and improve working conditions in North-Eastern states, rural areas and ‘aspirational districts.

c) Increase the number of physical education, music, art, vocational education, early childhood and special education teachers.

d) Build teachers career pathways and provide meaningful ICT training to teachers.

Source:  This post is based on the following articles

  • “India’s school system faces acute shortage of teachers, says Unesco report” published in Livemint on 6th October 2021.
  • “Only 19% schools have access to internet: UNESCO report” published in Indian Express on 6th October 2021.
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NIRF ranking does not give full picture of higher education in India

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Synopsis: Recently released NIRF ranking showcased its limitation in comparison to other global rankings.

Introduction

Ministry of Education has released National Institute Ranking Framework (NIRF) 2021. Various lacunas are visible in the structuring of this ranking, which makes the ranking impactless.

Read more: Fund and Faculty count in higher education rankings
What are the different ranking institutes worldwide?

There are at least 20 global ranking agencies that measure quality on various parameters.

The Centre for Science and Technology Studies at Leiden University: It maintains European and worldwide rankings of the top 500 universities based on the number and impact of Web of Science-indexed publications per year.

QS World University Ranking: It is published annually since 2004. In 2009, QS even launched the QS Asian University Rankings in partnership with the Chosun Ilbo newspaper in South Korea.

Ranking of Rankings: It is launched in 2017. It aggregates the results of five global rankings, combining them to form a single rank. It uses THE World University Ranking (22.5%), QS World University Ranking (22.5%), US News Best Global University (22.5%), Academic Ranking of World Universities (22.5%), and Reuters World Top 100 Innovative Universities (10%).

What are the issues associated with NIRF rankings?

Parameters: Present NIRF ranking missed the important parameters which need to be included in the list. For example, the ranking doesn’t include the financial health and size of the institution as a criterion. It also doesn’t include financial benefits accrued to the stakeholders, especially the students.

One size fits all approach: There is huge diversity in our education system. Universities are ranging in various levels like research-based, language-based, innovation-based technology social science institutes, etc. The boundary conditions in which they operate are also very different. But, the NIRF is making the same mistake that the global ranking system was once accused of i.e to rank all the universities on the same level.

Disengagement: Disconnect is clearly visible between the ranking and accreditation. Several universities have earned a National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) A Grade but figure poorly in the ranking system. NIRF should take into consideration both things.

Our Accreditation and ranking approach is not up to the mark. India can adopt the model of the USA i.e accreditation and Quality Assurance (QA). In it, stakeholders are allowed to sue the universities if they are not able to deliver what they claim. A Bill to introduce such accountability was introduced in 2011, but it never saw the light of day.

Read more: Higher education in India & QS World University Rankings- Explained, pointwise

What is the way forward?

There are two main factors that differentiate us from the global ranking systems are our lack of international faculty and students and the inadequacy of our research to connect with the industry. International students/faculty will come to India if they will see some quality in our institutions. Similarly, Industry connect will happen only when the research translates into improved or new processes and products

For this to happen, NIRF should bring top experts not only from India but from outside also in its core committees.

Source: This post is based on the article “NIRF ranking does not give full picture of higher education in India” published in Indian Express on 6th October 2021.

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NEET fails the multidimensional construct of merit

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Synopsis: The policy of a single test needs to be reviewed to attain the lofty goals of the New Education Policy.

Introduction

Recently, The Tamil Nadu Assembly has passed a Bill to dispense with the National Entrance cum Eligibility Test (NEET). This bill is passed based on the recommendation of the high-level committee led by retired judge AK Rajan.

How NEET evolved?

NEET is a unique system of admission, as no admission in medicine is possible in India without clearing NEET. The idea of common tests found some support in the judgment of the Supreme Court in T.M.A. Pai Foundation (2002).

Read moreInequity and injustice writ large – Regarding NEET 

NEET was notified by the Medical Council of India (MCI) in 2010. But in 2013, in the Christian Medical College Vellore Association vs Union of India case, the court struck down NEET. The court held that, the NEET as being pro-rich, for pro-coaching centres, and anti-student and one which would lower the standards of medical education.

The Parliament amended the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 and inserted Section 10D to empower the MCI to conduct NEET.  Later, in 2016, in the review petition of the case, the Supreme Court ordered the conduct of NEET from 2016 itself. The court did not accept the government of India’s requests to permit State governments to conduct their tests at least in 2016.

NEET and minority institutions

In 2020, the court upheld NEET even in respect of minority institutions. Article 30 gives the minority institutions the right to admit students of their choice. The court held that the rights available under Article 30 are not violated by the introduction of NEET.

Read more: NEET applies to minority colleges: SC
What are the issues associated with Judicial observation on NEET?

The Supreme Court considered just the legality of NEET, but it overlooked the real impact of NEET on underprivileged candidates and minority institutions. This is clear from the following reasons,

Does not test the quality: NEET does not test qualities that a doctor must possess such as compassion, empathy and passion to serve humanity.

Against equality: Under NEET, unequal (Students from different backgrounds) are treated as equals (one test for all). This violates the equality mentioned in Article 14. As Article 14 demands, likes are to be treated alike, not unlikes are to be treated alike.

Read other reasons: National Entrance cum Eligibility Test(NEET) – Issues and Significance- Explained, pointwise

Merit requires fair competition and equality of opportunity. But, the NEET does not satisfy the requirements of Merit. So, the central government should review the policy of a single test so that the actual realisation of the New Education Policy — of equity, inclusion and access — will happen in India.

Source: This post is based on the article “NEET fails the multidimensional construct of merit” published in The Hindu on 29th Sep 2021.

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Measuring Regional Diversity – Regarding NIRF

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Synopsis: The National Institute Ranking Framework (NIRF) calculation of regional diversity in education institutes is inaccurate.

Introduction:

Recently, the Ministry of Education has released the 6th edition of NIRF rankings. NIRF formulates the ranking on the basis of five parameters. Each of these has one to five sub-parameters. The article discusses Regional Diversity which is a sub-parameter under Outreach and Inclusivity.

Read here: Union Education Minister releases India Rankings 2021
How NIRF calculates Regional Diversity?

It calculates regional diversity by counting the percentage of total students enrolled from all other States and countries at that particular institution except the State the institution is located in. It does not count the State-wise representation of students at the institution. For Eg: If there are 100 students in an institution of Delhi, of whom 99 belong to Uttar Pradesh. The formula will show that the institution is extremely diverse because 99% of the students are from ‘other’ State(s). But this is misleading.

How could NIRF improve?

It should calculate data both on Horizontal and Vertical lines. So it should also show the distribution of students between the states.

Horizontal Diversity: Under it, the data should be count from how many States have students come to study at the institution.

Vertical Diversity: Under it, NIRF should count the size of the hometown of the students. The data should show the count of students who has come from Tier I, Tier II, Tier III cities and towns, and villages from within each State.

What should be the way forward?

NIRF ranking provides a transparent method of judging the performance of any institution. We should now work on refining the parameters to make the ranking more accurate.

Source: This post is based on the article “Measuring Regional Diversity” posted in The Hindu on 28th September 2021.

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Missing skills: Low employability calls for academia-industry link

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Synopsis:  Given the poor employability of Indian graduates, urgent steps are needed to address the skill gaps.

Introduction

The QS Graduate Employability Rankings 2022 were recently released. The report reveals that no Indian Higher Education Institution is in the top 100 and only 3 HEI can make a place in the top 200. This shows the employability crisis of Indian graduates.

Read more: Three IITs among world’s top 200 in QS Graduate Employability Rankings 2022
What is the employability status in India?

Employability report: A 2019 report by Aspiring Minds termed the challenge as “stubborn unemployability”. It concluded that the employability of Indian engineers has not changed since 2010. Only 3.84% of engineers are employable at software start-ups.

India Skills Report 2021: It estimated overall employability at 45.9%. It means least one of two graduates is not ready for the job market. In polytechnics, the employability level is as low as 25%.

GOI launched the National Education Policy (NEP) to address this problem.

What we can do further?

We can take inspiration from the models of Germany and Japan. Germany’s apprenticeship programme is a building block of its manufacturing prowess. Japan’s school system plays an important role in matching student skills with industry’s requirements

As the Indian market grows, the demand for more skilled workers will grow. So, India should invest in skilling its youth for meeting the demands of the future job market.

Source: This post is based on the article “Missing skills: Low employability calls for academia-industry link” published in Times of India on 24th September 2021.

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Building more inclusive, welcoming schools for LGBTQ+ children

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Synopsis:  Not just infrastructure and process revamp, we also need reforms in curriculum and teacher education.

Introduction

This article highlights the discrimination faced by the non-binary gender. Recently, during the Shiksha Parv conclave, PM also emphasized the need for inclusive and equitable education.

Recently, Kerala High Court brought attention to medical textbooks that described non-binary gender identities as “offensive perversions” and “mental disorders”. This is despite the fact that Kerala was the first state to adopt a transgender policy six years ago.

What is the status of the transgender community?

As per the 2011 Census, there are 4.8 million transgender persons in India. They have a literacy rate of just 46%, compared to 74% of the general population.

A study by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in 2017 found that over two-thirds of transgender children drop out of school before completing class 10 in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh.

In 2020, there were only 19 transgender candidates among the 18 lakh students appearing for the class 10 board exams.

What are the problems faced by the transgender community in the schools?

Discrimination by teachers and students: Children belonging to the transgender community often face problems of bullying, humiliation, sexual harassment. For example, in 2018, a reputed Kolkata school forced 10 of its female students to write a confession letter stating “I am a lesbian”. The consequences of such bullying and intimidation were often severe in terms of mental health as well as academic outcomes.

UNESCO survey 2018 in India: It revealed that 60% of transgender reported experiencing physical harassment in high school; 43% were sexually harassed in elementary school. Only 18% reported incidents of abuse and harassment attributed to school authorities.

What initiatives have been taken by Government to address the problem?

National Education Policy 2020: It recognizes transgender children as educationally disadvantaged. It recommended widening their educational access through a Gender Inclusion Fund.

However, all the initiatives are just limited to conditional cash transfers, distribution of bicycles, provision for sanitation and toilets and countering barriers of access. These steps cannot ensure inclusive classrooms and schools.

Read more: Non Binary genders need more visibility in India’s Census 2021
What can be done to remove the stigma?

Awareness and Acceptability: Focus should be on enhancing awareness and acceptability of the LGBTQ+ community through education. India can learn from Scotland, which became the first country to have an LGBTQ+ inclusive school curriculum in 2021.

Inspirational Stories: Stories of notable persons who identified themselves as LGBTQ+  should be included in the curriculum. Eg Story of Heather who had ‘Two Mommies’

Inclusive language:  Focus should also be on inclusive language like using “partner” instead of “husband/wife” or “them” instead of “him/her”.

Teacher Participation: Teachers should play an important role to model inclusive behaviour and confirm that schools are safe, supporting places for LGBTQ+ students.

Comprehensive Sex Education: Comprehensive sex education must support young lives in exploring sexualities rather than viewing sexual minorities as a disease or disorder.

Source: This post is based on the article “Building more inclusive, welcoming schools for LGBTQ+ children published in Indian Express on 25th September 2021.

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Three IITs among world’s top 200 in QS Graduate Employability Rankings 2022

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What is the News?

The QS Graduate Employability Rankings 2022 has been released.

About QS Graduate Employability Rankings

QS Graduate Employability Rankings is released by global higher education analysts Quacquarelli Symonds(QS).

Purpose: It is an innovative exercise designed to provide the world’s students with a unique tool by which they can compare university performance in terms of graduate employability outcomes and prospects.

Indicators: The rankings of institutions have been done based on five indicators: Employer reputation (30%), Alumni outcomes (25%), Partnerships with Employers per Faculty (25%), Employer/Student Connections (10%) and graduate employment rate (10%).

What are the key takeaways?
Rankings Related to India

Twelve Indian higher education institutions, including six Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), figured in the top 500 universities.

Among them, ​​IIT-Bombay has emerged as the best Indian Institute.

Source: TOI
Topped by

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has topped the rankings. It was followed by Stanford University and the University of California.

Source: This post is based on the following article

  • Three IITs among world’s top 200 in QS Graduate Employability Rankings 2022published in Business Standard on 24th September 2021.
  • IIT-B, IIT-D grads most employable in Indiapublished in TOI on 24th September 2021.
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New panel to devise school curriculum

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What is the News?

The Union Education Ministry has set up a committee headed by space scientist K. Kasturirangan to devise the National Curriculum Frameworks(NCFs).

About the Committee on National Curriculum Framework(NCF)

The National Curriculum Framework serves as a guiding document for the development of textbooks, syllabus and teaching practices in schools across the country.

The committee will develop four frameworks, one each to guide the curriculum of school education, teacher education, early childhood education and adult education. 

The subsequent revision of textbooks by the National Council of Educational Research and Training will be based on this new NCF.

The committee will have a  tenure of three years to complete its task.

Note: India is currently following its fourth national curriculum framework that was published by the NCERT in 2005.

Source: This post is based on the following articles:

  • New panel to devise school curriculum” published in Livemint on 22nd September 2021.
  • “Kasturirangan to lead syllabus panel” published in The Hindu on 22nd September 2021.
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The difference education makes to what the salaried earn in India

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Synopsis: Earning variations can be explained by education but our problem of educated unemployment deserves deeper examination.

Introduction

Unemployment among educated youth has been high in India for some years now. Despite consistently rising unemployment, youngsters continue to invest in education because over their lifetime, they expect to earn more compared to people with low education.

Why people continue to invest in higher education?

Socio-economic factors: Educated workers may earn more because of other related traits such as superior abilities, ambition, diligence and better endowments like parental resources and status.

Returns on education: educated youth’s lifetime- earnings’ trajectory changes vis-à-vis those with lower educational levels.

Decision making: education tends to improve decision-making on crucial life options. It is also found to improve patience and focus, and enable the formation of larger social networks, resulting in better access to opportunities.

How education makes difference to the salaried in India?

For young adults: In both rural and urban areas, younger adults (aged 20-24 years) with lower levels of education start at a similar level of salary, implying not much locational premium.

For experienced: There are lack of alternative jobs in rural areas for experienced workers who have less than a college education. In urban areas, there is a marginally better increase in the salaries of middle-aged workers with lower education compared to similarly educated younger workers.

Self-employment vs salaried employment: Workers with less than primary education are better off in salaried employment, over their earning life in both rural and urban areas. And, workers with middle and secondary level of education earn more in self-employment in urban areas than in salaried employment.

Educated workers: The average earnings of young regular salaried workers in urban areas are significantly higher than those of their rural counterparts, and the earnings see a sharp upward increase from the early twenties to mid-thirties.

Educated workers in the oldest age group (55-59 years): In urban area, salary is 2.3 times that of workers with lower education in the same age bracket. They also earn 1.6 times higher than their counterparts in rural areas.

What does this analysis of rural and urban worker reveal?

Surplus of educated workers: The high level of unemployment among Indian youth with degree-level education indicates a surplus of educated workers.

Public policy relevance: if the phenomenon of vast educated unemployment is more a reflection of low employability because of poor-quality education, then the effective surplus of educated workers may be much less.

The India Skills Report 2019 suggests that only 47% of youth in India with a college education are employable. Alternatively, educated youth tend to look for higher-paying and better-quality jobs, and if offered lower pay, are often ready to wait for a longer time to find a suitable job.

Source: This post is based on the article “The difference education makes to what the salaried earn in India” published in Livemint on 21st September 2021.

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Inequity and injustice writ large – Regarding NEET

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Synopsis: This article explains the journey of Education and issues surrounding NEET.

Introduction

Historically, states had established medical colleges and allowed private persons to establish medical colleges. States regulated the admission of students to these colleges. Standards and quality of education improved over time. But, the NEET is creating an era of great inequity and injustice.

About the journey of education in India

The Constitution of India was a compact between the states. The central pillar of the Constitution consists of the Three Lists — Union List, State List and Concurrent List.

List II (State List), Entry 11, as originally enacted, read: Education, including universities, subject to the provisions of entries 63, 64, 65 and 66 of List I and entry 25 of List III.

List III (Concurrent List), Entry 25, as originally enacted, read: Vocational and technical training of labour.

Entries 63 to 66 posed no problem at all because they dealt with some named institutions, institutions of scientific and technical education funded by the Central government, training institutions and laying down of standards.

During the emergency, by 42nd amendment, the Parliament deleted Entry 11 of the State List instead added it into Entry 25 of the Concurrent List. Entry 25 was re-written as: Education, including technical education, medical education and universities.

The 44th Constitution Amendment did not restore the original entries concerning ‘education’.

What are the reasons to run State medical colleges?

State government medical colleges are established using the money of the people of the state. They are intended, by and large, to admit the children of the people of that state and teach them medicine in English and, in course of time, in the state’s official language.

The graduating doctors are expected, by and large, to serve the people of that state, especially in the rural areas where healthcare was/is woefully inadequate. They are expected, by and large, to speak and prescribe and counsel the patients in their language.

State governments encouraged admission of rural students, students who studied in government schools, children from poor families, children belonging to disadvantaged sections and first-generation learners.

There were grave issues that needed to be addressed such as capitation fees, excessive fees, poor quality of equipment, inadequately attached hospitals, inadequate laboratory, library, hostel and playground facilities and so on. These problems are continuing problems irrespective of whether the state regulates the admission of students or some Central authority does so.

How NEET evolved?

The National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) is acclaimed as merit has to be the sole criteria for admission at all India level.  The Supreme Court also in Modern Dental College vs State of MP case, held that, “When it comes to higher education, that too in professional institutions, merit has to be the sole criteria”. Only a common entrance test will ensure merit-based admissions, fairness, transparency and non-exploitation.

Why NEET is creating inequity and injustice?

Justice A K Rajan Committee on the impact of NEET on the admission process in medical colleges in Tamil Nadu highlighted the inequity and injustice in the NEET.

NEET
Source: Indian Expres

Students who study in state board schools and take the state board exam are at disadvantageous in NEET. Further, the relevance of the State board itself will come into question, as there is a common syllabus for NEET.

With NEET, state governments shy away to spend the state’s tax-payers’ money and set up government medical colleges.

Urban students might not serve in the PHCs and taluk-level hospitals.

Must read: National Entrance cum Eligibility Test(NEET) – Issues and Significance- Explained, pointwise

Source: This post is based on the article “Inequity and injustice writ large” published in The Indian Express on 20th Sep 2021.

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Empathy through Education

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Synopsis: Social and Emotional Learning is not fluff; it is an important goal in education.

Introduction

The article highlights the importance of Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) as an important tool of education. India’s recent National Education Policy also highlights its importance in children’s development.

What is SEL?

It forms the foundation of human development, for building healthy relationships, academic learning, manages emotions and much more things more effectively. The following are the key elements of SEL:

Empathy: It is the ability to understand another person’s emotions. It is also the awareness of why they might be feeling those emotions.

Theory of mind: It is the ability to understand others’ intentions, knowledge and beliefs and recognize that those might be different from your own.

Neurobiologically different regions of the brain such as the prefrontal and frontal cortices and others are involved in the cognitive mechanisms of SEL. Thus, it is vital to consider that the learning process is a social as well as an emotional experience.

