Primary and Secondary Education – RTE, Education Policy, SEQI, RMSA, Committee Reports, etc.

Primary and Secondary Education – RTE, Education Policy, SEQI, RMSA, Committee Reports, etc.

NCERT drops Periodic Table from Class X book

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Periodic Table

Mains level : Read the attached story

ncert curriculum periodic table

Central Idea

  • Changes notified by NCERT: The NCERT notified changes in its June 2022 circular, omitted the Periodic Table from 10th class books. This has been widely debated in academic circles.
  • New textbooks hit the market: The textbooks with the deletions and changes have now been released in the market.

What is Periodic Table?

Description
History Developed by Dmitri Mendeleev in 1869. He arranged elements based on their atomic masses and predicted the existence of undiscovered elements.
Organization Elements are arranged based on their atomic numbers, electron configurations, and properties.
Periods There are seven periods (rows) in the table, representing different principal energy levels.
Groups The table has 18 groups (columns), with elements in the same group sharing similar properties.
Main Groups Elements in groups 1, 2, and 13 to 18 are referred to as main group elements.
Transition Metals Groups 3 to 12 consist of transition metals, known for their variable oxidation states.
Lanthanides The first row of the f-block contains the 15 lanthanide elements.
Actinides The second row of the f-block contains the 15 actinide elements.
Periodic Trends Various trends exist across the table, such as atomic radius, ionization energy, and electronegativity.
Periodic Law The chemical and physical properties of elements repeat in a periodic manner based on their atomic numbers.
Modern Versions Modern versions incorporate atomic numbers and reflect our understanding of atomic structure.
International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) IUPAC is the international organization responsible for the standardization of chemical nomenclature, symbols, and the Periodic Table.
Database Management Several organizations and databases manage and maintain comprehensive information about the elements, their properties, and the Periodic Table. Examples include the IUPAC, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC).

 

Why this matters?

  • NCERT textbooks as a cornerstone: NCERT textbooks are considered a cornerstone for guiding the publication of State board textbooks, affecting nearly 60 State boards.
  • Concerns for non-science stream students: With a significant number of students opting for Arts and Commerce streams, they may lose the opportunity to learn crucial basic Chemistry concepts now only accessible in Class XI.

Controversial Deletions and Omissions by NCERT

  • Fundamental knowledge of chemistry: Experts argue that leaving out the periodic table and logical organization of elements from the textbooks hinders students’ understanding of fundamental chemistry concepts.
  • Rationalization of contents due to the pandemic: The NCERT claims that the exercise of reducing the content load on students is carried out across all classes in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Previous controversial deletions: Earlier, NCERT dropped Darwin’s theory of evolution from Class X textbooks and deleted chapters from Political Science textbooks, including Democracy and Diversity, Popular Struggles and Movements, Political Parties, and Challenges to Democracy.

Additional controversial omissions

  • Exclusion of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad: Any mention of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, a freedom fighter and India’s first Education Minister, has been deleted from the textbooks.
  • Omission of J&K’s accession to India: The fact that Jammu and Kashmir acceded to India on the basis of autonomy has been removed from the revised Class XI textbook.
  • Further omissions in the CBSE syllabus: The history of Mughal courts, references to the 2002 communal riots in Gujarat, the Naxalite movement, and mention of Dalit writers were also omitted from the CBSE syllabus.

Reasons cited for curriculum revamp

  • Multiple sets of authors: Textbooks have undergone changes over the years, written by different sets of historians. There have been no controversies regarding these changes.
  • Celebration of diversity and assimilation: Exclusively holding on to one set of textbooks is contrary to the spirit of a civilization that celebrates diversity and assimilation.
  • NCF’s efforts for inclusive representations: The National Curriculum Framework (NCF) aims to bring a plurality of voices and more inclusive representations of marginalized and previously excluded history.

Allegations of Distortions in history textbooks

  • Deliberate distortions: Some sections of the media allege that the corrections and improvements made in the NCERT history textbooks are deliberate distortions or rewriting of history.
  • Sense of entitlement: The charge of rewriting history under a specific ideology betrays a sense of entitlement, suggesting that only one set of historians had the knowledge to determine what should be taught.
  • Autonomy breach: While autonomy in academic and intellectual activities is crucial, the notion that institutional autonomy has been undermined and academic freedom is under stress is a one-sided and pointless exercise.

Way forward

  • Logical revision: There is an urgent need for a comprehensive revision of NCERT textbooks, not only in history but in all subjects, to incorporate new knowledge and discoveries.
  • Prudent use of existing textbooks: Until a detailed plan and advice for a comprehensive revision of books and syllabi is formulated, NCERT has chosen to use the existing textbooks.
  • Presenting facts lucidly: Textbooks should present facts lucidly, allowing students to acquire the knowledge they seek.
  • Avoid politicizing: Academics and politicians should refrain from politicizing school textbooks and instead focus on telling students the stories of the past without weaving in half-truths or erasing vast chunks of history.
  • Addressing gaps and inclusivity: Continuous revision of the curriculum is necessary to address gaps, make textbooks relevant, and ensure inclusivity.

 

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Primary and Secondary Education – RTE, Education Policy, SEQI, RMSA, Committee Reports, etc.

Plight of Single-Teacher Schools: A Call for Urgent Action

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Education reforms and schemes

Mains level : Prevalence of single-teacher schools in India, challenges and way forward

Single-Teacher Schools

Central Idea

  • The presence of single-teacher schools in India, particularly in Jharkhand, continues to persist despite the Right to Education Act mandating a minimum of two teachers in every school. The prevalence of such schools poses significant challenges, hampering the quality of education and depriving children of their right to a proper education. The alarming situation of single-teacher schools, calls attention to recent findings, and emphasizes the need for urgent action to address this issue.

Single-Teacher Schools

Plight of Single-Teacher Schools in India

  • Even after 14 years since the implementation of the Right to Education Act, the proportion of single-teacher schools in India remains high at 14.7%.
  • In Jharkhand alone, nearly one-third of primary schools fall under the single-teacher category, significantly impacting the quality of education.
  • While Jharkhand is a poor performer, a few States had a similar or even higher proportion of single-teacher schools such as Andhra Pradesh (34%), Telangana (30%) and Karnataka (29%).
  • In nine of India’s 21 major States, the share of children studying in single-teacher schools was well above 10%, rising to 25% in Jharkhand.
  • A recent report titled Gloom in the Classroom sheds light on the severity of the situation in Jharkhand.
Did you know?

·       The Right to Education Act states that every school must have at least two teachers.

Reasons attributed to the presence of Single-Teacher Schools in certain states

  • Low Population Density and Scattered Settlements: In states with low population density and scattered settlements, such as Himachal Pradesh, it becomes challenging to establish multiple schools in close proximity. Limited resources and logistical difficulties make it economically unviable to have multiple teachers in such areas. As a result, single-teacher schools are often the only feasible option to provide education to children in remote locations.
  • Low Fertility Rates: States with low fertility rates, such as Himachal Pradesh and Kerala, may have a smaller number of students in schools. In these cases, single-teacher schools serve as a more efficient and cost-effective arrangement to cater to the relatively smaller student population. With fewer students, consolidating them into larger schools may not be practical or necessary.
  • Viability of Mini-Schools: In some states, single-teacher schools are a result of the viability and historical existence of mini-schools. Mini-schools were established in sparsely populated areas before the Right to Education Act came into force. Some states, like Kerala, have successfully managed to merge mini-schools, while others continue to have single-teacher schools as separate entities.
  • Staffing Challenges and Budget Constraints: State governments facing staffing challenges and budget constraints may opt for under-staffing schools in underprivileged areas, leading to the prevalence of single-teacher schools. Limited resources and difficulties in recruiting and retaining teachers, especially in remote or economically disadvantaged regions, contribute to the staffing issues.
  • Resistance to Remote Postings: Remote areas often lack basic amenities and facilities, making it challenging for teachers to adjust to such environments. Reluctance to accept postings in remote locations can lead to a shortage of teachers, resulting in single-teacher schools as a temporary solution.

Measures to tackle the challenges associated with single-teacher schools

  • Infrastructure and Resources: Adequate investment in infrastructure, including the establishment of additional classrooms, is crucial to accommodate more teachers and reduce the burden on existing staff. Providing schools with sufficient teaching resources, such as textbooks, learning materials, and technological tools, can enhance the teaching-learning process.
  • Recruitment and Retention: State governments must prioritize the recruitment of qualified teachers, ensuring a sufficient number of professionals in underprivileged areas. Encouraging and incentivizing teachers to accept postings in remote areas can help overcome the resistance to such assignments.
  • Policy Reforms: The Right to Education Act needs to be rigorously implemented, emphasizing the requirement for a minimum of two teachers in each school. State governments should allocate adequate funds to address staffing needs and enforce compliance with the act. Policy reforms should focus on promoting equity and inclusivity, targeting marginalized communities and ensuring access to quality education for all children.
  • Community Engagement: Building awareness among parents and communities about the importance of education and the impact of single-teacher schools is crucial. Encouraging community participation in school management committees and fostering collaboration between schools, parents, and local organizations can drive collective efforts to improve the educational environment.

Way forward: Revitalizing the Education Movement

  • It is imperative to revive the momentum for the right to education that once echoed across the nation.
  • A renewed movement is necessary to advocate for quality education, raise awareness about the persisting challenges, and hold authorities accountable for ensuring children’s right to education.
  • The recent protests in Jharkhand, which highlighted the unmet demand for quality education, serve as a reminder of the urgent need to address the plight of single-teacher schools.

Conclusion

  • The prevalence of single-teacher schools in Jharkhand and several other states indicates a systemic failure in fulfilling the right to education. Immediate action is required to improve infrastructure, recruit qualified teachers, implement policy reforms, and foster community engagement. By prioritizing education and addressing the challenges associated with single-teacher schools, we can ensure that every child has access to quality education and the opportunity to thrive.

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Also read:

[Sansad TV] Reforms in Content and School Text Books

Primary and Secondary Education – RTE, Education Policy, SEQI, RMSA, Committee Reports, etc.

Early Childhood Care and Education through Anganwadis

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Anganwadi scheme

Mains level : Nutrition support in early childhood

Central Idea: The Centre is planning to promote ‘Early Childhood Care and Education’ through anganwadi centres as part of the ‘Poshan Bhi, Padhai Bhi’ slogan announced by the Women and Child Development Minister.

What is Anganwadi scheme?

  • The scheme was started in 1975 and aims at the holistic development of children and empowerment of mother.
  • It is a Centrally-Sponsored scheme. The scheme primarily runs through the Anganwadi centre.
  • The scheme is under the Ministry of Women and Child Development.

Moto: Poshan Bhi, Padhai Bhi

  • The focus will be on both nutrition and early learning for children under 6 years, with a particular emphasis on those under 3 years.
  • Early learning has been neglected in the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) and seen as secondary to nutrition.
  • Anganwadi centres will be repositioned as pre-schools to provide early learning access to socially and educationally backward communities.

Why such move?

  • Two emerging trends are noted: young children shifting to private pre-schools and under-age children being admitted to Class 1 in some states.
  • The quality of services provided at Anganwadi centres is perceived as inferior, leading to the shift to private nursery schools.

Task Force and Recommendations

  • Rebranding anganwadis: The task force recommends a “mission-mode approach” to rebranding anganwadis, including infrastructure upgrades, materials, play equipment, etc.
  • Focus on volunteer support: It suggests involving panchayat raj institutions, women’s self-help groups, local NGOs, and college volunteers to enhance the learning environment.
  • Boost to Anganwadi sisters: The task force proposes re-designating anganwadi workers as anganwadi teachers and helpers as childcare workers.
  • Nutrition boost: Infrastructure improvements, additional nutrition supplements (such as eggs and milk), extended timings, creches, and day care services are recommended.
  • MGNREGS liasion: The task force suggests leveraging funds from the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS).

Major target: Improve Child Nutrition

  • The task force highlights that over 35% of young children in India are stunted, according to the latest NFHS data.
  • Although there has been a reduction, India still has the largest population of stunted children globally.
  • Child stunting affects developmental outcomes and the ability to learn at school.
  • NFHS-5 reveals that only 11.3% of children below 2 years receive an adequate diet.
  • The task force recommends introducing eggs as an effective intervention for nutrition.

 

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Primary and Secondary Education – RTE, Education Policy, SEQI, RMSA, Committee Reports, etc.

Govt releases pre-draft of National Curriculum Framework

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : National Curriculum Framework (NCF)

Mains level : Not Much

curriculum

The Ministry of Education has released a pre-draft version of National Curriculum Framework (NCF) for School Education.

National Curriculum Framework (NCF)

Features

Details

What is it? A comprehensive framework for school education in India

Provides guidelines for the development of curricula and syllabi, textbooks, and teaching practices for schools in India

Developed by National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), an autonomous organization under the Ministry of Education
Aim To promote a child-centred, activity-based approach to learning that focuses on the development of knowledge, skills, and values
Development The first NCF was developed in 1986 and subsequently revised in 2000 and 2005.

The latest pre-draft version of NCF for School Education was released by the Ministry of Education in April 2023.

Coverage For age groups 3 to 18 years

Seeks feedback from various stakeholders

National Steering Committee Set up by the Ministry to undertake and develop NCFs under the chairmanship of K. Kasturirangan.

 

Salient features of NCF

(1) Values and Roots

  • A key part of the document is the inclusion of values and its “rootedness” in India.
  • The pre-draft says that the framework is deeply rooted in India in content and learning of languages, in the pedagogical approaches including tools and resources, and in philosophical basis — in the aims and in the epistemic approach.
  • The document further says that it leans towards making students acquainted with true sources of knowledge, which have been a philosophical preoccupation of ancient Indians.
  • These sources focus on six pramanas: pratyaksa, anumana, upamana, arthapatti, anupalabdhi, and sabda.

 

Six Pramanas

1.      Pratyaksha: Interpreted as perception through the five senses

2.      Anumana: Uses inferences to come to new conclusions

3.      Upamana: Knowing through analogy and comparison

4.      Arthapatti: Involves knowing through circumstantial implication

5.      Anupalabdhi: Includes perception of non-existence

6.      Sabda: Something an individual can only directly know a fraction of all reality through direct experience and inference but must rely on other experts was acknowledged thousands of years ago

 

(2) Moral Development

  • A part of the document focuses on the moral development of a child through panchakosha vikas or five-fold development.
  • The pre-draft recommends developing moral values for the child through a balanced diet, traditional games, yoga asanas, as well as a wide variety of stories, songs, lullabies, poems, and prayers to develop a love for cultural context.

(3) Curriculum revamp

  • The pre-draft says that for Grade 10 certification, students will have to take two essential courses from humanities, maths and computing, vocational education, physical education, arts education, social science, science, and interdisciplinary areas.
  • In Grade 11 and 12, students will be offered choice-based courses in the same disciplines for more rigorous engagement.
  • Arts education will include music, dance, theatre, sculpture, painting, set design, scriptwriting, while interdisciplinary areas will include knowledge of India, traditions, and practices of Indian knowledge systems.
  • For Class 11 and 12, the document states that “Modular Board Exams will be offered as opposed to a single exam at the end of the year, and the final result will be based on the cumulative result of each exam.”
  • The framework of the social science curriculum emphasizes understanding and appreciating the feeling of Indianess, ‘bhartiyata,’ by valuing the rich cultural heritage and tradition of the country.
  • It also stresses on identifying and explaining important phases of the Indian national movement against British rule, with special reference to Gandhian and other subaltern movements.

(4) Social Science Curriculum

  • The pre-draft emphasizes understanding and appreciating the feeling of Indianess, “bhartiyata,” by valuing the rich cultural heritage and tradition of the country.
  • The pre-draft also stresses on identifying and explaining important phases of the Indian national movement against British rule, with special reference to Gandhian and other subaltern movements.
  • It also recommends teaching concepts of Buddhism, Jainism, and Vedic and Confucian philosophies.

(5) Follow-up processes

  • As a follow-up to the National Education Policy 2020, development of four National Curriculum Frameworks — NCF for School Education, NCF for Early Childhood Care and Education, NCF for Teacher Education, and NCF for Adult Education — have been initiated.
  • The National Steering Committee under the chairmanship of K. Kasturirangan was set up by the Ministry to undertake and develop NCFs.

