4 lakh youths to get employment opportunities in Haryana

4 lakh youths to get employment opportunities in Haryana: Khattar
Haryana government has started programmes for skill development of the youths.
AMBALA: Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar today said that “four lakh youths would be given employment opportunities” under the state’s Enterprises Promotion Policy-2015.

On the lines of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Skill India’ drive, Haryana government has started similar programmes for skill development of the youths, he said.

Stating that commercialisation of education would not be tolerated, the chief minister said, emphasis would be laid on opening ‘Sanskar Kendras’ for education in the state.

“Even after 68 years of Independence, we are still unable to provide right direction to the youth, whose only goal is to obtain certificates as per the education system introduced by Lord Macaulay,” Khattar was quoted as saying by a Haryana government release.

The chief minister said this at the inaugural function of the three-day Zonal Youth Festival organised by Kurukshetra University at Gandhi Memorial National (GMN) College, Ambala Cantonment.

Every youth has hidden talent and platforms like youth festivals enable them to showcase it, Khattar said.

Sports and uouth affairs minister, Anil Vij who presided over the function said, the Youth Policy would be framed within next two months.

Meanwhile, presiding over a meeting of District Public Relations and Grievances Redressal Committee here today, the Chief Minister said a police would soon be framed for public grievances that come up before the District Public Relations and Grievances Redressal Committee.

The kind of grievances that can be raised in the meeting should be specified in the policy. It should also be specified that those grievances on which both parties have already reached an agreement may not be raised, he said.

In view of grievances regarding non-distribution of ration, a biometric system would soon be started to prevent bungling in public distribution system, Khattar said.

Thirteen grievances were raised in today’s meeting, of which most were disposed of by the Chief Minister on the spot, the government release said.

IIT-K experts to study active faults which can trigger earthquakes

KANPUR: Experts of IIT Kanpur will conduct mapping of the active faults in the country that can trigger earthquakes. But first an expert team will be prepared for carrying out the lengthy task for which a class cum practical training workshop has kickstarted at IIT-K.

It will be two months from now that the experts will conduct the study at the foothill zones of Chandigarh, Dehradun and Punjab. The experts will study active faults here and thereafter, digitize the fault maps. This team will be headed by IIT-Kanpur professor of civil engineering department, Javed N Malik.

Two other teams headed by other experts will identify the active faults and map them in Gujarat and Jammu and Kashmir, Central to North Western Himalayas respectively. This is for the first time that the work of mapping of the active faults is being done on such a massive scale. The entire work is being done in the backdrop of the Nepal earthquake which had hit this year, causing massive destruction and loss of precious lives.

Talking to TOI, Prof Javed Malik said that a trained team of experts will do the task of identifying the active faults and thereafter mapping will be done. He said that this ambitious and mammoth project will start in two months time and is being funded by Ministry of Earth Sciences. Funds to a tune of Rs 20 crores will be provided by the ministry, he added.

“We will start the project from the foothills of Nanital first where there exists active faults and gradually lookout for such faults in Chandigarh, Dehradun, Punjab”, said Prof Malik.

He added that the team members who will engage in the task include Dr Shanti Swarup Sahoo, Shreya Arora, Asmita Mohanti, and Shravnthi and the work will be coordinated by me.

When questioned what work would be done during the study of the active faults, Prof Malik said active faults will be characterised first and their analysis will be done as to how much damage it can cause. Also the study will involve in knowing upto what magnitude of earthquake these faults can trigger, he said.

25 % IIT seats grabbed by students from rural areas in 2015

25 % IIT seats grabbed by students from rural areas in 2015
The future of 325 IIT aspirants belonging to backward sections of minorities appears to be in a limbo in wake of Andhra HC striking down 4.5% sub-quota to minorities.

KOTA: Twenty-five per cent of the seats of the prestigious Indian Institutes of Technology across the country were grabbed by students from rural areas this year, as compared to only 10 per cent seats last year.

According to a report JEE Advance 2015 by IIT Mumbai, 25 per cent of the seats, this year, were secured by students, from rural areas who have completed their upper primary schooling in Hindi medium as compared to 90 per cent seats which were secured by students from urban areas last year.

A considerable number of students from low earning families have also earned seats in the 18 IITs this time with over 1600 students coming from families where the father’s annual income is less than Rs one lakh.

Meanwhile, 1500 students come from families where the annual income of fathers is over Rs 8 lakh.

