Haryana to launch learning enhancement programme in 3,222 schools

Haryana to launch learning enhancement programme in 3,222 schools
under the LEP, 18,000 government primary school teachers have been trained over the last one month as part of Haryana’s Quality Improvement Program.

GURGAON: The state government’s massive initiative – Learning Enhancement Programme (LEP) – which was prepared in collaboration with Boston consultancy group to substantially enhance quality of education in government schools will become operational in 3,222 primary schools from Monday.

Giving out the details, Haryana education minister Ram Bilas Sharma said that under the LEP, 18,000 government primary school teachers have been trained over the last one month as part of Haryana’s Quality Improvement Program.

The 3,222 LEP schools are spread across the whole state and more than 6 lakh students are enrolled there. The first hour of the school day will be observed as LEP hour in these schools, where teachers will use books that have been specially prepared by State Council of Education Research and Training (SCERT) for the program with support from BCG and a Delhi-based NGO.

These books focus on important competencies of lower classes so that the large learning gaps of students versus their current class can be bridged. The program currently focuses on Hindi and Maths. The subject of English will be added in November, said the minister.

TC Gupta, principal secretary to government of Haryana, School Education Department, said, “The goal of this program is to ensure that all students acquire the competencies of previous classes, necessary to come up to the level of their current class. This is an urgent need.”

The State’s District and Block Elementary Education Officers, and DIET principals have been given a tight monitoring schedule to regularly visit LEP schools. They will be submitting their observations through an online utility. This will enable data-based reviews of progress and help improve the program over time. 400 mentors at block and cluster level have also been trained who will visit LEP schools every fifteen days and provide academic support to the teachers inside classrooms.

The state has started with 3,222 schools. Based on its concurrent evaluation during the rest of the current academic year government of Haryana intends to scale this ambitious program to all 9,000 primary schools next year.

Zonal Youth Fest inaugurated at Guru Nanak Dev University

AMRITSAR: The Zonal Youth Festival of ‘A’ Zone was inaugurated with beat of Bhangra here on Sunday in the Dashmesh Auditorium of the Guru Nanak Dev University.

Students-artists of 14 educational colleges are participating in 34 presentations. This festival will conclude on October 14. A large number of university officials, principals of various colleges and cultural coordinators were present. On the occasion V-C Saravjit Kaur Brar appreciated the achievements of youth welfare department.

Being an alumnus of the university herself, she said that teachers and their parents should encourage students to participate in cultural activities, while recalling her student days. She added that students should participate in cultural activities along with studies for their overall development.

On Monday, competitions in the following fields will be organized: Folk Instruments, One Act Play, Geet/Gazal, Folk Song, Elocution, Poetical Symposium, Debate, Rangoli and Fulkari. Mime, Mimicry, Fancy Dress Exhibition, Skit, Group Dance, Classical Instrumental (Percussion), Classical Instrumental (Non-Percussion) and Classical Vocal will also be held.

Results declared but top 10 merit list missing

BHOPAL: There seems no end to controversies in Dental and Medical Admission Test (DMAT) for admission to private dental and medical colleges in the state organized by Association of Association of Private Dental Medical Colleges of Madhya Pradesh (APDMC). After failing to release scores within 15 minutes of the exams and declaring results the next day APDMC drew the ire of students on Saturday for declaring individual merit list.

Students do not know about the top ten merit holders. Besides, results of 26 students were changed after technical expert appointed by high court CL Reddy found discrepancies.

Students alleged by not declaring the top ten merit list, APDMC has again made the entire exam fishy. “An exam which was cancelled thrice in the past should have transparency. I do not understand the reason of not releasing the complete merit list. There is definitely something wrong with the entire exam system,” said a student, who preferred to remain anonymous.

Another student said, “Even scam-ridden Vyapam follow the norms of declaring top-ten merit holders. By hiding the top ten, organisers have again put a question on the sanctity of this exam.”

When contacted, technical expert, Reddy said, “I will talk to concerned authorities to declare top ten merit results as early as possible. I do not think it is a matter to hide for anyone.”

Reddy admitted there were discrepancies in the results of 26 students. “I took up the issue and it was immediately rectified. I am completely satisfied by the process followed in declaring the results,” Reddy said.

Counselling for admissions will be organised from Sunday.

APDMC has not been able to put its act together despite drawing ire of Madhya Pradesh high court before conduct of the test. And, this is despite three cancellations of DMAT.