Controversy over curriculum revamp

  • The latest round of textbook rationalisation has resulted in some of the most sweeping changes in the curriculum since the NDA government came to power.
  • These changes include removing all references to the 2002 Gujarat riots, reducing content related to the Mughal era and the caste system, and dropping chapters on protests and social movements.
  • Many of these changes are seen as ‘political’, however, their earlier introduction into curriculum was also a political move.

The furore over Mughal History

  • While some of the content on the Delhi Sultanate and the Mughal Empire has indeed been removed from the history textbook for Class 7, the Mughals have not entirely disappeared.
  • For instance, the chapter ‘The Mughal Empire’ in the Class 7 history textbook, Our Pasts – II, has undergone deletions — including a two-page table on the milestones and achievements of the reigns of the emperors Babur, Humayun, Akbar, Jahangir, Shah Jahan, and Aurangzeb.
  • However, the chapter itself has not been removed.
  • Students of Class 7 will continue to learn about the Mughals, though in lesser detail.

Significance

  • School textbooks have always been seen as playing a crucial role in shaping national narratives, and as a tool for cultivating a desired national identity.
  • NCERT textbooks are read by more than 5 crore students in 18 states around the country, who are seen by political parties as a large captive audience with impressionable minds.
  • It’s not just school students either — candidates preparing for competitive exams such as the Civil Services Examination, SSC, JEE, and NEET, also rely on these textbooks.

Primary and Secondary Education – RTE, Education Policy, SEQI, RMSA, Committee Reports, etc.

New India Literacy Program (NLIP)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NLIP

Mains level : Adult literacy

literacy

Central idea: 22.7 lakh adults from 10 states and union territories in India became qualified as literate adults in 2022-23 by passing an assessment test conducted under New India Literacy Program (NLIP).

What is New India Literacy Program (NLIP)?

  • The NLIP/ Nav Bharat Saksharta Abhiyan is aimed at providing literacy to non-literates in the age group of 15 years and above.
  • The scheme is implemented for a period of five years from FYs 2022-23 to 2026-27.
  • The scheme has five main components, which are as follows:
  1. Foundational Literacy and Numeracy,
  2. Critical Life Skills,
  3. Vocational Skills Development,
  4. Basic Education, and
  5. Continuing Education

Beneficiaries of the scheme

  • The beneficiaries under the scheme are identified through a door-to-door survey on a mobile app by surveyors in the States/UTs.
  • Non-literates can also avail the benefits of the scheme through direct registration from any place through a mobile app.
  • The scheme is mainly based on volunteerism for teaching and learning.
  • Volunteers can also register through a mobile app for this purpose.

Implementation of the scheme

  • The scheme is based on technology and implemented predominantly through an online mode.
  • The teaching-learning material and resources have been made available on the DIKSHA platform of NCERT and can be accessed through mobile apps.
  • Furthermore, other modes like TV, Radio, Samajik Chetna Kendra, etc. are also to be used for the dissemination of Foundational Literacy and Numeracy.

Conclusion

  • The New India Literacy Programme (NILP) is a crucial step towards making India a literate country.
  • The scheme’s implementation through technology and the use of volunteers for teaching and learning will make it easier for non-literates to access education.

 


Primary and Secondary Education – RTE, Education Policy, SEQI, RMSA, Committee Reports, etc.

Shedding The Colonial Legacy By Promoting Mother Languages

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : National Education Policy, International Mother Language Day

Mains level : Significance of Mother Languages

Colonial

Central idea

  • Former Vice President of India, M Venkaiah Naidu, has emphasized the importance of shedding the colonial legacy in India by promoting and creating content in mother languages. He has pointed out that during the colonial era, the British rulers-imposed English as the language of administration, education, and communication, which led to the neglect of Indian languages.

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Colonial

International Mother Language Day

  • In November 1999, UNESCO declared February 21 as International Mother Language Day in response to the declining state of many languages all over the world.
  • This year’s theme, “Multilingual education a necessity to transform education,” underscores the importance of using multiple languages in framing an impactful system of education.
  • It is appropriate, therefore, that revitalising languages that are disappearing or are threatened with extinction is one of the themes of Mother Language Day this year

The International Mother Language Day has added significance: Indian context

  • India’s Linguistic heritage: India is an ancient repository of hundreds of languages and thousands of dialects with rich linguistic and cultural diversity. Our languages, which are an integral part of our ancient culture, give us a sense of identity.
  • The threat westernisation poses: The International Mother Language Day has added significance in the Indian context because of the threat westernisation poses to the survival of as many as 42 of our dialects and languages which have fewer than 10,000 users.
  • Grim situation of not having access to education in their mother tongue: The situation is equally grim all over the world with 40 per cent of the speakers of 6,700 languages not having access to education in their mother tongue.

Colonial

Highlighting the significance of Mother tongue

  • To express deepest feelings: It is in our mother tongue that we express, with authenticity, our, feelings, values and ideals, as also our literary endeavours.
  • Homeland of our innermost thoughts: The former UNESCO Director-General, Koichiro Matsura, highlighted the irreplaceable significance of one’s mother tongue when he observed that the languages, we learn from our mothers are the homeland of our innermost thoughts.
  • Science must be taught in mother tongue: The Nobel Prize-winning Physicist C V Raman said, “We must teach science in our mother tongue. Otherwise, science will become a highbrow activity. It will not be an activity in which all people can participate.”
  • Better performance: A number of studies have shown that children who learn in their mother tongue in their formative years perform better than those taught in an alien language.
  • View of Gandhiji: Writing in Young India in 1921, Mahatma Gandhi spoke with concern, of the strain of the foreign medium which turned “our children into crammers and imitators.” Gandhiji foresaw how “the foreign medium has made our children practically foreigners in their own land.

Colonial legacy

  • It been 75 years, still carrying the colonial legacy: Even as we celebrate Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav, to mark 75 years of Independence, we have not been able to shed this colonial legacy of dependence on English.
  • Mother tongue as a second language: Educators and parents continue to accord unquestioned primacy to English and, as a result, the child is compelled to study his or her mother tongue as a second/third language at school.
  • Building barriers in the path of our progress: Our emphasis on English has, ironically, made the educational system exclusive and restrictive. As a result, while limiting the acquisition of knowledge in technical and professional courses, to a select few, we made it inaccessible to a vast majority of our students.

Colonial

Shedding the colonial legacy

  • The National Education Policy (NEP): The NEP 2020 is a farsighted document which advocates education in one’s mother tongue right from the primary-school level.
  • BTech programmes in 11 native languages: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his address in 2021, marking the first anniversary of the National Education Policy (NEP), hailed the AICTE’s landmark decision to permit BTech programmes in 11 native languages.
  • Promotion of mother tongue education in colleges and universities: The UGC has, in a welcome move, written to governors and chief ministers of various states to give a fillip to measures for the promotion of mother tongue education in colleges and universities.
  • For instance: In a survey conducted by AICTE in February last year of over 83,000 students, nearly 44 per cent voted in favour of studying engineering in their mother tongue, highlighting its necessity.
  • Initiative to give prominence to native language: The Centre’s initiative to give prominence to native languages in employment and job creation is a welcome step.
  • Examinations in native languages: It is also heartening that the Staff Selection Commission has decided to conduct examinations in 13 Indian languages in addition to Hindi and English.
  • Supreme court verdicts accessible in all Indian languages: Similarly, the Supreme Court’s decision to make verdicts accessible in all Indian languages is of great significance.

Colonial

Conclusion

  • NEP’s emphasis on mother tongue as the medium of instruction will instil confidence in students belonging to poor, rural and tribal backgrounds. These steps need to be scaled up at all levels. Moreover, we must hasten the process of content creation in mother languages, especially with respect to technical and professional courses. Leveraging technology will drive development in this respect.

Mains Question

Q. India has rich linguistic diversity. In this backdrop discuss the importance of mother language specifically in education policy.

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Primary and Secondary Education – RTE, Education Policy, SEQI, RMSA, Committee Reports, etc.

Highlights of ASER 2022

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : ASER 2022

Mains level : Status of schooling in India

aser

Pratham’s Annual Survey of Education Report (ASER) 2022 — the first full-fledged one after the pandemic has now been published.

ASER Survey

  • This is an annual survey (published by the education non-profit Pratham) that aims to provide reliable estimates of children’s enrolment and basic learning levels for each district and state in India.
  • ASER has been conducted every year since 2005 in all rural districts of India. It is the largest citizen-led survey in India.
  • It is also the only annual source of information on children’s learning outcomes available in India.
  • The survey is usually done once in two years.

How is the survey conducted?

  • ASER tools and procedures are designed by ASER Centre, the research and assessment arm of Pratham.
  • The survey itself is coordinated by ASER Centre and facilitated by the Pratham network. It is conducted by close to 30,000 volunteers from partner organizations in each district.
  • All kinds of institutions partner with ASER: colleges, universities, NGOs, youth groups, women’s organizations, self-help groups, and others.
  • The ASER model has been adapted for use in several countries around the world: Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Pakistan, Mali, and Senegal.

Assessment parameters

  • Unlike most other large-scale learning assessments, ASER is a household-based rather than school-based survey.
  • This design enables all children to be included – those who have never been to school or have dropped out, as well as those who are in government schools, private schools, religious schools or anywhere else.
  • In each rural district, 30 villages are sampled. In each village, 20 randomly selected households are surveyed.
  • Information on schooling status is collected for all children living in sampled households who are in the age group 3-16.
  • Children in the age group 5-16 are tested in basic reading and basic arithmetic. The same test is administered to all children.
  • The highest level of reading tested corresponds to what is expected in std 2; in 2012 this test was administered in 16 regional languages.
  • In recent years, this has included household size, parental education, and some information on household assets.

Highlights of ASER 2022

The ASER 2022 report, which surveyed 6.99 lakh children aged 3 to 16 across 616 rural districts, however, bears some good news. School-level enrolment continues to grow strong and fewer girls are now out of school.

(1) Enrolment

  • India has recorded a 95% enrolment for the last 15 years in the 6-14 age group.
  • Despite the pandemic forced school closure, the figure rose from 97.2% in 2018 to 98.4% in 2022.
  • Only 1.6% children are now not enrolled.
  • There is a clear increase in government school (6-14) enrolment across states — it rose from 65.6% in 2018 to 72.9% in 2022.
  • This is contrast to the trend in the 2006-14 period, which marked a steady decline in government school enrolment for the 6-14 age group.
  • From 10.3% of 11-14 year old girls not enrolled in schools in 2006, the proportion came down to 4.1% in 2018 and is at 2% in 2022. Save Uttar Pradesh, where it is at 4%, the number is lower across states.

(2) Learning Loss

  • The ASER 2022 report says that children’s basic reading ability has dropped to ‘pre2012 levels, reversing the slow improvement achieved in the intervening years’.
  • The decline is seen across gender and across both government and private schools and is more acute in lower grades.
  • Percentage of children in Class III in govt or private schools who can read at Class II level dropped from 27.3% in 2018 to 20.5% in 2022.
  • Class V students who can at least read a Class II level text fell from 50.5% in 2018 to 42.8% in 2022.
  • Nationally, 69.6% of Class VIII students can read at least basic text in 2022, falling from 73% in 2018.

(3) Arithmetic abilities

  • Students in Class III who are able to at least do subtraction dropped from 28.2% in 2018 to 25.9% in 2022.
  • For Class V, students who can do division has also fallen from 27.9% in 2018 to 25.6% in 2022.
  • Class VIII has done better with an improvement recorded — proportion of children who can do division has increased from 44.1% in 2018 to 44.7% in 2022.
  • ASER says that this increase is driven by improved outcomes among girls as well as among children enrolled in government schools, whereas boys and children enrolled in private schools show a decline over 2018 levels.

(4) Tuition dependency

  • Rural India has been reporting an uptick in Class I-VIII paid tuition classes and it has moved up from 26.4% in 2018 to 30.5% in 2022.
  • In UP, Bihar, and Jharkhand, the proportion of children taking paid private tuition increased by 8 percentage points.

(5) English proficiency

  • ASER recorded English abilities last in 2016 and the trend stays similar till date.
  • Children’s ability to read simple English sentences was at 24.7% in 2016 and is found at 24.5% in 2022.
  • Class VIII has shown some improvement from 45.3% in 2016 to 46.7% in 2022.
  • Children’s basic reading ability has dropped to pre-2012 levels, reversing the slow improvement achieved in the intervening years, while the basic maths skills have declined to 2018 levels nationally.

(6) Schools improvement

  • Average teacher attendance increased from 85.4% in 2018 to 87.1% in 2022, while average student attendance persists at 72% as before.
  • Textbooks had been distributed to all grades in 90.1% of primary schools and in 84.4% of upper primary schools.
  • Fraction of schools with useable girls’ toilets increased from 66.4% in 2018 to 68.4% in 2022.
  • There were 76% schools with drinking water facilities compared with 74.85% in 2018, but there are interstate variations.
  • In 2022, 68.9% schools had a playground, up slightly from 66.5% in 2018.

Way forward

  • In the past 10 years, we’ve seen improvement, but it has been in small bits. So it means that we really need to shake up things.
  • It is a critical thing for improving the productivity of the country. Business as usual is not going to work.
  • Again, it’s not a new message, but it’s a message that needs to be reiterated.
  • There are Anganwadi everywhere and their enrollment has gone up. Integration between the Anganwadi system and the school system is urgently needed because the work starts there.

 

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Population criteria for new Eklavya schools ‘impractical’: Parliamentary Panel

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Eklavya Model School

Mains level : Not Much

A Parliamentary panel has refuted that 20,000 ST people, who make up at least 50% of the total population criteria is “impractical” to build new Eklavya Model Residential Schools (EMRS).

What are Eklavya Schools?

  • EMRS started in the year 1997-98 to impart quality education to Scheduled Tribes (ST) children in remote areas in order.
  • It aims to enable them to avail of opportunities in high and professional educational courses and get employment in various sectors.
  • The schools focus not only on academic education but on the all-round development of the students.
  • Each school has a capacity of 480 students, catering to students from Class VI to XII.
  • Hitherto, grants were given for construction of schools and recurring expenses to the State Governments under Grants under Article 275 (1) of the Constitution.
  • Eklavya schools are on par with Navodaya Vidyalaya and have special facilities for preserving local art and culture besides providing training in sports and skill development.

Features of Eklavya Schools

  • Admission to these schools will be through selection/competition with suitable provision for preference to children belonging to Primitive Tribal Groups, first-generation students, etc.
  • Sufficient land would be given by the State Government for the school, playgrounds, hostels, residential quarters, etc., free of cost.
  • The number of seats for boys and girls will be equal.
  • In these schools, education will be entirely free.

What is the population-based criteria?

  • The Tribal Affairs Ministry plans to build EMRS on 15 acres of land in all sub-districts which have ST communities of more than 20,000 people, who make up at least 50% of their total population.
  • Wherever density of ST population is higher in identified Sub-Districts (90% or more), it is proposed to set up Eklavya Model Day Boarding School (EMDBS) on an experimental basis.

Issues with this criteria

  • There are difficulties in identifying and acquiring lands in several tribal districts.
  • Especially in forested or hilly areas, a contiguous 15-acre plot is hard to find.
  • This criterion would also deprive scattered ST populations of the benefit of the Eklavya schools.
  • For most of the places for EMRSs, there is no land available inside the village or the block.

 

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What is Mother Tongue Survey of India (MTSI)?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : MTSI

Mains level : Mother tounges as a medium of education

mother

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has completed the Mother Tongue Survey of India (MTSI) with field videography of the country’s 576 languages.

What is the MTSI?

  • The Mother Tongue Survey of India is a project that surveys the mother tongues, which are returned consistently across two and more Census decades.
  • It also documents the linguistic features of the selected languages.
  • The category “mother tongue” is a designation provided by the respondent, but it need not be identical with the actual linguistic medium.
  • The NIC and the National Film Development Corporation (NFDC) will be documenting and preserving the linguistic data of the surveyed mother tongues in audio-video files.
  • Video-graphed speech data of Mother Tongues will also be uploaded on the NIC survey for archiving purposes.

How many “mother tongues” does India have?

