Weekly Update on Education (Issue No 203)

04 Sep 2012

Enrolment rate very high, learning abilities very low
The Times of India, 29 August 2012

Primary education and environmental sustainability have been two issues that have constantly made headlines. With this increased awareness about these, the investment by the government as well as the corporate sector towards them has increased manifold. Despite all this, there is still much to be desired in both the areas. The Indian government has always stressed the need of primary education. Schemes like Mid-Day Meals, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and campaigns like School Chale Hum are proof of this. Enrolment rates in the schools have risen to an unbelievable 96%. However, the high drop out rate of girls, especially those from the rural areas is a big threat to the achievement of the goal of universal primary education. Another major concern shown by experts is the below par standard of education in many of the government schools of the country and the lack of basic facilities in them. While Indian students have always been praised for being better than those from other countries in the three R’s (reading, writing and arithmetic), the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) of 2011 released earlier this year by HRD Ministry show a shocking decline among the children in these abilities.

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So, what’s so awful about the 25% quota?
Hindustan Times, 03 September 2012

With a quota of 25% of seats in school admissions being set aside for students from economically weaker sections (EWS), the reservation debate is back. Hindustan Times, along with knowledge partners C fore, conducted a survey of parents and teachers about their concerns regarding this aspect of the Right to Education (RTE) law. The results couldn’t have been more stark. An overwhelming three-quarters of parents surveyed feel that the quality of education will go down as a result of reservation. Over half don’t think that mixing of students of different backgrounds will help their children become less prejudiced. Almost all -98% – disagree with the human resource development minister Kapil Sibal when he suggests that private schools raise funds from philanthropic organisations or corporate houses to meet shortfall in funds. In contrast, educators surveyed are more optimistic. 57% feel the quality of education won’t go down, and almost the same number feel that mixed classrooms will help build a better society. De-bunking what naysayers might think, over 60% teachers surveyed don’t think it will be more difficult to teach a mixed classroom.

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RTE provisions hinder children’s access to better life
Daily News & Analysis, 24 August 2012

Not a single day passes without tragic instances, in which children suffer inhuman atrocities at the hands of elders. Student crushed by school bus, eight dead and many injured in school building collapse; child dies after falling from a gaping hole in school bus; student suffers physical damage by teacher; hospital refuses to continue life saving treatment to child as father could not pay Rs 200 — all this on the same day! As if this is not sufficient, media reports death of a teenage girl who was reportedly raped by her teachers. There are other serious concerns as well: 35% of the world’s malnourished children are in India — i.e. 43% of the children in the country. One can see them in hotels, factories, building sites, hazardous work stations and even on the busty crossings of New Delhi. For policymakers and senior bureaucrats, these are mere ‘matters of detail’ in which they are not interested.Unfortunately, it is this apathy that de-motivates even the most enthusiastic of men and women imbued with the spirit of serving others and devoting their time and energy for a cause dear to them. If the government had given due priority to universal elementary education and improving the quality of teachers, much of the sufferings of young children could have been minimised. Everyone laments the depressing conditions of the majority of the government schools. However, it creates no impact on anyone who could change the approach and attitude towards the children enrolled there.

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RTE-scared schools put expansion plans on hold
Daily News & Analysis, 08 August 2012

City schools are caught between a rock and a hard place. After the implementation of new Acts, such as the Right to Education (RTE) Act and School Fee Regulation Act, running a school is no longer a “lucrative’’ business, rue managements. These Acts have forced schools to hit the brakes on their expansion plans and now even foreign companies are hesitating in collaborating with Indian schools, say consultants. Among those who have put their expansion plans on hold for now is the Children’s Academy Group of Schools. “On one hand the government expects schools to provide free education to 25% students, and on the other hand we cannot hike fees. In such a situation, it is no longer feasible to run schools. Where will the funds come from?’’ asks Rohan Bhat, chairperson, Children’s Academy Group of Schools.

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New policy for approval of private schools
The Times of India, 24 August 2012

In a bid to ensure that all schools comply with Right to Education (RTE) norms, the state government has modified its policy of approvals for new private unaided schools. School education department minister Rajendra Darda said the department has decided to switch over to a graded system of approvals.New checks and balances have been incorporated to ensure improvement in quality of education and compliance of RTE standards, he added. The new system was discussed at a cabinet sub-committee meeting on Thursday.As per the new system, the school education department will only issue a letter of intent to schools after scrutinising the validity of their proposal. “The school management will then be required to adopt RTE norms,” said Jageshwar Saharia, additional chief secretary, school education department.

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Children empowered to monitor RTE
Deccan Herald, 20 August 2012

Schoolchildren are being empowered to oversee proper implementation of India’s ambitious education-for-all law.The National Law School of India University (NLSIU), Bangalore has created a Right to Education (RTE) Vigilance committee comprising children – since they are undisputedly the most important stake-holders in education. “Numerous committees involving all other stakeholders are in existence. We felt there has to be a body comprising children themselves for better implementation of the Act,” said Niranjan Aradhya, a fellow at the Centre for Child and the Law NLSIU, while speaking to Deccan Herald.