This year, examination was scheduled for June 21. Former legislator Paras Saklecha moved high court in June, seeking cancellation of the test because candidates could apply till last moment. After the petition, APDMC postponed the test to July 12.

The July 12 exam was cancelled after high court issued directives to APDMC for scanning OMR answer-sheets of every candidate writing DMAT on July 12. APDMC said it was not possible for them to abide by the order within deadline and postponed the exam.

Again, APDMC cancelled DMAT on September 20 owing to a spate of technical breakdowns and agitations at exam centres across the country. Then it was decided the exam would be held on October 8.

Gujarat may do away with compulsory JEE

Gujarat may do away with compulsory JEE
The state plans to introduce its own Gujarat Common Entrance Test (GujCET) for admissions to professional courses.

AHMEDABAD: Gujarat government is mulling doing away with the Joint Entrance Exam (JEE) which is mandatory for candidates seeking admission in engineering and pharmacy. The state plans to introduce its own Gujarat Common Entrance Test (GujCET) for admissions to professional courses.

Education minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama said: “We received several representations from various quarters of society and even from students and school managements, asking the government to make Joint Entrance Exam (JEE) not mandatory for candidates seeking admission to engineering and pharmacy colleges in the state. The government is thinking positively about it and this year the state gave admission to students who had not appeared for the JEE examination.

The minister said the government is taking opinions of various stakeholders including academicians. The government has got representations stating that those students who do not want to go away from their homes for studies should be spared from the all-India test, he said.

This will come as a big relief to more than one lakh students in Gujarat who do outside their home state for studies. Incidentally, candidates seeking admission to national institutes and colleges outside the state will still have to take JEE or a similar all-India entrance test.

Pankaj Patel, joint secretary of Gujarat State Higher Secondary Teachers Federation said: “We have made a representation to have GujCET based on Semester III and Semester IV syllabus of class XII of Gujarat Secondary and Higher Secondary Education Board. The minister has assured that they will do away with the system and announce the decision shortly.”

Officials said that chief minister Anandiben Patel herself wanted this change in the admission process. She had earlier directed the state education department to take necessary steps and change the admission system so that students of the state not seeking admission in a national institution are not compelled to take the JEE.

Tamil Nadu and some other states also give admission on the basis of marks scored in the Class 12 board exams, said the official. It is worth recalling that Gujarat was among the first states to agree to the introduction of the JEE examination.

Telangana, Andhra Pradesh see steep dip in IIT-ians

Telangana, Andhra Pradesh see steep dip in IIT-ians
There has been a decline in the ‘IIT-frenzy’ among engineering candidates.

HYDERABAD: The two states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh could still be national ‘rank-holders’ in IIT admissions, but their ‘in-house’ count of IIT-ians has slipped drastically over the years. From an impressive 4,975 students walking into the premier engineering institutes in 2014, the number has dropped to a modest 1,546 this year. In 2013, the figure stood at a high 3,698.

Observers attribute this downward trend to a multiple reasons: Increased options for colleges, both at home and overseas, change in pattern of entrance examination and marginal decline in the ‘IIT frenzy’ among candidates from the two states. But what, according analysts, stands out as the most telling reason is the branching out of Hyderabad-based coaching centres to other parts of the country.

“While in the past, most IIT (Indian Institutes of Technology) aspirants from other states descended on the city to enroll themselves with coaching centres here – known to churn out scores of successful candidates every year – they now have the same institutes available closer home. As a result, these students are no longer counted as part of the Madras zone, which comprises all southern states,” said an educationist, attributing this ‘trend’ in the fall in IIT-ian numbers in Telangana and AP.

Incidentally, the two popular IIT academies, Narayana and Chaitanya, have recently started operations in states such as Karnataka, Kerala and Rajasthan – the state that topped the national list this year. Of the 9,974 who qualified to the IITs in 2015, a whopping 1,965 are from the ‘coaching town’ of Kota in Rajasthan.

Some experts, however, maintain that the quality of students appearing for IIT entrance has dipped over time. “In fact, even those qualifying aren’t doing well after joining the institutes. And that’s because many take to rote learning – some from as early at Class VI – to secure a seat. But by the time they join their course, they lose interest in engineering,” said Ananda Raman, mentor and director of FIITJEE, an IIT training institute.

This year, 770 students from Telangana and 776 students from Andhra Pradesh made it to the premier institutes. While for a decade united AP secured 20% seats in the top-notch engineering institutions, this year only 9% seats were cornered by students of the two states. Over 18,000 candidates had appeared for the JEE advanced from both states in 2015.