How pandemic bought challenges for SEL?

The pandemic has brought numerous challenges for SEL as school closures reduced opportunities for students to deepen social relationships and learn in shared physical spaces.

What practices can we adopt?

Individuals from underprivileged backgrounds have faced immense learning losses during the pandemic. We need to prioritize “inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.” We can start with the following strategies:

Practices: SEL practices should be based on students’ socioeconomic backgrounds.

Strategies: SEL strategies of caretakers and educators must align with one another.

Scientific use: Long-term success requires SEL to be based on scientific evidence.

As can be seen that such comprehensive learning involves all the stakeholders, including parents and teachers. This onus lies on all of us to bring the changes.

Source: This post is based on the article “Empathy through Education” published in The Hindu on 20th September 2021.

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Phase 2 of Visvesvaraya PhD Scheme launched by IT Minister

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What is the News?

Union Minister of Electronics & Information Technology launched Phase II of the Visvesvaraya PhD Scheme.

What is Visvesvaraya PhD Scheme?

Launched by: Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology in 2014

Aim: To enhance the number of PhDs in Electronics System Design & Manufacturing (ESDM) and IT/IT Enabled Services (IT/ITES) sectors in the country.

What are the phases under the Scheme?

Phase 1

Under Phase 1, PhD seats were allocated to 97 institutions (IITs, NITs, Central & State Universities etc.) in 25 states and 4 Union Territories.  

Phase II

Under Phase II, the scheme aims to support 1000 Full-Time PhD Candidates, 150 Part-Time PhD Candidates, 50 Young Faculty Research Fellowships and 225 Post-Doctoral Fellowships.

Source: This post is based on the article Phase 2 of Visvesvaraya PhD Scheme launched by IT Ministerpublished in PIB on 18th September 2021.

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As children come back to school, they will need both time and patience

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Synopsis: As the schools will soon reopen after the pandemic induced gap, what should be the factors that should drive the education system?

Introduction

Pandemic has had a negative impact on the education of children with students facing up to 57 weeks of school closure. They might have forgotten what they had learnt. But there has also been a loss of foundation abilities like reading, writing etc. This all has had a great impact on the learning process of children..

What are the findings of the report?

What’s next? Lessons on Education Recovery report by UNICEF, UNESCO, World Bank and OECD: It documents the steps that have been taken to overcome the backlog of learning. Nearly 41% of countries have extended the academic year. 42 % of countries have prioritized certain curriculum areas or skills. Over 2/3rd of countries have implemented remedial measures to address learning gaps.

Azim Premji Foundation’s Research: It noted that nearly 3/4th of the children in Class II have lost the ability to identify a word in print. Similarly, in Class 4th, the majority of students have lost the ability to express the gist of a poem. In Class VI more than half the children lost the ability to write their views on various events happening around them.

SCHOOL Survey : It noted that 42% children in urban areas and 48% in rural areas are unable to read more than a few words. It also indicated that most children across the primary grades have lost the basic abilities of learning.

Read more: Long term Impacts of School Closure – Explained, pointwise
How should schools frame their curriculum?

The learning outcomes should focus on the abilities children have to acquire as opposed to the content of textbooks as indicated by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT). Thus, learning outcomes of specific subjects must be prioritised, and the curriculum should be reset, prioritising the need of students.

Primary schools: As the primary schools established the foundation of later learning, we need to focus on recovery of foundational abilities in language and mathematics. Along with learning of the current class, focus should also be on relearning from previous classes.

Middle school : Focus should be adopting an integrated approach to achieve learning outcomes across subjects.

Secondary and Senior secondary level: Focus should be on core learning outcomes. Learning process should be mapped to textbooks; and for this level additional material could be developed.

Teachers: Teachers should be given the autonomy to determine what and when the children should learn. Changes in curriculum and the approach to teaching-learning would require orientation of teachers.

Track the performance of students: There is a need to track the performance of students by periodic assessments, regular testing, assessments and interactions with the students. Teachers should also make sure that this process will not demotivate the children.

What should be the way forward?

We need to understand that students have not just suffered a learning loss, but lost valuable time of learning and growth. The most important thing is to give them time to settle back into routines and cover up what has been lost.

Source: This post is based on “As children come back to school, they will need both time and patience” published in the Indian Express on 17th September.

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‘Know the enemy, know self’ is sound professional advice

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Synopsis: India needs to up its game when it comes to Professional Military Education. We need professionals who are domain specialists having both academic and field experience.

Introduction

Sun Tzu, Chinese general, military strategist, writer, and philosopher, famously said, “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles… if you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”

Considering the recent events in military circles, this needs examination, and certain facets of Professional Military Education (PME) in the Indian armed forces evaluated.

Must Read: Why Indian Military doctrine Should include both Sun Tzu & Kautilya?
What is the present scenario wrt PME institutions in India?

In our PME institutions most, if not all, instructors are service officers posted-in from field/staff appointments who do their two/three-year tenure and move on; there is no time to become an ‘expert’.

There are no subject-matter experts on staff doing full-time teaching.

But, things are changing in some institutions.

The Naval War College in Goa invites an eminent academic from abroad to run capsules on operational art. The college also has an adjunct faculty of tri-Service retired officers acting as mentors in specialised areas of learning.

National Defence College at Delhi set-up a President’s Chair of Excellence teneted by a retired scholar warrior; and, this is how it should be elsewhere too.

What more needs to be done?

Subject-matter experts: The Defence Services Staff College should have permanent chairs for subject-matter experts teaching military history, strategy, geo-politics. Service officers would be the links to field realities. It is a joint institution and hence the Commandant should be a reputed scholar warrior from any of the three services, and not just from the Army as has been till now.

The Army War College, College of Air Warfare, College of Defence Management, etc. should take similar action.

Implement IDU project: Indian Defence University (IDU) project (earlier INDU — Indian National Defence University) has failed to make progress after its foundation stone was laid in 2013 near Gurgaon. While the Ministry of Home Affairs has set up the Rashtriya Raksha University (RRU) in Gujarat, the Ministry of Defence should speed up implementation of IDU project.

National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS) and National Security Advisory Board (NSAB): Each body must have domain specialists from important fields and when one considers the NSCS and the NSAB, the three arms of the armed forces should be represented at the senior advisory level. These apex bodies conduct long-term analyses and provide perspectives on issues of national importance to India’s political leadership. These bodies need sound academic presence and military professionals from all three services.

Source: This post is based on the article “Know the enemy, know self is sound professional advice” published in The Hindu on 16th Sep 2021.

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Where is the strategy for dealing with learning loss during Covid?

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Synopsis: As the schools reopen, it should not just be the regular business. This should be used as an opportunity to revamp the education system.

Introduction

COVID has impacted the various sections of society, especially the students. With the question of reopening the schools, the parallel debate is going on how to cover the damage and how to frame the future of schooling.

What are the recent findings?

A survey named School Children’s Online and Offline Learning (SCHOOL) was conducted to understand the impact of the prolonged closure of schools due to the pandemic. It provided various data which can be used for analysis for the education policies.

Read more: SCHOOL Survey and Long Term Impact of school closure
How future schools should be like?

Extended networks: Schools should be extended networks rather than being closed classroom communities. Our schooling system has to be shifted from knowledge-centric to skill-centric. As a result of knowledge-centric education, we have job seekers, we hardly have job creators passing out of the school precincts.

Pro-Active Innovators: Schools should adopt ‘innovative pedagogies’ and ‘differentiated instructions’ as per the needs of the learners to enable them to become knowledge creators and, eventually, job creators.

Future-Oriented: The future of jobs will have a direct impact on the schools of the future. Students of the future will need a new set of capabilities like – hyper-information, virtual teams, and a constant swing between super speciality and cross-disciplinary skills. So, schools should frame the curriculum according to the need of students.

Communication: Schools should forge stronger and more trusting engagement with families and communities. The online world of e-parents-teachers meetings (e-PTMs), e-guidance to parents, and social media-based active communication with parents during the pandemic has opened up an entire world of possibilities

Innovation: There is a need to innovate the methods which will reverse the impact of the pandemic. For this, a differential instructions interventions approach should be implemented.

What will be the way forward?

A simple bridge course as the schools reopen will not solve the long-term challenges. There is a need for the contribution of various stakeholders like educationists, thinkers, practitioners, etc to frame the education policy which is most suited for the future need of students.

Source: This post is based on the following articles:

  • Where is the strategy for dealing with learning loss during Covid?” published in the Indian Express on 16th September 2021.
  • “NEP Schools: The Future” published in The Hindu on 16th September 2021.
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National Entrance cum Eligibility Test(NEET) – Issues and Significance- Explained, pointwise

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Introduction

Recently, The Tamil Nadu Assembly has passed a Bill to dispense with the National Entrance cum Eligibility Test (NEET). This bill is passed based on the recommendation of the high-level committee led by retired judge AK Rajan. The committee report was prepared after looking into around 86,000 representations from various stakeholders, a majority of whom said they don’t want NEET.

The immediate trigger to the bill was the suicide of an MBBS aspirant just before the NEET this year. The Bill allows admission to medical courses based on Class 12 marks to “ensure social justice”. But, in various instances, NEET is considered the best option by the judiciary as it promotes merit. In this article, let us understand the issues surrounding the NEET.

What is the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET)?

The Medical Council of India (MCI) and Dental Council of India (DCI) in 2012 had introduced the common medical entrance examination or NEET. Later, it has been statutorily incorporated under Section 10D of the Indian Medical Council (IMC) Act. The Supreme Court also upheld the validity of the law.

The NEET replaced All India Pre-Medical Test (AIPMT). The NEET is a qualifying test for any graduate and postgraduate medical course in India. The NEET is mandatory for all Indian institutions except certain institutions including AIIMS, PGIMER, and JIPMER.

The exam is conducted by National Testing Agency (NTA). It is an autonomous body, constituted under the Ministry of Human Resources Development. It was created to conduct entrance examinations for Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in the country.

The NEET exam is conducted online and in 11 languages. These include English, Hindi, Marathi, Odia, Tamil, Marathi, Urdu, Bengali, Telugu, Kannada, and Assamese.

Medical colleges in a particular state have 85% seats reserved for the native students and 15% (All India Quota) seats for the students from other states.

For instance, a student from Mumbai wants to pursue MBBS from a college in Delhi, then he would be choosing it from the 15% seats of the total seats of that college.

What are the changes introduced in NEET so far?

Applicable to Minority Educational InstitutionsLast year, the Supreme Court ruled that the NEET is mandatory for admission to medical colleges run by religious and linguistic minority communities.

Reforms in All India Quota: In Abhay Nath v University of Delhi and Others case, 2007, the SC directed that reservation of 15% for Scheduled Castes and 7.5% for Scheduled Tribes be introduced in the All India Quota.

The government earlier implemented this reservation in all the Central Educational Institutions. But, recently, the Central government announced the extension of OBC, EWS quota within the AIQ Scheme for state medical and dental colleges also.

Scores valid for three years:  In 2019, the government has cleared a proposal to extend the validity of the NEET score by three years. This is done to help students who are planning to pursue medical courses abroad.

What are the advantages of the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test?

One Nation, One Exam: Bottom line of NEET is One Nation, One Exam. The exam is having a single syllabus for all the students. It has standardized entrance tests to medical institutions. Further, NEET will also provide the Right to Choice for students. As, with NEET, a student can write a single exam and apply to different Universities with the same test score.

Improve the performance of State Boards: As the syllabus of the exam is based on CBSE/NCERT syllabus, the state boards will also be prompted to adopt a syllabus similar to that of CBSE. This will improve the quality of education of state boards.

Bring transparency to the admission process of private medical colleges: In 2020, the Supreme Court held that NEET is important for better administration of admissions, in view of many instances of maladministration by several private medical colleges.

Help students studying in Native language: NEET is conducted in regional languages. This helps students of different state boards, studying in their native language, in achieving their goal of becoming a doctor or a surgeon.

What are the challenges associated with the NEET?

Against the State’s power to hold admissions: “Public health, hospital and dispensaries” is a state subject. NEET might create standardization. However, it infringes upon the state governments’ power to hold entrance tests for admissions in the medical colleges funded by them.

Pre-NEET and Post NEET
Source: Indian Express

A disadvantage for State board and Rural background students: The NEET syllabus is framed based on the CBSE/NCERT syllabus. So, this is unfair for students from State Boards and from rural areas where the standards may be lower.

Further, research from the USA mentions that standardisation of common tests goes against the poorer and underprivileged sections of the population, women, and minorities.

Apart from that, Justice A.K. Rajan panel also found that the proportion of rural students fell from an average of 61.45% (pre-NEET) to 50.81% (post-NEET).

Further, urban students are predominantly securing admissions in NEET. So, in future, they will shy away from rural postings and weaken the entire public health system.

Apart from that, after the introduction of NEET, there is a significant drop in the “first-generation” students who do Medical courses.

Unnecessary exam: Justice A.K. Rajan committee mentions that the examination had not provided any special mechanism for testing the knowledge and aptitude of the students. It suggested that the higher secondary examination of the State board itself was an ample basis for the selection of students for MBBS seats.

Apart from that, candidates with abysmally low marks in physics and chemistry in NEET,  are also getting admission to private colleges through management and NRI quotas by paying high fees. This excludes ordinary students with low economic backgrounds.

The committee also found that several medical aspirants commit suicide due to exam stress every year.

Promote Coaching Factories: The standardisation of exams will lead to mushrooming of Coaching institutes to bridge the gap in School education. This is seen in India with NEET and similar other national tests such as the Joint Entrance Examination and Common Law Admission Test.

Pre and Post NEET
Source: Indian Express

For instance, data from Tamil Nadu points out that in 2020-21, 99% of the candidates who got a medical seat in Tamil Nadu received some form of coaching. Of these, close to three quarters qualified for the exam after two or more attempts. This means a majority of those clearing NEET spent lakhs on coaching.

The rural and urban poor cannot spend lakhs of rupees to get coached for NEET and cannot afford to wait for two or three years only to prepare for the test.

Transparency: The NEET paper was leaked twice in the past. Therefore, there is not much confidence in NEET’s fairness and transparency.

Translation-related problems: Even though the test is conducted in 11 languages, they are still far from perfect. For example, In the 2018 NEET, as many as 49 questions had errors in Tamil translation. This leads to a Madras High Court order to award four marks for each of the 49 wrongly translated questions for all 1.07 lakh candidates who appeared NEET in the Tamil Language.

What should be the way forward?

A common national test for professional courses is faultless, in principle. But, it is important to prepare the ground for the implementation of the test.

Improve the syllabus of States: The state governments should try to improve the quality of their state board syllabus up to the level of the NCERT Syllabus. Further, they have to train the medical college aspirants in problem-solving for better results in competitive examinations.

Improve coaching in school to avoid Coaching Institutes: Central and state governments must provide best-in-class coaching for competitive exams. For that, the skill development of teachers is important.

Maintain State Autonomy: Center can adopt a Uniform domicile rule. So that, candidate can claim seat only in his/her state, this will maintain state autonomy.

Improve the transparency and performance of NTA: The National Testing Agency has to avoid Translation related problems and have to be transparent in framing questions. This will allow a fair admission process and improve merit.

Address the skewed societal trend: Further, India also needs to address the irrational high social value placed on medical and engineering college education across India. This will reduce the hyper-competitiveness and higher failure rate in tests such as NEET, Joint Entrance Examination.

At present, the exam may have some loopholes. But, probably, it is one of the biggest steps for bringing reforms in medical education in India. In long run, it will benefit students and strengthen the health sector of the country.

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The legacy of Raja Mahendra Pratap Singh, and his contribution to the building of AMU

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What is the News?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone for Raja Mahendra Pratap Singh State University in Aligarh, UP.

About Raja Mahendra Pratap Singh:

Raja Mahendra Pratap Singh was born in 1886. He was a freedom fighter, social reformer and an internationalist. 

What are the contributions Raja Mahendra Pratap Singh?

He gave up his own residence in Mathura, UP to be converted into a technical school named Prem Mahavidyalaya in 1909. It is said to have been the country’s first polytechnic college.

He established a “Provisional Government of India” at Bagh-e-Babur in Kabul in the middle of World War I in 1915. He declared himself president and his fiery fellow revolutionary Maulana Barkatullah of Bhopal, prime minister, of the Provisional Government.

However, as the British government targeted him for his activities, later he based himself in Japan.

In 1929, he launched the World Federation in Berlin. Moreover, he was also nominated for the 1932 Nobel Peace Prize.

He returned to India a year before Independence and immediately began work with Mahatma Gandhi. In free India, he diligently pursued his ideal of Panchayati Raj.

He also won Lok Sabha elections as an Independent candidate from Mathura in 1957.

Connection with Aligarh Muslim University

Raja Mahendra Pratap went to the Muhammadan Anglo-Oriental College in Aligarh, which later came to be called Aligarh Muslim University.

Although he was unable to complete his graduation from the institution, Raja Mahendra Pratap’s name is counted among the prominent alumni of the university.

Moreover, his family was close to the educationist and reformer Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, the founder of Aligarh Muslim University. Hence, the family is said to have given land to set up the university.

Source: This post is based on the articleThe legacy of Raja Mahendra Pratap Singh, and his contribution to the building of AMUpublished in Indian Express on 15th September 2021.

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IIT success as B-schools is a sign of a more expansive education vision taking root at premier engineering institutions

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Synopsis: The IITs, were long known to provide only technical courses. However, we see that they are also doing well in management courses.

Introduction

Six IITs came in the top 20 management institutions, even outpacing reputed business schools such as IIM-Indore and IIM-Lucknow. This shows that India’s premier engineering schools are not restricted just only to technical courses.

Why IIT embraces other streams apart from engineering courses?

IITs look beyond technology to embrace the world of humanities and law, arts and architecture. Over the years, several IITs offered courses in humanities, social science and literature. This is in response to a growing realisation that a technical education alone can reduce talent in the economy.

IIT Kharagpur:  It opened a medical college in 2018. It had also set up a school of law focused on intellectual property.

IIT Delhi: IIT Delhi, started offering MBA programmes in the late 1990s. Now, It is the highest-ranked IIT on the National Institute Ranking Framework in the management category.

What does this success signify?

Given adequate financial resources and the autonomy to decide their own courses, higher education institutions can build on their unique strengths to deliver the best quality education and results.

What are the issues in IIT?

Gender Diversity: Despite the introduction of supernumerary quotas to increase the intake of women, the IITs remain a largely male preserve — here, they are losing out to the IIMs, which do much better on the count of inclusivity.

Exam Pattern: IIT’s have been facing criticism as the exam pattern tends to favour those who have access to the best coaching institutes.

However, despite these problems, the expansion of courses by IIT’s is a welcome step as more talent can be accommodated in its ambit.

Source: This post is based on the article” IIT success as B-schools is a sign of a more expansive education vision taking root at premier engineering institutions” published in the Indian Express on 13th September 2021.

Terms to know

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Atal Innovation Mission launches Space challenge in collaboration with ISRO & CBSE across India

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What is the news?

Recently, Atal Innovation Mission has launched a Space challenge 2021 in collaboration with ISRO & CBSE for all school students across the country.