  • As per an analysis of 2011 linguistic census data in 2018, more than 19,500 dialects are spoken in India as mother tongues.
  • They are grouped into 121 mother tongues.
  • According to the 2011 linguistic census, Hindi is the most widely spoken mother tongue, with 52.8 crore people or 43.6 per cent of the population declaring it as the mother tongue.
  • The next highest is Bengali, mother tongue for 9.7 crore individuals, and accounting for 8 per cent of the population.

Where does the mother tongue feature in the education of children?

  • The new National Curriculum Framework (NCF) has recommended that mother tongue should be the primary medium of instruction in schools for children up to eight years of age.
  • The new NCF, which deals with pre-school and classes I-II, emphasises the virtues of the mother tongue as the primary medium of instruction.
  • It says that by the time children join pre-school, they acquire significant competence in the “home language”.
  • This push has come after repeated policy articulations in its favour from PM and Home Minister.

Why emphasize more on mother tongue?

  • According to the NCF, evidence from research confirms the importance of teaching children in their mother tongue during the foundational years and beyond.
  • Children learn concepts most rapidly and deeply in their home language.
  • Hence the primary medium of instruction is optimally the child’s home language/ mother tongue/ familiar language in the Foundational Stage.

What is the status of the population census?

  • The forthcoming decennial population census will be the 16th since the first exercise was conducted in 1872.
  • It will be the eighth census since independence.
  • The census was supposed to take place in 2021, but was postponed due to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Updates in the new census

  • To ensure efficient processing and quick release of data, the Home Ministry has adopted some new initiatives, which include digital data processing and the use of geospatial technology.
  • According to the report, pre-census mapping activities like preparation and updation of maps that show administrative units will be carried out.
  • Census results will be disseminated via web-based interactive maps.

 

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Teachers with a passion for the profession are foundational to the positive educational change

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : TET

Mains level : quality education

teacherContext

  • Success of new education policy depends on how we recruit and assesss teachers.

What is the issue?

  • Recruitment of well-qualified teachers into the schooling system is the first prerequisite to ensure that students receive quality education.
  • However, teacher recruitment processes in the country are not adequately streamlined. There are diverse recruitment processes across regions, school stages, and school types central, state, and private schools.
  • This, in turn, leads to multiple criteria and processes for hiring teachers, thereby bringing a wide disparity in teacher quality across institutions and regions.
  • Many of the processes are also sub-optimal in measuring the competency of a candidate.

Teacher hiring mechanism in place

  • One of the most common and widely-taken tests to ensure eligibility for recruitment is the Teacher Eligibility Test (TET), conducted at both the state (STET) and central levels (CTET).
  • TET is the equivalent of the licensure tests that are undertaken by teacher candidates in various countries.
  • However, in India, the test is required only for government school teacher recruitment at the elementary stage (Class 1-8).

teacherIssues in hiring mechanism

  • TET has been critiqued time and again for various reasons. These include low pass percentages, poor test quality, lengthy test papers and a serious lack of alignment with teacher preparation programmes.
  • The test was in the news recently because of the teachers’ recruitment scam in West Bengal.

teacherWhat we need?

  • A coherent strategy: to tie together the various tests and processes such as TET, teacher recruitment tests, classroom demonstrations and teacher interviews. This will enable a holistic assessment of teacher competence.
  • Understanding what is competence: Framing a common understanding of what qualifies as teacher competence. Simply speaking, teacher competence can be understood as the core knowledge, skills, and dispositions expected of a teacher to effectively contribute to the teaching-learning process.
  • Multiple methods of assessment: To evaluate several other skills and dispositions, one requires multiple methods of assessment including classroom demonstrations and teacher interviews. These assessments could help gauge skills like effective dissemination of a concept and selection of appropriate resources and learning materials.
  • Teacher’s aptitude: Most importantly, such processes should help evaluate a teacher’s empathy towards students. Respecting learner diversity and skills in building a participative/democratic classroom culture are crucial requisites of a teacher. The recruitment process should assess the teacher’s aptitude in this respect.
  • A comprehensive competency framework: That details the skills a teacher should have. This could be derived from a teacher education curriculum rooted in policy perspectives of the day. For instance, in the case of the NEP, the curriculum could be geared towards imparting training in classroom practices that make learning joyful.

Long-term benefits to adopting such a holistic model of teacher recruitment

  • Better parity: It will ensure better parity in the quality of teachers recruited across the country.
  • Equitable education: Will contribute to equitable education for students from diverse sections of society.
  • Credibility is ensured: The recruitment process will also become credible if it is rooted in a framework that outlines the core competencies of becoming a teacher.
  • Reduction in coaching centres: At the systemic level, this may also lead to a reduction in coaching centres as the assessment processes will be non-standardised and cannot be easily gleaned from coaching materials and guidebooks.

Conclusion

  • Teachers with a passion for the profession are foundational to the positive educational change envisaged by the NEP. Setting up clear benchmarks of quality and well-designed recruitment processes hold the key to ensuring better teaching-learning outcomes.

Mains question

Q. What do you think on teacher’s quality today? Explain how dynamic teacher recruitment process will enhance teacher’s quality.

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Eklavya Schools get short shrift in teacher recruitments

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : EMRS

Mains level : Schooling for Tribal students

The Ministry of Tribal Affairs has so far been unable to fix the teacher shortage faced across 378 of Eklavya model residential schools (EMRS) that are currently functional.

Eklavya Model Residential Schools (EMRS)

  • EMRS started in the year 1997-98 to impart quality education to Scheduled Tribes (ST) children in remote areas in order.
  • It aims to enable them to avail of opportunities in high and professional educational courses and get employment in various sectors.
  • The schools focus not only on academic education but on the all-round development of the students.
  • Each school has a capacity of 480 students, catering to students from Class VI to XII.
  • Hitherto, grants were given for construction of schools and recurring expenses to the State Governments under Grants under Article 275 (1) of the Constitution.
  • Eklavya schools are on par with Navodaya Vidyalaya and have special facilities for preserving local art and culture besides providing training in sports and skill development.

Features of Eklavya Schools

  • Admission to these schools will be through selection/competition with suitable provision for preference to children belonging to Primitive Tribal Groups, first-generation students, etc.
  • Sufficient land would be given by the State Government for the school, playgrounds, hostels, residential quarters, etc., free of cost.
  • The number of seats for boys and girls will be equal.
  • In these schools, education will be entirely free.

Where are the Eklavya schools located?

  • It has been decided that by the year 2022, every block with more than 50% ST population and at least 20,000 tribal persons, will have an EMRS.
  • Wherever density of ST population is higher in identified Sub-Districts (90% or more), it is proposed to set up Eklavya Model Day Boarding School (EMDBS) on an experimental basis.
  • They aim for providing additional scope for ST Students seeking to avail school education without residential facility.

 

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Tamil Nadu’s new Breakfast Scheme in Schools

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Meal schemes for students

Mains level : Not Much

breakfast

Tamil Nadu CM has launched the Chief Minister’s Breakfast Scheme for students of Class I to V in government schools.

CM’s Breakfast Scheme

  • The scheme covers around 1.14 lakh students in 1,545 schools which include 417 municipal corporation schools, 163 municipality schools and 728 taluk and village panchayat-level schools.
  • The inauguration of the scheme marks an important milestone in the State’s history of providing free meals to school students.

How has the idea evolved?

(a) Pre-independence

  • In November 1920, the Madras Corporation Council approved a proposal for providing tiffin to the students of a Corporation School at Thousand Lights at a cost not exceeding one anna per student per day.
  • Theagaraya Chetty, the then President of the Corporation and one of the stalwarts of the Justice Party, said the boys studying at the school were poor, which affected the strength of the institution ‘greatly’.
  • The scheme, which was extended to four more schools and facilitated higher enrollment of students.

(b) Post-independence

  • The concept saw a Statewide application in 1956 when the then CM K. Kamaraj decided to provide free noon meal to poor children in all primary schools across the State.
  • The Budget for 1956-57 contained a provision for supplying mid-day meals to schoolchildren for 200 days a year, initially covering 65,000 students in 1,300 feeding centres.
  • In July 1982, it was left to the then CM MG Ramachandran to extend the programme to children in the 2-5 age group in Anganwadis and those in 5-9 age group in primary schools in rural areas.
  • Subsequently, the scheme now called Puratchi Thalaivar MGR Nutritious Meal Programme — was extended to urban areas as well.
  • Since September 1984, students of standards VI to X have been covered under the scheme.

Beneficiaries of the programme

  • As of now, there are nearly 7 lakh beneficiaries spread over 43,190 nutritious meal centres.
  • This includes around 3,500 students of National Child Labour Project (NCLP) special schools.
  • Besides, as a consequence of the collaborative implementation of the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) and the nutritious meal programme, around 15.8 lakh children in the age group of 2+ to 5+ years receive nutritious meals.

Impact on school education

  • Rise in enrolment: After the improved version of the mid-day meal scheme in 1982, the Gross Enrollment Ratio (GER) at primary level (standards I to V) went up by 10% during July-September, 1982 as compared to the corresponding period in 1981.
  • Girls’ enrolment: The rise in boys’ enrollment was 12% and in the case of girls, 7%, according to a publication brought out by the Tamil Nadu government on the occasion of the launch of the Scheme.
  • Increase in attendance: Likewise, attendance during July-September 1982 rose by 33% over the previous year’s figure.

Focus areas programme

  • Anaemia is a major health problem in Tamil Nadu, especially among women and children, says the 2019-21 National Family Health Survey (NFHS)-5’s report.
  • From 50% during the period of the 2015-16 NFHS-4, the prevalence of anaemia in children now went up to 57%.
  • This and many other health issues can be addressed through the combined efforts of the departments of School Education, Public Health and Social Welfare and Women Empowerment.
  • Besides, a continuous and rigorous review of the progress of the scheme and nutritious meal programme should be carried out in a sustained manner.

 

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Mother Tongue as a medium of instruction

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : anglicist orientalist controversy

Mains level : qulaity education outcomes

languageContext

  • English should be taught effectively not as the medium, but as a second language

What is the debate?

  • Over the years, there has been a raging debate over the need for children to have their mother tongue as the medium of instruction in schools.
  • While educationists have emphasised the importance of learning in the mother tongue to enhance a child’s learning and overcome glaring inequities, there has been an equally steady demand for English-medium schools in several States.

languageHistoric context to this debate

  • Orientalist: Orientalists were the group of people who wanted to give education to Indian people in the Indian language. The emphasis was on the knowledge of the East. They wanted Indians to learn about Indian philosophy, science, and literature. In the Initial stage, company officials favoured oriental learning.
  • Anglicist: Anglicists were those people who supported the teaching of modern western education to Indian people in the English language. People who favoured Anglicists were Thomas Babington, Macaulay, James’s mill, Charles wood, Charles Trevelyan, and Elphinstone. The Anglicists were supported by the most advanced Indians like Raja Ram Mohan Roy.

languageWhy mother tongue is important?

  • Suitability to child: There is an almost-complete consensus among educationists, linguistic experts and psychologists that the mother tongue, or the language of the region where the child lives, is the only appropriate language of learning for the child.
  • Incomprehension: A child can be taught any number of languages, particularly later in life, but the medium of learning should be the mother tongue. As a number of classrooms today are stalked by the curse of incomprehension.
  • Pressure of English language: There are a growing number of schools, mostly private, that teach in English. Government schools too in States like Tamil Nadu, unable to bear the pressure from parents and to stop students from migrating to private schools, are switching to English medium.
  • Development in every way: The mother tongue, home language or the first language educationally means the language which the child is using to connect to the world, to people, to nature, to the environment, and to make sense of everything that’s going on. This is the language which helps the child to build, grow and develop in every way.
  • Inability to learn: English medium education is a profound tragedy in Indian education today. Millions are languishing because of their inability to learn in English not English as a language but as a medium through which they acquire any knowledge of any subject.

Why English Should Be the Medium of Instruction in Schools, Colleges?

  • Connectivity with The Rest of the World: To communicate and be on par with the world, the first language that stands common is English. With English, a student can remain on par with what is happening across the globe. Lack of English knowledge or alone mother tongue does not allow children to progress with the rest of the world.
  • Technologies Can Be Used Only With English Instruction: Most of the modern technologies are invented, reinvented and modernized in foreign shores. The inventors keep the English language for the instruction manual of the technological gadget so that the gadget can be used worldwide.
  • Higher Education Emphasizes on The English language: The main focus of teaching medium in higher secondary as well as in graduation and post-graduation colleges in India. There is no doubt that lecturers also teach in Hindi or other regional languages. However, question design comes in both English and regional language. But most of the classes are taught in English.

How multilingual approach helps

  • Firstly, multilingualism gives equal status to all languages and there’s enough work, history and research on this.
  • Second, children come from different backgrounds, and in some cases, they are first-generation learners with not much support at home.
  • The multilingual approach thus, is much more flexible, closer to the child, and inclusive. It is democratic, and it accepts that the teacher is not coming from a place of authority and is only correcting spellings and pronunciations.

Conclusion

  • This myth must be broken that our education system is class and caste neutral. A powerful political movement will have to take place to make the language of learning a choice that is made democratically.

Mains question

Q. Should the mother tongue or English be the medium of instruction? Critically explain.

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What is the PM SHRI Scheme?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : PM Shri Schools

Mains level : Read the attached story

Prime Minister has announced that under the PM SHRI Scheme, as many as 14,500 schools will be “upgraded” across India to showcase the components of the National Education Policy, 2020.

What is the PM SHRI scheme?

  • According to the Ministry of Education, the centrally sponsored scheme will be called PM SHRI Schools (PM Schools for Rising India).
  • Under it, as many as 14,500 schools across states and Union Territories will be redeveloped to reflect the key features of the NEP, 2020.
  • The plan was first discussed with the education ministers of states and UTs during a conference organised by the Ministry of Education in June at Gandhinagar in Gujarat.
  • While there are exemplary schools like Navodaya Vidyalayas, Kendriya Vidyalayas, the PM SHRI will act as “NEP labs”.

What are the key features of NEP in school education?

  • The NEP envisages a curricular structure and teaching style divided into various stages – foundational, preparatory, middle and secondary.
  • The foundational years (pre-school and grades I, II) will involve play-based learning.
  • At the preparatory level (III-V), light textbooks are to be introduced along with some formal classroom teaching. Subject teachers are to be introduced at the middle level (VI-VIII).
  • The secondary stage (IX-XII) will be multidisciplinary in nature with no hard separation between arts and sciences or other disciplines.

What is a centrally sponsored scheme?

  • A centrally sponsored scheme is one where the cost of implementation is likely to split in the 60:40 ratio among the Union government and the states/Union Territories.
  • For instance, the mid-day meal scheme (PM Poshan) or the PM Awas Yojana are examples of centrally sponsored schemes.
  • In the case of the Northeastern states, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Jammu and Kashmir and UTs without legislatures, the Centre’s contribution can go up to 90 per cent.

How will PM SHRI schools be different from Kendriya Vidyalayas or Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas?

  • Kendriya Vidyalayas or Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas come entirely under the Centre’s Ministry of Education. They are fully funded by the Union government under Central Sector Schemes.
  • While KVs largely cater to children of Union government employees posted in states and UTs, JNVs were set up to nurture talented students in rural parts of the country.
  • In contrast, PM SHRI schools will be an upgrade of existing schools run by the Centre, states, UTs and local bodies.
  • This essentially means that PM SHRI schools can either be KVs, JNVs, state government schools or even those run by municipal corporations.

Where will the PM SHRI schools come up?

  • The Centre has not yet released the list of schools that have been chosen for this purpose.
  • It has however announced that the PM SHRI schools will also “offer mentorship” to other schools in their vicinity.
  • These schools will be equipped with modern infrastructure including labs, smart classrooms, libraries, sports equipment, art room etc.
  • It shall also be developed as green schools with water conservation, waste recycling, energy-efficient infrastructure and integration of organic lifestyle in curriculum.

 

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PARAKH: A new regulator for ‘uniformity’ in all board exams

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : PARAKH

Mains level : Harmonization of school education in India

The Centre is planning to draw up a benchmark framework ‘PARAKH’ to assess students at the secondary and higher secondary level to bring about “uniformity” across state and central boards.

What is PARAKH?

