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A Six-Point Plan By UNICEF To Protect Our Children

Global coordination is urgently needed to prevent the COVID-19 crisis from becoming a child-rights crisis.

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In the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, governments around the world have mobilized billions of dollars to save their economies. But there is another impending and devastating loss if we do not act: a lost generation of children.

Progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals is slipping backwards, and children continue to pay the steepest price. Without coordinated, global action to prevent, mitigate and respond to the effects of the pandemic, the consequences for children now, and for the future of our shared humanity, will be severe.

This six-point plan proposes a set of practical and concrete actions to reunite the world around a common cause: the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

To do so, decision-makers must start by listening to children and young people and including them in decision-making. It is they, especially girls; children facing poverty, exclusion, or violence; those with disabilities; children affected or displaced by a humanitarian crisis; and children without parental care, who will live with the impact of this pandemic for decades to come. UNICEF calls for global action to:

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1.    Ensure all children learn, including by closing the digital divide

At their peak, nationwide school closures disrupted the learning of 91 per cent of students worldwide. Marginalized children suffer the heaviest burden: some 463 million young people were not able to access remote learning during school shutdowns. What’s more, previous shutdowns demonstrate that children who are out of school for extended periods, especially girls, are less likely to return.

UNICEF asks governments and partners to:

  1. Prioritize the reopening of schools: Take all measures possible to reopen schools safely and keep them open.

  2. Increase education funding and ensure equal access to quality, violence-free education so every child learns. This will require a focus on the most marginalized children, including girls, children under attack and on the move, children with disabilities, and children living in rural communities or without access to the internet.

  3. Close the digital divide by connecting all children and young people to the internet by 2030 and reaching 3.5 billion children and young people with safe, quality, accessible and equitable online learning.

  4. Protect schools and places of learning from attack, and hold perpetrators of these attacks to account.

2.    Guarantee access to health and nutrition services and make vaccines affordable and available to every child

A child survival crisis looms, with the children at greatest risk of hunger and disease now seeing their already-fragile health and food systems buckle under the strain of COVID-19. A fragmented and inequitable response to both treating and vaccinating against COVID-19 only risks prolonging the pandemic.

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UNICEF asks governments and partners to:

  1. Urgently ensure the continuity of key health and nutrition services for children and young people – especially routine immunization, prioritizing the hardest to reach.

  2. Unite to fight the spread of misinformation and build back confidence in routine immunization.

  3. Collect gender-, age- and disability-disaggregated data on children and young people, including for those who have contracted COVID-19, and invest in research to better understand its impact on their health and well-being. 

  4. Ensure every child and young person has equal and affordable access – regardless of where they live – to COVID-19 diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines as part of a comprehensive package of essential care.

  5. Ensure any new funding expands access to other essential health services for children and young people, including by training and supporting health-care workers.

3.    Support and protect the mental health of children and young people and bring an end to abuse, gender-based violence, and neglect in childhood

The world is waking up to the extent – and lasting impacts – of child abuse and neglect. But the COVID-19 crisis has only exacerbated violence, exploitation, and abuse as children are cut off from key support services while simultaneously suffering the additional stress placed on families in turmoil. Girls are particularly vulnerable, with child marriage and adolescent pregnancy already on the rise.

UNICEF asks governments and partners to: 

  1. Integrate sustainable child mental health and psychosocial support funding in all global humanitarian responses and commit to increased multi-year funding to better meet the protection needs of children in crisis.

  2. Prioritize the prevention of and response to gender-based violence in global humanitarian action, increasing funding for gender-specific interventions.

  3. Invest in gender-sensitive mental health and psychosocial support for children, young people and their caregivers:

    1. Provide parenting support to all those who need it and strengthen child helplines and other child-focused reporting mechanisms.  

    2. Designate formal and informal social service workers and services – including for gender-based violence, child protection, and sexual and reproductive health services – as essential. 

    3. Invest in gender-sensitive mental health and psychosocial support services for children, adolescents and their caregivers, including through schools, social services and communities.