What is ATL (Atal Tinkering Labs) Space Challenge 2021?

It is a platform where students from Class 6-12 can innovate and solve digital age space technology problems. The event is scheduled to be held in sync with World Space Week 2021.

Read more: Atal Innovation Mission and Atal Tinkering Labs

Aim:  To enable innovation among young school students to create something in the space sector.it will not only help them learn about space but also create something that space programme can itself use.

Who can participate in this challenge?

Challenge has been designed for all the school students, mentors and teachers across the county. All the ATL and non-ATL schools can participate in it.

How can a student participate?

Individual member’s entry is not allowed. A team of up to 3 members is allowed. Also, if the team size exceeds 3 members limit, the entry/ submission will be immediately disqualified.

What can the students create?

Students can participate under these themes: Explore Space, Reach Space, Inhabit Space, and Leverage Space. Participants must submit one unique solution under any one theme. If the team submits the same solution under multiple themes, then it will be immediately disqualified.

Source: This post is based on the article “Atal Innovation Mission launches Space challenge in collaboration with ISRO & CBSE across India” published in PIB on 10th September 2021.

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Union Education Minister releases India Rankings 2021

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What is the News?

The Ministry of Education has released the sixth edition of the India Rankings 2021 instituted by the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF).

About National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF)

Launched by: The National Institutional Ranking Framework(NIRF) was launched in 2015 by the Ministry of Education.

Objective: To rank higher educational institutions in the country based on objective criteria to promote competitive excellence.

Parameters: The institutions were assessed and ranked based on five parameters:

  1. Teaching, Learning and Resources (TLR)
  2. Research and Professional Practice (RP)
  3. Graduation Outcomes (GO)
  4. Outreach and Inclusivity (OI)
  5. Peer Perception.

Categories: The institutions were ranked across 11 categories as listed out – overall national ranking, universities, engineering, college, medical, management, pharmacy, law, architecture, dental and research.

Rankings in 2021

Overall Ranking: IIT-Madras, IISc-Bangalore, and IIT-Bombay have emerged as the country’s top three higher education institutions

University and Research Institution: Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru tops the University as well as Research Institution category 

Colleges: Miranda College retains 1st position amongst colleges for the fifth consecutive year.

Engineering: IIT-Madras remained number one.

Management: Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad was ranked one.

Medical: All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi occupies the top slot in Medical for the fourth consecutive year.

Pharmacy: Jamia Hamdard tops the list in Pharmacy subject for the third consecutive.

Architecture: IIT Roorkee takes the top slot for the first time in the Architecture subject.

Law: National Law School of India University, Bangalore retains its first position in Law for the fourth consecutive year.

Dental: Manipal College of Dental Sciences, Manipal secured 1st position.

Source: This post is based on the article Union Education Minister releases India Rankings 2021 published in PIB on 9th September 2021.

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A reality check for higher education dreams

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Synopsis: The proposed academic bank of credits, multiple entry-exit options will require infrastructure, manpower and budget that the Indian education system simply does not possess

Introduction

The article highlights the changes that are required in National Education Policy (NEP) to make our present education system more effective.

What are the observations of the National Education Policy (NEP)?

NEP observes that the education delivery system in India is too structured, rigid and expensive. The main reasons for student’s dropout are lack of relevance, inability to sustain interest and affordability.

Read more: National Education Policy
How this could be removed?

The government released the following initiatives to remove the student dropout.

Academic Bank of Credits: It adopts an interdisciplinary approach and provides a flexible curriculum framework.

Read more: PM to roll out academic credit bank

Multiple Entry and Exit: It facilitates students to choose their learning path to their respective degrees with multiple entry-multiple exit options.

What are the lacunae in the system?

Select the courses:  It would be difficult for young students to select the best courses or combination of courses which will be beneficial for their future. Even if the student opts for the best courses, the control of the degree rests solely with UGC (University Grants Commission).

Flexibility:  Students have little flexibility in choosing the subjects of their choice as 50 percent of the curriculum is carried out within the degree-granting institute.

A similar concept of a “Meta University” was attempted in 2012. This project failed to take off despite a UGC regulation, due to the reluctance and ego hassles of the heads of institutions.

Multiple Entry/Exit: Although it is a great concept but difficult to implement. If a student chooses to drop a year or two into a degree programme, the issue of his employability remains unresolved.

Limited Courses: There is a limited course available on the portals like SWAYAM, NPTEL, V-Lab, etc, for credit transfer and credit accumulation. This defeats the purpose of offering quality education to everyone.

 Read more: Students can now get 40% of university credits from e-courses

Use of technology: Technology and proper infrastructure is required to authenticate and store digital records in a distributed system.

As our present academic is already struggling in fulfilling demands like providing migration certificates from one university to another, giving transcripts etc. there is a need to upgrade the system.

Budgetary allocations: Huge budgetary allocations are required in terms of improving the teacher-student ratio from the present 1:30 to 1:5. Along with manpower, funds are required for the IT infrastructure for various activities like record maintenance, transfer of credits, credit assessment and others.

What needs to be done?

To achieve the objectives of NEP, there is a need for holistic development with the help of various stakeholders like teachers, non-faculty and others. It is time we implement the concept of Virtual University, where universities and other institutions in India become collaborators, creating their own or sourcing content from SWAYAM, EdX other similar providers.

Source: This post is based on the article “A reality check for higher education dreams” published in the Indian Express on 9th September 2021.

Terms to know

 

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Union Minister presents the 8th INSPIRE – MANAK Awards during a virtual ceremony

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What is the News?

The Union Minister of Science & Technology has presented the 8th INSPIRE – MANAK Awards during a virtual ceremony.

About INSPIRE-MANAK Awards

The INSPIRE-MANAK Awards is one of the components of the Innovation in Science Pursuit for Inspired Research (INSPIRE) Scheme.

Aim: To motivate students in the age group of 10-15 years and studying in classes 6 to 10 to become future innovators and critical thinkers.

Nodal Agencies: The award is being executed by the Department of Science & Technology(DST) with the National Innovation Foundation – India (NIF), an autonomous body of DST.

Coverage: Under this, students will be invited from all government or private schools throughout the country, irrespective of their educational boards (national and state) to send original and creative technological ideas/innovations.

Prize: The winning students will be awarded Rs.10,000 which will be disbursed directly into bank accounts under the Direct Benefit Transfer scheme.

About INSPIRE Scheme

INSPIRE is an innovative programme sponsored and managed by the Department of Science & Technology for the attraction of talent to Science. 

 

Objective: To communicate to the youth of the country about the excitement of the creative pursuit of science, attract talent to the study of science at an early age. Thus, build the required critical human resource pool for strengthening and expanding the Science & Technology system and R & D base.

Significance: A striking feature of the programme is that it does not believe in conducting competitive exams for the identification of talent at any level. It believes in and relies on the efficacy of the existing educational structure for the identification of talent.

Programs: The scheme covers students in the age group of 10-32 years and has three programs and five components. They are a) Scheme for Early Attraction of Talents for Science (SEATS), b) Scholarship for Higher Education (SHE) and c) Assured Opportunity for Research Careers(AORC).

Source: This post is based on the article Union Minister presents the 8th INSPIRE – MANAK Awards during a virtual ceremony published in PIB on 8th September 2021.

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Long term Impacts of School Closure – Explained, pointwise

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Introduction

Recently, a Survey named School Children’s Online and Offline Learning(SCHOOL) was conducted to understand the impact of the prolonged closure of schools due to the pandemic. The survey mentioned that the prolonged School closure at primary and upper primary levels since the onset of the pandemic has led to “catastrophic consequences” for school students, particularly in rural India. This questions the effectiveness of online education.

The Oxford Stringency Index’s school closure indicator shows that India closed the schools for 404 days between March 5, 2020, and July 20, 2021. The index term India’s this response as the most severe policy response (requiring the closure of all types of educational institutions).

During this time, about 265 million schoolchildren have been taught exclusively through so-called “remote learning”, the largest number in any country for the longest period of time. But the findings of the SCHOOL survey and other surveys highlight the impacts of School closure.

What are the key findings of the SCHOOL Survey on School Closure?

The report covered 1,362 sample households spread across 15 States.

Students Studying Online: Around 37% of the sample students in rural areas were not studying at all. On the other hand, schoolchildren studying online “regularly” was just 24% and 8% in urban and rural areas respectively.

The study also mentioned that a student who was in Grade 3 before Covid-19 is now in Grade 5, and will soon enter middle school, but with the reading abilities of a Grade 1 pupil.

Reasons for Limited reach of online classes: Many sample households (about half in rural areas) have no smartphone. But even among households with a smartphone, the proportion of children who are studying online regularly is just 31% in urban areas and 15% in rural areas.

Impact of Limited Access to Online Classes: Due to limited access to online classes, 48% of the surveyed poor children in rural areas weren’t able to read more than a few words while in urban areas, the figure was at 42%.

Shift from Private to Government Schools: Around 26% of the households had switched from private to government schools for lack of funds, while mid-day meals had been discontinued in all sample schools.

Marginalised communities were the worst affected. For instance, only 4% of rural scheduled caste and tribe children were studying online regularly compared with 15% among other rural children.

SCHOOL Survey 2
Source: The Hindu

Relation between the teachers and students: With 51% of the respondents in the urban areas and 58% in rural India saying that they had not met teachers during the month preceding the survey.

Impact on nutritional health: The closure of schools also affected the level of nutrition among the children where the midday meals have been stopped.

Parents on Online Education:  Around 75% of parents feel their child’s reading ability has massively declined and almost 97% of them want physical classrooms to open immediately.

Increase in Child labour: Child labour is unusual among very young children. But among girls aged 10 to 14, a “large majority” are now doing some housework and, in villages, 8% of them had done paid work in the preceding three months

To repair the damage: The survey also mentions that it will take years of patient work to repair this damage. The survey also mentioned that leaving these issues unaddressed will create everlasting damage to India’s demographic dividend.

Read moreWhy do we need to reopen schools?
Findings of various studies about the impact School Closure

Firstly, A study in the Netherlands has found that most learning losses occurred “among students from disadvantaged homes”. Researchers have also termed this as nutrition loss and learning loss.

Secondly, a large multi-State study in the United States records that the pandemic “has also prompted some students to leave the public school system altogether”.

Thirdly, according to a study by the Azim Premji Foundation in India, 92% of children on average have lost at least one specific language ability from the previous year across all classes; the figure is 82% when it comes to mathematical ability.

Fourthly, the UNESCO data has mentioned that school closure has resulted in the following impacts.

Increased exposure to violence and exploitation: When schools shut down, early marriages increase, more children are recruited into militias, sexual exploitation of girls and young women rises, teenage pregnancies become more common, and child labour grows.

Social isolation: Schools are hubs of social activity and human interaction. When schools close, many children and youth miss out on social contact that is essential to learning and development.

Fifthly, the World Bank blog mentions that there are no estimates of the benefits of school closures. In contrast, the cost of keeping schools closed in terms of children’s learning, mental health, and socio-emotional development is exorbitant. 

The World Bank’s simulations at the end of 2020 showed that the Learning Poverty indicator (the percentage of ten-year-olds who cannot read and understand a simple text) would likely increase from 53 percent before the pandemic to 63 percent.

Read more: E-classes leading to learning gaps in higher education: Survey
Suggestions to reopen the schools

The World Bank blog mentions that school closures did not help enough in reducing the spread of the Pandemic. This is because the epidemiological surveys and household-level analysis indicates that children transmit the virus less efficiently than adults.

This is reflected in the Indian Council of Medical Research’s (ICMR) Fourth National Sero-Prevalence Survey also. As the survey mentioned that, more than half of the children (6 -17 years) were seropositive. So, reopening the school is essential, but the government has to follow few important steps. For instance,

Follow the ICMR recommendations:  The ICMR also recommended the following.

  • It will be wise to open primary schools first and then secondary schools.
  • Vaccinate all support staff and teachers before opening the schools.

So, to reopen schools, there is an urgent need to recognize teachers and other school staff as front-line workers and prioritize them in the vaccination campaign.

Create the concept of school bubble: The Covid-19 technical advisory committee (TAC) constituted by the Karnataka government has proposed the ‘school bubble’ concept to mitigate the spread of the disease among children (aged below 18) attending offline classes at schools and pre-university colleges across the state. The government has to implement this concept throughout India while reopening schools.

Decentralisation of decisions: Decisions to open schools should be taken for geographic units that encompass relatively proximate communities, and certainly not for an entire state or district simultaneously. As a default option, the panchayats in rural areas and wards in urban areas can decide about the reopening of schools.

Read moreOur children need education. How much longer can schools remain shut?
Suggestions to bridge the learning gaps

Repeat the academic year: ‘One way of addressing the learning crisis might be to repeat the entire academic year. For instance, The government in Kenya has recently decided to do just this. Some countries, such as the Philippines, allow extended time for classes on resumption, both in the duration of school hours and more calendar days of interaction.

Teaching arts: Teaching arts such as Music, painting, theatre and dance in schools will make the resumption of routine life at school more nourishing.

Bringing back the dropouts: Whenever schools reopen, the government has to bring back the dropouts. For instance, the Uttar Pradesh government proposes to track all students disappearing between Classes VIII and IX. Similar tracking is necessary at the All India level.

Addressing the learning deficit: Once the schools reopen, offering a few standardised “bridge” courses and “remedial classes” may seem like a facile antidote to the months of lost formal learning. For that, An ‘Education Emergency Room’ should be set up in every district to coordinate, implement and monitor local plans.

Reorganisation of this year’s curriculum: Schools will start teaching offline right from where they left online. This ‘where we left it’ approach will not provide any benefit for school education. So, A team of subject-specialists and teachers must sit together to look at the syllabus designed for every grade level and deliberate on ways to reorganise it for this unusual academic session.

Special focus on marginalised sections: Introducing the concept of One-to-one tutoring for the most disadvantaged learners. For example, the National Tutoring Programme of the UK and a similar programme in Ghana were done this. In Italy, university students are volunteering to conduct one-on-one classes for middle school children from poor immigrant backgrounds.

Read more: Blended model of learning – Explained in detail
Conclusion

By March 2021 itself, 51 countries had resumed in-person education. In another 90 countries, including many in Africa, resorted to “hybrid” schooling models (i.e., a combination of in-person and remote teaching). India can adopt similar strategies initially and open schools when all school staff is fully vaccinated.

Overall, India must open schools at the earliest, but it must do so with rigorous procedures along with genuine expert advice to bridge the learning gaps.

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Shikshak Parv: PM Narendra Modi launches key education initiatives

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What is the news?

The Prime minister has recently launched several initiatives in the education sector on Shiksha Parv. The aim behind these initiatives is to make our education system globally competitive. It also aims to make the youth future-ready.

What is Shiksha Parv?

It is being celebrated by the Ministry of Education. It is celebrated to honor the contributions of teachers. Furthermore, it also highlighted new initiatives under the  New Education Policy 2020.

Its celebration will encourage innovative practices to ensure not only continuity of education at all levels but to improve quality, inclusive practices and sustainability in the schools across the country as well.

Theme: “Quality and Sustainable Schools: Learnings from Schools in India”.

Read more: One year of National Education Policy – Explained, pointwise
What are the new initiatives launched?

PM Modi has launched new initiatives under Azadi ka Amrit Mahaotsav.

Indian Sign Language dictionary: The dictionary is launched by the Indian Sign Language Research and Training centre of DPwD (Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities). It has 10,000 words in it. It was also accompanied by the launch of the Talking Books (audiobooks for the visually impaired).

School Quality Assessment and Accreditation Framework (SQAAF) of CBSE: SQAAF will help in bridging the inequality in education. It would also address the deficiency of the absence of a common scientific framework for various dimensions. These dimensions include curricula, pedagogy, assessment, inclusive practices and governance process.

NISTHA teachers’ training programme for NIPUN Bharat: It is aimed at training the teachers on new systems and techniques.

Vidyanjali Portal: This portal is used for facilitating education volunteers, donors and CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) contributors for school development. It is the platform for the country to achieve ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas’ with ‘Sabka Prayas’.

N-DEAR (National digital architecture): It will act as a ‘super connect between various academic activities, in the same way as UPI interface revolutionized the banking sector. It will play a major role in eradicating inequality in education and its modernization

Along with these initiatives, PM also urged the private sector to come forward and contribute to increasing the quality of education in government schools.

Source: This post is based on the following articles:

  • Shikshak Parv: PM Narendra Modi launches key education initiatives” published in the Business Standard on 7th September 2021.
  • “PM addresses the inaugural conclave of Shikshak Parv” published in the PIB on 7th September 2021.

Terms to know

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Survey: 37% poor rural students not studying at all

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What is the News?

A Survey named School Children’s Online and Offline Learning(SCHOOL) was conducted to understand the impact of the prolonged closure of schools due to the pandemic.

About the Survey SCHOOL

The survey was conducted in 15 states and Union Territories(UTs). It focused on relatively deprived hamlets and ‘bastis’(slums), where children generally attend government schools. 

Four states — Delhi, Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh — accounted for half of the sample.

What are the findings of the Survey?

Students Studying Online: Around 37% of the sample students were not studying at all. On the other hand, only 19% ​​in urban areas and 8% in rural areas were studying online regularly.

Reasons for Limited reach of online classes: Many sample households (about half in rural areas) have no smartphone. But even among households with a smartphone, the proportion of children who are studying online regularly is just 31% in urban areas and 15% in rural areas.

Impact of Limited Access to Online Classes: Due to limited access to online classes, 48% of the surveyed poor children in rural areas weren’t able to read more than a few words while in urban areas, the figure was at 42%.

Shift from Private to Government Schools: Around 26% of the households had switched from private to government schools for lack of funds, while mid-day meals had been discontinued in all sample schools.

Marginalised communities were the worst affected. For instance, only 4% of rural scheduled caste and tribe children were studying online regularly compared with 15% among other rural children. 

Parents on Online Education:  Around 75% of parents feel their child’s reading ability has massively declined and almost all of them want physical classrooms to open immediately.

Source: This post is based on the following articles

  • Survey: 37% poor rural students not studying at all published in TOI on 7th September 2021.
  • 75% kids see literacy loss as most schools remain shut, says surveypublished in Business Standard on 7th September 2021.
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“The world is changing rapidly and teachers must meet its challenges”

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Synopsis: Implementation of new education reforms or else we might lose the privilege of educating the next generation.

Introduction

Like the greatest teachers, Buddha, Christ, Rama-Krishna, Aurobindo, Yogananda or Nanak, who never used classrooms, blackboards, maps or charts or kept no records, gave no grades but changed the lives of millions with their inclusivity and compassion, currently, India needs to encapsulate such new educational reforms to bring the changes required and make education more effective.

Changes required:

Challenge the existing education policies and practices to be more of individual-based.

Implement processes which foster student autonomy and leadership.

Encourage inventive learners with skills, understand and channelise the creative spirit, maximise liberty to make meaningful decisions and develop global partnerships.

Attributes teachers need to adopt:

Empathetic– Teachers need to emphasise partnerships and alliances that will help move from self-centred existence to coexistence, from confrontation to interaction and from alienation to collaboration.