SKMU headquarter set to become wi-fi enabled

DUMKA: The Sido Kanho Murmu University (SKMU) headquarter is set to be equipped with a wi-fi facility with financial assistance from the University Grants Commission (UGC).

The SKMU syndicate, in its meeting on Friday, which was presided over by vice chancellor Qamar Ahsan approved the administration’s proposal of introducing a wi-fi facility in its Dighi headquarter.

The UGC, as part of the 12th five year plan, has allocated funds to SKMU for the purpose. The syndicate also approved the proposal of introducing postgraduate teaching of Sanskrit in S P College Dumka.

Bringing financial relief to eight teachers of BSK College in Barharwa, the SKMU syndicate approved the fixation of their salary as per the fifth pay commission scale. They are currently getting salary on the basis of the fourth pay commission though their colleagues are availing themselves of the benefit of the sixth pay commission.

Kolhapur civic body faces uphill task to improve school infrastructure

KOLHAPUR: With the civic body deciding to develop seven of its 61 ailing schools through private entities, it now faces a tough task to improve the quality of education provided to the students belonging to economically weaker sections.

The proposal to develop these schools was approved two months ago even as there were delays in the acceptance of the policy since the last three years.

The Kolhapur Municipal Corporation (KMC) took the decision after it failed to restart these schools through its own funds.

Besides funds worth Rs 28 crore sanctioned through the budgets for the salaries and maintenance, the school board gets additional grant of just Rs 25 lakh every year to undertake miscellaneous works such as colouring the buildings and construction of compound walls.

As per the new policy, the private parties need to repair these defunct schools and operate them for 20 years. To ensure that poor students get admissions, the private entities will have to reserve 25% seats for those residing in the periphery of the schools.

Mahesh Jadhav, NCP corporator and chairman of the school board, said, “The finalisation of the proposal to rent out schools to private organisations is a historical decision. The initiative will help us provide quality education to poor students as well as help us rake in revenue from the premium charged for using the building structure and the open spaces near it. The funds generated will be utilised to strengthen the schools governed directly by the KMC.”

There was tremendous disappointment among the teachers, parents and students during the first three years of the Congress-NCP regime, as senior civic authorities or corporators hardly paid attention to their demands.

However, genuine efforts by the officials and teachers in the last two years have helped increase the student count from 8,000 to 10,400 in the KMC-run schools. Moreover, 150 more students will also join these schools soon.

The leaders claimed that they spent around Rs 84 lakh for strengthening the school infrastructure. However, the initiatives such as e-learning are yet to be operational in each of these 54 schools.

The district planning and development council (DPDC) had sanctioned Rs 34 lakhs to install projectors with a computer and internet facility in these schools.

However, the contractor assigned for the work failed to supply the equipment on time and the council had to withdraw the funds.

There were allegations that the corporators forced the officials to accept the tender of an incompetent contractor for the work, which deprived the students of modern learning methods.

Meanwhile, experts believe that the KMC and the government should infuse funds in these schools to make them as good as the private ones. Since the last few decades, these schools have remained an avenue for poor students, who cannot afford the fees of private schools.

Education expert Sudhakar Sawant said, “The teachers have to plead several times to the civic authorities and corporators for particular facilities needed for schools. No full-time administrative officer has been appointed despite being mandatory for the civic bodies. This has led to trust deficit between the teachers and the civic administration. The KMC needs to take special efforts to address sanitation concerns in these schools to make them student and teacher-friendly.”

While welcoming the decision to develop seven schools, Sawant gave a word of caution considering the lethargy of the officials in implementing policies. “There’s no doubt that the private parties developing these schools will help deliver modern techniques of schooling. However, the initiative will fail to provide affordable education to poor students. Moreover, after these schools are transferred back to the KMC, the doubts over effective management may come to the fore considering the financial position of the civic body,” he added.