  • PARAKH stands for Performance Assessment, Review and Analysis of Knowledge for Holistic Development.
  • The proposed regulator will act as a constituent unit of the NCERT.
  • It will also be tasked with holding periodic learning outcome tests like the National Achievement Survey (NAS) and State Achievement Surveys.
  • The benchmark assessment framework will seek to put an end to the emphasis on rote learning, as envisaged by the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020.
  • PARAKH, the proposed implementing agency, is also part of the NEP proposal.

Response form States

  • Most states endorsed the proposal to hold board exams twice a year, including one for helping students improve their scores.
  • States are also on board regarding a proposal to offer two types of papers on mathematics — a standard exam, and another to test higher level competency.
  • It will help reduce the fear of maths among students and encourage learning.

Significance of PARAKH

  • PARAKH will help tackle the problem of students of some state boards being at a disadvantage during college admissions as compared to their peers in CBSE schools.
  • It will develop and implement “technical standards for the design, conduct, analysis and reporting” of tests at all levels of school education.
  • PARAKH will eventually become the national single-window source for all assessment related information and expertise, with a mandate to support learning assessment in all forms, both nationally and where applicable, internationally.

 

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Anganwadi scheme

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : ICDS

Mains level : Paper 2- Early childhood care and education

Context

  • The economic fallout of COVID-19 makes the necessity of quality public welfare services more pressing than ever.
  • The Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) programme is one such scheme.

What is ICDS?

  • ICDS caters to the nutrition, health and pre-education needs of children till six years of age as well as the health and nutrition of women and adolescent girls.

What is anganwadi scheme?

  • The scheme was started in 1975 and aims at the holistic development of children and empowerment of mother.
  • It is a Centrally-Sponsored scheme. The scheme primarily runs through the Anganwadi centre. The scheme is under the Ministry of Women and Child Development.

Need for focus on early childhood care and education (ECCE)

  • Low enrolment: The National Family Health Survey-5 (NFHS-5) finds only 13.6 per cent of children enrolled in pre-primary schools.
  • Weakest link: With its overriding focus on health and nutrition, ECCE has hitherto been the weakest link of the anganwadi system.
  • Low awareness: Unfortunately, due to a lack of parental awareness compounded by the daily stresses of poverty, disadvantaged households are unable to provide an early learning environment.

Data to remember

According to government data, the country has 13.77 lakh Anganwadi centres (AWCs).

A meaningful ECCE programme in anganwadis

  • Activity-based framework which reflect local context: To design and put in place a meaningful activity-based ECCE framework that recognises the ground realities with autonomy to reflect the local context and setting.
  • Remove non-ICDS work: Routine tasks of anganwadi workers can be reduced and non-ICDS work, such as surveys, removed altogether.
  • Extend Anganwadi time: Anganwadi hours can be extended by at least three hours by providing staff with an increase in their present remuneration, with the additional time devoted for ECCE.
  • Change in policy mindset: ICDS needs a change in policy mindset, both at central and state levels, by prioritising and monitoring ECCE.
  • Engagement with parents: Anganwadi workers must be re-oriented to closely engage with parents, as they play a crucial role in the cognitive development of young children.

 

Case study / value addition

In Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, anganwadi centres have been geotagged to improve service delivery.

Gujarat has digitised the supply chain of take-home rations and real-time data is being used to minimise stockouts at the anganwadi centres.

Way forward

  • Government must act on the three imperatives. First, while infrastructure development and capacity building of the anganwadi remains the key to improving the programme, the standards of all its services need to be upscaled.
  • Second, states have much to learn from each other’s experiences.
  • Third, anganwadi centres must cater to the needs of the community and the programme’s workers.

Conclusion

  • Nearly 1.4 million anganwadis of the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) across India must provide ECCE for the millions of young children in low-income households.

Mains question

Q. Some educationists have suggested that owing to the high workload of anganwadi workers, ECCE in anganwadis would remain a non-starter. Critically examine this statement and give dynamic suggestions to improve EECE in anganwadis.

 

 

 

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Corporal Punishment

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : RTE

Mains level : RTE, Corporal Punishment

Three private school teachers in Pune have been booked under the Juvenile Justice Act over allegedly thrashing three Class 10 students, and threatening to grade them poorly in internal assessments

What is Corporal Punishment?

  • By definition, corporal punishment means punishment that is physical in nature.
  • There is NO statutory definition of ‘corporal punishment’ targeting children in the Indian law.
  • The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009 prohibits ‘physical punishment’ and ‘mental harassment’ under Section 17(1) and makes it a punishable offence under Section 17(2).

Identifying corporal punishments

  • According to the Guidelines for Eliminating Corporal Punishment in Schools issued by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), physical punishment is understood as any action that causes pain, hurt/injury and discomfort to a child, however light.
  • Examples include hitting, kicking, scratching, pinching, biting, pulling the hair, boxing ears, smacking, slapping, spanking, hitting with any implement (cane, stick, shoe, chalk, dusters, belt, whip), giving electric shock and so on.
  • It includes making children assume an uncomfortable position (standing on bench, standing against the wall in a chair-like position, standing with school bag on head, holding ears through legs, kneeling, forced ingestion of anything, detention in the classroom, library, toilet or any closed space in the school.

What else is included?

  • Mental harassment is understood as any non-physical treatment that is detrimental to the academic and psychological well-being of a child.
  • This includes sarcasm, calling names and scolding using humiliating adjectives, intimidation, using derogatory remarks for the child, ridiculing or belittling a child, shaming the child and more.

Safeguards against corporal punishment

  • Section 17 of the Right to Education Act, 2009, imposes an absolute bar on corporal punishment.
  • Section 75 of the Juvenile Justice Act prescribes punishment for cruelty to children.
  • Violation would invite punishment of rigorous imprisonment upto five years and fine up to Rs 5 lakh.
  • If the child is physically incapacitated or develops a mental illness or is rendered mentally unfit to perform regular tasks or has risk to life or limb, then imprisonment may extend upto ten years.

Exceptions

  • The RTE Act does not preclude the application of other legislation that relates to the violations of the rights of the child.
  • For example, booking the offenses under the IPC and the SC and ST Prevention of Atrocities Act of 1989.
  • In theory, corporal punishment is covered by all the provisions under Indian law that punish perpetrators of physical harm.

What do NCPCR guidelines say about eliminating corporal punishment?

The NCPCR guidelines for eliminating corporal punishment against children require every school to develop a mechanism and frame clear-cut protocols to address the grievances of students.

  • Drop boxes are to be placed where the aggrieved person may drop his complaint and anonymity is to be maintained to protect privacy.
  • Every school has to constitute a ‘Corporal Punishment Monitoring Cell’ consisting of two teachers, two parents, one doctor, and one lawyer (nominated by DLSA).

Who is entrusted with the responsibility to ensure children are protected?

  • There are relevant authorities earmarked to ensure the protection of children in schools.
  • Under Section 31 of the RTE Act, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) and the State Commissions for Protection of Child Rights (SCPCRs) have been entrusted with the task of monitoring children’s right to education.
  • The state governments under their RTE rules have also notified block/district level grievance redressal agencies under the RTE Act.

 

UPSC 2022 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Primary and Secondary Education – RTE, Education Policy, SEQI, RMSA, Committee Reports, etc.

Performance Grading Index for Districts (PGI-D)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : PGI-D

Mains level : Not Much

The Ministry of Education has released the Performance Grading Index for Districts (PGI-D) for 2019 which studied 83 indicators grouped in six categories.

What is PGI-D?

  • The 83-indicator-based PGI for District (PGI-D) has been designed to grade the performance of all districts in school education.
  • The data is filled by districts through an online portal.
  • The indicator-wise PGI score shows the areas where a district needs to improve.
  • The PGI-D structure comprises a total weightage of 600 points across 83 indicators.
  • They are grouped under 6 categories, viz., Outcomes, Effective Classroom Transaction, Infrastructure Facilities & Students’ Entitlements, School Safety & Child Protection, Digital Learning, and Governance Process.
  • These categories are outcomes, effective classroom transaction, infrastructure facilities and student’s entitlements, school safety and child protection, digital learning and governance process.

How does the grading scale works?

  • The PGI-D grades the districts into 10 grades with the highest achievable grade being ‘Daksh’, which is for districts scoring more than 90% of the total points in that category or overall.
  • ‘Utkarsh’ category is for districts with score between 81-90%, followed by ‘Ati-Uttam’ (71-80%), ‘Uttam’ (61-70%), ‘Prachesta-I’ (51-60%), ‘Prachesta-II’ (41-50%) and ‘Pracheshta III’ (31-40%).
  • The lowest grade in PGI-D is called ‘Akanshi-3’ which is for scores up to 10% of the total points.

Performance of the states

  • Rajasthan’s Sikar is the top performer, followed by Jhunjhunu and Jaipur.
  • The other States whose districts have performed best are Punjab with 14 districts in ‘Ati-uttam’ grade (scoring 71-80% on a scale of 100).
  • It followed by Gujarat and Kerala with each having 13 districts in this category.
  • However, there are 12 States and UTs which do not have even a single district in the ‘Ati-uttam’ and ‘Uttam’ categories and these include seven of the eight States from the North East region.

Significance

  • The PGI-D will reflect the relative performance of all the districts on a uniform scale which encourages them to perform better.
  • It is expected to help the state education departments to identify gaps at the district level and improve their performance in a decentralized manner.

 

UPSC 2023 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Primary and Secondary Education – RTE, Education Policy, SEQI, RMSA, Committee Reports, etc.

What are PM Shri Schools?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : PM Shri Schools

Mains level : New Education Policy, 2020

Union Education Ministry is planning to set up “PM Shri Schools”.

PM Shri Schools

  • PM Shri Schools will be the laboratory of National Education Policy (NEP) 2020.
  • They will be fully equipped to prepare students for the future.

Likely features of these schools

  • It could imbibe 5+3+3+4 (to replace the 10+2 schooling system) approach of NEP covering pre-school to secondary, emphasis on ECCE, teacher training & adult education.
  • There will be an integration of skill development with school education and prioritising learning in mother tongue which are steps for preparing global citizens of the 21st century.
  • Since the NEP 2020 also increases the span of the Right to Education Act, it will now cover ages 3 to 18.

Explained: 5+3+3+4 Schooling System

  • As per the new school education system of 5+3+3+4 outlined in NEP 2020, children will spend 5 years in the Foundational stage, 3 years in the Preparatory stage, 3 years in the Middle stage, and 4 years in the Secondary stage.
  • The division of stages has been made in line with the kind of cognitive development stages that a child goes through early childhood, school years, and secondary stage.
  • Here is the age-wise breakdown of the different levels of the new school education system:

(1) 5 years of Foundational stage:

For ages: 3 to 8, For classes: Anganwadi/pre-school, class 1, class 2

  • The foundational stage of education as per the national education policy will comprise 3 years or preschool or anganwadi education followed by two years of primary classes (classes 1 and 2).
  • This stage will focus on teaching in play-based or activity-based methods and on the development of language skills.

(2) 3 years of Preparatory stage:

For ages: 8 to 11, For classes: 3 to 5

  • The focus in the preparatory stage will remain on language development and numeracy skills.
  • Here, the method of teaching and learning would be play and activity-based, and also include classroom interactions and the element of discovery.

(3) 3 years of Middle stage:

For ages: 11 to 14, For classes: 6 to 8

  • As per NEP 2020, this stage of school education will focus on critical learning objectives, which is a big shift from the rote learning methods used in our education system for years.
  • This stage will work on experiential learning in the sciences, mathematics, arts, social sciences and humanities.

(4) 4 years of Secondary stage:

For ages: 14 to 18, For classes: 9 to 12

  • This stage will cover two phases classes 9 and 10, and classes 11 and 12.
  • The main change in these classes is the shift to a multidisciplinary system where students will have access to a variety of subject combinations that they can choose as per their skills and interest areas instead of being strictly divided into Arts, Science and Commerce categories.
  • This stage will again push for greater critical thinking and flexibility in the thought process.

 

 

UPSC 2023 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Primary and Secondary Education – RTE, Education Policy, SEQI, RMSA, Committee Reports, etc.

The post-pandemic world needs better public schools

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : RTE

Mains level : Paper 2- Importance of better public schools

Context

The pandemic has thrown a harsh light on the vulnerabilities and challenges faced by the world in education. There is an immense learning gap due to existing inequalities.

Need for investment in learning systems

  • In India, we have to accept that unless we mobilise learning resources and institutions at the government level, the divides will continue to expand and learners will continue to fall between the cracks.
  • Systems have to be put into place to find a variety of methods to equip all learners — privileged, poor, middle-class and alternatively-abled.
  •  The challenge is about returning to school.
  • In wealthier nations, schools have always been the first to open and last to close and citizens have benefited from the public school system.
  • In India, across states, there is a sense of despair due to unemployment and lack of financial resources, which has snowballed due to the pandemic, resulting in greater inequality.
  • Sending children to school, as opposed to keeping them at home, is a huge financial investment, particularly in the private school system.
  • Parents have refrained from sending their children back to school due to a lack of funds.

Viewing education through government school lens

  • The big shift that we as a nation have to make is viewing education through a government school lens.
  • This will only take place if states provide the opportunity for free, compulsory, neighbourhood education.
  • Radical reforms have to be implemented to restructure government schools and ensure quality.
  • The government, both at the Centre and in the states, should build good-quality primary, middle and high schools and provide facilities that the best private schools have to offer.
  • Online learning is not the way forward: We are subsumed by the myth that technology has expanded potential.
  • The concern is that online learning will create greater inequality, not only in the global South but even in the most well-resourced corners of the planet.
  • Online learning is not the way forward.
  • The UNESCO’s International Commission on the Futures of Education states in its report, “the core commitments that should always be remembered are public education and common good”.
  • It says, “This is not the time to step back and weaken these principles but rather to affirm and reinforce them.”
  • We must take the opportunity to protect and advance public education.
  • We cannot allow the government health system and government education to be opposed to one another. Their synergies must overlap

Conclusion

Public education is crucial to societies, communities and individual lives. It is the only thing that will enable us to live with dignity and purpose.

UPSC 2023 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Primary and Secondary Education – RTE, Education Policy, SEQI, RMSA, Committee Reports, etc.

Mid day Meal Scheme

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Mid-day meal scheme

Mains level : Nutrition impact of covid on children

A parliamentarian has recently asked the government to re-start the mid-day meals in reopening schools and to ensure that the meals provided are cooked and nutritious.

What is the Mid-Day Meal Scheme?

  • The Midday Meal Scheme is a school meal program designed to better the nutritional standing of school-age children nationwide.
  • It was launched in the year 1995.
  • It supplies free lunches on working days for children in primary and upper primary classes in:
  1. Government, government aided, local body schools
  2. Education Guarantee Scheme, and alternate innovative education centres,
  3. Madarsa and Maqtabs supported under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, and
  4. National Child Labour Project schools run by the ministry of labour
  • The Scheme has a legal backing under the National Food Security Act, 2013.

Objective: To enhance the enrolment, retention and attendance and simultaneously improve nutritional levels among school going children studying in Classes I to VIII

History of the scheme

  • In 1925, a Mid Day Meal Programme was introduced for disadvantaged children in Madras Municipal Corporation.
  • By the mid-1980s three States viz. Gujarat, Kerala and Tamil Nadu and the UT of Pondicherry had universalized a same scheme with their own resources for children studying at the primary stage.
  • In 2001, the Supreme Court asked all state governments to begin this programme in their schools within 6 months.

Features: Calorie approach

  • Primary (1-5) and upper primary (6-8) schoolchildren are currently entitled to 100 grams and 150 grams of food grains per working day each.
  • It also include adequate quantities of micronutrients like iron, folic acid, Vitamin-A, etc.
  • The calorific value of a mid-day meal at various stages has been fixed at a minimum:
Calories Intake Primary Upper Primary
Energy 450 calories 700 calories
Protein 12 grams 20 grams

 

Why in news?

  • The flagship report of The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2020 estimated that as of April 2020 369 million children globally were losing out on school meals, a bulk of whom were in India.
  • As many as 116 million children — actually, 116 million hungry children — is the number of children impacted due to indefinite school closure during the pandemic.

Why discuss it now?

  • The recent Global Hunger Index (GHI) report for 2020 ranks India at 94 out of 107 countries and in the category ‘serious’, behind our neighbours Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal.
  • The index is a combination of indicators of undernutrition in the population and wasting (low weight for height), stunting (low height for age), and mortality in children below five years of age.