Attentive: Teachers need to give greater attention to the happiness and health of our children. If we do not empower our youth with strength from within, they will find other ways of expressing their concerns.

Concerned: It involves caring for children and being responsible for their development in a complex society.

Inward look– Become aware of the realities that we take for granted, the ways we create knowledge and make meaning in our lives, and the aspirations and expectations that govern what we choose from life.

Outward look– Explore new ideas and different ways of thinking and interacting, connect to multiple processes and relationships outside ourselves, and clarify our shared vision with our students.

A shared vision– is a very powerful idea that connects a collective learning consciousness. Open the doors of opportunities to all our children, weak or strong, rich or poor, disabled or able and shake off the work-from-home culture by building a foundation for our children through robust offline teaching, learning practices and values.

Source: The post is based on the article “The world is changing rapidly and teachers must meet its challenges” published in The Indian Express on 6 September 2021.

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40 Central universities to implement credit ban

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What is the News?

Forty Central universities will be implementing innovative measures such as the academic credit bank and the Glue Grant Scheme.

About Glue Grant Scheme:

Under the Glue Grant Scheme, institutions in the same city would be encouraged to share resources, equipment and even allow their students to take classes from each other. 

Ultimately, faculty will be able to design joint courses and a Delhi University(DU) student will be able to take a few classes at IIT-Delhi or vice versa,

This also means that institutions need not duplicate work by developing the same capacities, but would be able to build on each other’s expertise.

About Academic Credit Bank:

Under this, students can attain qualifications by earning credits rather than specific durations on campus. 

A certain number of credits would add up to a certificate, then a diploma and then a degree. This would allow for multiple entries and exit points. 

Moreover, students can earn up to 40% of their credits in online Swayam classes. In the future, the credits will be valid across institutions.

Source: This post is based on the article “40 Central universities to implement credit bank” published in The Hindu on 3rd September 2021.

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Centre targets five areas for reforms in higher education

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Source: This post is based on the article “Centre targets five areas for reforms in higher education” published in Livemint on 1st September 2021.

What is the News?

University Grants Commission(UGC) has identified five key areas of focus in the next phase of reforms in the higher education sector.

Which are those Five Focus Areas?
  1. Education Finance: The government will encourage universities to raise money from the market through collaborations, industry projects and sponsored projects.
  2. Administration: Universities should promote simplification of methods in administration and finance.
  3. Accounting system reforms
  4. Central Higher Education Data Repository: UGC to establish a centralised database for pooling of data regarding Higher Educational Institutes(HEIs).
  5. Internal Autonomy within the institutions.
Other Focus Areas:
  1. Accessibility to internet facilities in rural areas: This is an issue that was exposed during the pandemic as schools and colleges closed their campuses to curb the spread of the virus. This move severely impacted education delivery, more so outside cities.

Significance of these reforms:

  1. India has a massive higher education sector with nearly 51,000 colleges, institutions, and universities catering to almost 38 million students.
  2. However, the education ministry has always been criticised for over-regulation. Hence, these reforms are being initiated to ease the traditional burden and move on a path of reform.
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Making sure that girls don’t drop out of school

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Source: Indian Express

Synopsis: Addressing gender bias in education requires providing social, financial and emotional support to the girl child.

Introduction

In the recently held Olympics, Indian women showed their excellent performance. They can also excel in other fields like education. Women can contribute not just to the economy of the nation, but can also be the agents of social transformation.

This is evident from the World Bank review, which pointed that the global average for the private rate of return (the increase in an individual’s earnings) with just one extra year of schooling is about 9 percent. While the social returns of an extra year of school are even higher — above 10 percent at the secondary and higher education levels.

Impact of Corona on girls globally: It is estimated that over 2.4 crore girls globally are on the verge of dropping out of schools because of the corona pandemic. The main reasons behind that are pandemic-induced school closure & economic hardship.

In India

Before Pandemic:

  • There was a gradual increase in the Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) for women in higher education — from 19.8% in 2012-13 to 27.3 % in 2019-20. But the rate of dropouts is still high.
  • This can be analysed from the graphs given below:
Source: Indian Express

 

Graph1: It shows this gradual descent and the resulting paucity of women, who are even eligible to go to college.

Graph 2: Shows that states having the highest rate of secondary school drop-outs among girls are also the ones where a significant percentage of girls who get married before the age of 18 years.

What are the reasons to drop out?

  • Girls engaged in domestic activities (31.9%)
  • Financial Constraints (18.4%)
  • Lack of developing interest in education (15.3%)
  • Marriage (12.4%)
  • Gender bias & patriarchy

Given the need for women empowerment, the government has taken numerous Initiatives:

  1. National Scheme of Incentives to Girls for Secondary Education (NSIGSE)
  2. Supernumerary seats in all IITs
  3. PRAGATI Scholarship scheme for girls in technical education

But government initiatives alone may not be enough. We need to take many more steps like:

  1. Mohalla school or a community learning programme: These should be started with appropriate Covid norms

NITI Aayog, with the help of civil society organisations, had started a community programme led by volunteers called “Saksham Bitiya”. It aims to train girls in socio-emotional and ethical learning. Such initiatives should be replicated to ensure more girls do not drop out of schools during the pandemic.

  1. To predict likely drop-outs, a gender atlas comprising relevant indicators should be developed.
  2. Teachers should also be trained in all the scholarships and schemes available which provide economic support to girls and their families for continuing their education.
  3. There is a need to revise the National Scheme of Incentive to Girls for Secondary Education in areas or states where there is a high prevalence of drop-outs and early child marriages
  4. Special education zones should be set up in areas that have been traditionally backward in education.
    • The National Education Policy 2020 provides for a gender inclusion fund. This fund should be utilised to support STEM education in these schools as well as in all Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalayas.
  5. State governments need to leverage existing schemes to design interventions to promote women in higher education.
  6. Behavioural nudges are the key to tackling social prejudices and orthodox cultural norms that prevent girls from achieving their innate potential.
    • For this, Behavioural Insights Units (BIU) should be established across states to tackle social issues with the help of NGOs

Way Forward

The pandemic has brought unprecedented challenges for educators and students, especially for those on the margins, including girls. However, with informed targeting and an agile policy environment, this challenge could well prove to be an opportunity.

Terms to know

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India’s tuition Pandemic (On India’s mushrooming ed-tech sector)

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Source: Times of India

Relevance: Issues due to the rise of Edtech sector

Synopsis: With billions of dollars in capital and tech backing, Indian educational corporates are creating a situation of tuition pandemic.

China’s crackdown on edtech

Recently, the Chinese government announced a crackdown on its booming educational tuition sector. Under its new policy,

  • private tutoring businesses have to restructure as non-profit companies.
  • They are banned from listing on the stock market or raising foreign capital.
  • They are prohibited from offering tutoring classes on weekends and school holidays.
  • Parents and students are being encouraged to report schools and teachers who make extra income through private tutoring.
What is the Indian Scenario?

The overemphasis on tuition is an issue in India too. While the Chinese solution is not the best one, the underlying problem exists in India.

We make children compete for exams that do not test true talent and operate like a lottery. This isn’t a new issue. For instance, we already have the Kota factory phenomenon.

Why overemphasis on tuition is not good?
  • Sports, musical instruments, dramatics, art, elocutions, debates anything that doesn’t feature in entrance tests or board exams is cut out.
  • The time spent to score little extra marks can instead be used to learn a completely new skill, which would make one more employable and contribute more to the economy.
  • Tuition takes away the level playing field. Many of these tuitions cost lakhs. Very smaller number of Indians can afford it.
Suggestions/Measures

The solution does not lie in banning mega educational companies. It attacks supply of tuitions, but does nothing about the huge demand for it.

  1. One, we need to make a cultural shift. We must let our children learn other than engineering and medicine.
  2. Two, we also need more good colleges. Lack of reputable colleges gives way for new edtech startups. Incentivize good people to open colleges, grant prime land and create more world-class institutions.
  3. Take the pressure off the cutoffs and entrance exams.
  4. Better regulate the mushrooming educational startups. Many of these companies provide excellent services, such as making people job-ready, upgrading skill-sets or teaching different vocations.

Conclusion

China’s massive crackdown is about how the tuition-obsession combined with tech can go too far. We need to fix this here before it is too late.

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Higher education in regional languages won’t be easy

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Source: Live Mint

Relevance: Use of mother tongue in teaching and associated issues

Synopsis: Need for promoting the use of mother tongue in teaching at higher educational institutions and challenges associated with it.

Must Read: A language ladder for an education roadblock
Need

The following reasons indicate that teaching in vernacular is indeed helpful and should be considered.

  1. Substantial demand: A quick check on YouTube reveals a high viewership count for content explaining math and science concepts in Hindi and other Indian languages. This indicates substantial demand for vernacular-language educational material. Several edtech startups have also tapped this market.
  2. Better performance: Performance in science and math, in particular, has been found to be better among students studying in their native language compared to English, other things being equal.
  3. Higher motivation: Further, educational psychology literature reports additional benefits of instruction in the native language, including higher attendance and motivation among students and improved parental involvement and support in studies.
  4. Can bridge the divide: It can narrow the divide in access to higher education between the marginalized and the privileged.
Challenges
  • Industry placements of graduates trained in regional languages might remain a question mark. For instance, many public sector units accept Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE, conducted in English) scores for entry-level positions.
  • The availability of faculty for regional-medium courses. Given the English-medium legacy of higher education in India, attracting and retaining quality teachers who are willing and able to teach in regional languages would be a challenge.
  • There are also globalization trends to consider. The NEP encourages the internationalization of education by facilitating the movement of faculty across borders. But regional-medium students may be unable to reap the benefits of knowledge transfers on account of a language barrier.
  • Disadvantage at global level: Finally, delivering technical courses in regional languages may prevent students from competing in global labour and education markets, where fluency in English yields a distinct edge.
Way forward
  • Mother tongue plus English approach: We need to Shift from Mother tongue vs English approach to Mother tongue plus English approach. Research has shown that small children quickly grasp new languages, given their neuroplasticity in early years. Hence, this is an appropriate age to be exposed to a foreign language as a means of communication.
    • Neuroplasticity means the capacity of brain cells to change in response to intrinsic and extrinsic factors
  • Quality control of initiatives: To counter the challenge of availability of study material in regional language, the AICTE has launched an artificial intelligence-powered tool to translate books, academic journals and videos. However, quality control of these translations should be given utmost importance. We need further efforts in linguistics and machine learning to serve the cause.

 

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The class divide that threatens to thwart our educational goals

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Source: LiveMint

Relevance: Understand the learning loss due to Pandemic

Synopsis: The article highlights the “learning loss” that occurred due to school closure during the pandemic. India has to work hard to ensure that learning loss does not translate to a loss in future.

Introduction

The lockdowns because of the Pandemic impacted the learning, especially for the children. There is no systematic effort to recover that lost learning. Moreover, online education is found to be inadequate for children, because of the nature of education.

What is learning loss?

Learning loss is the product of two factors:

  • What should have been taught and learned in the past 17 months
  • What children knew in Mar 2020 but have forgotten because of extended school break.
Read more: India’s schoolchildren need their childhood back
The class divide has also impacted the learning outcomes:
  • Middle/upper-class people have better access to digital tools augmented by personal tutoring & other learning resources. Moreover, students have the support of their families too, so learning loss is less.
    • India’s top 10% have not been impacted by this crisis
  • But the learning loss impacted the future of almost 210-220 Million children.
Read more: A pandemic-optimized plan for kids to resume their education
Issues with government initiatives:
  • Although some states took steps to address the learning loss, they did not seen adequately cover this problem.
  • The main reason behind that is inflexibility and poor coordination of our education system
Way forward

A lost year means a lost future. So, India must quickly start out schools and work towards bridging the gap of learning by focusing on recovering the lost learning.

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CSIR-CMERI ‘Collaborative Model with the Market’ for establishing Industry-Academia Linkage

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Source: PIB

What is the News?

CSIR-Central Mechanical Engineering Research Institute(CMERI) has launched a ‘Collaborative Model with the Markets’ for establishing Industry-Academia Linkage.

Background:
  1. India aspires to be a ‘Global Manufacturing Powerhouse’ of the Future. It also aims to be a ‘Zero-Defect’ Manufacturing Economy where there is a minimum tolerance for deviation from precision parameters. 
  2. The primary challenge for the Indian Manufacturing Sector is enhancing the Cost-Effectiveness of Technologies without compromising the Quality parameters. 
  3. However, there is an absence of a Linkage between a Sustained Innovative Mind-set and the Indian Manufacturing Sector. 
  4. Hence, to promote the Industry-Academia Linkage, a Collaborative Model with the Market has been launched.
What is the purpose of the “Collaborative Model with the Market”?
  • Under this model, numerous State-of-the-Art and cutting-edge Technology Facilities of CSIR-CMERI will be shared with the MSMEs and Start-Ups to partner them through their growth process.
  • This will help in achieving Manufacturing Excellence as it will substantially reduce deviation from established parameters. It will also set the benchmarks of the Future for a Comprehensive Manufacturing Model.
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Why the post-pandemic school is an opportunity to reinvent learning?

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Source: Indian Express

Relevance: Importance of student-friendly learning

Synopsis: The classroom must be centred on joyful and creative learning. It should join the dots between children’s lives and education.

Introduction

Education is not a race. It is a child’s journey to fulfilling his potential. Reopening schools can be an opportunity to rethink the teaching and learning process itself.

Concept of Santiniketan School

It was started by Rabindranath Tagore. His concept is not limited to education alone. It seeks to bring life in harmony with all existence.  He dismissed any pedagogy that sought to cut children off from the world around them. He put his philosophy into practice at Santiniketan, or the “Abode of Peace”.

  • Classes at Santiniketan were held outdoors, under an assigned tree, unless it was raining, or if the lesson needed a laboratory.
  • Students were carrying small mats sat on the ground and teachers sat on cement seats.
  • The approach was to help the child to learn through exploration — art, music, curiosity, and the careful observation of nature
  • There was no concept of corporal punishment.
In the words of Amartya Sen:

He, himself, was a student in Santiniketan. In his memoir “Home in the world”, he talks about his experience of learning there. Here he discovered the freedom of learning at his own pace as there was no pressure to excel in terms of grades or exam performance

What Indian education system can learn from it?

  • Need to make education more joyful & focus on creative learning
  • Every child should be able to learn in an atmosphere that is free, reflective, and affirming.
  • They should be able to relate new concepts to what they are already familiar with in their own lives.
Karnataka model

Karnataka adopted the Vidyagamma programme during the pandemic. It is a group of committed teachers creating informal, outdoor learning circles or “vataara shaale”.

  • Under this model, children gather with a teacher for in-person teaching in small groups, in outdoor community spaces. They are not bound by blackboards and textbooks, but learning interactively, through stories and activities.
  • This model is acknowledged as an example of an alternate model of teaching and learning.
Way Forward

If these models got integrated into regular schooling, such learning environments can bring new life into our education system, not only during Covid but also beyond, in normal times.

The pandemic, itself can be a starting point for inquiry-based learning: Children should be encouraged, within the safe space of the learning circles, to discuss what they saw, experienced and learned during the pandemic.

In Gandhi’s words: “I do not want my house to be walled in on all sides and my windows to be stuffed. I want the cultures of all lands to be blown about my house as freely as possible. But I refuse to be blown off my feet by any.”

 Terms to know

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Missing School, Missing Meals

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Source: Times of India

Relevance: Covid-19 and its impact on the education sector

Synopsis: The education sector in India is under pressure from pandemic-related issues, as identified by a parliamentary committee on Education. Let’s have a brief look at issues in the education sector of India.

Context: Recently, the Parliamentary committee on education prepared a report on the impact of Covid-19 on India’s education system.

Findings of the report:

  • Some 24 crore children have missed school for over a year.
  • 77% of children have no access to online instruction.
  • In any case, ‘Online education is not real education.’
  • Dropouts have increased at the secondary level

Other issues in the education sector:

  1. Gender divide– There are more dropouts among boys than girls. Boys are abandoning school to earn a living – sometimes, after Covid, as their family’s chief breadwinner.
  2. Digital divide– The report admits the yawning digital divide that has deprived most children of instruction during the lockdown. Further, the benefits of online education are going to select few rich people.
  3. Effect on primary education– the batches of 2020 and 2021 have effectively not taken the first step towards literacy and numeracy, by enrolling in class 1. A large proportion of those enrolled earlier will not have acquired the skills or forgotten what they acquired.
  4. Effect on health and nutrition– physical growth and nourishment have been declining among India’s children for several years. The post-pandemic plight of the poor will multiply the damage. The Centre for Science and Environment estimates that 37.5 crore children might suffer weight and growth loss
Must read: What ails Mid Day Meal scheme’s implementation

 

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Geological Survey of India Mobile App

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Source: PIB

What is the News?

Geological Survey of India (GSI) has decided to upgrade its mobile application to add new features as part of its efforts to create more awareness about its activities among the public.

About GSI App:
  • GSI Mobile app was launched in 2020. The app is divided into various sections where it talks about the legacy of GSI, the in-house publications of the organisation, various case studies on different missions of GSI, the picture gallery among others.
About Geological Survey of India(GSI):
  1. The Geological Survey of India (GSI) was set up in 1851. Currently, it is an attached office to the Ministry of Mines.
  2. It was primarily set up to find coal deposits for the Railways. Over the years, GSI has grown into a repository of geo-science information required in various fields in the country.
  3. Its main functions relate to creating and updating national geoscientific information and mineral resource assessment. 
    • These objectives are achieved through ground surveys, air-borne and marine surveys, mineral prospecting,  seismotectonic study and carrying out fundamental research.
  4. Headquarters: GSI is headquartered in Kolkata. It has six regional offices located in Lucknow, Jaipur, Nagpur, Hyderabad, Shillong and Kolkata
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Back to basics

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Source: The Hindu

Relevance: Focus on inclusive and quality education.

Synopsis: It is important for India to work on ways to strengthen foundational education for children

Impact of the pandemic on children’s education

Pandemic & lockdowns have had a serious impact on the education system. There have been:

  1. Cases of alarming drop-out rates from school
  2. Migration of children from private to government schools because of inability to pay the fees.
  3. Increasing abuse of children at home
  4. Rise in inadequate nutrition & so on
Problems that need to be addressed

There are some major factors that need to be addressed at the foundation level:

  1. Nutrition: As per UNICEF, India should focus on the nutritional intake of children. Children, depending on their age & gender, need to consume 1000-3200 calories per day
  2. UNDP Human Development Report 2019 mentions that If the foundational learning is weak, and students are automatically promoted, then at higher grade students will struggle to grasp concepts.
  3. National Education Policy (NEP): NEP 2020 proposed pedagogical to teachers, but the content-heavy curriculum forces the teachers to adopt instructional rather than creative approaches.
  4. Skilled Teachers: NEP 2020 entrusted the intellectual development of kindergarten children from the unprivileged sections to matriculation. This will not fulfil the task of making these students into creators, as they lack expertise. Also, the proposal to upgrade their skills using the online method is grossly inadequate. These problems have to be addressed.
Suggestions
  • The government should recognize that EdTech is a resource of the privileged.
  • The government should mobilize students of higher education to work for 3 to 6 months in underdeveloped areas.
  • Private companies should also come up with mentorship programmes.
Way Forward

If the government wants to achieve the goal of SDG 4 (Quality Education), then the government need to work on a war footing.

