Weekly Update on Education

6 October 2009

Smart cards to track teacher, student progress in NDMC schools
Indian Express, 5 Oct 2009

Many government schools in Delhi are faced with the challenge of students dropping out and teachers skipping classes. Very soon, however, the NDMC might introduce smart cards that will include all details of students and teachers, including attendance, making it easier to nab erring members. As an NDMC official puts it, any and every detail of teachers and students from the time they join to the time they leave, will be included in the smart card. “The move is meant to observe qualitative improvements in education, where material related to schools can be accessed online,” the official added. More [+]

Not just kids, teachers bunk classes as well'
The Times of India, 5 Oct 2009

It isn't students alone who play hookey. Teachers do as well. No state in the country has teachers scoring a 100% attendance, says a report by the department of school education and literacy, HRD ministry. While teachers in West Bengal scored 98.1% attendance, Delhi and Haryana followed with 95% and 91.9% presence. The record of most teachers in other states stood between 70 and 80%. In Assam, though, only 55.2% teachers attended classes regularly. Teachers in Karnataka came up with a 83.9% score both for primary and middle schools. The attendance report to evaluate India's preparedness for meeting the Education for All (EFA) target by 2015 shows that in some states teachers at the primary schools have been far more regular than their seniors in the middle schools. The More [+]

Education is not a choice of bad vs worse
The FinancialExpress, 23 Sep 2009

The last student that got into Delhi University’s Shriram College of Commerce (SRCC) this year got 94% in Class 12. So the 81% that got me into this college in 1987 would not be good enough for admission today. What is going on? There are three possible explanations. The first hypothesis is that today’s kids are smarter than my cohort. Based on a recent visit to the SRCC campus and, at the risk of sounding like an old crank confusing nostalgia with amnesia, I can testify that today’s kids are not smarter than us. Better dressed for sure, better looking maybe, thinner possibly, but more intelligent—not really! The second explanation could be that there has been hyperinflation in the way exams are scored and the new 81% is 96%. The third and most logical explanation is that higher education capacity (supply) has just not kept up with the number of students applying (demand) so the cut-off percentages reflect the price of a bag of rice in a famine i.e. it’s not a fair price but reflects an acute shortage. More [+]

Re-imagining education
The Hindu, 3 Oct 2009

For many years now people who have tried to unravel the problem of teacher absence have grappled with ways to ensure teachers come every day and teach the required number of hours. If we are to look at all the initiatives tried out in different parts of the country one cannot but be reminded of the story of the elephant and four blind men. Over the years it is recognised that we need a coordinated reform process. Piecemeal approaches to create school level management committees (which have no teeth), install a camera to record teacher attendance (Sewa Mandir, Udaipur), create oversight bodies to ensure attendance compliance, do away with permanent teachers and appoint them on yearly contracts, to name a few, have had limited impact. Another set of strategies tried out, to ensure teachers get regular training, teacher support through Cluster and Block resource centres (which ended up becoming data collection and oversight agencies), again have had limited impact. Why is this so? More [+]

Corporates eye career guidance pie
The Times of India, 4 Oct 2009

Across India, stories of career options going wrong are becoming common. Students enrolled in engineering find they would have been better suited to media studies, BCom graduates discover they have a yen for environmental science, and law students repent not having chosen an MBA course. Mindful of a latent demand for professional career guidance, a growing number of companies are now looking to enter this sector, hoping to gain by counselling schools and families at their own doorstep. Their strategy is essentially based on building up links to educational institutions and creating a pool of resources which includes training for teachers and scaleable models for lab infrastructure. The bouquet of services offered range from book-keeping to career-mapping to teacher training and running of state-of-the-art labs. More [+]

No consensus on Indian Madrassa board
Daily Times, 4 Oct 2009

NEW DELHI: The Indian government’s efforts to set up a central madrassa education board to introduce modern education in the 30,000 Madrassas of the country were stonewalled on Saturday when a meeting of 59 Muslim MPs failed to reach a consensus. However, Union Minister for Human Resource Development (HRD) Kapil Sibal, who presided over the meeting, claimed the MPs could reach consensus at future meetings. “This was just a beginning. We have noted the concerns raised by the MPs and we will continue discussions,” he said in his concluding remarks. More [+]

Technology Links Students to Fieldwork
Education Week, 5 Oct 2009

Every school year, teachers across the country set out to make the work of scientists understandable and appealing to students, who might otherwise find it indecipherable and dull. This fall, a New Hampshire educator was helped in that mission by a group of scientists—working from a boat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Those scientists were conducting research in the Phoenix Islands, a remote collection of atolls and reefs in the central Pacific. During breaks, they kept a blog on their work, which Julianne Mueller-Northcott’s students followed every day. Her students e-mailed questions to the marine scientists, who responded when they had time and a working satellite link. More [+]

Good News on School Vouchersr
John Stossel's blog, 2 Oct 2009

Earlier this year, Wash D.C. children won a lottery that would allow them to attend private schools, instead of failing public schools, but then their hopes where dashed when Congress decided not to renew funding for the program. Now, their parents have made enough noise that the program might come back: The WSJ reports that Senator Dick Durbin who killed the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program earlier this year, is considering changing his mind: I have to work with my colleagues if this is going to be reauthorized, which it might be," said Mr. Durbin at an appropriations hearing Tuesday morning. He also said that he had visited one of the participating private schools and understood that "many students are getting a good education from the program. More [+]

Education Reform in the UK, school lessons from New Zealandp, 4 Oct 2009

The Conservatives are rightly pointing to Sweden as an example of what Britain must do if it is to create a fairer education system, where even those from difficult backgrounds are given opportunities to succeed, but the case of New Zealand also has much we can learn from. New Zealand is often touted as an example of why education reforms that give more freedom and choice to schools and families are a bad idea. In fact this ignores much of the evidence. In the 1990s, a series of radical education reforms known as ‘Tomorrow’s Schools’ did many great things, giving schools more autonomy and families greater choice. However, the reforms lacked several key elements and ultimately failed to inspire innovation. This deficiency allowed opponents to unravel the system and the state to take back more and more control. More [+]

Book of the Month

Education and Capitalism: How Overcoming Our Fear of Markets and Economics Can Improve America's Schools

"Unless popular myths about capitalism are challenged, school reform will stall well short of success."

—From the introduction to Education and Capitalism

"This is a thoughtful, thorough examination of the virtues of capitalism and free markets as a way to organize elementary and secondary education in a democracy."
—Milton Friedman Senior research fellow, Hoover Institution Nobel Prize winner in economic sciences

...Read more


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Action for School Admission Reforms (ASAR) More+

Action for School Admission Reforms (ASAR) is School Choice Campaign's initiative to usher in fairness and transparency in nursery admissions. If parents in your city too are suffering, please write to us at


School Choice Campaign launches

400 girl children from poor families of North East Delhi will receive school vouchers for a period of 4 years.
For details visit  website


Dialogue Series on Quality Education for All

School Admission Reforms: Why, What, How?

Date: 6 October 2009 (6:30-8:00pm)
Venue: Casuarina Hall, India Habitat Centre

For details visit website


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