What measures were resorted to counter this?

  • In March and April 2020 the GoI had announced that the usual hot-cooked mid-day meal or an equivalent food security allowance/dry ration would be provided to all eligible school-going children even during vacation.
  • Nearly three months into this decision, States were still struggling to implement this.

What lies ahead?

  • Across the country and the world, innovative learning methods are being adopted to ensure children’s education outcomes.
  • The GHI report calls for effective delivery of social protection programmes.
  • With continuing uncertainty regarding the reopening of schools, innovation is similarly required to ensure that not just food, but nutrition is delivered regularly to millions of children.
  • For many of them, that one hot-cooked meal was probably the best meal of the day.

 

UPSC 2022 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Primary and Secondary Education – RTE, Education Policy, SEQI, RMSA, Committee Reports, etc.

[pib] New India Literacy Programme for Adult Education

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : New India Literacy Programme

Mains level : Basic literacy and numeracy amongs adults

The Union Government approved a new scheme “New India Literacy Programme (नव भारत साक्षरता कार्यक्रम) for the period FYs 2022-2027 to cover all the aspects of Adult Education to align with National Education Policy 2020.

New India Literacy Programme

  • The scheme will cover non-literates of the age of 15 years and above in all states/UTs in the country.
  • The target for Foundational Literacy and Numeracy for FYs 2022-27 is 5 (five) crore learners @ 1.00 crore per year by using “Online Teaching, Learning and Assessment System (OTLAS)”.
  • A learner may register him/herself with essential information like name, date of birth, gender, Aadhaar number, mobile number, etc.
  • The scheme will be implemented through volunteerism through online mode.
  • The training, orientation, workshops of volunteers, maybe organized through face-to-face mode.
  • All material and resources shall be provided digitally for easy access to registered volunteers.

Objectives of the scheme

The objectives of the scheme are:

  • To impart foundational literacy and numeracy
  • To cover other components which are necessary for a citizen of the 21st century such as critical life skills (including financial literacy, digital literacy, commercial skills, health care and awareness, child care and education, and family welfare)
  • Vocational skills development (with a view towards obtaining local employment)
  • Basic education (including preparatory, middle, and secondary stage equivalency)
  • Continuing education (including engaging holistic adult education courses in arts, sciences, technology, culture, sports, recreation, etc.)

Salient features of the scheme

  • The school will be a Unit for implementation of the scheme
  • Schools to be used for conducting a survey of beneficiaries and Voluntary Teachers (VTs)
  • Foundational Literacy and Numeracy will be imparted through Critical Life Skills to all non-literates in the age group of 15 years and above
  • Performance Grading Index (PGI) for State/UT at the district level
  • CSR/Philanthropic Support may be received by hosting ICT support, providing volunteer support

Need for this scheme

  • As per Census 2011, the absolute number of non-literates of the country in 15 years and above age group is 25.76 crore (Male 9.08 crore, Female 16.68 crore).
  • Even after the Saakshar Bharat program was implemented during 2009-10 to 2017-18, it is estimated that currently around 18.12 crore adults are still non-literate in India.

 

UPSC 2022 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Primary and Secondary Education – RTE, Education Policy, SEQI, RMSA, Committee Reports, etc.

Paray Shikshalaya Initiative

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Paray Shikshalaya

Mains level : Open schools concept

The West Bengal government has launched ‘Paray Shikshalaya’ Initiative.

Paray Shikshalaya

  • It is an open-air classroom in the neighborhood programme – for students from class 1 to 7.
  • The aim of this initiative is to encourage students who dropped out of schools during the Covid-19 pandemic to continue their education.

Why was this initiative launched?

  • In view of the rising demand for physical classes, the state government reopened schools.
  • Classroom teaching could not be called on due to fear of spikes in covid cases.
  • Hence, students are being called in batches.

Where were these classes held?

  • Schools which do not have open-air spaces conducted the classes in neighbourhood parks and grounds.
  • Local councilors and MLAs helped set up infrastructure in such parks like putting up makeshift shades and chairs, besides making mid-day meal arrangements for the students.
  • Schools which have open-air spaces held the classes there.
  • Benches were set up for students and blackboards were placed to provide a real classroom experience.

 

UPSC 2022 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Primary and Secondary Education – RTE, Education Policy, SEQI, RMSA, Committee Reports, etc.

Anganwadis should provide early childhood care and education

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : ICDS

Mains level : Paper 2- Early childhood care and education

Context

The National Education Policy, 2020 has rightly highlighted the importance of early childhood care and education (ECCE), vital for the young child’s early cognitive, social, and emotional development.

Need for focus on early childhood care and education (ECCE)

  • The National Family Health Survey-5 (NFHS-5) finds only 13.6 per cent of children enrolled in pre-primary schools.
  • With its overriding focus on health and nutrition, ECCE has hitherto been the weakest link of the anganwadi system.
  • Multiple administrative duties have left anganwadi workers with little time for ECCE.
  • A child’s early learning begins at birth, initially through stimulation, play, interactions, non-verbal and verbal communication.
  • Unfortunately, due to a lack of parental awareness compounded by the daily stresses of poverty, disadvantaged households are unable to provide an early learning environment.
  • The existing system at best serves the age group of 3-6 years, ignoring infants and toddlers.

Way forward

1] A meaningful ECCE programme in anganwadis

  • A meaningful ECCE programme in anganwadis is not only a more intelligent and cost-effective strategy but is also feasible to implement through seven concerted actions.
  • 1)Activity-based framework which reflect local context: To design and put in place a meaningful activity-based ECCE framework that recognises the ground realities with autonomy to reflect the local context and setting.
  • 2) Remove non-ICDS work: Routine tasks of anganwadi workers can be reduced and non-ICDS work, such as surveys, removed altogether.
  • 3)Extend Anganwadi time: Anganwadi hours can be extended by at least three hours by providing staff with an increase in their present remuneration, with the additional time devoted for ECCE.
  • Karnataka has already taken the lead; its anganwadis work from 9.30 am to 4 pm.
  • This will have the added benefit of serving as partial daycare, enabling poor mothers to earn a livelihood.
  • 4) Change in policy mindset: ICDS needs a change in policy mindset, both at central and state levels, by prioritising and monitoring ECCE.
  • 5) Engagement with parents: Anganwadi workers must be re-oriented to closely engage with parents, as they play a crucial role in the cognitive development of young children.
  • Responsive parenting requires both parents to play an active role in ECCE activities at home; therefore, anganwadi workers should be asked to consciously engage with fathers too.
  • Appropriate messaging and low-cost affordable teaching materials can be designed and made accessible to parents.
  • 6) Activity-based play material: ICDS must supply age-appropriate activity-based play material in adequate quantities regularly, and anganwadi workers encouraged to utilise them in a liberal manner.
  • 7) Invest in research and training: States should invest in research and training to support early childhood education, and ensure that the ECCE programme is not a downward extension of school education.

2] Pre-primary sections in government primary schools

  • Some educationists have suggested that owing to the high workload of anganwadi workers, ECCE in anganwadis would remain a non-starter.
  • Therefore, all government primary schools should open pre-primary sections, with anganwadis limiting themselves to the 0-3 age group.
  • Challenges: It would require a massive outlay to build over a million classrooms with a million nursery teachers and helpers — even a conservative estimate would put the additional annual outlay at over Rs 30,000 crore.
  • Moreover, with child stunting levels at 35 per cent in India, would children enrolled in pre-schools would require supplementary nutrition and health monitoring.
  • This would overburden the nursery teacher.

Conclusion

Nearly 1.4 million anganwadis of the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) across India must provide ECCE for the millions of young children in low-income households.

UPSC 2022 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Primary and Secondary Education – RTE, Education Policy, SEQI, RMSA, Committee Reports, etc.

[pib] What is Nai Talim?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nai Talim

Mains level : Not Much

The Vice President of India has said that the New Education Policy follows the ‘Nai Talim’ of Mahatma Gandhi by giving importance to the mother tongue as the medium of instruction at the school level.

What is Nai Talim?

  • The phrase Nai Talim is a combination of two words- Nai Means ‘New’ and Talim – a Urdu word-means ‘Education’.
  • In 1937, Gandhiji introduced the concept of Nai Talim in India. It aimed to achieve Gram Swaraj (liberation of villages).
  • In short, Gandhiji dreamed to make all villages independent; and self-reliant.
  • It is an approach to the total personality development of body, mind and spirit and was based on four principles namely:
  1. Education or learning in mother tongue along with handicraft work,
  2. Work should be linked with most useful vocational needs of the locality,
  3. Learning should be linked with vocational work, and
  4. Work should be socially useful and productive needed for living.

Gandhiji and Education

  • Gandhi’s first experiments in education began at the Tolstoy Farm ashram in South Africa.
  • It was much later, while living at Sevagram (Wardha) and in the heat of the Independence struggle, that Gandhi wrote his influential article in Harijan about education.
  • In it, he mapped out the basic pedagogy (or teaching) with focus on:
  1. Lifelong character of education,
  2. Social character and
  3. A holistic process
  • Thus, for Gandhi, education is ‘the moral development of the person’, a process that is by definition ‘lifelong’.
  • He believed the importance of role of teacher in the learning process.

 

Try this PYQ from CSP 2020:

 

Q. One common agreement between Gandhism and Marxism is

(a) The final goal of a stateless society

(b) Class struggle

(c) Abolition of private property

(d) Economic determinism

 

 

Post your answers here:
10
Please leave a feedback on thisx

 

UPSC 2022 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Primary and Secondary Education – RTE, Education Policy, SEQI, RMSA, Committee Reports, etc.

First National Achievement Survey (NAS) held

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : National Achievement Survey (NAS)

Mains level : Not Much

The first National Achievement Survey (NAS) in four years was conducted, in a bid to assess the competencies of children in Class 3, 5 and 8.

National Achievement Survey (NAS)

  • NAS is a nationally representative large-scale survey of students’ learning undertaken by the Ministry of Education.
  • It is implemented on a sample size aiming to assess students of 3rd, 5th, 8th and 10th
  • It gives a system level reflection on effectiveness of school education.
  • The NCERT has developed the Assessment Framework for gauging the competencies attained by the student’s vis-a-vis learning outcomes.

Features of the Survey

  • The Survey goes beyond the scorecard and includes the background variables to correlate student’s performance in different learning outcomes vis-a-vis contextual variables.
  • The Survey was conducted in a monitored environment in the sampled schools.
  • Selection of sampled schools was based on UDISE+ (Unified District Information System for Education) 2019-20 data.

Significance of NAS

  • NAS findings would help diagnose learning gaps of students and determine interventions required in education policies, teaching practices and learning.
  • Through its diagnostic report cards, NAS findings help in capacity building for teachers, officials involved in the delivery of education.
  • This will help to assess the learning interruptions and new learnings during the COVID pandemic and help to take remedial measures.

 

UPSC 2022 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Primary and Secondary Education – RTE, Education Policy, SEQI, RMSA, Committee Reports, etc.

Kasturirangan panel for National Curriculum Framework

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : National Curriculum Framework (NCF)

Mains level : Need for curriculum revamp in India

The Centre has started the process to revise school textbooks by appointing former Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) chairman K. Kasturirangan as the head of a 12-member steering committee responsible for developing a new National Curriculum Framework (NCF).

National Curriculum Framework (NCF)

  • The new NCF is in line with the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020.
  • The committee will be headed by K Kasturirangan, who had also led the NEP 2020 drafting committee.
  • The national curriculum framework serves as a guideline for syllabus, textbooks, teaching and learning practices in the country.
  • India is currently following its fourth national curriculum framework that was published by the NCERT in 2005.

What was the last NCF?

  • The last such framework was developed in 2005.
  • It is meant to be a guiding document for the development of textbooks, syllabi and teaching practices in schools across the country.

Why revamp NCF?

  • The subsequent revision of textbooks by the National Council of Educational Research and Training will draw from the new NCF.
  • In fact, the steering committee will develop four such frameworks, one each to guide the curriculum of school education, teacher education, early childhood education, and adult education.

UPSC 2022 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Primary and Secondary Education – RTE, Education Policy, SEQI, RMSA, Committee Reports, etc.

[pib] NIPUN Bharat Programme

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NIPUN Bharat

Mains level : Not Much

Union Minister for Education has launched a National Initiative for Proficiency in Reading with Understanding and Numeracy (NIPUN Bharat).

NIPUN Bharat

  • This scheme aims for ensuring that every child in the country necessarily attains foundational literacy.
  • It has been launched under the aegis of the centrally sponsored scheme of Samagra Shiksha.
  • It would cover the learning needs of children in the age group of 3 to 9 years.
  • The unique feature is that the goals of the Mission are set in the form of Lakshya Soochi or Targets for Foundational Literacy and Numeracy.
  • The Lakshyas are based on the learning outcomes developed by the NCERT and international research and ORF studies.

Envisaged outcomes

  • Foundational skills enable to keep children in class thereby reducing the dropouts and improve transition rate from primary to upper primary and secondary stages.
  • Activity-based learning and a conducive learning environment will improve the quality of education.
  • Innovative pedagogies such as toy-based and experiential learning will be used in classroom transactions thereby making learning a joyful and engaging activity.
  • Intensive capacity building of teachers
  • Since almost every child attends early grades, therefore, focus at that stage will also benefit the socio-economic disadvantageous group thus ensuring access to equitable and inclusive quality education.

Primary and Secondary Education – RTE, Education Policy, SEQI, RMSA, Committee Reports, etc.

Performance Grading Index 2020 by Education Ministry

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Performance Grading Index

Mains level : NA

The Education Ministry’s Performance Grading Index for 2019-20 was recently released.

Performance Grading Index

  • The PGI is a tool to provide insights on the status of school education in States and UTs including key levers that drive their performance and critical areas for improvement.
  • It monitors the progress that States and UTs have made in school education with regard to learning outcomes, access and equity, infrastructure and facilities, and governance and management processes.
  • Grading will allow all States and UTs to occupy the highest level i.e Grade I, at the same time which is a sign of a fully developed nation.

Its methodology

  • This is the third edition of the index and uses 70 indicators to measure progress.
  • Of these, the 16 indicators related to learning outcomes remain unchanged through all three editions, as they are based on data from the 2017 National Achievement Survey, which tested students in Classes 3, 5, 8, and 10.

Highlights of the 2019-20 Report

  • Punjab, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala have all scored higher than 90%.
  • Gujarat dropped from second to the eighth rank in the index, while MP and Chhattisgarh are the only States which have seen actual regression in scores over this period.

Primary and Secondary Education – RTE, Education Policy, SEQI, RMSA, Committee Reports, etc.

Mid Day Meal Scheme

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Midday Meal Scheme

Mains level : Food and nutrition security measures

The Centre has decided to give about ₹100 each to children studying in Class 1 to Class 8 in government schools, who are beneficiaries of the Mid Day Meal scheme.

Mid Day Meal Scheme

  • The Midday Meal Scheme is a school meal programme in India designed to better the nutritional standing of school-age children nationwide.
  • It is a wholesome freshly-cooked lunch served to children in government and government-aided schools in India.
  • The programme supplies free lunches on working days for children in primary and upper primary classes in government, government-aided, local body and alternate innovative education centres, Madarsa and Maqtabs.
  • Serving 120,000,000 children in over 1,265,000 schools and Education Guarantee Scheme centres, it is the largest of its kind in the world.
  • The programme has undergone many changes since its launch in 1995. The Midday Meal Scheme is covered by the National Food Security Act, 2013.

The scheme aims to:

  1. avoid classroom hunger
  2. increase school enrolment
  3. increase school attendance
  4. improve socialization among castes
  5. address malnutrition
  6. empower women through employment

Answer this PYQ in the comment box:

Q.An objective of the National Food Security Mission is to increase the production of certain crops through area expansion and productivity enhancement in a sustainable manner in the identified districts of the country. What are those crops?

(a) Rice and wheat only

(b) Rice, wheat, and pulses only

(c) Rice, wheat, pulses, and oilseeds only

(d) Rice, wheat, pulses, oilseeds, and vegetables

What is the new move?

  • The money, ₹1200 crore in total, will be given to 11.8 crore children through direct benefit transfer as a one-time payment.
  • The money comes from the cooking cost component of the scheme, it said.
  • This decision will help safeguard the nutritional levels of children and aid in protecting their immunity during challenging pandemic times.