Terms to know

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Atal Innovation Mission in collaboration with Dassault Systemes launch Student Entrepreneurship Program 3.0

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Source: PIB

What is the News?

Atal Innovation Mission(AIM),NITI Aayog in collaboration with Dassault Systemes  has launched the third series of the ‘Student Entrepreneurship Program’ (SEP 3.0) 

About Student Entrepreneurship Program(SEP 3.0):
  1. Launched by: Atal Innovation Mission(AIM) in collaboration with Dassault Systemes
  2. Target Group: Young Innovators of Atal Tinkering Labs (ATL).
  3. Aim: To push school students to become future innovators and entrepreneurs
  4. Theme: ‘Made in 3D – Seed the Future Entrepreneurs Program’
Key Features of SEP 3.0:
  1. As part of this program, a total of  50 teams from 26 states are selected for the SEP 3.0. Among them,  10 teams from Aspirational Districts and 10 teams from Jammu, Kashmir, Ladakh and North east regions were selected.
  2. Then the selected teams (6 students and a teacher) will be allocated seed funding towards creating their own start-up.
  3. They will also be allowed to work closely with Dassault volunteers and gain – Mentor support, testing support, Manufacturing support as well as launch support of the product in the market.
  4. Moreover, the program also allows interaction opportunities for students and teachers between French and Indian schools for cultural and technical interactions.
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Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment launches TAPAS

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Source: PIB

What is the News?

The Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment has launched an online portal named TAPAS (Training for Augmenting Productivity and Services).

About TAPAS Portal:
  1. Developed by: National Institute of Social Defence, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
  2. What is it? It is a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) platform that offers various courses in the field of social defence.
  3. Objective: The main objective of introducing courses on social defence is to impart training and enhance the knowledge and skills for the capacity building of the participants
  4. Courses: It will provide five basic courses
    1. Drug (Substance) Abuse Prevention,
    2. Geriatric/Elderly Care,
    3. Care and Management of Dementia,
    4. Transgender Issues
    5. Comprehensive course on Social Defence Issues.
  5. Eligibility: The courses can be taken up by anyone who wishes to enhance his or her knowledge on the topics and there is no fee for joining.
About National Institute of Social Defence (NISD):
  1. NISD was originally set up as the Central Bureau of Correctional Services in 1961 under the Union Ministry of Home Affairs.
  2. Since 1975, the Institute has functioned as a subordinate office under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
  3. In 2002, NISD became an Autonomous Body under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment and is registered under Societies Act 1860 with the Government of NCT, Delhi.
  4. Mandate: NISD is the nodal training and research institute in the field of social Defence. It is currently focusing on human resource development in the areas of drug abuse prevention, welfare of senior citizens, beggary prevention, transgender and other social defence issues.

 

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Medical Educational regulation 2021: Building Consent

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Source: The Hindu

Relevance: Concerns of Indian Medical Association (IMA) on draft Postgraduate Medical Educational regulation 2021 & demand of withdrawing that bill

Synopsis: According to the new regulation, there shall be common Counseling for admission to all medical educational institutions including Post Graduate “Broad Specialty courses” on the basis of merit list of “National exit Test”

Present Scenario
  • The admissions to such programs are based on the post-graduate NEET.
  • Half of the seats are based on the All India quota while the rest is under the State governments
What are the concerns/arguments over the present draft?

Draft regulations will leave no discretionary power to the states to manage admissions to state Medical colleges, which rely on state funds. This would make it difficult for the state to provide quality medical services to the local population.

It has been argued that proposed regulations are framed on the same provisions of the National Medical Commission Act 2019 that replaced the Medical Council Act of India.  They were the source of friction between the center and state. So these provisions have the potential to become the source of friction between Centre and state professionals

Status of healthcare in India

The Centre plays a critical role in funding, introducing targeted programs to eradicate diseases & to improve the overall healthcare standard across all India. However, health care is a state subject and the implementation of all these have been laid in the hand of states.

What needs to be done?

We have witnessed a declining healthcare system and infrastructure in India, especially during times of pandemics when extreme shortage and unavailability of quality health care was felt. Thus, it becomes important to:

  • Bridge the alternative system of medicine with modern medicine without any political and religious interference.
  • Involvement of all stakeholders like IMA, State Medical councils, and representation of health care groups

 Terms to Know

Indian Medical Association (IMA)

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RTE Act exemptions hurting minority kids, says NCPCR study

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Source: TOI

What is the News?

National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has released a report titled  “Impact of Exemption under Article 15 (5) with regards to Article 21A of the Constitution of India on Education of Children in Minority Communities”.

Objective: to assess the impact of exemption of minority educational institutions from implementing The Right to Education policy.

Key Findings of the Study:
  • Many students in minority institutions or schools are not able to enjoy the entitlements that are provided to the children of non-minority institutions.
    • For ensuring free and compulsory quality education to children, the RTE Act, 2009 provides for norms pertaining to basic minimum infrastructure, number of teachers, books, uniform, Mid-day Meal, etc. Students in minority schools are not receiving these benefits.
  • Christians comprise 11.54%  of the minority population but run 71.96% of schools, whereas Muslims comprise 69.18% of the minority population but run 22.75%  of schools,
  • Around 74%  of students studying at Christian missionary schools are non-minority students. Further, only 8.76% of total students in minority schools belong to socially and economically disadvantaged backgrounds.
  • Madrasas: According to the report, there are three kinds of madrasas in the country:
    • Recognised Madrasas: These are registered and impart both religious and secular education
    • Unrecognised Madrasas: These have been found deficient for registration by state governments, as secular education is not imparted.
    • Unmapped Madrasas: These have never applied for registration.
  • The report has found the syllabus of these madrasas that have evolved over centuries are not uniform.
  • Moreover,  Sachar Committee report 2005, which says 4% of Muslim children (15.3 lakh) attend madrasas, has only taken into account the registered madrasas.
Recommendations of the Report:
  • The government should bring all such schools, including madrasas, under the purview of the Right to Education and Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan campaign.
  • The report has also backed reservations for students from minority communities in minority schools. 

How are minority schools exempt from RTE and SSA?

  • 86th amendment to the constitution of India in 2002: It provided the Right to Education as a fundamental right. The same amendment inserted Article 21A, which made the RTE a fundamental right for children aged between six and 14 years. 
  • Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA): It is a central government scheme implemented in partnership with the state governments. It aims to provide useful and relevant elementary education to all children between six and 14 years.
  • Article 15(5): In 2006, the 93rd Constitution Amendment Act inserted Clause (5) in Article 15 which enabled the State to create special provisions such as reservations for the advancement of any backward classes of citizens like Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, in all aided or unaided educational institutes, except minority educational institutes.
  • Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009: Section 12(1)(c) of the Act provided for 25% reservation of seats in unaided schools for admission of children from economically weaker sections and disadvantaged groups.
  • However, Article 30 of the Constitution provides for the right of minorities to establish and administer educational institutions, with a view to provide opportunities to children from different religious and linguistic minority communities to have and conserve a distinct culture, script, and language.
  • Subsequently, in 2012, through an amendment, the institutions imparting religious education were exempted from following the RTE Act. 
  • Later on, in 2014, the Supreme Court in the Pramati judgment declared the RTE Act inapplicable to schools with minority status.

For further readThe arbitrariness in Right To Education Act

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Centre ropes in NCAER to help expand vocational education in CBSE schools

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Source: Livemint

What is the News:

Even as the national skill mission failed to expand vocational education in schools, the Union education ministry has recently tied up with the National Council for Applied Economic Research (NCAER).

National Council for Applied Economic Research (NCAER) will help CBSE schools to expand vocational education & to make skilling programmes more effective in schools

Why Skill India Mission failed?
  1. Skill India mission was launched by the government in 2015 under which the flagship scheme Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) is managed.
  2. PMKVY, launched in various phases, aims to empower India’s youth with employable skills by 2022
  3. But the scheme failed to complete its target. It has trained only 6.59mn people against the target of 7.62 mn in the short term category.
  4. Similarly, the government has failed to achieve its 70% target of placement of these people.
Read more: Skills mission underperforms on training, placement goals

About the NCAER: 

  • It was established in 1956. It is India’s oldest and largest independent, non-profit, economic policy research institute.
  • Furthermore, it undertakes grant-funded research and commissioned studies for governments and industry, and is one of the few think tanks globally that also collect primary data.

How NCAER will help to improve vocational education?

  • It will help to address the challenges halting the implementation of National Education Policy by identifying the constraints through policy road map and field studies.
  • It will provide measures to overcome those constraints and strengthen the skilling programmes in CBSE schools.

Terms to Know

Posted in Daily Factly articles, Miscellaneous, PUBLICTagged , , ,

The many hurdles for students

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Source: The Hindu

Relevance: This article explains the challenges faced by Indian students abroad and provides suggestions.

Synopsis:

Indian students studying overseas and those looking to go abroad face many COVID-related challenges

Indian students in abroad:
  • Students from China and India accounted for 47% of all active foreign students in the U.S. in 2020
  • Indian students comprised the second-largest student community in the U.K. and Australia in 2019-2020.
  • Similarly, Indian students are now the largest group within the international student community in Canada.

But despite that, during the Covid-19 pandemic, Indian students face several problems which need to be addressed.

Read more: India’s schoolchildren need their childhood back
Issues faced by Indian students during Covid-19:
  1. Indian students were forced to delay their plans in 2020 due to the imposition of lockdowns, disruption of flights, and embassies not issuing student visas.
  2. Furthermore, many countries have closed their borders and/or restricted flights from India.
  3. Many foreign universities require students to get vaccinated before they go. Covaxin and Sputnik V are yet to be recognised by the World Health Organization. Countries like the U.S. do not accept students who have been inoculated with these vaccines and have told them to get re-vaccinated.
  4. Due to the disruption caused by COVID-19, students overseas are finding it difficult to get jobs.
Read more: One year of National Education Policy – Explained, pointwise

All this led to a drop in the number of Indian students going abroad to study in 2020. According to the Ministry of External Affairs, while in 2019 nearly 5.9 lakh students went overseas for higher education, in 2020 only 2.6 lakh were able to go.

Suggestions:

Policies pertaining to air travel and recognition of Covaxin need to be addressed at the earliest to facilitate smooth travel for tourists seeking to go overseas.

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India’s schoolchildren need their childhood back

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Source: The Hindu

Relevance: This article explains the need to reopen schools and recommendations to open them.

Synopsis:

India needs to stop asking whether schools are safe and start acknowledging that in-person school is essential

Introduction:

Malls, bars, restaurants, and some offices are open, but schools have been closed for 16 months and counting. But schools are not. This situation needs to change.

Read more: Our children need education. How much longer can schools remain shut?
Why do we need to reopen schools?
  • In-person school education teaches children to share, wait for their turn, negotiate, and compromise. Depriving these will affect societal learning and development.
  • For children from economically weak backgrounds, schools are a key source of nutrition (Mid-day meal scheme).
  • For some, schools serve as safe spaces from the chaos of their homes.
  • Many children do not have educated parents or cannot afford home tutors, for them, the denial of education results in learning losses.
  • Further, the researchers agree that children are at a low risk of developing severe COVID-19 compared to adults.
  • Results of Indian Council of Medical Research’s (ICMR) Fourth National Sero-Prevalence Survey.
    • More than 80 percent of children from both urban and rural areas had antibodies. This means they were already infected and developed antibodies.
Read more: Let’s chalk out a plan to reopen our schools before it gets too late
ICMR recommendation to open schools:
  • It will be wise to open primary schools first and then secondary schools.
  • Vaccinate all support staff and teachers before opening the schools
Read more: Why are government schools not the first choice?
Suggestions to reopen schools:
  • There are a host of recommendations on how to open schools safely, including by the World Bank, the Lancet COVID-19 Commission India Task Force etc. The government can follow them.
  • Start schools in areas where the community level of infection is low.
  • Declare school staff and teachers as frontline workers
  • Public campaigns to make school staff and parents aware of the low risk of transmission in schools and low severity in children
  • Upgrade school infrastructure to facilitate a hybrid system of learning so that if parents are not willing, they can continue with online learning
  • Formulate and issue guidance on COVID-19 protocols to be adopted by schools
  • Greater investment in healthcare facilities and implementation of systems to track the local levels of infections.
  • Adopt a rational policy where 50% of students attend physical classes on certain days of the week, while the other 50% come to school on the remaining days.
Read more: A pandemic-optimized plan for kids to resume their education

Overall, India needs to stop asking whether schools are safe and start acknowledging that in-person school is essential.

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Why are government schools not the first choice?

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SourceThe Hindu

Relevance: This article explains the challenges faced by government schools and suggest remedies to them.

Synopsis

Improving the infrastructure of government schools will make them more attractive.

Introduction

Recently, The Patna High Court has recently asked for data on how many IAS and IPS officers have enrolled their wards in government schools.

Advantages of government schools:
  • Children can get a chance to study with children from different socio-economic backgrounds. But in private schools, that’s not the case.
  • The midday meal in a school also contributes to building a healthy school environment.
Read more: “Mid-Day-Meal Scheme” – Govt decides to provide monetary assistance through DBT
Challenges with the Government schools:
  1. People feel there are not enough teachers in these schools, or the schools may not be functioning regularly.
  2. India has different kinds of education systems in different States. Each has different types of challenges.
  3. Barely 15% of the schools can be called compliant with the RTE.
    • Section 29 of the RTE explains what kind of education every child has a right to. There is no government school that is complying with that, including elite schools.
  4. The secondary and higher secondary level government schools do not have adequate capacities, so the net enrolment falls, especially girls, sharply beyond the primary level.
  5. Problems associated with government school teachers:
    • Teachers’ professional development is a very weak area in government schools.
    • Almost half the regular teacher vacancies are filled by guest or ad hoc teachers.
    • Nearly, 95% of teacher education is in private hands and most of it is substandard.
Read more: One year of National Education Policy – Explained, pointwise
Suggestions to improve government Schools:
  1. The government (State and Union) has to improve pedagogy, teacher development, the level of community participation, the parent committees, etc.
  2. India should also look at the basic safety, well-being and hygiene factors in government schools. Such as, well functioning toilets, drinking water and proper compound walls.
  3. India can create better professional networks for teachers, this will help teachers to continuously learn from each other.
  4. Developing a micro plan for every school, and a larger plan for schools at the district level, and then at the State level.
  5. Decentralisation: Local bodies can take ownership of government schools, and school development committees can be linked with elected local bodies, so they can support the needs of schools.
  6. Create a comprehensive curriculum review like Kerala and synchronise it at a national level to facilitate the incorporation of inter-state migrated children.
Read more: Post-Pandemic School Education System: Issues and Challenges – Explained, Pointwise

Terms to know:

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A language ladder for an education roadblock

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SourceThe Hindu

Relevance: This article explains the advantages, challenges, and suggestions in promoting learning in the mother tongue.

Synopsis

Learning in the mother tongue has to be promoted in India.

Introduction:

Recently, 14 engineering colleges across eight States decided to offer courses in regional languages in select branches from the new academic year.

Similarly, the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) also decided to permit B. Tech programmes in 11 native languages in tune with the New Education Policy (NEP).

Read more:  PM to roll out academic credit bank
Why does India need to promote learning in the Mother tongue?
  1. Multiple studies have proved that children who learn in their mother tongue in their early, formative years, perform better than those taught in an alien language.
  2. UNESCO and other organisations have been laying emphasis on the fact that learning in the mother tongue is germane to building self-esteem and self-identity, as also the overall development of the child.
  3. Even though our educational system has seen phenomenal growth. Over the years, English remained an academic roadblock and also let India’s own languages languish.

For these reasons only, the great Indian physicist and Nobel Laureate, Sir C.V. Raman observed, “We must teach science in our mother tongue. Otherwise, science will become a highbrow activity.”

Read more: PM launches SAFAL for CBSE students, Vidya Pravesh for preschoolers
Learning in the mother tongue – Global practices:
  • Among the G20, most countries have state-of-the-art universities, with teaching being imparted in the dominant language of their people. For instance,
    • France went to the extent of having a strict ‘French-only’ policy as the medium of instruction in schools.
    • In Germany, while the language of instruction in schools is predominantly German.
  • In South Korea, nearly 70% of the universities teach in Korean, even as they aspire to play a role on the international stage.
  • This trend is also observed in other countries like China, Japan, and Canada (in the majority French-speaking Quebec Province).
Learning in the mother tongue – In India:
  1. The NEP put emphasis on the mother tongue as the medium of instruction to instill confidence in students from poor, rural, and tribal backgrounds.
    • The NEP also outlines the road map, demonstrating the means to protect our languages while improving the access and quality of our education.
  2. AICTE and IIT Madras recently collaborated to translate SWAYAM’s courses into eight regional languages such as Tamil, Hindi, Telugu, etc. This will be a major boost for engineering students.
Read more: One year of National Education Policy – Explained, pointwise
Challenges faced during learning in the mother tongue:
  • Unfortunately, some educators and parents still accord unquestioned primacy to English, and resultantly, the child’s mother tongue ends up as their ‘second/third language’ in schools.
  • One of the biggest bottlenecks for students to take up higher education in their native languages is the lack of high-quality textbooks, especially in technical courses.
  • Content in the digital learning ecosystem, still a nascent domain in our country, is greatly skewed towards English.
Suggestions to improve learning in mother tongue:
  • India must begin with imparting primary education (at least until Class 5) in the student’s mother tongue, gradually scaling it up.
  • For professional courses, while the initiative of the 14 engineering colleges is commendable, we need more such efforts all across the country. Private universities must join hands and offer a few bilingual courses.
  • The government has to address the work on high-quality textbooks, creation of digital content in regional languages at war footing.
  • Like, AICTE’s collaboration with IIT Madras, India needs more such tech-led initiatives to democratise higher education.

India at present does not need a ‘Mother tongue versus English’ debate. Instead, it needs a ‘Mother tongue plus English’ approach.

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Cabinet approves continuation of Samagra Shiksha Scheme for School Education

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Source: PIB 

What is the News?

Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has given its approval for the continuation of the revised Samagra Shiksha Scheme for a period of five years, i.e. from 2021-22 to 2025-26.

About Samagra Shiksha Scheme:

  • Samagra Shiksha is an Integrated Scheme for School Education. It has been launched throughout the country as a Centrally Sponsored Scheme with effect from the year 2018-19.
  • Merged Schemes: The scheme subsumes the three erstwhile Centrally Sponsored Schemes of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA), and Teacher Education (TE).
  • Aim: To ensure inclusive and equitable quality education at all levels of school education.
  • Coverage: It is an overarching programme for the school education sector, extending from pre-school to class XII. It covers 11.6 lakh schools, over 15.6 crore students, and 57 lakh teachers of government and aided schools (from pre-primary to senior secondary level).