As for the educational background of parents, the study said fathers of about 1100 qualifying students are only matric pass (Class X) while fathers of about 250 are illiterate.

The mothers of nearly 900 students are illiterate.

Girls, this year, secured 900 out of 9974 seats in IITs, a share of 9.03 per cent as compared to 8 per cent of the seats secured in 2014.

The report also said Rajasthan topped the list of states in cracking the IIT entrance exam this year, with 19.7 per cent students, who gained admission to the IITs, belonging to the state.

1965 students from Rajasthan secured IIT seats.

Uttar Pradesh has secured second position in the list with 1259 qualifying students, while Andhra Pradesh which topped last time, has 776 students.

770 students from Telangana secured seats this year.

The detailed report also said the fathers of 888 qualifying students practiced agriculture whereas fathers of 232 students were doctors and of 466 students were engineers.

The fathers of 1548 qualifying students were involved in business while mothers of 6690 selected students were housewives with a modest level of education.

The fathers of 479 students were teachers while of 2989 qualifying students were government employees.

The report also mentioned that every fifth of the qualifying students had prepared for the exam in Kota.

Bring back exams, more weight on learning, teachers

During Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje’s “sarkar apke dwar” programme, parents suggested that a complete ban on exams till Class 8 was not in the best interest of the child.During Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje’s “sarkar apke dwar” programme, parents suggested that a complete ban on exams till Class 8 was not in the best interest of the child.

The Rajasthan government is planning two significant amendments to the Right to Education (RTE) Act: reintroducing exams in at least three classes from Class I to 8, and giving more weightage to “learning outcomes” than to physical infrastructure of schools while deciding on their recognition or registration.

A senior Rajasthan government official told The Indian Express that during Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje’s “sarkar apke dwar” programme, parents suggested that a complete ban on exams till Class 8 was not in the best interest of the child. “A child must acquire class-appropriate learning skills, and not just be present in a brick-and-mortar classroom,” the official said. Accordingly, the state is considering evaluations in Classes 3, 5 and 8.

The second important amendment relates to focusing more on “learning outcomes” of schools than on hardware such as school buildings, playgrounds etc. Here, the Rajasthan government has taken note of the closure of a large number of private schools in several other states because they could not manage the RTE-mandated physical infrastructure requirement.

The National Independent Schools Alliance (NISA), an association of budget private schools, estimates that 4,331 schools have shut down, affecting about 8.66 lakh students, and another 15,083 schools were facing threat of closure as on March 18, 2014. The Centre for Civil Society, on the other hand, estimates that at least 34.94 lakh children have been affected with 19,414 schools across 17 states having been closed or issued notice for closure for not fulfilling the norms related to infrastructure and teacher salaries.

“We are confusing ‘building schools’ with school buildings. The state plans to restrict the weightage on infrastructure and other inputs to 30 per cent or less, and instead focus on absolute, relative (compared with previous year) and scholastic learning outcomes,” the state government official said.

These are not the only two changes the Rajasthan government is considering. It is planning to allow teachers to conduct tuitions after school hours to boost their incomes, and also let private school managements decide teachers’ salaries instead of taking directions from the government on the issue.

It also plans to hand over education vouchers to parents, instead of the government paying the schools directly, so that the child does not get shamed by schools if the payment from the state does not reach in time. The state will also make government schools as accountable as their private counterparts to ensure equality.

Significantly, realising the aspiration levels of the poor, the state plans to do away with the “neighbourhood” criteria while admitting poor children in private schools. This will help the brighter children among the poor join the best private schools, even if they are not in their neighbourhood.

According to senior government officials, these amendments are being discussed internally, and will be presented to the Chief Minister soon. “Once these are approved by the Chief Minister, these will follow the same legislative route as labour law amendments. A fresh Bill will be placed before the Assembly, and once cleared, sent to the President for his assent,” the official said.

 

Nitish Kumar flays Modi Govt for announcing rail hike before budget

Former Railway Minister and JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar. (Source: PTI)Former Railway Minister and JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar. (Source: PTI)

Former Railway Minister and JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar on Friday criticised Narendra Modi government for promoting a “bad tradition” of announcing hike in Railway fare and freight before presentation of Railway budget in Parliament.

“They are promising the country that ‘Achye deen aa gaye hain’ (good days have come) and promoting bad tradition,” Kumar told reporters.