* Schools till 4th grade: 6

* Schools till 7th grade: 47

* Urdu medium school: 1

* Senior college: 1

* No. of students: 10,400

* No. of teachers: 320

PPP mode of developing schools:

* Private institutions can develop schools, provide education through skilled teachers and adopt modern methods

* Institutions have to pay yearly premium for using school building and open spaces

* 25% admissions reserved for students residing near schools

* Operate school for 20 years and transfer back to the KMC

Schools to be developed through PPP mode:

*Annabhau Sathe Vidyalay (Rajarampuri)

*Rangrao Salunkhe Vidyalay (Susar Baug)

*Maharani Tarabai Vidyalay (Mangalwar Peth)

*Girl’s School No. 5 (Shahupuri),

*Padmaraje Vidyalay Girls’ High school

*Padmaraje Vidyalay Boys’ High school

*Nehru Girls High school

Current regime and its impact:

* Increase in students count

* Dropout rate brought to zero

* Workshop for teachers to improve teaching skills

* Eight-day residential camp for 200 students every year for personality development

* Regular health check-up of girls and boys

MU postpones exams for nine postgraduate courses

MUMBAI: Mumbai University postponed the commencement dates of around nine postgraduate courses including MA and MSc due to late admissions this year. Late results, followed by delay in admissions of several postgraduate courses had shortened the academic term forcing the university to reschedule the exam. Some of the exams have been postponed by over a month. One of the TYB Com (semester VI) paper on October 29 was also rescheduled as it clashed with a CA exam.

The dates of commencement of exams that were postponed include MA (other than Mathematics, Statistics, and Geography) credit-based grading system (CBGS) semester-I, M Sc (other than Mathematics, Statistics, and Geography) and M Sc Research (semester I), MA (Hons) in Sociology (Semester-I), TYBA (five-year integrated course in Russian) (Sem V), MA (Hons) in Politics (Sem I and Sem III), MA (Hons) in Sociology (Sem III) and MA (Hons) in Public Policy (Sem II). The university has put up the notice on their official website.

Homesick students in travel rush, say rail companies

Liverpool Lime St station
Image captionJourneys from Liverpool were up 52% on the usual weekly average

Homesickness among students peaks in the third week of October, Association of Train Operating Companies (Atoc) research suggests.

Of some 1.7 million journeys made across the entire rail network during this week last year, more than 337,000 were made on 16-25 Railcards – 13% higher than the usual weekly average.

And for railcard journeys originating in university towns, the figure was 28% higher than the usual weekly average.

The only busier period was Christmas.

The five top cities from which 16- to 25-year-olds were travelling in the third working week of October last year were:

  • Exeter with 64% more journeys than the usual weekly average
  • Durham up 61%
  • Liverpool up 52%
  • Bristol up 45%
  • Birmingham up 42%
Student with washingImage copyrightATOC
Image captionThe promise of getting washing done can lure students home, rail companies say

With freshers’ week already a blurred memory and the workload starting to build, many decide it is time to head home, the data suggests.

“It’s interesting to see such a clear spike in Railcard journeys in October,” said Andrew Robertson, of Atoc.

“Going to university for the first time can be an exciting but daunting experience for young adults. And our research indicates that for many, the reality of living away from parents can really kick in after just a few weeks.”

Mr Robertson suggested that budget constraints, a lack of home-cooked food or maybe even running out of clean clothes could spark a yearning in students for the comfort of their teenage bedroom.

“A trip home seems to be just what students need to recharge the batteries after a few hectic weeks at university,” he said.

South Korea to control history textbooks used in schools

The leadership of the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy, including its chief, Moon Jae-in (C), stages a demonstration in Seoul, South Korea, 12 October 2015, to express opposition to the government's move to reintroduce a single state history textbook for secondary school students
Image captionOpposition politicians have protested against the plans. The placards read: “Objection to history textbooks that distort history”

South Korea’s government has announced controversial plans to control the history textbooks used in secondary schools.

Currently, secondary schools can choose from textbooks published by eight different publishing companies.

However, the government says that from 2017, all secondary schools must only use history textbooks issued by the state.

The move has sparked fierce criticism from academics and opposition parties.

The government has argued that current history textbooks are too left-leaning and encourage anti-American and pro-North Korea feelings, the BBC’s Kevin Kim in Seoul reports.

‘Distorting history’

The new textbook, which will be called The Correct Textbook of History, will be written by a government-appointed panel of history teachers and academics.

Opposition politicians and some academics have protested against the move, accusing the government of “distorting history”.

A student group also held a rally on Saturday, telling the Korea Times: “Such a textbook will allow the government to interfere with the interpretation and teaching of history… This infringes on the independence and political neutrality of education guaranteed by the Constitution.”

Hwang Woo-yea, chairman of the ruling Saenuri Party, said in September that the government-issued textbooks would be “neutral” and that the change was necessary because “students and their parents are discontented with the current textbooks”, Yonhap news agency reported.

History is a frequently contested issue in East Asia – often fuelling territorial disputes and diplomatic rifts in the region, including in China and Japan, our correspondent says.