Samagra Shiksha Scheme(SSA) 2.0:  The upgraded version has been aligned with recommendations of National Education Policy (NEP) 2020. Based on this, interventions incorporated are:

  • All child-centric interventions will be provided directly to the students through Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) mode.
  • Provision of up to Rs 500 per child for Teaching Learning Materials for pre-primary sections in Government Schools.
  • For disabled children and children belonging to the SC/ST community in the age bracket of 16-19 years, ₹2,000 will be provided per child to complete their secondary/senior secondary levels through NIOS/SOS.
  • Additional Sports grant of up to Rs. 25000 to schools in case at least 2 students of that school win a medal in Khelo India school games at the National level.
  • The child tracking provision has been included for ensuring the safety of students of government and government-aided schools.
  • A sum of ₹6,000 per annum will be extended to secondary level school students for availing transport facility
  • Provision of training of master trainers for Anganwadi workers
  • Incinerator and sanitary pad vending machines in all-girls hostels.
Posted in Daily Factly articles, Factly: Schemes and Programs, PUBLIC, SCHEMESTagged ,

One year of National Education Policy – Explained, pointwise

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Introduction

The launch of the National Education Policy 2020 marked remarkable progress in the area of education and learning. India has completed one year into the National Education Policy.

The pandemic has slowed the progress of NEP. The NEP is essentially about learning through observation, listening, exploring, experimenting, and asking questions. All of these are hands-on experiences and these aspects are missing in the online learning.

Ever since the announcement of the NEP, the government is focused on laying the foundation for its implementation. But, to fulfill the objectives of NEP, the government should bring in reforms at multiple levels.

About the National Education Policy

The NEP is based on the recommendations of Kasturirangan and T.S.R. Subramanian committees. NEP, 2020 lays emphasis on reforms in education at all levels from pre-primary to higher education. It aims to bring transformation to the education system of India in line with contemporary needs.

Major provisions of NEP

School education
  • Universalization of education by 2030 through 100% GER (Gross Enrollment Ratio) from pre-primary to secondary.
  • Open schooling system (no admission requirements like NIOS) for out-of-school children.
  • 5+3+3+4 curriculum system replacing existing 10+2 system.
  • Teaching in mother tongue up to class 5 with no imposition of any language.
Higher education
  • Broad-based, multi-disciplinary, holistic UG(Undergraduate) education with provisions of a flexible curriculum, integration of vocational educationmultiple entries and exit points with respective degrees, and also undergraduate programs in regional languages.
  • Academic bank of credits to enable transfers of credits between institutions
  • HECI (Higher education commission of India) as umbrella regulator except for legal and medical education.
  • Promotion of multilingualism in schools and colleges.
Read more: National Education Policy
Developments in one year of National Education Policy
  • National boards have tried during the Covid year to bring in some changes in classroom transactions connected with well-being, inclusive education, joyful learning, etc.
  • CBSE has worked to build training modules in order to steer the programs of the NEP through its active sahodaya school complexes, with a task force to oversee implementation.
  • The hubs of learning have been activated. Innovation ambassador programs are being created, which will help in strengthening the mentoring capacity where teachers are being trained on design thinking, innovations, etc. This will help create robust, smart future schools.
Planned initiatives under National Education Policy

On the first anniversary of the National Education Policy (NEP), the Centre decided to officially roll out some initiatives promised in the policy. This includes,

  1. The much expected Academic Bank of Credit will be rolled out for students in over 290 top institutions from the current academic year 2021-22 onwards
  2. All institutions in the top 100 of the National Institutional Ranking Framework as well as those who have achieved an A grade under the National Assessment and Accreditation Council will be allowed to participate in the credit transfer system.
    • Academic Bank of Credit will keep records of the academic credits of a student. It will not accept any credit course document directly from the students for any course they might be pursuing, but only from higher education institutes, who will have to make deposits in students’ accounts.
    • This will help in credit verification, credit accumulation, credit transfer and redemption of students, and promotion of the students
  3. Engineering in regional languages: The government will also announce the launch of engineering degrees in regional languages in about 14 smaller institutions.
  4. The government will also announce the establishment of the National Digital Education Architecture and National Education Technology Forum.
Read morePM to roll out academic credit bank
Challenges faced by the National Education Policy
  1. Currently, India is grappling with huge learning gaps. This is because the needs of children are more personalized and cannot be addressed only through online mode. With the extension of school closures and fear of infections, children are losing touch with understanding, comprehension, reading, and speaking skills.
  2. The digital divide is also causing the education divide in India. Today, in India, over 90 percent of students do not have devices that allow them to access online learning holistically.
  3. When the government is calling for greater autonomy, several universities continue to function without full-time heads and vice-chancellors. For instance, 10 central universities, including Delhi University and JNU, remain without full-time heads.
  4. The NEP asks for the highest priority to literacy and numeracy, but the government has slashed the school education budget by almost Rs 5,000 crore; higher education has suffered a Rs 1,000 crore cut.
  5. The cancellation of the Class XII board examinations and subsequent challenges for institutes of higher education also needs attention.
Read more: Walking NEP talk
Suggestions to improve the National Education Policy 
  1. For the NEP to move forward, India needs a robust institutional mechanism and large-scale capacity building to create enthusiasm among stakeholders. Every stakeholder at the state, district, sub-district, block-level has to have ownership and understand the concepts of NEP.
  2. Directorates of education have to be strengthened in order to ensure that the policy permeates to the district and zonal level educational clusters.
  3. To help children to realize their full potential, India requires effective strategies to physically equip teachers and students with better tools in the classroom, increase access to laptops and other gadgets, install interactive whiteboards and provide fast and reliable internet access.
  4. India also has to lay emphasis on vaccination of the young and old, this will facilitate the faster reopening of schools.
  5. The state and national boards across the nation will have to start with pilot programs. The creation of master trainers should be done, and they have to train principals and teachers in urban and rural areas.
  6. Providing the necessary financial resources:
    • special purpose vehicle (SPV) needs to be created to ensure NEP funds are available and that the implementation process is not delayed.
    • India also needs to promote private philanthropy for funding both public and private higher education institutions.
    • New and additional forms of tax incentives and other forms of incentives need to be evolved.
Read more: The vision of the National Education Policy must be served by its implementation

In order to implement the NEP, research, evaluation and documentation are essential along with coordination and convergence of the policy and programs connected with the NEP.

Source: The Indian Express

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What India@75 needs: Education and skills, rather than freebies

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Source: The Indian Express

Relevance: This article explains the India’s improvements in poverty reduction, literacy and food security since independence and suggestions to improve further.

Synopsis:

India’s improvement in poverty reduction, literacy and food security since independence is impressive but a lot more needs to be done.

About India’s Independence:

India started its journey as a newborn nation with deep wounds of Partition. Independent India’s population was roughly 340 million, with more than 70 percent are extremely poor, and only 12 percent are literate.

Winston Churchill had famously warned: “If Independence is granted to India, power will go to the hands of rascals, rogues, freebooters, all Indian leaders will be of low calibre and men of straw…. A day would come when even air and water would be taxed in India”.

But Jawaharlal Nehru said in the Constituent Assembly on August 14, 1947, “At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom… The service of India means, the service of the millions who suffer. It means the ending of poverty and ignorance and disease and inequality of opportunity”.

Situation of India’s poverty since Independence:
  • From more than 70 percent poor in 1947, the head-count ratio (HCR) of poverty in India dropped to 21.9 per cent in 2011, as per the erstwhile Planning Commission’s estimates based on the Tendulkar poverty line.
    • The drop in HCR during 2004-11 was almost three times faster than during 1993 to 2004, and much faster than during the socialist era of 1947-91.
  • But many Leftists disputed the poverty line, and the government had to set up a committee under C Rangarajan, which estimated HCR poverty at 29.5 percent in 2011.
  • But there are no official estimates of poverty after 2011, but the World Bank estimated India’s HCR to be between 8.1 and 11.3 per cent in 2017, as per the international definition of per capita income of $1.9 per day (at 2011 PPP). Using the same definition, the World Poverty Clock estimates India’s poverty at just 6 per cent in 2021.
Situation of India’s literacy since Independence:
  • The overall literacy rates going up from 12 percent in 1947 to about 77 percent now. (with Kerala at the top and Bihar at the bottom).
  • But the quality of education for large sections of the poor remains poor. Year after year, Pratham’s ASER reports indicate that a large number of children in the eighth grade do not fulfil the learning requirements of the fifth or sixth grades.
Situation of India’s food security since Independence:
  • There has been tremendous success in this respect, with the country moving from a “ship to mouth” situation in the mid-1960s to become the largest exporter of rice (17.7 MMT) in 2020-21, amounting to 38.5 percent of the global rice trade.
  • This has been achieved through the use of modern technology, improved seeds, irrigation, fertilisers, and, of course, the right incentives for farmers.
  • India’s public grain management system of procurement, stocking and distributing is, perhaps, the biggest food programme in the world.
    • But it is also an expensive, inefficient and corrupt system, and is crying for reforms. This is one of the reason for high malnutrition amongst children.
Suggestions to improve India’s situation in Poverty, literacy and food security:

If India had invested in better quality education for the masses, especially for the girl child, the results would have been much better.

  • Without quality education, their incomes remain low and many remain stuck in the poverty trap. The pandemic has exacerbated the digital divide between rural and urban school children. The government has to work on improving the quality of education in India.
  • India’s food productivity came at the cost of groundwater depletion. Future policies need to focus on greater sustainability.
  • Rational policy of gradually moving towards cash transfers to targeted beneficiaries, limiting grain stocks, can easily save Rs 50,000 crore every year from the food subsidy bill.
    • This can be achieved without sacrificing the objectives of supporting the vulnerable population as well as giving a fair deal to farmers. This rationalisation of food policy needs to come up high in priority, with changed policy instruments
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Long overdue

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Source: The Hindu

Relevance: This article explains the evolution of All India Quota (AIQ) Scheme in India.

Synopsis:

OBC reservation in All India Quota medical seats puts an end to a discriminatory policy.

Introduction

Recently, the Centre decided to extend its 27% reservation for ‘other backward classes’ to all seats under the All India Quota (AIQ) Scheme is a welcome development. The Union government has also decided to provide 10% of the AIQ seats to those from the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS).

Read More: All India Quota (AIQ) Scheme 
Evolution of AIQ Scheme:
  1. The AIQ is a category created by the Supreme Court to free up some seats from residential or domicile requirements in some States for admissions to their medical colleges.
  2. Introduced in 1986, the AIQ comprised 15% of undergraduate medical and dental seats and 50% of post-graduate seats surrendered by the States for admission through a central pool.
  3. There was no reservation in the AIQ. But later, the Supreme Court directed the Centre to implement Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes quota in the category.
  4. In 2007, the Supreme Court allowed 15% Scheduled Caste reservation and a 7.5% Scheduled Tribe quota under the AIQ.
  5. Meanwhile, based on a central law favouring Backward Class reservation in educational institutions, the Union’s 27% OBC quota was introduced in central educational institutions. There was no move to implement OBC reservation in the AIQ category.
About the recent decision to provide reservation:

In the courts, the Medical Council of India has argued against OBC reservation, but the Union government said it was not averse to the reservation, subject to an overall 50% limit. This is because,

  • The omission of OBC reservation in the AIQ seats was discriminatory. There were OBC seats in medical institutions run by the Centre, as well as State-specific quotas in those run by the States.
  • The Madras High Court, in July 2020, held that there was no legal impediment to OBC reservation, but, given that the policy varied from State to State, it left it to the Centre to decide the modalities for quotas from this academic year.

Based on that, the Central Government has now announced that it will provide 27% reservation for OBCs and 10% reservation for the economically weaker section(EWS).

Posted in 9 PM Daily Articles, PUBLICTagged , ,

The vision of the National Education Policy must be served by its implementation

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Source: The Indian Express

Relevance: National Education Policy (NEP) has to learn from public policy challenges for transforming education in India.

Synopsis: To successfully implement the National Education Policy (NEP), India needs to learn from public policy challenges

About the National Education Policy:

On July 29 last year, the Government of India (GoI) announced the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 as a pathbreaking initiative to reimagine the future of education.

It “proposed the revision and revamping of all aspects of the education structure, including its regulation and governance, to create a new system that is aligned with the aspirational goals of 21st-century education.

Ever since the announcement of the NEP, the government is focused on laying the foundation for its implementation. But, before we work towards implementation, there is a strong need to understand why policies fail and what we need to do to ensure their success.

Public policy and its challenges
  • Public policies do not settle in equilibrium and are hard to predict: The history of the evolution of failed public policies is filled with predictions that went wrong.
  • Further, Public policies evolve and coevolve: The evolutionary nature of public policy needs to be recognised and accepted.
  • Apart from that, the public policies are embedded in complex systems. A complex system is one in which diverse agents linked in networks interact selectively following simple rules without centralised control, and from which emerge (often unpredictable) patterns, structures, uses, and functionalities. The Indian education system is also positioned itself in this complex system.
  • Public policies are subject to cognitive biases: The dominant thinking while designing public policy is a rational choice theory (assumes decision-making as a part of rational human behaviour). But it is time that we recognise that there are pre-existing biases, prejudices, and opinions.
  • Also, public policies are subject to reactivity and the Lucas critique. This will result in policy-altering behaviour after some time of policy implementation. Lucas critique is about the limitations of predicting the effects of change in economic policy through historical data.

To become successful, the NEP has to address the above challenges.

How NEP will get implemented?

The implementation of NEP should be based on the following five initiatives.

  1. There is an urgent need to establish a new organisational structure, the National Education Policy Commission, whose sole mandate is to work towards implementing the NEP.
  2. Accountability of public officials: India needs institutional checks and balances that will ensure that the NEP’s responsibility goes along with the powers and functions of the individuals and institutions entrusted with the tasks.
  3. Establishing institutional mechanisms and empowered steering committees, within the existing mandate of the Ministry of Education. The UGC and other such state and central level regulatory bodies can continuously monitor the implementation.
  4. Providing the necessary financial resources:
    • A special purpose vehicle (SPV) needs to be created to ensure NEP funds are available and that the implementation process is not delayed.
    • India also needs to promote private philanthropy for funding both public and private higher education institutions.
    • New and additional forms of tax incentives and other forms of incentives need to be evolved.
  5. Empowering institutions of eminence and other institutions: The policy of selecting and empowering “institutions of eminence” in India with a view to propelling them to become world-class institutions is a landmark and transformative idea. But there is a lot that needs to be done for fulfilling the vision of the NEP.
Posted in Daily Factly articles, PUBLICTagged , , ,

A pandemic-optimized plan for kids to resume their education

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Source: Livemint

Relevance: To improve education, reopening the schools is the way forward.

Synopsis: 

India’s hard-won educational gains could be lost if India still did not reopen schools.

Introduction

Schools must reopen and our children must return to education. Some systematic state efforts and voluntary initiatives by teachers for in-person engagement, including mohalla classes, have been laudable but grossly inadequate, to compensate for closed schools.

Why do we need to reopen schools?

This pandemic has driven education into an unprecedented crisis.

  • Children have not only lost over a year of education, but they have also lost a lot of what they had learned before—the phenomenon of learning loss.
  • Economic devastation, combined with a break in habit, may result in large numbers of students dropping out.
  • Children are being ‘promoted to the next class, without addressing the lost year of education.
  • Careless and misinformed decisions, the kind of which we have seen too often for comfort during the pandemic, would be disastrous for education.
How to reopen schools?
  • No school should be opened till all its teachers and other team members have been fully vaccinated. This is to protect them and minimize the risk of their being carriers of the covid virus to children. Vaccination priority should be accorded to school staff.
Read more: Recognising teachers as front line workers
  • Schools will have to be opened even though children have not been vaccinated. But we should plan our vaccination program for children. This should include trials and approvals, the procurement and delivery of vaccines, mobilization, including efforts to address any hesitancy.
  • Decisions to open schools should be taken for geographic units that encompass relatively proximate communities, and certainly not for an entire state or district simultaneously. As a default option, these units can be panchayats in rural areas and wards in urban areas.
    • Schools serving tight and small communities can open with relatively low levels of vaccination of the relevant population. This is because children and adults from such communities intermingle anyhow, and thus open schools do not materially increase the risk of transmission.
    • Schools that serve dispersed communities would require higher levels of vaccination before they open.
    • In general, early opening of primary and middle schools, particularly in rural areas, with higher classes having to wait longer, especially in large cities.

Overall, India must open schools at the earliest, but it must do so with rigorous procedures along with genuine expert advice, and recognise that the biggest priority today for education is vaccination.

Posted in 9 PM Daily Articles, Daily Factly articles, PUBLICTagged , , ,

The direction that the NCF needs to take

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SourceThe Hindu

Relevance: National Curriculum Framework has to include democratic principles.

Synopsis:

Shaping a National Curriculum Framework using only the National Education Policy will be shortsighted.

About the National Curriculum Framework:

The National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) has tasked the State Councils of Educational Research and Training (SCERTs) to develop four State Curriculum Frameworks (SCFs).

They pertain to School Education, Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE), Teacher Education (TE) and Adult Education (AE). This is as in the recommendations of the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020.

At the first level, the NCERT will provide templates to the States to develop four draft SCFs, the drafts will feed into formulating the National Curriculum Frameworks, or NCFs, and the final version of the NCFs will be used as guiding documents to finalise the SCFs.

The cycle seems to be designed to take on board suggestions from all States, thereby making the NCFs representative and inclusive documents.

The NCERT will also provide e-templates for each of these tasks, survey questionnaires/multiple-choice questions to conduct surveys, etc. Thus, massive data collection seems to be in progress.

Advantages of NCF:

NCF provides the following advantages. Such as,

  • Flexibility in secondary education, examination reform, more exposure to Indian languages, and taking on board Indian knowledge systems can make our education system better.
What are the challenges with the NCF?
  • The kind of questionnaires and template that one develops can emphasise certain kinds of recommendations while muting some others.
  • A huge opinion gathering exercise preceded NEP 2020. But these opinions are just heaps of words, devoid of any organising principle to decide priorities. A similar unorganised list is repeated in the name of pedagogical recommendations.
  • Similarly, the NEP 2020 fails to provide appropriate criteria to choose pedagogy at different stages and for different curricular areas. Thus, the people developing NCFs have to deal with these issues in addition to finding a method of making proper sense of gathered public opinion.

If the National Curriculum Framework for School Education (NCFSE) is purely guided by the NEP 2020, this is likely to ensure the unsound development of our schoolchildren.

How to improve National Curriculum Framework?

  • The NCF can take help from the Secondary Education Commission Report (SECR) in the 1950s and Zakir Hussain’s Basic National Education (BNE) report.
    • The SECR had all three necessary elements of education. Such as the overall framework of values and future direction, current issues and problems of the education system, and public opinion.
    • The BNE has the rigorous derivation of educational aims from the vision of society, curricular objectives from the aims, and content from the objectives in a clear manner.
    • Both the BNE and the SECR make democracy the basis for working out the school curriculum. But they do not philosophically argue or give the detailed exposition of the method; they make practical use of this approach.
  • The curriculum frameworks developed after the 1980s in our country are completely overwhelmed by the current problems or by the pedagogical ideals of child-centrism. This should be avoided in the present one.

The only way to wrest the judgment from the hands of the powerful is to have the curricular debates rooted in democratic values.