His reaction came in the wake of Narendra Modi government increasing railway passenger fare by 14.2 per cent in all classes and freight by 6.5 per cent with effect from today.

Kumar, who served as Railway minister in the NDA government of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, said, “I presented five Railway budget and always followed tradition of announcing roadmap of railway including proposal for increasing fare and freight in Parliament through budget.”

“When UPA government in the recent past had announced increase in Railway fare and freight before presentation of Railway budget it was the same BJP which had made hue and cry….Now they are doing the same and promoting a bad tradition,” he said, taking a potshots at BJP-led government at the Centre.

Kumar described 14.2 per cent hike in fare and 6.5 per cent in freight as a “big increase” which he said would further lift prices of essential commodities.

– See more at: http://indianexpress.com/article/india/education/nitish-kumar-flays-modi-govt-for-announcing-rail-hike-before-budget/#sthash.ljZbr1ik.dpuf

Five bizarre ‘lessons’ in Indian textbooks

In 2012 the country passed the Right to Education act which guarantees free and compulsory education for all children until the age of 14.

However, some of the “facts” that have been found in textbooks around the country have given rise to speculation over what exactly passes for “education” in India.

Glaring mistakes, downright lies and embellishments in textbooks are often featured in local media. A trend that is all the more worrying, given that India’s education system promotes rote learning at the cost of analytical thinking.

The BBC’s Ayeshea Perera looks at five of the most outrageous excerpts from Indian textbooks that have made headlines in recent times:


Women steal jobs

Cartoon of teacher saying women cause unemployment
Image captionUnemployment in India? Blame the women

A teacher in the central Indian state of Chhatisgarh recently complained about a textbook for 15-year-olds in the state, which said that unemployment levels had risen post independence because women have begun working in various sectors.

When contacted by the Times of India newspaper, the director of the state council for educational research and training told the newspaper: “It’s a matter of debate. It was a writer’s view out of his experience. Now, it is the teacher’s job how they explain things to the students and ask the students for their view whether they agreed to it or not.”


Never trust a meat eater

Cartoon: Teacher asks 'lying?', student says,
Image captionPeople who eat meat turn to violence and commit sex crimes, said a textbook for 11-year-olds

A national textbook for 11-year-old students created uproar in 2012 when it was discovered that it said that people who eat meat “easily cheat, tell lies, forget promises, are dishonest and tell bad words, steal, fight and turn to violence and commit sex crimes”.

Later, the director of the Central Board for Secondary Education (CBSE) told the NDTV news channel that school books used across the country are not monitored for content.


‘Donkey’ wives

Cartoon of man leading donkey
Image captionDonkeys are like housewives? Actually, said a textbook, they are a shade better

In 2006, it was discovered that a textbook for 14-year-olds in the northern Indian state of Rajasthan compared housewives to donkeys.

“A donkey is like a housewife. It has to toil all day and, like her, may even have to give up food and water. In fact, the donkey is a shade better, for while the housewife may sometimes complain and walk off to her parents’ home, you’ll never catch the donkey being disloyal to his master,” the Times of India quoted the Hindi language textbook as saying.

An official told the newspaper that the comparison had been made in “good humour”.


Japan did what in World War Two?

Cartoon of teacher holding book titled 'New Modified and Twisted history'
Image captionOne textbook in Gujarat got its nuclear history a little mixed up

In what can only be described as a complete distortion of history, a social science textbook believed to have been taught to 50,000 students in the western Indian state of Gujarat declared that Japan had launched a nuclear attack on the US during World War Two.

Officials said the textbooks, which also got the date of Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination wrong, would be corrected. However, officials had also said that the textbooks currently in circulation would not be recalled.


‘Sewage’ Canal

Cartoon of student envisaging a sewage canal
Image captionThe “Sewage canal” is a shipping lane?

Don’t be too shocked if you find students from the west Indian state of Maharashtra telling you that the “Sewage Canal” is one of the most important shipping lanes in the world. That is how the Suez Canal has been spelled in an English language textbook in the state.

The book, meant for 15-year-olds also spelled “Gandhi” as “Gandi”, and got a number of important Indian historical dates completely wrong. The NDTV website which reported the errors said that it had not been able to contact the officials responsible for the textbooks.

Cuts threaten precious UK universities, says Oxford head

Professor Andrew Hamilton
Image captionProf Hamilton is stepping down as Oxford vice-chancellor to become president of New York University

Politicians risk throwing away “the jewel” that is the UK’s higher education system, the vice-chancellor of Oxford University has warned.