4.    Increase access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene and address environmental degradation and climate change

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COVID-19 may not have been directly caused by climate change, but there are strong linkages pointing to environmental degradation as a common underlying risk factor. Unreliable access to safe water due to changes in climate also limits people’s ability to practise life-saving hygiene measures like handwashing. Our vulnerability to this pandemic has only underscored the risk of not taking immediate action to protect against environmental degradation and climate change.

UNICEF asks governments and partners to: 

  1. Guarantee universal access to clean water and handwashing for children and families through national policies, private sector cooperation, community engagement and behaviour-change initiatives. 

  2. Invest in climate-resilient water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services in homes, schools, hospitals and public spaces to make communities better prepared for future pandemics and other shocks.

  3. Integrate child rights into key national climate change and adaptation strategies, policies and planning documents, including the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and National Adaptation Plans (NAPs), as well as COVID-19 response and recovery plans and budgets.

  4. Continue to pursue, implement and monitor climate and environmentally focused targets outlined in the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement. 

  5. Teach children and young people about climate change, the environment and responsible and sustainable consumption and production.

5.    Reverse the rise in child poverty and ensure an inclusive recovery for all

The economic crisis caused by COVID-19 threatens to hit children the hardest, with the number of children living below their national poverty lines expected to soar by 140 million by the end of the year. Economic crises are often followed by cuts to government spending, including on programmes for children. If the world repeats this pattern in the wake of COVID-19, poverty and deprivation among children will continue to rise, even after the immediate crisis has waned. An inclusive recovery plan is imperative to prevent countless more children from reaching levels of poverty unseen for many years.

UNICEF asks governments to: 

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Marshal global resources to ensure an inclusive, gender-sensitive recovery, and support national fiscal responses that prioritize children and their families:

  • Maintain or increase overseas aid commitments, identifying context-specific new financing options and direct funding to those countries most affected and least able to take on new lending.
  • Act on debt relief, including extending current debt service suspension to middle-income countries. Ensure coordinated action covering all creditors to restructure and, where necessary, reduce debt.
  • Include investment in key services for children and young people as part of domestic stimulus packages and ring-fence existing spending on the most vulnerable children.

Expand resilient social protection programmes for the most vulnerable children and their families, including cash transfers for every child and child-friendly services like affordable, quality childcare. 

6.    Redouble efforts to protect and support children and their families living through conflict, disaster and displacement

Even before the pandemic, 2020 was set to see more people than ever in need of humanitarian assistance. COVID-19 has compounded the vulnerabilities of migrant, displaced, and refugee children, as well as those living in crisis-affected countries. And whether the result of active conflict or new pandemic restrictions, it is becoming harder to reach the most vulnerable children with essential and life-saving services. COVID-19 must not become an excuse to divert attention from these children.

UNICEF asks governments to: 

  1. Increase and maintain funding for emergencies to prevent multiple, catastrophic and protracted crises and to save children’s lives, alleviate their suffering and preserve their dignity. In all humanitarian responses, prioritize child rights and child protection, in line with the Core Commitments for Children.

  2. Ensure immediate and unimpeded humanitarian access. 

  3. End attacks on children and on civilian infrastructure critical for their survival, such as water, sanitation, and health-care facilities and personnel. Hold the perpetrators of these attacks to account.

  4. Include internally displaced, refugee and migrant children in national systems, policies and plans – starting with COVID-19 recovery and response efforts.

  5. Fight the virus, not each other. Implement and uphold the United Nations Secretary-General’s call for a global ceasefire.

What is UNICEF doing to support children during COVID-19? 

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Our response to the coronavirus disease must reimagine a world fit for every child. History has shown that UNICEF, together with partners, has the experience and reach to improve the lives of millions of children and their families. We were there for the post-World War II refugee crisis – and have responded to every natural disaster, armed conflict, famine and disease since.   

And we are here now, in 192 countries and territories, working with communities, governments and partners to slow the spread of COVID-19 and minimize the social and economic impacts on children and their families. We are:

  1. Working with governments, authorities and global health partners to ensure vital supplies and protective equipment reach the most vulnerable communities. 