Primary and Secondary Education – RTE, Education Policy, SEQI, RMSA, Committee Reports, etc.

E9 Initiative for Digital Learning

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : E9 Initiative

Mains level : Digital learning coalitions

Nine countries including India, China and Brazil will explore the possibility of co-creating and scaling up digital learning to achieve the UN sustainable goal on quality education under the E9 initiative.

The E9 is the first of its kind global collaboration for digital learning. Note the participating countries.

E9 Initiative

  • It is the first of a three-phased process to co-create an initiative on digital learning and skills, targeting marginalised children and youth, especially girls.
  • The initiative aims to accelerate recovery and advance the Sustainable Development Goal 4 agenda by driving rapid change in education systems.
  • It is spearheaded by the UN, the E9 countries – Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria and Pakistan.
  • It will have the opportunity to benefit from this global initiative and accelerate progress on digital learning, according to UNESCO.

Various functions

  • The initiative will discuss the co-creation of the Digital Learning initiative by the nine countries.
  • This Consultation will highlight progress, share lessons and explore opportunities for collaboration and scale-up to expand digital learning and skills.
  • In addition, a Marketplace segment, for public-private partnership will focus on promising local and global solutions and opportunities for digital learning to strengthen local ecosystems.

Primary and Secondary Education – RTE, Education Policy, SEQI, RMSA, Committee Reports, etc.

Time to undo the RTE bias against private non-minority institutions

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Article 21A and Right to educations Act

Mains level : Paper 2- Time to remove the exemption granted to minority institutions from RTE

The article highlights the issues with the exemption of aided and non-aided minority institutions from the Right to Education Act.

Is RTE enforceable against individuals?

  • Most fundamental rights are enforceable against the state, not against private individuals.
  • Certain rights, however, are horizontally enforceable too, that is, they can be enforced against individuals.
  • The Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act or RTE falls in the latter category.
  • The right to education was initially mentioned in Article 45 as a part of the Directive Principles.

Evolution of Article 21A

  • The Supreme Court in 1992 held in Mohini Jain v. State of Karnataka that the right to education was a part of the right to life recognised in Article 21.
  • The next year, the court in Unnikrishnan JP v. State of Andhra Pradesh held that the state was duty-bound to provide education to children up to the age of 14 within its economic capacity.
  • The court also acknowledged that private educational institutions, including minority institutions, would have to play a role alongside government schools.
  • The right to education was finally given the status of a fundamental right by the 86th constitutional amendment in the year 2002 by the addition of Article 21A in the Constitution.
  • The Supreme Court held in P. A. Inamdar case that there shall be no reservation in private institutions and that minority and non-minority institutions would not be treated differently.

Impact of 93rd amendment

  • In 2005, the Constitution was amended by the 93rd amendment to include Clause(5) to Article 15 which dealt with the fundamental right against discrimination.
  • The clause permitted the state to provide for advancement of “backward” classes by ensuring their admission in institutions, including private institutions.
  • The clause, however, excluded both aided and unaided minority educational institutions thus overruling the Supreme Court’s judgment in P.A. Inamdar case.

Discrimination in RTE

  • When the RTE Act was subsequently enacted in 2009, it did not directly discriminate between students studying in minority and non-minority institutions.
  • Subsequently, the provision of 25 per cent reservation in private institutions was however challenged in Society for Unaided Private Schools of Rajasthan v. Union of India where the court upheld the validity of the legislation exempting only unaided minority schools from its purview.
  • In response to the judgment, the RTE Act was amended in 2012 to mention that its provisions were subject to Articles 29 and 30 which protect the administrative rights of minority educational institutions.
  • So, the onus on private unaided schools was much higher than that on government schools, while even aided minority schools were exempt.
  • But the constitutional provision enabling the RTE Act, that is, Article 21, does not make any discrimination between minority and non-minority institutions.

Issues

  • The above provisions of RTE made it violative of Article 14 and also economically unviable for many private schools.
  •  Not only has RTE unreasonably differentiated between minority and non-minority schools without any explicable basis, there is also no rational nexus between the object of universal education sought to be achieved by this act and the step of excluding minority schools from its purview.
  • Given the doctrine of harmonious construction of fundamental rights, it is unclear why the court granted complete immunity to minority institutions when several provisions of RTE would not interfere with their administrative rights.
  • RTE has provisions such as prevention of physical/mental cruelty towards students as well as quality checks on pedagogical and teacher standards which children studying in minority institutions should not be deprived of and to that extent be discriminated against.

Way forward

  • The Kerala High Court held in Sobha George v. State of Kerala that Section 16 of RTE, which forbids non-promotion till the completion of elementary education, will be applicable to minority schools as well. 
  • The bench said that the courts must examine whether provisions such as Section 16 of RTE are statutory rights or fundamental rights expressed in a statutory form.
  • If the latter, then the Pramati case judgement will not be fully available to minority institutions.
  • The Supreme Court should take inspiration from the prudent decision delivered by the Kerala High Court and overrule its own judgment delivered in the Pramati Educational Society.

Consider the question “What are the issues with the exemption of aided and non-aided minority institution from the RTE Act.”

Conclusion

RTE as legislation may be well-intentioned, but the time has come to relook at the discriminatory nature of RTE against private non-minority institutions, and to that extent, undo the damage done by 93rd Amendment and the subsequent SC judgments.

Primary and Secondary Education – RTE, Education Policy, SEQI, RMSA, Committee Reports, etc.

What is Happiness Curriculum?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Happiness Curriculum

Mains level : Education reforms

The Delhi Deputy CM has said that during the pandemic, the Happiness Curriculum immensely helped them to apply life skills to deal with stressful situations.

Try this question:

Q.What is Happiness Curriculum? Discuss the scope of introducing happiness curriculum supplementary to the regular curriculum across the country.

What is Delhi’s ‘happiness curriculum’?

  • The curriculum calls for schools in India to promote development in cognition, language, literacy, numeracy and the arts along with addressing the well-being and happiness of students.
  • It further says that future citizens need to be “mindful, aware, awakened, empathetic, firmly rooted in their identity…” based on the premise that education has a larger purpose, which cannot be in isolation from the “dire needs” of today’s society.
  • For the evaluation, no examinations are conducted, neither will marks be awarded.
  • The assessment under this curriculum is qualitative, focusing on the “process rather than the outcome” and noting that each student’s journey is unique and different.

Objectives of the curriculum

The objectives of this curriculum include:

  • developing self-awareness and mindfulness,
  • inculcating skills of critical thinking and inquiry,
  • enabling learners to communicate effectively and
  • helping learners to apply life skills to deal with stressful and conflicting situations around them

Learning outcomes of this curriculum

The learning outcomes of this curriculum are spread across four categories:

  • becoming mindful and attentive (developing increased levels of self-awareness, developing active listening, remaining in the present);
  • developing critical thinking and reflection (developing strong abilities to reflect on one’s own thoughts and behaviours, thinking beyond stereotypes and assumptions);
  • developing social-emotional skills (demonstrating empathy, coping with anxiety and stress, developing better communication skills) and
  • developing a confident and pleasant personality (developing a balanced outlook on daily life reflecting self-confidence, becoming responsible and reflecting awareness towards cleanliness, health and hygiene).

How is the curriculum implemented?

  • The curriculum is designed for students of classes nursery through the eighth standard.
  • Group 1 consists of students in nursery and KG, who have bi-weekly classes (45 minutes each for one session, which is supervised by a teacher) involving mindfulness activities and exercise.
  • Children between classes 1-2 attend classes on weekdays, which involves mindfulness activities and exercises along with taking up reflective questions.
  • The second group comprises students from classes 3-5 and the third group is comprised of students from classes 6-8 who apart from the aforementioned activities, take part in self-expression and reflect on their behavioural changes.

Primary and Secondary Education – RTE, Education Policy, SEQI, RMSA, Committee Reports, etc.

Sharpening educational divide

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : RTE, New Education Policy

Mains level : Paper 2- Impact of pandemic on education of the poor

The article highlights the issue of the decrease in allocation for education and two ways in which the government seeks to plug this gap.

Decrease in allocation to education: Two paradoxical axes

  • The government allocated Rs 6,000 crore less on education in Budget 2021 as compared to last year.
  • It’s strange that this year’s budget makes no reference to the pandemic and the multiple challenges it has thrown up for the poor.
  • Parents who depend on the lowest rung of free government schools are the ones who need maximum state support.
  • More recently, the state’s position with regard to the provision of education in general and budgetary allocations to education in particular hinges on two paradoxical axes.

1) Supporting community volunteer

  • On one axis, is its appreciation of the commitment and passion of the community volunteers to reach out to children who may not be learning for multiple reasons.
  • Acknowledging the contribution of such people, the NEP proposes ideas of “peer-tutoring and trained volunteers” to support teachers to impart foundational literacy and numeracy skills to children in need of such skills.
  • While such efforts need to be applauded, they cannot be regarded as substitutes of the formal state apparatus.
  • Such a view also de-legitimises the teaching profession-associated qualifications and the training mandated by the state for people to become teachers.
  • Salaries and working conditions of the local community, most of whom are unemployed youth and women, are often compromised.
  • This is exploitation and needless to say, it also impacts the quality of education for the poor.

2) Public-Private partnership and issues with it

  • On the second axis, is the position advocating partnerships between public and private bodies.
  • Not that the involvement of private individuals/organisations/schools in education is anything new in India.
  • However, in the past, private schools catered to the relatively better-off but now the poor are being targeted for profit.
  • This narrative is based on two sources: Poor learning outcomes of children, particularly those studying in government schools as reported by large scale assessment surveys, and large-scale absenteeism/dereliction of duty on the part of government school teachers.
  • Reasons for these are attributed to government school teachers having no accountability.
  • NEP 2020 also states that the non-governmental philanthropic organisations will be supported to build schools and alternative models of education will be encouraged by making their requirements for schools as mandated in the RTE less restrictive.
  • This is clearly problematic but convenient as the justification underlying this position is that one needs to shift focus from inputs to outputs.
  • This also indicate that schools can do with lesser financial resources, and compromised inputs may not necessarily lead to compromised outputs.
  • The nature of the partnership between public and private has also changed from the private supporting the public to private jostling for space with the public, even replacing them.
  • It’s a win-win situation for both — the state gets to spend less and private players make profit.

Consider the question “Examine the impact of a covid pandemic on the education of the poor. Suggest the measure need to be taken by the government to mitigate the impact.”

Conclusion

While money may not ensure quality education, lack of adequate resources will only deepen the social divide between people.

Primary and Secondary Education – RTE, Education Policy, SEQI, RMSA, Committee Reports, etc.

School Bag Policy, 2020

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : School Bag Policy, 2020

The Directorate of Education has issued a circular asking school to follow the new ‘School Bag Policy, 2020’ released by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT).

Q.What are the features of the School Bag Policy, 2020? Discuss how heavy school bags are a serious threat to the health and learning capability of students.

School Bag Policy, 2020

  • According to the circular, schoolteachers should inform the students in advance about the books and notebooks to be brought to school on a particular day.
  • They frequently need to check their bags to ensure that they are not carrying unnecessary material.
  • It adds that the teachers should take the responsibility of checking the weight of school bags of the students every three months on a day selected for the whole class.
  • It also holds that any information about heavy bags should be communicated to the parents.
  • The circular also says that it is the duty and the responsibility of the school management to provide quality potable water in sufficient quantity.
  • It adds that files and thin/light exercise books should be preferred to thick/heavy ones.

Prescribed weights

The weight of the school bags, as per the policy, should be

  • 6 to 2.2 kg for students of Classes I and II
  • 7 to 2.5 kg for Classes III, IV and V
  • 2 to 3 kg for Classes VI and VII
  • 5 to 4 kg for Class VIII
  • 5 to 4.5 kg for Classes IX and X
  • 5 to 5 kg for Classes XI and XII

Why heavy school bags are a curse?

  • Heavy school bags are a serious threat to the health and well-being of students.
  • A heavy backpack can pull on the neck muscles contributing to headache, shoulder pain, lower back pain and neck and arm pain.
  • Not just this, carrying backpacks over one shoulder is a wrong practice as it makes muscles strain.
  • The spine leans to the opposite side, stressing the middle back, ribs, and lower back more on one side than the other and this muscle imbalance can cause muscle strain, muscle spasm, and back pain.
  • Heavy school bags are also one of the major reasons for cervical and lumbar pains.
  • The posture of the body also gets affected to a great extent which in the long term develops imbalances in the body and affects the health of the nervous system.

Primary and Secondary Education – RTE, Education Policy, SEQI, RMSA, Committee Reports, etc.

Debate over Coding for Kids

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Coding in school curriculum

Various edutech startups have been in the news for the past several months over the debate on the right age for children to start learning to code.

Q.The National Education Policy, 2020 proposal for “coding activities” reads like Macaulay’s minute for English education in the early 19th century. Examine.

What is Coding?

  • Computers have their own language called programming language which tells them what to do.
  • Coding is the process of using a programming language to get a computer to behave how you want it to.
  • In a broader sense, it is the process of designing and building an executable computer program to accomplish a specific computing result or to perform a specific task.

In today’s digital age, most toddlers in their diapers, learn to swipe and click before they can speak apparently or walk. What an irony!

Coding for children

  • In the age of digital revolution, India was able to produce a huge army of coders and programmers —essentially people who could create computer software.
  • As computing devices have taken over every aspect of life, the need for good programmers and coders has been increasing relentlessly.
  • This led to a trend to teach coding and programming to young students since their school ages.
  • In recent years, platforms and companies have started to claim that kids as young as those in elementary school must begin to learn to code.

Proponents for coding

  • Leaders of technology companies around the world have pushed for coding to be included as a subject in middle or higher secondary school for students who may be interested to learn.
  • In 2018, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates wrote in a blog post that everyone could benefit from learning the basics of computer science.
  • The idea was to make coding as simple and accessible as the new age “mother tongue” for young children.

Why should children learn to code?

  • Coding is a basic literacy in the digital age, and it is important for kids to understand and be able to work with and understand the technology around them.
  • It fosters creativity. By experimenting, children learn and strengthen their creativity. It enhances their problem-solving capability.
  • It helps children to be able to visualize abstract concepts, lets them apply math to real-world situations, and makes math fun and creative. Coding is present in many of today’s STEM programs.
  • Children who learn to code understand how to plan and organize thoughts.  This can lead to better writing skills that can be built upon as coding skills develop over time.

Criticisms of early age coding

  • A metaphor that is often used is that children are being made to ride a bicycle before they have even learnt to walk.
  • There’s a reason why in mathematics addition is taught first, then subtraction, then multiplication, and then division.
  • It is necessary to learn several elements of mathematics and logical thinking before one can code.

Primary and Secondary Education – RTE, Education Policy, SEQI, RMSA, Committee Reports, etc.

Annual State of Education Report (ASER) Wave 1, 2020

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : ASER

Mains level : State of school education in India

The ASER Wave 1 Survey was recently released since the COVID-19 crisis interrupted this years’ trajectory.

Practice question for mains:

Q.Discuss the efficacy of the One-Nation- One-Board System and its limitations.

About ASER Survey

  • This is an annual survey (published by education non-profit Pratham ) that aims to provide reliable estimates of children’s enrolment and basic learning levels for each district and state in India.
  • ASER has been conducted every year since 2005 in all rural districts of India. It is the largest citizen-led survey in India.
  • It is also the only annual source of information on children’s learning outcomes available in India.

How is the survey conducted?

  • ASER tools and procedures are designed by ASER Centre, the research and assessment arm of Pratham.
  • The survey itself is coordinated by ASER Centre and facilitated by the Pratham network. It is conducted by close to 30,000 volunteers from partner organisations in each district.
  • All kinds of institutions partner with ASER: colleges, universities, NGOs, youth groups, women’s organisations, self-help groups and others.
  • The ASER model has been adapted for use in several countries around the world: Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Pakistan, Mali and Senegal.

Assessment parameters

  • Unlike most other large-scale learning assessments, ASER is a household-based rather than school-based survey.
  • This design enables all children to be included – those who have never been to school or have dropped out, as well as those who are in government schools, private schools, religious schools or anywhere else.
  • In each rural district, 30 villages are sampled. In each village, 20 randomly selected households are surveyed.
  • Information on schooling status is collected for all children living in sampled households who are in the age group 3-16.
  • Children in the age group 5-16 are tested in basic reading and basic arithmetic. The same test is administered to all children.
  • The highest level of reading tested corresponds to what is expected in Std 2; in 2012 this test was administered in 16 regional languages.
  • In recent years, this has included household size, parental education, and some information on household assets.