Prof Andrew Hamilton said any cuts to support for universities and their research amounted to a false economy.

He also criticised the inclusion of students in immigration targets.

In his final speech as vice-chancellor, Prof Hamilton said it was remarkable that the UK featured so prominently in university world rankings.

“You will usually find four UK universities in the world’s top 20 or so. That is remarkable for an island of this size,” he told an audience in Oxford.

“It is hard to think of any other walk of life where the UK is so eminent. It’s four times the number of top tennis players we have. And yet this success often seems to go unremarked or underappreciated.”

All Souls College, Oxford
Image captionProf Hamilton said Oxford was “stronger than it has ever been”

Prof Hamilton said the government’s looming Spending Review, as well as possible changes to the research council system and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, meant the future held a “more than usually uncertain and challenging period for UK higher education”.

He went on: “I can only emphasise that of all the false economies that might be available to ministers, few could be more mistaken than cutting support for universities and their research.

“If politicians and others do not fully understand or appreciate what a jewel they have in British higher education, they risk throwing it away.”

Extremism

The outgoing vice-chancellor also commented on the government’s new Prevent guidelines for university campuses, which are intended to eradicate extremist ideology.

While it was important to protect young minds from indoctrination, freedom of speech must be protected, he warned.

“Legislation first introduced as ‘light touch’ and ‘proportionate’ must not erode the very values that we are seeking to protect.

“Freedom of expression and debate, academic independence and integrity – these are at the very heart of what makes a great university great.

“Anything that undermines them, whatever the intention, is more likely to exacerbate than eradicate the perceived danger.”

Louise Richardson
Image captionProf Louise Richardson is taking over from Prof Hamilton in January

Prof Hamilton, who is stepping down as vice-chancellor of Oxford to become president of New York University, also praised the university saying it was “stronger than it has ever been”.

He will be succeeded in January by Prof Louise Richardson, currently vice-chancellor at St Andrew’s University.

DoE makes syllabus topics recommended for culling public for comments

NEW DELHI: ‘Dadi Maa’, a story taught in grade VI Hindi has been judged “very long and uninteresting”, ‘Khan-pan ki badalti tasveer’ apparently “lacks succulence”; the tone of “The Old Clock Shop” from the English syllabus is “too dark and morose.” Lesson 8 from the Class VIII history textbook “contains only factual information and over emphasis and justification of colonialism which is unnecessary.”

These are some of the sections that an internal committee of the Directorate of Education, Delhi, has recommended for culling from the syllabus to reduce it by 25%. The detailed plan for reduction of syllabi for classes VI to VIII has now been posted online for public comment. The plan for Classes IX and X have been posted too but those will have to be approved by the Central Board of Secondary Education before they’re implemented. The final list of topics being axed will be compiled once another committee goes through in incorporates comments received. The DoE is giving teacher just six days to respond.

“All concerned subject teachers must thoroughly go through the details ….of their respective subjects/classes,” directs the circular issued on September 10 to heads of school, “Arrange faculty meetings to discuss the proposed reductions. Compile the opinion of the faculty…[and] submit… by 16.09.2015.” Teachers of government and private schools – the second group is not yet required to reduce – have been asked to respond too.

The comments thus gathered will be studied by another committee that, says Manish Sisodia, will include principals and teachers of private and government schools, department and SCERT (State Council for Educational Research and Training) officials and likely some Teach for India volunteers. Questions are already being raised about the composition of the committee that’s put this report together.

Asked if education and curriculum experts from the education departments of Delhi University, Jawaharlal Nehru University or the National University of Educational Planning and Administration, are to be involved, Sisodia says they may be but “only those who can give time.” “We have to make it soon,” he says.

Educationists are already alarmed about the involvement of Teach for India in policy-making. As one says, “their parent organization has done much damage to public education in the US and such an organization has differentiated vision of minimalistic education for the poor.” The reason cited for many of the topics — especially for senior classes — is that they are too challenging for “first generation learners.” The committee has also recommended the culling of lessons that’ll be repeated later.

