Weekly Update on Education (Issue No 230)

30 Apr 2013

Universal preschool is a sure path to the middle class
Washington Post, April 19 2013

President Obama put forward a plan last week to make access to high-quality early learning a reality for every 4-year-old in America by making full-day preschool available to families with incomes at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty line. Parents, teachers and principals nationwide agree that we need to do more to ensure that children from disadvantaged families begin kindergarten at the same educational starting line as do children from better-off families. The president’s plan includes a cost-sharing arrangement with states, with the entire federal investment of $75 billion covered by a new cigarette tax, and with incentives for states to make programs available for even more middle-class families. Members of Congress have asked me: How do we know early learning works? What about its lasting impact? Let’s examine the record.

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Colleges Adapt Online Courses to Ease Burden
New York Times, 29 April 2013

Dazzled by the potential of free online college classes, educators are now turning to the gritty task of harnessing online materials to meet the toughest challenges in American higher education: giving more students access to college, and helping them graduate on time. Nearly half of all undergraduates in the United States arrive on campus needing remedial work before they can begin regular credit-bearing classes. That early detour can be costly, leading many to drop out, often in heavy debt and with diminished prospects of finding a job. Meanwhile, shrinking state budgets have taken a heavy toll at public institutions, reducing the number of seats available in classes students must take to graduate. In California alone, higher education cuts have left hundreds of thousands of college students without access to classes they need.

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Performance-related pay in schools ‘may fuel exam fraud’
Telegraph, 26 April 2013

A new system of performance-related pay in schools risks fueling a rise in fraud as teachers attempt to falsify pupils’ results to win salary rises, lawyers warned today. Teachers could be tempted to “over-egg” children’s work to prove they are doing a good job, it was claimed. The proposals will also lead to major employment disputes within schools as teachers lodge official discrimination claims after failing to receive higher pay. The comments came after the publication of Government guidance last week that suggested teachers should be denied pay rises for failing to improve pupils’ exam results, keep order in the classroom or take part in extra-curricular activities.

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Open access: Four ways it could enhance academic freedom
Guardian, 22 April 2013

The power of funding alone should not be enough to override academic freedom, argues Curt Rice, nor does open access automatically skew the world of scholarship. Are politicians stealing our academic freedom? Is their fetish with open access publishing leading to a ‘pay to say’ system for the rich? And will the trendy goal of making publicly financed research freely available skew the world of scholarship even further towards the natural sciences? I don’t think so. But it took me a while to get there.

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Using evidence for better policy: The case of primary education in India
Ideas for India, 18 March 2013

While India has achieved considerable success in increasing primary school enrollment and improving input-based measures of school quality over the past 10 years, learning outcomes continue to be abysmally low. This column synthesizes over a decade of research on the challenge of converting increased spending into improved education outcomes and highlights key policy implications.

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The Charter Schools Debate
Urbanomics, 2 Feb 2013

Student learning outcomes achievement is arguably the toughest of development challenges. Experience from developing and developed world show that even when schools have good infrastructure, teachers are in place, teaching and learning materials are provided, and both teachers and students attend class regularly, teaching does not automatically translate into learning. Successful pilot experiments of the transactions in the black-box called classroom has proved near impossible to replicate on scale. Charter Schools had gained prominence in the US over the past two decades on the belief that independently run, publicly financed schools, unleashed from regulatory fetters, and facing the threat of closure if they fail, would improve learning outcomes. But a recent Times editorial sums up the evidence so far.

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A student-friendly learning approach
Deccan Herald, 30 April 2013

Thankfully, classroom teaching has moved on from linear approach to a self-exploratory approach, writes N N Prahallada. For long, teacher-led child education is in existence where takes the responsibility for the learning environment. A child is completely dependent on the teachers’ knowledge and expertise. The idea of the child as a blank canvas or blank page was and is prevalent. Our education systems have been based on the assumptions that the individual mind is a clean slate at birth, the world is a buzzing confusion, and that concepts and causal relations are inferred from associations of stimuli. In this paradigm, learning has to be organized by others who make the appropriate associations and generalizations on behalf of the learner.

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Education dept clueless over lost Nagpur RTE bills
Times of India, 30 April 2013

Those schools in Nagpur district, which submitted bills for admissions given under the Right To Education Act (RTE) last year to education department for reimbursement, may have to wait longer. The reason: no one in the state’s education department has any idea where those bills are! The Nagpur branch claims to have delivered the bills on March 15 at its headquarters in Pune, while the latter claims complete ignorance.

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Schools Remain Casualty in Dantewada
By Dr Rashmi Sinha, Centre for Civil Society

I was recently in Chhattisgarh as a member of Joint Review Mission of Centrally Sponsored Scheme of teacher education. This initiative of the Government of India’s MHRD, is a nationwide program for restructuring of teacher education, largely in response to Children’s Right to Free and Compulsory education (RTE). In my last two posts, “Listening to Winds of Change in  Chhattisgarh” and “Restructuring Teacher Education in Chhattisgarh”,  I talked about slow social and economic inclusion of scheduled tribes in the development process and the challenges the state is facing to restructure the teacher education set up respectively.  In this final post of the series, “Schools Remain Casualty in Dantewada,” I report on my meeting with education officers responsible for  teacher education in Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh. Click here to read more.

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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)
A comprehensive analysis on reservation in private schools under the Right to Education Act, providing a seven-step model for 25% implementation.

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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