Posted in 9 PM Daily Articles, PUBLICTagged , , ,

Bringing skills and education closer

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SourceBusiness Standard

Relevance: Skill development and education need to be integrated to provide better results.

Synopsis:

Skill development is a multi-dimensional problem. But the linking skilling and education is one of the crucial ones.

The situation of skill development in India:
  • Over 70 percent of India’s workforce is concentrated in firms with less than 20 employees. Studies carried out in 2016 as part of an Asian Development Bank report suggest that micro-firms are 72 percent less likely to train their workers.
  • Similarly, while 80 percent of India’s workforce is employed in informal firms, only 3 percent of workers are formally trained.
The link between education and skill development:

The ultimate purpose of education is not only employment and employability, but something far more impressive. It is generally agreed that access to early, holistic, and life-long skilling and learning opportunities are crucial to improving employability, entrepreneurship, and workforce adaptability.

  • General education should mean the attainment of an integrated set of foundational and transferable skills.
    • Foundational skills are basic cognitive skills such as numeracy, literacy, etc.
    • Transferable skills are social, communication, and behavioural skills that help navigate the work environment
  • Increasingly, it is evident from various studies that skills have a strong impact on labour market outcomes, including wages, productivity, and adaptability to the changing work environment.
  • Hence, there is a strong argument for developing a holistic skill focus that is not only limited to vocational education.
Advantages of integrating education with skill development:
  • Imparting holistic skills can help make school-to-work transition smoother. Recognising and imparting technical skills can make education more attuned to market and employer demand.
  • Further, In addition, integration of education and skilling pathways can ensure that learners who enter the workforce with limited school education receive training that is crucial to succeeding in the labour market.
  • With the increased contractualisation of labour, the incentives for formal firms to train workers are declining even more. In such a situation, the primary and foremost opportunity to skill young people are when they are still a part of the educational system.

Integrating education with skilling is therefore the easiest path forward.

The impact of the pandemic on skill development and education:

Education:

The pandemic has had an enormous impact on the education sector (leading to learning losses, increase in school dropouts). The poorest and most vulnerable children lost out, as the site of learning shifted from the classroom to online platforms.

Skill development:

In addition, the pandemic has also rapidly altered the nature of work. As workplaces increasingly shift to a hybrid mode of functioning. New kinds of skills have become more valuable. For example, digital skills have now become a core foundational skill.

As workplaces are rapidly changing, a key skill needed for the future is the ability to “learn to learn” and “adapt” to new modes of working.

Suggestions:

Strong foundational skills are necessary to ensure that workers are adaptive to change. The challenges (and opportunities) posed by the Covid-19 crisis make it the right time to bring formal education and vocational education and training closer together. It can be done by the following steps,

  • Mandate a holistic skills provision across ITIs, schools, and colleges.
  • Develop a common vocational skills curriculum and adopt a credit framework that helps improve mobility between skilling and general education

Hopefully, the recent decision to place these two crucial ministries(Education and skill development) under the charge of one cabinet minister is the first step in this long-overdue integration, which is necessary for better outcomes.

Posted in 9 PM Daily Articles, PUBLICTagged , , , ,

The crisis ahead, from learning loss to resumption

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SourceThe Hindu

Relevance – School education needs drastic reforms to mitigate the pandemic’s impact on education.

Synopsis:

If school education revert to business as usual, India has to be prepared to confront a disaster in educational outcomes

Introduction

Schools have been closed for 16 months now, with no clarity on or a timeline for their resumption as yet. The country has promoted online classes and e-connectivity as the solution.

  • The majority of the states focus on secondary and higher secondary education. However, due to a lack of connectivity as well as a lack of access to e-devices, only a fraction of children in this age group have had online education of any kind.
  • When it comes to children in the primary and upper primary classes, even such access has been limited to a minuscule fraction.
Challenges in education during and after the pandemic:
  • Challenges in online education:
    • The quality of online education — it is largely abysmal. As most studies show, the percentage of teachers in the country capable of handling digital platforms for pedagogic purposes is very small.
    • The educational material provided by them has also been mere reproduction of what is used in a physical classroom. Hence, the teaching-learning processes have by and large been poor.
  • When schools reopen, Indian schools revert to business as usual, this will create certain challenges. Such as,
    • With a reduced syllabus, and no change whatsoever in the overall curriculum or pedagogy, and racing through the syllabus to “catch up”. Children who cannot keep up would simply be left behind.
    • Children from the poorest sections will be the ones who are affected the most, by having to race in accelerated learning programmes with no support at home. This will create an alienation of already marginalised students.
Various studies on education during the pandemic:
  • A study in the Netherlands has found that most learning losses occurred “among students from disadvantaged homes”. Researchers have also termed this as nutrition loss and learning loss.
  • A large multi-State study in the United States records that the pandemic “has also prompted some students to leave the public school system altogether”.
  • According to a study by the Azim Premji Foundation in India, 92% of children on average have lost at least one specific language ability from the previous year across all classes; the figure is 82% when it comes to mathematical ability.
Read more: E-classes leading to learning gaps in higher education: Survey
Suggestions to improve education and global examples:
  • ‘One way of addressing the learning crisis might be to repeat the entire academic year. For instance, The government in Kenya has recently decided to do just this. Some countries, such as the Philippines, allow extended time for classes on resumption, both in the duration of school hours and more calendar days of interaction.
  • To reduce and synthesize the curriculum so that students are able to focus on a few subjects and learn them well’. For example, this is followed, for instance, by the State of Ontario in Canada.
  • Introducing the concept of One-to-one tutoring for the most disadvantaged learners. For example, the National Tutoring Programme of the UK and a similar programme in Ghana were done this.
    • In Italy, university students are volunteering to conduct one-on-one classes for middle school children from poor immigrant backgrounds

 

Posted in 9 PM Daily Articles, PUBLICTagged , ,

E-classes leading to learning gaps in higher education: Survey

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Introduction:

The gap in learning outcomes has been acknowledged across the world. World Bank data indicate nearly 220 million students have faced the brunt of the pandemic’s impact on education.

Education technology solution provider TeamLease Edtech surveyed over 700 students and officials from 75 Indian universities to assess the learning gap in higher education during the pandemic.

Key findings of the survey on learning gap:

E-classes and learning gaps

  • Nearly 85% of Indian students in higher education institutions feel they have learnt only half of what they are supposed to since teaching went online with the onset of the pandemic.
  • Similarly, about 88% of university officials believe it could take up to three years to bridge the gap in learning, says a recent survey.
    • They believe that grades didn’t reflect learning loss since exams were being conducted online.
    • Further, Sixty percent of the students who would not have been promoted are currently getting promoted with good marks
  • The perceived learning gap among students in advanced nations and India is stark.
  • There has also been a decline in the participation of women students due to their inability to access digital platforms
  • The survey blamed five factors for the gap in learning:
    1. A digital divide,
    2. Slow governance in government institutions,
    3. Pre-existing capacity deficits,
    4. Longer lockdowns in India than in other countries
    5. Weak online learning content and educational ecosystem was not digitised in time

 

Posted in Daily Factly articles, Index | Reports | Summits, Miscellaneous, PUBLICTagged , , ,

The future of learning in India is ed-tech

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Source: Indian Express

Relevance: How technology can help India achieve its long-term policy objective of access to education?

Synopsis: Pandemic has shown us that traditional model of education delivery is not sufficient. Integration of technology with education offers a resilient alternative.

Why India is well positioned to integrate technology with education?

India is well-poised to take this leap forward because of the following factors:

  • increasing access to tech-based infrastructure and electricity
  • affordable internet connectivity
  • Digital India and the Ministry of Education’s initiatives, including the Digital Infrastructure for School Education (DIKSHA), open-source learning platform and UDISE+ — one of the largest education management information systems in the world.
Designing an ed-tech policy architecture

A comprehensive ed-tech policy architecture must focus on four key elements —

  • Access: providing access to learning, especially to disadvantaged groups
  • Enabling processes of teaching, learning, and evaluation
  • Teaching: facilitating teacher training and continuous professional development
  • Governance: Improving governance systems including planning, management, and monitoring processes.
Problems with using technology in education
  • First, technology is a tool, and not a panacea.
  • Second, technology must be in service of the learning model. There is a danger in providing digital infrastructure without a plan on how it’s to be deployed or what teaching-learning approaches it would support.
  • Third, technology cannot substitute schools or replace teachers. It’s not “teachers versus technology”; the solution is in “teachers and technology”. In fact, tech solutions are impactful only when embraced and effectively leveraged by teachers.
  • Fourthly, digital divide is a big problem esp. for students living in slums and remote villages, with poorly-educated parents further strained by the lockdown.
Several examples of grassroots innovation
  • The Hamara Vidhyalaya in Namsai district, Arunachal Pradesh, is fostering tech-based performance assessments
  • Assam’s online career guidance portal is strengthening school-to-work and higher-education transition for students in grades 9 to 12
  • Samarth in Gujarat is facilitating the online professional development of lakhs of teachers in collaboration with IIM-Ahmedabad
  • Jharkhand’s DigiSATH is spearheading behaviour change by establishing stronger parent-teacher-student linkages
  • Himachal Pradesh’s HarGhar Pathshala is providing digital education for children with special needs; Uttarakhand’s community radio is promoting early reading through byte-size broadcasts
  • Madhya Pradesh’s DigiLEP is delivering content for learning enhancement through a well-structured mechanism with over 50,000 WhatsApp groups covering all clusters and secondary schools
  • Kerala’s Aksharavriksham initiative is focusing on digital “edutainment” to support learning and skill development via games and activities.
Suggestion/Measures

Action needs to be taken on multiple fronts.

  • In the immediate term: There must be a mechanism to thoroughly map the ed-tech landscape, especially their scale, reach, and impact. The focus should be on access, equity, infrastructure, governance, and quality-related outcomes and challenges for teachers and students.
  • In the short to medium-term: The policy formulation and planning process must strive to enable convergence across schemes (education, skills, digital governance, and finance), foster integration of solutions through public-private partnerships, factor in voices of all stakeholders, and bolster cooperative federalism across all levels of government. Lessons can be learnt from the Aspirational Districts Programme on tech-enabled monitoring and implementation
  • In the long term: A repository of the best-in-class technology solutions, good practices and lessons from successful implementation must be curated. The NITI Aayog’s India Knowledge Hub and the Ministry of Education’s DIKSHA and ShaGun platforms can facilitate and amplify such learning.
  • Addressing digital divide: Special attention must be paid to address the digital divide at two levels — access and skills to effectively use technology.
  • India’s new National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 is responsive to the need of integrating technolgy with education. It envisions the establishment of an autonomous body, the National Education Technology Forum (NETF), to spearhead efforts towards deployment and use of technology. This needs to be implemented in letter and spirit.

Conclusion
Integrating ed-tech with India’s education sector has a transformative potential for India as it will not only maximize student learning but also help India in realizing a universal access to education.

 

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How much can a four-year-old really learn from a smartphone?

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Source: Indian Express

Relevance: Addressing issues arising out of COVID’s impact on primary education

Synopsis: Alleviating the impact of COVID on India’s primary education sector involves bringing back the dropouts, addressing the learning deficit and an increased requirement of manpower.

How can India resolve COVID-induced problems in primary education?
  • Bringing back the dropouts: Whenever schools reopen, to bring back the dropouts. The Uttar Pradesh government proposes to track all students disappearing between Classes VIII and IX. The exercise needs extending to all classes in all states, especially the very young, who might otherwise be consigned to illiteracy for life.
    • Among migrant workers’ children, 46.2% were out of school by July 2020. The Education Ministry has a three-page guideline for their rehabilitation that calls for a database of children who have left the state. Such guidelines are impractical without detailed planning, transfer of funds and active coordination with the states.
  • Addressing the learning deficit: The second task is to plug the huge learning deficit. It calls for detailed yet open-ended planning, adjustable to the evolving COVID scenario. That planning needs to start right now.
  • Requirement of manpower: These measures, current and future, demand much more manpower than the regular corps of teachers can provide. Given the scale and urgency of the need, it might be undertaken in mission mode.
  • Increased spending under the SAKSHAM scheme is desperately needed to arrest the decline in nutrition and child growth evident for years and grossly aggravated by the pandemic.
Also read: Blended model of learning – Explained in detail
How have states adapted their offline instruction model?

The states, have adopted two major strategies for offline instruction.

  • Teaching material is distributed and worksheets collected for review. Parents might play a part, but success depends on the teacher’s monitoring.
  • Lockdown schools: Here small groups of children meet their teacher at a place other than their school. Karnataka has formalized the arrangement. Such endeavors work best in villages, which have more open spaces and better community support; but they reach only a minority of children.
Posted in 9 PM Daily Articles, PUBLICTagged , , , ,

Surveys on learning losses by month end, panel told

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Context: Recently the House panel on education discusses COVID-19 impact on education and syllabus reforms. 

About the discussions:  

Surveys: 

  • A survey of Classes 8-12 in centrally run schools last August showed that 80-90% of students were dependent on mobiles rather than laptops for digital schooling. Around 30% of students were affected by electricity supply disruptions.  
  • States were then asked to do a similar mapping of access to online schooling, digital devices and Internet connectivity. This report is expected to be available next month. 
  • The postponed National Achievement Survey, that  assesses the learning levels of students in Class 3, 5 and 8, will also be held in November this year.  
Syllabus: 
  • The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Education, Women, Children, Youth and Sports held their last round of consultations on textbook reforms.  
  • They discussed about How the Mughal history is glorified in Indian textbooks? The panel also discussed about the insufficient understanding of ancient Indian history. 
  • They compared history textbooks from Gujarat, Kerala and the National Council of Educational Research and Training and argued that the latter two give too much importance to the Mughal era. 
  • The Committee is likely to submit its report on reforming the design and content of textbooks in a month’s time.

SourceThe Hindu 

Posted in 9 PM Daily Articles, CURRENT AFFAIRS, PUBLICTagged , ,

National Forensic Science University Bill 2020

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Introduced: Lok Sabha (23rd March 2020)

Passed: Lok Sabha (20th Sept 2020)

Passed: Rajya Sabha (22nd Sept 2020)

Present status: Received assent on 28th Sept 2020 & converted to Act.

About National Forensic Science University Bill, 2020

Ministry: Home Affairs

Aim: 

  • It establishes National Forensic Science University as an institute of national importance.
  • The proposed university would facilitate and promote studies and research and help achieve excellence in the field of forensic science along with applied behavioural science studies, law, criminology and other allied areas.

Key provisions of National Forensic Science University Bill, 2020

  1. Establishment of the University: The Bill establishes the Gujarat Forensic Sciences University, Gandhinagar (established under the Gujarat Forensic Sciences University Act, 2008) and the Lok Nayak Jayaprakash Narayan National Institute of Criminology and Forensic Sciences, New Delhi, as a University called the National Forensic Sciences University at Gujarat.
  2. Objectives and functions of the University: Promoting academic learning in the field of forensic science in conjunction with applied behavioural science studies, law and other allied areas to strengthen the criminal justice institutions in India.
  3. Authorities: The Bill provides for several authorities under the University. These include the Chancellor of the University, the Court, the Board of Governors and the Academic Council
  4. Board of Governors: The Board of Governors will be responsible for all administrative affairs of the University.
  5. Fund: The University will maintain a Fund which will be applied towards its expenses.

 

 

Posted in acts, bills and regulationsTagged

Quality issues in higher education system in India

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Source: The Indian Express

Syllabus: GS-2- Education

Context: Delhi University’s high cut-offs in admissions is not a reflection of standards as there is no connection between one’s intellectual ability and performance in examinations.

Comment on the current education system.

  • Rote learning and exaggerated marks point out the lack of pedagogic imagination and show a highly mechanised process of entering the higher education.
  • This trend for marks converts a learner into a smart consumer and the only skill she/he acquires is the ability to memorise associated bullet points as emphasised by exam-oriented teachers and coaching centre gurus.
  • The path of success is causing the stigma of failure as the “fact-centric”/“objective”/short questions become the new normal, it becomes very difficult not to get at least 80 per cent in the board examination.
  • Social Darwinism(Survival of the fittest) is normalised and hyper-competitiveness becomes the philosophy of the age as schools become highly-oppressive institutions.

Do the students find enough guidance?

Young students hardly find any guidance as they choose their subjects and enter colleges.

  • Academic disciplines are ranked through the market rationality and young students are regularly pressured by the anxiety-ridden parents.
  • They are driven by the peer culture, as a result, they tend to prefer “prestigious” subjects like Physics, Economics, Commerce, English literature and Psychology, even if they are not naturally inclined to these subjects.
  • colleges and universities are hierarchized due to the ranking system. The students select the college keeping in mind the “brand consciousness” instead of the subject of their liking.

Way forward

  • We should acquire the courage to accept that one’s curiosity, aptitude and awakened intelligence cannot be measured through a pattern of examination that compels one to be a robotic performer rather than a creative wanderer.
Posted in Social IssuesTagged , , ,

24 million may drop out of school due to COVID-19 impact: U.N.

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News: United Nations(UN) has released a report titled “Policy Brief: Education During Covid-19 and Beyond”.

Facts:

Key Takeaways:

  • Around 24 million children and youth (from pre-primary to tertiary) could drop out or not have access to school due to the COVID-19 pandemic’s economic impact.

Additional Facts:

  • Save Our Children: It is a campaign launched by a coalition of global organisations to amplify the voices of children and young people and urge governments worldwide to recognise investment in education as critical to recovery.
  • Global Education Coalition(GEC): It has been launched by UNESCO to facilitate inclusive learning opportunities for children and youth during this period of sudden and unprecedented educational disruption.
    • Members: It is an open partnership that includes international organizations (ILO,UNICEF,WB among others) , private sector partners (Facebook, Google) and Philanthropic and non-profit organizations(Khan Academy among others).
  • Global Education Monitoring Report 2020: It has been released by UNESCO to monitor progress towards Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4) on education as well as other education-related points in the SDG Agenda.
Posted in Factly: Schemes and ProgramsTagged ,

Union Budget 2020:Education and Skill Development

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News:The Budget 2020 was presented at the Parliament under three themes. One of the themes is Aspirational India.The Education and Skills is a subtheme under Aspirational India.

Facts:

Key takeaways in the Education Sector and Skill Development:

  • Under Study in India Programme,IND-SAT exam will be conducted in African and Asian countries for foreign candidates who wish to study in India.
  • National Police University and a National Forensic Science University have also been proposed in the domain of policing science, forensic science and cyber-forensics.
  • Degree level full-fledged online education programme will be started to provide quality education to students of deprived sections.However, these shall be offered only by institutions who are ranked within the top 100 in the National Institutional Ranking Framework(NIRF).
  • The Urban Local Bodies to provide internship opportunities to the local youths especially fresh engineers for a period of 1 year.
  • External Commercial Borrowings and FDI to be enabled for the education sector.
  • The medical colleges to be established along with district hospitals in PPP mode to address the problem of lack of qualified medical doctors.
  • National Skill Development Agency to be given special thrust to infrastructure-focused skill development opportunities.
Posted in Factly - Indian EconomyTagged ,

Key Indicators of Household Social Consumption on Education in India NSS 75TH Round (JULY 2017- JUNE 2018)

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News: The National Statistical Office (NSO), Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation conducted a survey on Household Social Consumption: Education as part of 75th round of National Sample Survey (NSS).