Changes will be made first to syllabi of grades VI to VIII – primary sections that are squarely within the jurisdiction of the Delhi Government. For lower classes, the municipal corporations have to be brought on board.For higher classes, CBSE will have to be involved. The most common reason for trimming lessons for the senior classes is that it’s “very difficult” or “confusing.” The committee has proposed removing Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s travels – “The language and vocabulary is old English. It is a difficult text for an average 14 year old first generation learner” — and Jerome K. Jerome’s Three Men in a Boat. Its humour is apparently “too subtle.”

Educationist Anita Rampal is extremely critical of the changes being proposed. “The reasons given show a complete lack of understanding of the discipline and of children and the way they learn – it even claims there is no history in some of the best chapters. In maths it says this topic has been done – clearly not understanding the progression in the concepts required over the years,” she says.

Exeter University and Pearson plan online postgraduate degrees

Exeter students in queue

Postgraduates could have the option to study online at a leading UK university from next year.

The University of Exeter has announced an “international partnership” with education giant Pearson to develop online masters’ degrees.

The university says they are “currently researching the potential to deliver online postgraduate degrees in a variety of subjects”.

It adds: “It is intended that courses will start as early as September 2016.”

Pearson, best known in the UK as an educational publisher and owner of the Edexcel exam board, already helps run similar courses in the United States at Arizona State University, which offers more than 70 degrees entirely online at both graduate and undergraduate level.

Flexible study

The announcement says the Exeter degrees will allow students, many of whom will be fitting their studies around full-time jobs, to access course material when and where it suits them.

The university says it will focus initially on taught masters’ degrees which will be “competitively priced with ‘on the ground’ courses”.

Hands on laptop

The new courses will include weekly interactive online teaching sessions delivered from university faculties, it adds, while students who take degrees in this way would have to meet the same entry standards as those who study in person.

Exeter University’s provost, Prof Janice Kay, said the partnership offered exciting possibilities.

“The University is already well-known for its innovative approach and global ambitions and this initiative will help us realise our goals more quickly and effectively,” she explained.

The project would help widen access to higher education for vulnerable and disadvantaged people, Prof Kay added.

‘An opportunity’

Pearson’s UK managing director, Mark Anderson, said the project represented “an opportunity to make the UK’s highest quality courses far more widely available”.

Exeter and Pearson will also collaborate to research issues such as progression to higher education for students with vocational rather than academic qualifications and the development of degree-apprenticeships.

A number of higher education institutions already provide online courses.

The Open University, the UK’s largest academic institution, is a world leader in flexible distance learning. It set up the Futurelearn platform, which carries massive open online courses from universities including Warwick, Kings College London and Sheffield which are taken by more than a million students,

Other online innovations from the OU include Open Science Lab, and the OU Anywhere app.

An Exeter University described the OU as “terrific” but said the new courses would explore “some of the really exciting work and discovery that’s happening at Exeter” as well as taking it “to as many people as possible around the globe”.

The aim would be to explore and test innovative and rigorously academic methods of delivery, said the spokesman.

Children seeking mental health advice on internet

Unhappy girl

Children in England are turning to the internet for advice on mental health instead of talking to their school nurse or GP, it is claimed.

Children’s Commissioner for England Anne Longfield says children do not have the confidence to go to the doctor with mental health issues.

A small survey of youngsters suggests 62% have done a general internet search on issues such as depression.

The government said it was promoting greater use of counsellors in schools.

‘Desperate’

Ms Longfield said: “Every child knows if they are unwell with a stomach ache or hurt their leg, they go to the doctor or school nurse.

“Unfortunately they don’t have that confidence when it comes to mental health. It is a rather desperate state of affairs when they would prefer to roam around the internet or ask a friend the same age for help first.

“GPs really need to think seriously about this and ask if they are doing enough.

“Should they have a GP in every practice who is a specialist in children’s mental health, for example?

“Should they be advertising the fact that they are in a position to help within their surgeries?”

She added that while there were some good websites, it was really a “matter of luck” whether children found them.

‘£1.25bn investment’

Ms Longfield said: “There are growing concerns about increasing rates of anxiety and self-harm and the numbers attending accident and emergency departments with mental health problems have gone up exponentially in recent years.

“Young people say they need information they can trust on the internet and drop-in support which is accessible, non-stigmatised and part of everyday life. Services such as clinics in youth centres and schools and school nurses are ideally placed to help provide this.”

A government spokesman said: “We are supporting better links between mental health services and schools, ensuring children can thrive both inside and outside the classroom.

“Improving children’s mental health is a priority for this government and that’s why we’re investing £1.25bn in young people’s mental health over the next five years.”