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Poor PISA score: Govt blames ‘disconnect’ with India
The Financial Express, 03 September 2012

Just why did Indians perform so badly at the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) as to stand at the bottom of the ladder? The government thinks it is not a reflection on the country’s schooling. Advised by the NCERT, the HRD Ministry has concluded that India trailed in the international rankings because of the questions posed. Terming these out of context, the government will take up the issue with organisers of PISA before deciding on full-scale participation in the test for 2012, with students from 10 of its states. PISA — introduced by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation Development — is an internationally standardised assessment that tests 15-year-olds in reading, mathematical science and science literacy. While PISA assessments first started in 2000, India participated in the “extended cycle” of the test for 2009 with 16,000 students from 400 schools across Himachal Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.

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Huge capacity constraints in higher education: Assocham
Zee Business, 03 September 2012

Over six lakhs Indian students going abroad to pursue higher education owing to capacity constraints in quality educational institutions which cost the country foreign exchange equivalent to Rs 95,000 crore annually, an industry body study has said. “Most of students go abroad as they do not get seat in quality institutions within the country,” Assocham said in a study. India has a huge capacity constraint when it comes to quality higher education. The answer lies in establishment of high standard quality institutions which could be set up on a public-private-partnership (PPP) model, it said. “Higher education in India is subsidised in the government sector. An IIT student pays an average USD 150 fee monthly, while students opting for education in institutions in Australia and the US shell out USD 1,500-4,000 a month as fees,” Assocham Secretary General D S Rawat said.

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"Would YOU want to talk to a scientist at a party?": Students' attitudes to school science and science
Judith Bennett and Sylvia Hogarth, University of York

Abstract: The study described in the report involved three main phases undertaken over a period of five years from 2000-2005. The first phase involved the initial development of the instrument (2000-2002). The second phase involved the piloting and refining the instrument (2002-2003), with the main data collection taking place in 2003, and the analysis and writing of the report taking place in 2004-2005. The instrument consists of 25 items, eleven relating to school science (Strand A) and the remaining 14 to science outside school (Strand B). Examples items are: Science lessons are among my favourite lessons (Strand A), and I would like a job involving science (Strand B).

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Delivering Education: From Policy to Practice

04 December 2012
The Theatre, India Habitat Centre, New Delhi, India

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Education in Rural India
Town mouse and country mouse, we of anglicized schooling were taught, realized that they were very different mice. They loved their respective ways of living and could not live in the other mouse's mileu. Country mouse could not learn the ways of the town, and town mouse could not learn the skills of survival required in the country. When we seek to school our children, it may be wise to heed this parable. It is not that the children of our cities and the children of our villages should be taught different things. The curricula must obviously be of the same standard. But it would be wise to recognize that the different contexts have fostered different inherent skills and abilities. Their initial upbringing would have also emphasized different skills, so they start from a different qualitative baseline. Click here to read more.


Home schooling is now permissible under the RTE Act. Govt. Clarifies the word "Compulsion"
The Government has clarified in the Delhi High Court that parents interested in home schooling their children or adopting alternate forms of education are now perfectly at liberty to do so. According to a report in the Indian Express (July 20, 2012), In response to a public interest litigation, the Ministry of Human Resources Development filed an affidavit in the Delhi High Court, which stated that "Parents who voluntarily opt for alternate forms of schooling may continue to do so. The RTE Act does not come in the way of such alternate schooling methodologies or declare such form of education as illegal." The Ministry’s response came after the High Court directed it to respond to a petition filed by a 14-year-old girl, Shreya Sahai, who opted for home schooling but contended that Section 18 of RTE Act does not recognise any other mode of imparting education except the one through formal schooling. Click here to read more.


Dividing Independent India by Experimenting with School Education System !The other day, this teenage girl approached my wife with a request. She wanted my wife to give her some free coaching for her school subjects which she finds difficulty to cope up. She is from a poor family of daily wage earners living in the capital city of the mineral rich state of Jharkhand. This city has a legacy of good schools that got established right from the British era. There are a number of so called privately run  'public' schools many of them managed by christian churches of various denominations. Of late, with the liberalisation of education policies, the number of such institutions set up by various kinds of societies and trusts have multiplied many fold. Almost all the schools which are set up almost exclusively by private funding carry out their instructions in English language. They are commonly known as English Medium schools. Of late, most of these schools carry the word 'public' in their names. Click here to read more.



Should private companies be allowed to assist with public school teacher training?

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RTE Coalition

To initiate and continue the discussion amongst concerned groups and individuals on the issue of right of education and monitor the implementation
of the RTE Act, an RTE Coalition has been formed. Join the coalition to make universal elementary education a reality in India.

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Skill Vouchers - Global Experiences and Lessons for India

Leah Verghese and Parth J Shah

A study of the role that skill vouchers can play in catalysing demand for quality skill development services. This study examines global experiences with skill vouchers and draws lessons for India from these experiences.

For more click here


Reservation in Private Schools under the Right to Education Act: Model for Implementation

Shekhar Mittal and Parth J Shah

Through this document the Centre for Civil Society seeks to highlight the lacunae in the current framework for 25% reservation for weaker and disadvantaged groups in unaided private schools and seeks to provide inputs on effective implementation of the same.

For more click here


School Vouchers for Girls

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


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