Key Findings

1.Enrollments:

  • 5.5% of rural children are not currently enrolled for the 2020school year, up from 4% in 2018.
  • This difference is the sharpest among the youngest children (6 to 10) where 5.3% of rural children had not yet enrolled in school in 2020, in comparison to just 1.8% in 2018.
  • Due to the disruptions caused by the pandemic, families are waiting for the physical opening of schools to enrol their youngest children, with about 10% of six-year-olds not in school.
  • Among 15-16 year-olds, however, enrollment levels are slightly higher than in 2018.
  • The proportion of boys enrolled in government schools has risen from 62.8% in 2018 to 66.4% in 2020, while for girls, that number has gone up from 70% to 73% in the corresponding period.
  • Patterns show a slight shift toward government schools, with private schools seeing a drop in enrolment in all age groups.
  • The Centre has now permitted States to start reopening schools if they can follow Covid-19 safety protocols but the majority of the country’s 25 crore students are still at home.

2.Availability of Smartphones:

  • Among enrolled children, 61.8% live in families that own at least one smartphone which was merely 36.5% in 2018.
  • About 11% of families bought a new phone after the lockdown, of which 80% were smartphones.
  • WhatsApp is by far the most popular mode of transmitting learning materialsto students, with 75% of students receiving input via this app.

3.Availability of Learning Material:

  • Overall more than 80% of children said they had textbooks for their current grade.
  • This proportion was higher among students enrolled in government schools (84.1%) than in private ones (72.2%).
  • In Bihar, less than 8% got such materials from their schools, along with 20% in West Bengal, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.
  • More than 80% of rural children in Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Kerala and Gujarat received such input.

4.Learning Activities:

  • Most children (70.2%) did some form of a learning activity through material shared by tutors or family members themselves, with or without regular input.
  • 11% had access to live online classes, and 21% had videos or recorded classes, with much higher levels in private schools.
  • About 60% studied from their textbooks and 20% watched classes broadcast on TV.

Suggestions

  • Fluid Situation: When schools reopen, it will be important to continue to monitor who goes back to school as well as to understand whether there is learning lossas compared to previous years.
  • Building on and Strengthening Family Support: Parents’ increasing levels of education can be integrated into planning for learning improvement, as advocated by National Education Policy, 2020. Reaching parents at the right level is essential to understand how they can help their children and older siblings also play an important role.
  • Hybrid Learning: As children do a variety of different activities at home, effective ways of hybrid learning need to be developed which combine traditional teaching-learning with newer ways of “reaching-learning”.
  • Assessment of Digital Modes and Content: In order to improve digital content and delivery for the future, an in-depth assessment of what works, how well it works, who it reaches, and who it excludes is needed.
  • Mediating the Digital Divide: Children from families who had low education and also did not have resources like smartphones had less access to learning opportunities. However, even among such households, there is evidence of effort with family members trying to help and schools trying to reach them. These children will need even more help than others when schools reopen.

Way Forward

  • Covid-19 has left the nation with deep economic distress and uncertainty over school-reopenings and thrown open new challenges in every sector.
  • The nationally representative sample highlighted the role played by the families where everyone in the family supported children regardless of their education levels.
  • This strength needs to be leveraged by reaching out to more students and reducing the distance between schools and homes.

Primary and Secondary Education – RTE, Education Policy, SEQI, RMSA, Committee Reports, etc.

[pib] STARS Project

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : STARS Project

Mains level : Not Much

The Union Cabinet has approved the sum of Rs. 5718 crore for the World Bank aided project STARS.

Try this MCQ:

Q. The STARS Project recently seen in news is an initiative of:

World Bank/ Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation / UNECOSOC/ UNICEF

STARS Project

  • ‘STARS’ is an acronym for Strengthening Teaching-Learning and Results for States (STARS).
  • The STARS project will be implemented through the Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan, the flagship central scheme.
  • The six states include- Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha and Rajasthan.
  • It will help improve learning assessment systems, strengthen classroom instruction and remediation, facilitate school-to-work transition, and strengthen governance and decentralized management,
  • Some 250 million students (between the age of 6 and 17) in 1.5 million schools and over 10 million teachers will benefit from the STARS program.
  • STARS will support India’s renewed focus on addressing the ‘learning outcome’ challenge and help students better prepare for the jobs of the future – through a series of reform initiatives.

Major components of the STARS

1)      At the national level, the project envisages the following interventions which will benefit all states and UTs:

  • To strengthen MOE’s national data systems to capture robust and authentic data on retention, transition and completion rates of students.
  • To support MOE in improving states PGI scores by incentivizing states governance reform agenda through SIG (State Incentive Grants).
  • To support the strengthening of learning assessment systems.
  • To support MOE’s efforts to establish a National Assessment Center (PARAKH).

2)       At the State level, the project envisages: 

  • Strengthening Early Childhood Education and Foundational Learning
  • Improving Learning Assessment Systems
  • Strengthening classroom instruction and remediation through teacher development and school leadership
  • Governance and Decentralized Management for Improved Service Delivery.
  • Strengthening Vocational education in schools through mainstreaming, career guidance and counselling, internships and coverage of out of school children

Primary and Secondary Education – RTE, Education Policy, SEQI, RMSA, Committee Reports, etc.

[pib] Eklavya Model Residential Schools

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Eklavya Model Residential Schools

Mains level : Tribal education

An Eklavya Model Residential School (EMRS) teacher was selected for National Award to Teachers 2020.

Note the specific features of EMRS. Each year in the CSP, there is a question related to tribes/tribal development.

Eklavya Model Residential Schools

  • EMRS started in the year 1997-98 to impart quality education to ST children in remote areas in order to enable them to avail of opportunities in high and professional education courses and get employment in various sectors.
  • Across the country, as per census 2011 figures, there are 564 such sub-districts out of which there is an EMRS in 102 sub-districts.
  • As per revised 2018 scheme, every block with more than 50% ST population and at least 20,000 tribal persons, will have an EMRS by the year 2022.
  • These schools will be on par with Navodaya Vidyalayas and will have special facilities for preserving local art and culture besides providing training in sports and skill development.

Features of EMRS

  • Admission to these schools will be through selection/competition with suitable provision for preference to children belonging to Primitive Tribal Groups, first-generation students, etc.
  • Sufficient land would be given by the State Government for the school, playgrounds, hostels, residential quarters, etc., free of cost.
  • The number of seats for boys and girls will be equal.
  • In these schools, education will be entirely free.

Primary and Secondary Education – RTE, Education Policy, SEQI, RMSA, Committee Reports, etc.

Namath Basai Programme

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Namath Basai Programme

Mains level : Tribal education

Namath Basai, the State government’s unique programme of teaching tribal children in their mother tongue, has become a runaway hit in Kerala’s tribal districts.

Try this MCQ:

Q. The Namath Basai Programme recently seen in news is related to:

Tribal Education/ Women SHGs/ Forest Produce/ Tribal Health

Namath Basai Programme

  • The NBP is implemented by the Samagra Shiksha Kerala (SSK).
  • It has succeeded in retaining hundreds of tribal children in their online classes by making them feel at home with the language of instruction.
  • The SSK has distributed some 50 laptops exclusively for Namath Basai. Pre-recorded classes are offered through a YouTube channel.

Primary and Secondary Education – RTE, Education Policy, SEQI, RMSA, Committee Reports, etc.

Debate around ‘One-Nation- One-Curriculum’

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NA

Mains level : Uniform curriculum in schools across India

The Supreme Court has refused to entertain a plea for a uniform and common curriculum for school students between aged six and 14 across the country rather than have diverse ones such as the CBSE, the ICSE and State Board.

Practice question for mains:

Q.Discuss the efficacy of the One-Nation- One-Board System and its limitations.

Background

  • Schools in India are mainly columned primarily into 4 boards of education, namely CBSE, ICSE and IB (International Baccalaureate).
  • In total, there are 41 boards of education throughout India.
  • These different boards of education have different syllabuses, which creates a knowledge gap among school students.
  • To curate this gap, syllabuses of every board for the Indian schools are being brought at par.

What was the plea before the Supreme Court?

  • The petition asked considering the setting up of a National Education Council/Commission and following a “one-nation-one-board” system in which the ICSE is merged with the CBSE.
  • It urged a standard textbook with chapters on fundamental rights, duties, directive principles and the golden goals set out in the Preamble.
  • It asked to make the study compulsory for all the children aged 6-14 years throughout the territory of India.

Why did the court refuse?

  • Uniform curriculum was a “matter of policy” and the judiciary could not “command” the government said the Supreme Court bench.

Pros of common curriculum

  • The Article 21A of the Constitution has the RTE (Right to Education) Act says that every child in the age of 4 to 16 should be given free and compulsory education.
  • To keep a check on that, a common syllabus throughout the country is required. This will help all the students to be on par with education.
  • With a common syllabus throughout the country, no student will lag behind in education and hence, this will help them prepare better for competitive examinations or admission tests beyond school level for the outside world.
  • Politics, in some cases, influence the education system which is very unfair for the students. Some state boards prefer the admission of students from their own region and willingly keep the seats of colleges and universities occupied for students passing their 12th standard from their state boards.
  • A common syllabus would also mean that there would be no discrimination regarding quality education on the basis of caste, creed, social, religious beliefs or economic backgrounds.
  • It will provide an unbiased ground of learning and development of the young ones, which may turn out to be very beneficial in future.
  • At present, some of the state boards are not updating their syllabus frequently as per the changes in society. This loophole will be eliminated with the introduction of the uniform syllabus in India.

Limitations

  • Students may miss learning things specific to their region and their culture. This can be a threat to diversity.
  • Current school students might get affected or stressed out on a sudden change of syllabus.
  • An abrupt change in the syllabus may hamper the stability of a student with the academics which will not be a good turn.
  • A new set of the syllabus will bring in more workload on teachers and parents too.

Conclusion

  • Uniform education system having common syllabus and common curriculum would achieve the code of a common culture, removal of disparity and depletion of discriminatory values in human relations.
  • It would enhance virtues and improve the quality of life, elevate the thoughts, which advance the constitutional philosophy of equal society.
  • Though the government has been trying to put up with equality in education, the barriers have been inevitable to date.
  • A common syllabus seems to be a wise option, but it is yet to be implemented over the entire country.

With inputs from:

https://www.groupdiscussionideas.com/common-syllabus-throughout-indian-schools-pros-cons/

Primary and Secondary Education – RTE, Education Policy, SEQI, RMSA, Committee Reports, etc.

[pib] NISHTHA Programme

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NISHTHA programme

Mains level : Various digital initiatives by HRD ministry

The first on-line NISHTHA programme for 1200 Key Resources Persons in Andhra Pradesh was launched by Union HRD Ministry.

There are various web/portals/apps with peculiar names such as YUKTI, DISHA, SWAYAM etc. Their core purpose is similar with slight differences. Pen them down on a separate sheet under the title various digital HRD initiatives.

 

Add one more to this list.

NISHTHA Programme

  • NISHTHA is an acronym for National Initiative for School Heads’ and Teachers’ Holistic Advancement.
  • It is the largest teachers’ training programme of its kind in the world.
  • The basic objective of this massive training programme ‘NISHTHA’ is to motivate and equip teachers to encourage and foster critical thinking in students.
  • The initiative is first of its kind wherein standardized training modules are developed at national level for all States and UTs.
  • The States and UTs can also contextualize the training modules and use their own material and resource persons also, keeping in view the core topics and expected outcomes of NISHTHA.

Progress till date

  • Around 23,000 Key Resource Persons and 17.5 lakh teachers and school heads have been covered under this NISHTHA face to face mode till date.
  • It has been customized for online mode to be conducted through DIKSHA and NISHTHA portals by the NCERT.

Primary and Secondary Education – RTE, Education Policy, SEQI, RMSA, Committee Reports, etc.

What is the STARS Project?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : STARS Project

Mains level : Read the attached story

The World Bank has approved a $500 million Strengthening Teaching-Learning and Results for States Program (STARS) to improve the quality and governance of school education in six Indian states.

Try this question:

Q. The STARS Project recently seen in news is an initiative of:

World Bank/ Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation / UNECOSOC/ UNICEF

STARS Project

  • The STARS project will be implemented through the Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan, the flagship central scheme.
  • The six states include- Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha and Rajasthan.
  • It will help improve learning assessment systems, strengthen classroom instruction and remediation, facilitate school-to-work transition, and strengthen governance and decentralized management,
  • Some 250 million students (between the age of 6 and 17) in 1.5 million schools and over 10 million teachers will benefit from the STARS program.
  • STARS will support India’s renewed focus on addressing the ‘learning outcome’ challenge and help students better prepare for the jobs of the future – through a series of reform initiatives.

Reform initiatives under STARS

  • Focusing more directly on the delivery of education services at the state, district and sub-district levels by providing customized local-level solutions towards school improvement.
  • Addressing demands from stakeholders, especially parents, for greater accountability and inclusion by producing better data to assess the quality of learning.
  • Equipping teachers to manage this transformation by recognizing that teachers are central to achieving better learning outcomes. The program will support individualized, needs-based training for teachers that will give them an opportunity to have a say in shaping training programs and making them relevant to their teaching needs.
  • Investing more in developing India’s human capital needs by strengthening foundational learning for children in classes 1 to 3 and preparing them with the cognitive, socio-behavioural and language skills to meet future labour market needs.

Issues with the project

  • First, it fails to address the basic capacity issues: major vacancies across the education system from District Institutes of Education and Training (DIETs), district and block education offices, to teachers in schools, remain unaddressed.
  • Without capable and motivated faculty, teacher education and training cannot be expected to improve.
  • Second, the Bank ignores that decentralizing decision-making requires the devolution of funds and real decision-making power.
  • Greater decentralisation can allow accountability to flow to the people rather than to supervising officers.
  • It requires not just investment in the capacity of the front-line bureaucracy but also in increasing their discretionary powers while fostering social accountability.

Primary and Secondary Education – RTE, Education Policy, SEQI, RMSA, Committee Reports, etc.

Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report 2020

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Impact of coronovirus outbreak on Education system

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated inequalities in education systems across the world a/c to the latest GEM report.

Practice question for mains:

Q.Discuss the impact of COVID-19 induced lockdown on India’s education sector.

About the report

  • Originally the EFA Global Monitoring Report, it has been renamed as the Global Education Monitoring Report.
  • It is developed by an independent team and published by UNESCO aimed to sustain commitment towards Education for All.
  • The ‘UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS), based in Montreal provides data for the report on students, teachers, school performance, adult literacy and education expenditure.

Highlights of the 2020 report

  • The report noted that efforts to maintain learning continuity during the pandemic may have actually worsened exclusion trends.
  • During the height of school closures in April 2020, almost 91% of students around the world were out of school.
  • About 40% of low- and lower-middle-income countries have not supported learners at risk of exclusion during this crisis, such as the poor, linguistic minorities and learners with disabilities.

1. Risks of school closure

  • School closures also interrupted support mechanisms from which many disadvantaged learners benefit.
  • For poor students who depend on school for free meals or even free sanitary napkins, closures has been a major blow.
  • Cancellation of examinations in many countries, including India, may result in scoring dependence on teachers’ judgements of students, which could be affected by stereotypes of certain types of students.

2. Substitutes were imperfect

  • Education systems responded with distance learning solutions, all of which offered less or more imperfect substitutes for classroom instruction said the report.
  • Many poorer countries opted for radio and television lessons, while some upper-middle-income countries adopted for online learning platforms for primary and secondary education.
  • India has used a mix of all three systems for educational continuity.

3. The digital divide has resurfaced yet again

  • Even as governments increasingly rely on technology, the digital divide lays bare the limitations of this approach.
  • Not all students and teachers have access to an adequate internet connection, equipment, skills and working conditions to take advantage of available platforms.

Primary and Secondary Education – RTE, Education Policy, SEQI, RMSA, Committee Reports, etc.

Online education must supplement, not replace, physical sites of learning

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : MOOCs

Mains level : Paper 2- Is online learning a substitute for the traditional educational institutions?