Facts:

Key takeaways from the Survey

Literacy Rate: The literacy rate among persons of age 7 years and above was 77.7%. It was 73.5% in rural and 87.7% in the urban areas.

Levels of education:

  • Among persons of age 15 years and above, in rural areas, 30.6% had completed secondary or above level of education while in urban areas it was 57.5%.
  • Nearly 10.6 % of the persons of age 15 years and above in India had completed level of education graduate and above. This was 5.7% in rural and 21.7% in urban areas.

Enrolment:

  • Among persons of age 3 to 35 years, 13.6% never enrolled, 42.5% ever enrolled but currently not attending while 43.9% were currently attending.

‘Free education’: Nearly 57.0% of the students in rural and 23.4% in urban areas received free education.

Expenditure on education for students of age 3 to 35 years:

  •  In rural areas, the average expenditure per student pursuing a general course in the current academic year was Rs. 5,240 while in urban areas it was Rs. 16,308.
  • In rural areas, the average expenditure per student pursuing technical/professional course in the current academic year was Rs. 32,137 while in urban areas it was Rs. 64,763.

Information and Communications Technology (ICT)

  • Nearly 4.4% of the rural households and 23.4% of the urban households had a computer.
  • Nearly 14.9% of the rural households and 42.0% of the urban households had internet facility.
  • In rural areas, among persons of age 5 years and above, only 9.9% were able to operate a computer in contrast to 32.4% in urban areas

Additional Information:

National Sample Survey (NSS)

  • It is a nation-wide, large-scale, continuous survey operation conducted in the form of successive rounds.
  • It was established in 1950 on the basis of a proposal from Professor P.C. Mahalanobis to fill up data gaps for socio-economic planning and policy-making through sample surveys.
  • Collection, processing, and publication of survey data is done by the NSSO. NSS is the largest repetitive survey operation in the world.

National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO):

  • The National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) was established in 1970 through a resolution. It is part of the Statistics Wing of the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, called the National Statistical Organisation (NSO).
  • The NSSO functions under the overall direction of a Steering Committee. The NSSO is headed by the Director General and Chief Executive Officer (DG&CEO), who is also the Member-Secretary of the Steering Committee
  • The NSSO carries out socio-economic surveys, undertakes fieldwork for the Annual Survey of Industries and follow-up surveys of Economic Census and sample checks on area enumeration and crop estimation surveys.

Schedule of NSSO Surveys in Ten Years Cycle:

  •  Consumer Expenditure and Employment & Unemployment: Twice
  • Social Consumption (health, education etc.): Twice
  • Unorganized Manufacturing: Twice
  • Services Sector: Twice
  • Land & Livestock holdings and Debt & Investment: Once
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Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE)

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News:Union Human Resource Minister has chaired the Special Meeting of the Central Advisory Board of Education(CABE).

Facts:

About CABE:

  • The Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) is the highest advisory body to advise the Central and State Governments in the field of education. 
  • It is the oldest and the most important advisory body of the Government of India in education.
  • It was first established in 1920 and dissolved in 1923 due to financial crisis.It was revived in 1935 and has been in existence ever since.
  • The idea that there should be a central Advisory Board of Education was first put forward by the Calcutta University Commission (1917-19)

Composition:

  • The Chairman of the board is Union Minister of Human Resource Development.
  • The Vice- Chairman is the Minister of State for Human Resource Development.

Functions of CABE:

  • To review the progress of education from time to time.
  • To appraise the extent and manner in which the education policy has been implemented by the Central and State Governments, and other concerned agencies, and to give appropriate advice in the matter.
  • To advice regarding coordination between the Central and State Governments/UT Administrations, State Governments and non-governmental agencies for educational development in accordance with the education policy.
  • To advise, suo motu, or on a reference made to it by the Central Government or any State Government or Union Territory Administration or any educational question.
Posted in Factly: Polity and NationTagged , ,

Union HRD Minister releases Deeksharambh

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  1. The Union Minister of Human Resource Development has released UGC Guide to Student Induction Programme called “Deeksharambh”.
  2. The Programme aims to engage with the new students as soon as they come into the institution before regular classes start.The programme will be implemented by University Grants Commission(UGC).
  3. The programme will help new students (a)adjust and feel comfortable in the new environment (b)inculcate in them the ethos and culture of the institution (c)help them build bonds with other students and faculty members and (d)expose them to a sense of larger purpose and self-exploration.
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Panel calls for upgrading e-learning platform to virtual university

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  1. A panel of experts has recommended upgrading Union human resource development(HRD) ministry’s free e-learning Swayam platform to a virtual university to meet growing demand for quality education.
  2. The proposal is part of the ministry’s five-year vision plan called Education Quality Upgradation and Inclusion Programme(EQUIP).
  3. The panel has also proposed reconstituting Swayam into a separate autonomous board driven organisation under the HRD Ministry.
  4. Further,the panel’s recommendations have come as the HRD ministry is preparing the next phase of Swayam.A degree-granting mechanism could be one of its ingredients.
  5. SWAYAM (Study Webs of Active–Learning for Young Aspiring Minds) is a programme initiated by the Government of India and designed to achieve the three cardinal principles of Education Policy namely access, equity and quality. 
  6. The objective of this effort is to take the best teaching learning resources to all including the most disadvantaged.SWAYAM seeks to bridge the digital divide for students who have remained untouched by the digital revolution and have not been able to join the mainstream of the knowledge economy. 
  7. This is done through an indigenous developed IT platform that facilitates hosting of all the courses taught in classrooms to be accessed by anyone,anywhere at any time.
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Budget Briefs:Education

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  1. Finance minister has announced that an amount of Rs. 400 crore has been provided for FY 2019-20 to create “World Class Institutions” in the field of education.
  2. She said that five years ago there were no Indian institutes featuring in the Top 200 of the QS World University Rankings.However,now three institutes feature in the list.
  3. To achieve the objectives of research and innovation,the Finance Minister has announced setting up of a National Research Foundation (NRF) to fund,coordinate and promote research in the country.
  4. NRF will ensure that the overall research ecosystem in the country is strengthened.It will focus on identified thrust areas relevant to our national priorities and towards basic science without duplication of effort and expenditure.
  5. She also announced the programme ‘Study in India’, that will focus on bringing foreign students to study in our higher educational institutions.
  6. The Finance Minister also disclosed that a draft legislation for setting up Higher Education Commission of India (HECI) would be presented in the year ahead.This will help to comprehensively reform the regulatory system of higher education to promote greater autonomy and focus on better academic outcomes.
  7. The minister also said the Khelo India Scheme will be expanded to provide all necessary financial support and a National Sports Education Board for Development of Sportspersons would be set up under Khelo India Scheme to popularize sports at all levels.
  8. The minister also said that Massive online open courses through the SWAYAM initiative have helped bridge the digital divide for disadvantaged section of the student community.
  9. The minister said that Global Initiative of Academic Networks (GIAN) programme in higher education was started to up-grade the quality of teaching.It was aimed at tapping the global pool of scientists and researchers.
Posted in Factly: Polity and NationTagged

Centre releases action plan on higher education

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  1. The Higher Education Department of the Ministry of Human Resource Development has finalized and released a five-year vision plan named Education Quality Upgradation and Inclusion Programme (EQUIP)
  2. Key Focus of the EQUIP includes a) to improve access to higher education, especially for underserved communities; b) improve the gross enrolment ration; c) improve teaching and learning processes; d) build educational infrastructure; e) improve the quality of research and innovation; f) use technology and online learning tools; and g) work on accreditation systems, governance structures and financing.
  3. It would be funded through extra-budgetary resources and by mobilising money from the marketplace through the Higher Education Financing Agency (HEFA).
  4. HEFA is a joint venture between the HRD Ministry and Canara Bank, set up as an SPV in 2017, with an aim to raise ₹1 lakh crore to finance infrastructure improvements in higher education by 2022

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Scholarship for Minorities: Central Govt

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  1. The Centre has announced scholarships for five crore students from minority communities in the next five years.
  2. Bridge courses will be provided to girls in eminent institutions of the country to bridge education and employment
  3. With an aim to modernise Madrassas, Madrassa teachers will be given training in English, Hindi, Maths, Computer, etc.
  4. Focus on Minorities’ Empowerment comes in the backdrop of Niti Ayog’s Strategy @75 report- which recommended to increase the number of scholarships for girls from minority communities by 10 per cent every year.
  5. The plan is to identify over10 lakh recipients of Begum Hazrat Mahal Scholarship for girls in the next 5 years. The Scheme of “Begum Hazrat Mahal National Scholarship” for Girl Students belonging to the Minority Communities was started by the Maulana Azad Education Foundation in academic year 2003-04. The main purpose of the scheme is to provide financial assistance to meritorious girl students belonging to national minorities, who cannot continue their education due to lack of financial support.
  6. There are Constitutional Safeguards provided for minorities in Part III, IV, IVA of the Indian Constitution.
  7. There will be a “Padho-Badhi” campaign, focussed on areas where minority families do not send their daughters to school.
  8. At a later stage, students will be coached for free if they want to sit for competitive exams – including in Central and state administrative services, banking services, staff selection commission and railways exams.
  9. This will be provided to all economically weaker students from minority communities — Muslim, Christian, Sikh, Jain, Buddhist, and Parsi.

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Explained: How higher education can be flexible

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  1. With a view to a) revamp the higher education system in India, b) create world-class multidisciplinary higher education institutions across the country, and c) increase Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) to at least 50% by 2035; the Draft National Education Policy (NEP) has put forward  arrange of recommendations.
  2. The draft policy has advocated breaking the “rigid boundaries of disciplines” in higher education and moving towards broad-based, flexible learning. To achieve this, it has recommended that institutions offering single streams (such as technical education) should be phased out, and all universities and colleges should aim to become multidisciplinary by 2030.
  3. The draft policy has mooted for reintroduction of the four-year undergraduate programme in Liberal Arts Science Education (LASE) with multiple exit options, and scrapping of the MPhil programme. It has also proposed establishing a small number of new liberal arts universities, modelled after Ivy League schools of USA, in the next five years.
  4. The NEP has recommended an increase in the number of off-shore campuses of Indian institutions. Further, it has proposed to permit the world’s top 200 institutions to set up branches in India, with a new law to regulate the latter’s entry and operation.
  5. The draft policy has recommended that a National Research Foundation (NRF) should be established. NRF will be mandated with creating a conducive ecosystem for research through funding and mentoring. The proposed NRF should be set up by an Act of Parliament as an autonomous institution and with an annual grant of Rs 20,000 crore.
  6. The draft has further proposed a common regulatory regime for the entire higher education sector. Further regulation, provision of education, funding, accreditation and standard setting should be separated, and not be performed by the same institution or institutional hierarchy.
  7. It has also proposed a setting up a National Education Technology Forum. This will be a group of education leaders and government officials who will discuss and advise on how to strengthen educational technology, and Centres of Excellence in Educational Technology in prominent institutions.

The draft has also provided guidelines for teacher’s education. It has recommended that the four- year integrated BEd. should, by 2030, become the minimal degree qualification for school teachers. Further, all pre-service teacher education programmes will be offered only in multidisciplinary institutions.

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Explained: Government wish list for schools

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The Draft National Educational Policy 2019, has put forward a number of recommendations for strengthening the school education system in India.

2.       It has recommended to expand the ambit of the Right to Education Act to include early childhood education and secondary education i.e. from the age 3 to 18 years. Currently, the RTE Act provides for free and compulsory education to all children from the age of 6 to 14 years.

3.       The draft policy has recommended reconfiguration of curriculum and pedagogy in a “5+3+3+4” design, which recognises different stages of development of cognitive abilities in children. This corresponds to the age groups 3-8 years (foundational stage), 8-11 (preparatory stage), 11-14 (middle stage), and 14-18 (secondary stage).

4.       For pre-primary education, it has recommended a) increased investment in existing anganwadi centres, b) locating anganwadi centres in primary schools, c) encouraging primary schools to add pre-school, and d) building high-quality standalone pre-schools in areas where existing anganwadis and primary schools are substandard.

5.       It has recommended continuance of the three-language formula and proposed flexibility in the choice of languages, as long as students can show proficiency in any three languages.

6.       It has further mooted for a revision in the National Curriculum Framework 2005 by the end of 2020. It has advocated reduction in curriculum load and reorientation of curriculum to promote ethical reasoning, digital literacy, scientific temper, social responsibility etc.

7.       The policy has advocated revamping the board exam structure. It has suggested that students should be allowed to sit for the examination twice in any given school year. Further, a modular approach should be adopted in which a student is able to sit for the Board exam in a range of subjects across eight semesters.

8.       At present, the Department of School Education (DSE) in a state is in charge of operation, regulation and policy-making. However, the draft policy has recommended decentralisation, with each of these functions carried out by separate bodies- a) ‘Rashtriya Shiksha Aayog’ (Education Commission at national level, headed by the PM) for policy making, b) Operations to be carried out by DSE and c) State School Regulatory Authority should oversee regulation aspects.

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Posted in Factly: Bills and ActsTagged ,

Govt to spend Rs 2,000 crore, make 2 lakh classrooms digital

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  1. The Human Resources Development Ministry has launched ‘Operation Digital Board’ (ODB). The programme aims at converting a class room into a digital class room, in addition, to availability of e-resources at any time and at any place to students.
  2. The digital board will be introduced all over the country in government and government aided schools from class 9 onwards. Digital boards will also be introduced in higher education institutions.
  3. The programme will also help in provisioning of personalised adaptive learning. It will further aid in Intelligent Tutoring by exploiting emerging technologies like Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence & Data Analytics.
  4. The digital boards will be introduced from the academic year 2019-20. University Grants Commission (UGC)- the apex body for
    coordination, determination and maintenance of standards of higher education – will be the implementing agency for ODB in Higher Educational Institutions.
Posted in Factly: Bills and ActsTagged ,

First career portal for students launched in Rajasthan

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  1. The Rajasthan Government, in collaboration with United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has launched Rajiv Gandhi Career Portal to provide employment-oriented education to students from classes 9 to 12
  2. The career portal, a first of its kind in India, aims to provide information to secondary and higher secondary students on a) entrance examinations, b) scholarships, c) vocational and professional careers and d) different employment avenues
  3. The portal is expected to help reduce dropouts at various stages in schools and improve retention in jobs by facilitating students to choose a career.
  4. The establishment of Rajiv Gandhi Career Counselling Cell, which would link school and college students with skill development programmes and internship opportunities, was also announced.
  5. According to UNICEF’s studies, students in Rajasthan primarily rely upon their teachers and family members for career information and 69% also use internet for their career-related queries.
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Literacy levels in rural India suffer due to migration, finds UNESCO study

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Literacy levels in rural India suffer due to migration, finds UNESCO study

News:

  1. The new 2019 Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report by UNESCO, entitled ‘Building bridges not walls’, draws attention to the impact of internal migration on education, highlighting the steps India has taken to address it, and the challenges that remain.

Important Facts:

  1. About the report:
  • The 2019 GEM Report continues its assessment of progress towards Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4) on education and its ten targets, as well as other related education targets in the SDG agenda.
  • Its main focus is on the theme of migration and displacement.
  1. Findings of the report:
  • India is home to some of the world’s largest internal population movements, alongside China.
  • In the period between 2001 and 2011, inter-state migration rates doubled in India. Further, an estimated 9 million people migrated between states annually from 2011 to 2016.
  • In 2013, 10.7 million children aged between 6 and 14 lived in rural households with a family member who was a seasonal worker.
  • Education: About 28% of youth aged 15 to 19 in these households were illiterate or had not completed primary school, compared to 18% of the cohort overall,” says the report.
  • It also warns of the negative impact on education for children who are left behind as their parents migrate: “Test scores were lower among left-behind children aged 5-8.”
  • Exploitation: “About 80% of seasonal migrant children in seven cities lacked access to education near work sites and upto 40% of children from seasonal migrant households are likely to end up in work, rather than school, facing exploitation and abuse.
  • The report shows there is only one urban planner for every 1,00,000 people in India, while there are 38 for every 1, 00,000 in the United Kingdom.
  1. Examples:
  • The report says that the construction sector absorbs the majority of short-term migrants.
  • “A survey in Punjab state of 3,000 brick kiln workers in 2015-16 found that 60% were inter-State migrants.
  • Between 65% and 80% of all children aged five to 14 living at the kilns worked there seven to nine hours per day. About 77% of kiln workers reported lack of access to early childhood or primary education for their children,” it says.
  • “18% of the students displaced by a riverfront project in Ahmedabad dropped out and an additional 11% had lower attendance,” it says, citing an example.
  1. Challenges:
  • The Report notes that most interventions are focused on keeping children in home communities instead of actively addressing the challenges faced by those who are already on the move.
  • Failed initiative: “A pilot programme used on brick kiln sites from 2010-2011 in Rajasthan to track the progress of out-of-school children did not improve learning in any substantial way.
  • Teachers on the sites cited culture, language, lifestyle, cleanliness and clothing as major barriers between them and the kiln labour community. Teacher and student absenteeism were rampant.”
  • Another major education challenge presented by large scale internal migration is the growth of slums and informal settlements, where schools are often scarce.
  • Globally, the Report estimates that there will be an additional 80 million children living in slums by 2030. In Mumbai, between 100 and 300 families were arriving looking for work every day.
  • Slum dwellers’ education needs are often severely impacted by eviction and resettlement: 18% of the students displaced by a riverfront project in Ahmedabad dropped out and an additional 11% had lower attendance.
  • The urban planners were not being trained to understand the particular needs of slum dwellers. The Report shows there is only 1 urban planner for every 100,000 people in India, while there are 38 for every 100,000 in the United Kingdom.
  • Registration and documentation requirements for migrants set up to reduce migratory flows make it harder to enter schools as well. Eligibility for benefits, including for education, under the Mumbai Slum Areas Act required proof of residence, which many did not have.
  1. Addressing the issue
  • The report, however, acknowledges that India has taken steps to address the issue.
  • “The Right to Education Act in 2009 made it mandatory for local authorities to admit migrant children.
  • National-level guidelines were issued, allowing for flexible admission of children, providing transport and volunteers to support with mobile education, create seasonal hostels and aiming to improve coordination between sending and receiving districts and states,” it says.
  • The GEM Report also notes how Indian states have responded to the issue.
  • Gujarat introduced seasonal boarding schools to provide migrant children with education and collaborated with non-government organizations (NGOs) to begin online tracking of the children on the move.
  • In Maharashtra, village authorities called upon local volunteers to provide after-school psychosocial support to children who had been left behind by seasonal migrating parents.
  • Tamil Nadu provides textbooks in other languages to migrant children.
  • Odisha assumed responsibility of seasonal hostels run by NGOs and works with Andhra Pradesh to improve migrant well-being.

 

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7 PM Daily Editorials Brief – May 22, 2018 (Higher Education in India: An Analysis)

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7 PM Daily Editorials Brief – January 26, 2018 (The state of teachers training and education in India)

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