Left with no choice, many education institutions turned to online mode. But could that be a new normal? This article analyses the indispensable role of online education. However, online education cannot be a substitute for traditional education institutes. WHY? Read the article to know about the vital role of traditional educational institutions…

Online education (OE): Supplement not the substitute

  • The incredible synergy unleashed by information and communications technology (ICT) is the best thing to have happened to education since the printing press.
  • Indeed, higher education today is unthinkable without some form of the computer and some mode of digitised data transmission.
  • OE can use content and methods that are hard to include in the normal curriculum.
  • OE can put pressure on lazy or incompetent teachers.
  • OE can provide hands-on experience in many technical fields where simulations are possible.
  • And OE can, of course, be a powerful accessory for affluent students able to afford expensive aids.
  • As products of this revolution, online methods of teaching and learning deserve our highest praise — but only when cast in their proper role.
  • This proper role is to supplement, support and amplify the techniques of face-to-face education.
  • The moment they are proposed as a substitute for the physical sites of learning we have long known — brick-and-cement schools, colleges, and universities — online modes must be resolutely resisted.

So, what are the vested interests involved?

  • Resistance to OE is often dismissed as the self-serving response of vested interests, notably obstructive, technophobic teachers unwilling to upgrade their skills.
  • But these are not the only vested interests involved.
  • Authoritarian administrators are attracted by the centralised control and scaling-at-will that OE offers.
  • Educational entrepreneurs have been trying to harvest the billions promised by massive open online courses (MOOCs) — think of Udacity, Coursera, or EdX.
  • Pundits are now predicting post-pandemic tie-ups between ICT giants like Google and Amazon and premium education brands like Harvard and Oxford that will launch a new era of vertically-integrated hybrid OE platforms.

Is OE a viable alternative to traditional educational institutions (TEI) for the typical Indian student?

  • No one with access to an elite TEI chooses OE.
  • Instead, we know that OE always loses in best-to-best comparisons.
  • Favourable impressions about OE are created mostly by comparing the best of OE with average or worse TEIs.

But is it true that the best OE is better than the average college or university?

  • OE claims that neither the campus nor face-to-face interaction are integral to education.
  • Since the comparative evaluation of virtual versus face-to-face pedagogic interaction needs more space, the campus question is considered here.
  • How does the typical student’s home compare with a typical TEI campus?
  • Census 2011 tells us that 71 per cent of households with three or more members have dwellings with two rooms or less.
  • According to National Sample Survey data for 2017-18, only 42 per cent of urban and 15 per cent of rural households had internet access.
  • Only 34 per cent of urban and 11 per cent of rural persons had used the internet in the past 30 days.
  • It is true that many TEIs (both public and private) have substandard infrastructure.
  • But these data suggest that the majority (roughly two-thirds) of students are likely to be worse off at home compared to any campus.
  • The impact of smartphone capabilities and stability of net connectivity on OE pedagogy also needs to be examined.

Importance of college as a social space

  • It is as a social rather than physical space that the college or university campus plays a critical role.
  • Public educational institutions play a vital role as exemplary sites of social inclusion and relative equality.
  • In Indian conditions, this role is arguably even more important than the scholastic role.
  • The public educational institution is still the only space where people of all genders, classes, castes, and communities can meet without one group being forced to bow to others.
  • Whatever its impact on academics, this is critical learning for life.
  • Women students, in particular, will be much worse off if confined to their homes by OE.

Consider the question- “Covid-19 pandemic forced many educational institute to explore the online more of education. And this also brought to the fore the potential of the online mode of education. In light of this, examine the issues with substituting the online mode of education for the traditional educational mode.”

Conclusion

Though an indispensable supplement for traditional education, there are certain aspects of education and a social life that online learning cannot substitute. So, the government should not divert its attention from the traditional educational institution and look at online education as its substitute.

Primary and Secondary Education – RTE, Education Policy, SEQI, RMSA, Committee Reports, etc.

[pib] VidyaDaan 2.0 Programme for e-learning content contributions

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : VidyaDaan initiative

Mains level : Various e-learning initiaitves

The Union HRD Ministry has e-launched VidyaDaan 2.0 program for inviting e-learning content contributions.

There are various web/portals/apps with peculiar names such as YUKTI, DISHA, SWAYAM etc. Their core purpose is similar with slight differences. Pen them down on a separate sheet under the title various digital HRD initiatives.

Add one more to this list.

VidyaDaan

  • ‘Vidya Daan’ is a digital program to enable contributions to improve teaching & learning.
  • It encourages the sharing of high quality, curated, relevant & curriculum-linked digital content.
  • This program attempts to synergize countrywide developments in the field of education by providing schools all over India, from the Metro cities to the smallest villages with good quality e-content.

How does it work?

  • VidyaDaan has a content contribution tool that provides a structured interface for the contributors to register and contribute different types of content (such as, explanation videos, presentations, competency-based items, quizzes etc.), for any grade (from grade 1 to 12), for any subject as specified by the states/UTs.

About phase 2.0

  • The programme has been re-launched due to the increasing requirement for e-learning content for students especially in the backdrop of the situation arising out of COVID- 19.

Primary and Secondary Education – RTE, Education Policy, SEQI, RMSA, Committee Reports, etc.

Delhi’s ‘Happiness Class’

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Happiness Curriculum

Mains level : Happiness Curriculum and its significance

 

On the upcoming visit to India, US President Trump will visit a Delhi government school, where they will attend a happiness curriculum class.

What is Delhi’s ‘happiness curriculum’?

  • The curriculum calls for schools in India to promote development in cognition, language, literacy, numeracy and the arts along with addressing the well-being and happiness of students.
  • It further says that future citizens need to be “mindful, aware, awakened, empathetic, firmly rooted in their identity…” based on the premise that education has a larger purpose, which cannot be in isolation from the “dire needs” of today’s society.
  • For the evaluation, no examinations are conducted, neither will marks be awarded.
  • The assessment under this curriculum is qualitative, focusing on the “process rather than the outcome” and noting that each student’s journey is unique and different.

Objectives of the curriculum

The objectives of this curriculum include:

  • developing self-awareness and mindfulness,
  • inculcating skills of critical thinking and inquiry,
  • enabling learners to communicate effectively and
  • helping learners to apply life skills to deal with stressful and conflicting situations around them

Learning outcomes of this curriculum

The learning outcomes of this curriculum are spread across four categories:

  • becoming mindful and attentive (developing increased levels of self-awareness, developing active listening, remaining in the present);
  • developing critical thinking and reflection (developing strong abilities to reflect on one’s own thoughts and behaviours, thinking beyond stereotypes and assumptions);
  • developing social-emotional skills (demonstrating empathy, coping with anxiety and stress, developing better communication skills) and
  • developing a confident and pleasant personality (developing a balanced outlook on daily life reflecting self-confidence, becoming responsible and reflecting awareness towards cleanliness, health and hygiene).

How is the curriculum implemented?

  • The curriculum is designed for students of classes nursery through the eighth standard.
  • Group 1 consists of students in nursery and KG, who have bi-weekly classes (45 minutes each for one session, which is supervised by a teacher) involving mindfulness activities and exercise.
  • Children between classes 1-2 attend classes on weekdays, which involves mindfulness activities and exercises along with taking up reflective questions.
  • The second group comprises students from classes 3-5 and the third group is comprised of students from classes 6-8 who apart from the aforementioned activities, take part in self-expression and reflect on their behavioural changes.

Primary and Secondary Education – RTE, Education Policy, SEQI, RMSA, Committee Reports, etc.

[pib] National Means-cum-Merit Scholarship Scheme (NMMSS)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NMMSS

Mains level : Policy measures to curb school dropouts

 

The NMMSS has helped to reduce the drop-out rate at the secondary and senior secondary classes, informed Union HRD Minister.

National Means-cum-Merit Scholarship Scheme

  • The Centrally Sponsored Scheme NMMSS was launched in May, 2008.
  • The objective of the scheme is to award scholarships to meritorious students of economically weaker sections to arrest their drop out at class VIII and encourage them to continue the study at secondary stage.
  • Under the Scheme one lakh fresh scholarships @ of Rs.12000/- per annum per student are awarded to selected students of class IX every year and their continuation/renewal  in classes X to XII for study in a State Government, Government-aided and Local body schools.
  • The selection of students for award of scholarships under the scheme is made through an examination conducted by the States/UTs Governments.

Progress of the scheme

  • As on date approx 16.93 lakh scholarships have been sanctioned to the Students across the country.
  • Heads of all the institutions disclosed that the NMMS Scheme has reduced the drop-out rate at the secondary and senior secondary classes, particularly from Classes VIII to XII.

Primary and Secondary Education – RTE, Education Policy, SEQI, RMSA, Committee Reports, etc.

[op-ed of the day] Time to prioritise education and health

Context

The policy currently being pursued is intended primarily to incentivise potential investors while social objectives and help in indigenisation are being jettisoned.

Call for more liberalisation and its possible impacts

  • What reforms are asked for?
    • Reforms such as labour market liberalisation and removal of constraints on the acquisition of land for industrial purposes are demanded.
  • What could be their possible impacts?
    • The negative impact such reform measures are likely to have on the incomes, living conditions and the economic security of the workers and the agricultural class.
    • Counterproductive labour policy: The policy of freedom of hiring and firing of labour will be counterproductive as it would squeeze demand further in a situation of huge demand deficit.

Social sector and demand

  • Neglect of human infrastructure: While talks of economic revival focus on infrastructure there is little talk of investment in human infrastructure, particularly in education and 
    • Conditional expenditure: On the contrary, the expenditure in social sectors is made conditional upon a higher rate of growth
    • The flawed premise of long term impact: Most mainstream economists believe that public expenditure in social sectors can only have a long- term impact on growth. Which is not entirely correct.
  • The benefit of investment in human infrastructure:
    • Increases demand in short-run: Investment in social sectors results in creating demand in the short run by way of opening avenues for large-scale employment.
    • Competitiveness and sustainability: It imparts competitiveness and sustainability to the Indian economy in the medium and long run.
  • Example of RTE, teacher employment and demand creation
    • The recruitment of 5.7 million additional teachers over a period of, say, five years, can create huge scale demand.
    • And, this is only one factor essential for universalising quality school education.
    • There is also a large gap between the requirement of infrastructure in the schools and that available and built recently.
    • The gap between requirement and availability: According to government data, only 12.5% of the schools covered by the RTE Act were compliant with RTE norms.
    • Meeting these norms has the potential of creating employment on a large scale.
  • Importance of health and education
    • Education has a crucial role to play for an individual in gaining employment and retaining employability.

Conclusion

The gestation period of projects in social sectors is not as long as it is made out to be. It is, therefore, time for reprioritising education and health in the scheme of development strategy and the allocation of budgetary resources.

 

Primary and Secondary Education – RTE, Education Policy, SEQI, RMSA, Committee Reports, etc.

[op-ed snap] Not ready for school

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much.

Mains level : Paper 2-National Education Policy and ASER 2019 report , emphasis on the preschool education and issues associated with it.

Context

The draft NEP (National Education Policy) document points out that close to five crore children currently in elementary school do not have foundational literacy and numeracy skills. 

Severe learning crisis: The document cites several possible reasons for this crisis.

  • First reason:  Many children enter school before age six.
    • Lack of options: This is partly due to the lack of affordable and accessible options for pre-schooling.
    • Therefore, too many children go to Std. I with limited exposure to early childhood education.
    • Consequences for the poor: Children from poor families have a double disadvantage -lack of healthcare and nutrition and the absence of a supportive learning environment on the other.
  • Second reason: Lack of developmentally appropriate activities by age and phase.
    • The misplaced focus of ICDS: School readiness or early childhood development and education activities have not had a high priority in the ICDS system.
    • Acting as an extension of pre-school education: Private preschools that have increased access to preschool but are often designed to be a downward extension of schooling.
    • Thus, they bring in school-like features into the pre-school classroom, rather than developmentally appropriate activities by age and phase.

Three clear trends in ASER-2019 data

  • First trend: Scope for expansion of Anganwadi network.
    • Expansion network: There is considerable scope for expanding Anganwadi outreach for three and four-year-old children.
    • All-India data from 2018 shows that slightly less than 30 per cent children at age three and 15.6 per cent of children at age four are not enrolled anywhere.
  • Second trend: Under 6 students in class I.
    • ASER 2018 data show that 27.6 per cent of all children in Std I are under six.
    • It is commonly assumed that children enter Standard I at age six and that they proceed year by year from Std I to Std VIII.
    • The Right to Education Act also refers to free and compulsory education for the age group six to 14.
    • However, the practice on the ground is quite different.
  • Third trend: There are important age implications for children’s learning.
    • Association with learning output: ASER-2019 indicate the higher learning output associated with age in the same class.
    • In Std. I, the ability to do cognitive activities among seven-eight-year olds can be 20 percentage points higher than their friends who are five years old but in the same class.
    • In terms of reading levels in Std. I, 37.1 per cent children who are under six can recognise letters whereas 76 per cent of those who are seven or eight can do the same.
    • Age distribution in Std. I vary considerably between government and private schools.
    • Private schools in many states have a relatively older age distribution.

Way forward

  • Understanding the children: Understanding the challenges that children face when they are young is critical if we want to solve these problems early in children’s life.
  • Providing for developmentally appropriate skill: Instead of focusing on the pre-school years as the downward extension of school years there is a need for providing developmentally appropriate skill in these years.
  • Pedagogy: On the pedagogy side reworking of curriculum and activity is urgently needed for entire age band of four to eight.

 

Primary and Secondary Education – RTE, Education Policy, SEQI, RMSA, Committee Reports, etc.

Annual Status of Education Report (Rural) 2019

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : ASER

Mains level : Highlights of ASER 2019

The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2019 (rural) was recently released by NGO Pratham.

Highlights of the report

  • Only 16% of children in Class 1 in 26 surveyed rural districts can read text at the prescribed level, while almost 40% cannot even recognise letters.
  • Only 41% of these children could recognise two digit numbers.

Private schools ahead

  • Of six-year olds in Class 1, 41.5% of those in private schools could read words in comparison to only 19% from government schools.
  • Similarly, 28% of those in government schools could do simple addition as against 47% in private schools.
  • This gap is further exacerbated by a gender divide: only 39% of girls aged 6-8 are enrolled in private schools in comparison to almost 48% of boys.
  • The report also found that a classroom could include students from a range of age-groups, skewing towards younger children in government schools.

Determinants of learning outcomes

  • The ASER report shows that a large number of factors determine the quality of education received at this stage, including the child’s home background, especially the mother’s education level; the type of school, whether anganwadis, government schools or private pre-schools; and the child’s age in Class 1.
  • More than a quarter of Class 1 students in government schools are only 4 or 5 years old, younger than the recommended age.
  • The ASER data shows that these younger children struggle more than others in all skills.
  • Permitting underage children into primary grades puts them at a learning disadvantage which is difficult to overcome,” said the report.

Role of Mothers

  • Among the key findings of ASER 2019 is that the mother’s education often determines the kind of pre-schooling or schooling that the child gets.
  • The report says that among children in the early years (ages 0-8), those with mothers who had completed eight or fewer years of schooling are more likely to be attending anganwadis or government pre-primary classes.
  • With 75% women in the productive age group not in the workforce, they can be better engaged in their children’s development, learning and school readiness.

Key suggestions made by the report

  • ASER found that the solution is not to spend longer hours teaching children the 3Rs.
  • Counter-intuitively, the report argues that a focus on cognitive skills rather than subject learning in the early years can make a big difference to basic literacy and numeracy abilities.
  • The survey shows that among Class 1 children who could correctly do none or only one of the tasks requiring cognitive skills, about 14% could read words, while 19% could do single digit addition.
  • However, of those children who could correctly do all three cognitive tasks, 52% could read words, and 63% could solve the addition problem.

Focus on productive learning

  • ASER data shows that children’s performance on tasks requiring cognitive skills is strongly related to their ability to do early language and numeracy tasks,” says the report.
  • This suggests that focussing on play-based activities that build memory; reasoning and problem-solving abilities are more productive than an early focus on content knowledge.
  • Global research shows that 90% of brain growth occurs by age 5, meaning that the quality of early childhood education has a crucial impact on the development and long-term schooling of a child.

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