  2. Prioritizing the delivery of life-saving medicines, nutrition and vaccines, and working closely with governments and logistics networks to mitigate the impact of travel restrictions on the delivery of these supplies – including by supporting the COVAX initiative and preparing for a COVID-19 vaccine.

  3. Working with partners to urgently distribute water, sanitation and hygiene facilities to the most vulnerable communities. 

  4. Ensuring the continuity of key health and nutrition services – including routine immunization – focusing on the most vulnerable children.

  5. Distributing vital public health messaging and advice to slow the transmission of the virus and minimize mortality. 

  6. Supporting governments to prioritize schools in their reopening plans and take all possible measures to reopen safely. 

  7. Providing advice and support to parents, caregivers and educators to support home and remote learning, where schools remain closed, and working with partners to design innovative education solutions. 

  8. Working with partners to bridge the digital divide and bring internet connectivity to 3.5 billion children and young people by 2030. 

  9. Providing guidance to employers on how best to support working parents, and designing new social protection solutions that ensure the poorest households can access critical funding. 

  10. Providing peer-to-peer learning and information sharing between children, adolescents and young people to support their mental health and combat stigma, xenophobia and discrimination. 

  11. Working with governments, authorities and other partners to ensure child rights and child protection measures are embedded in the immediate COVID-19 response and longer-term recovery planning.

  12. Stepping up the work with refugee and migrant children and those affected by conflict to ensure they are protected from COVID-19. 

  13. Supporting meaningful child participation in the development and implementation of programmes responding to COVID-19.

This article was first published on UNICEF.org

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Education

Ooty Set to Host India’s Premier Liberal Arts Symposium: LASSI 2024

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ScooNews, in collaboration with Good Shepherd International School, is set to host Liberal Arts and Science Symposium India (LASSI 2024), a transformative symposium designed to reshape the understanding and application of Liberal Arts and Science education in India. The event, themed ‘Shaping Tomorrow,’ will convene at the serene campus of Good Shepherd International School, nestled in the Nilgiri Hills, and aims to attract educators, students, and industry experts from across the world.

LASSI 2024 is dedicated to exploring the vital role of Liberal Arts and Sciences in developing well-rounded individuals capable of thriving in a dynamic global landscape. The event will provide a comprehensive platform for attendees to delve into the core concepts of Liberal Arts, tackle prevalent challenges, and assess the global perspectives shaping this field of study.

The symposium will feature an array of masterclasses, keynotes, and case studies, each designed to provide deep insights into the integration of Liberal Arts in modern education and its relevance in today’s job market. Participants will gain first-hand knowledge about overcoming barriers to implementing Liberal Arts in the Indian education system and the professional impacts of such an education.

Jacob Thomas, President of Good Shepherd International School, Ooty, expressed his enthusiasm about hosting the event: “GSIS is privileged to host the LASSI conclave, which is more than just an event; it’s a celebration of the enduring essence of education, the beauty of collaborative effort, and our collective quest for knowledge. We invite everyone to embrace this opportunity to learn, share, and engage in groundbreaking explorations of liberal arts and social sciences.”

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The event will feature a dynamic series of presentations by a distinguished lineup of speakers. Leading the charge is Professor Sugata Mitra, a globally renowned educationist, who will deliver a session designed to inspire and redefine educational norms. Vardan Kabra, co-founder of Fountainhead School and author of “Reimagining Indian Education,” will discuss innovative educational strategies, and Maheshwar Peri, Founder of Careers360, will explore the variety of Liberal Arts programs in India. Additional speakers include, Naman Kandoi from Mayoor School Jaipur, Shankar Vanavarayar from Kumaraguru Group of Institutions, Chetna Mehrotra from Rangbhumi, Dr. Venka Purushothaman from LASALLE College of the Arts, Singapore, Prof Anil Srinivasan from Krea University, Dr Vijila Keneddy from KCLAS, Radhika Lobo from Vidyashilp University, Rahul Batra from Prakriti School, Reena Gupta from Ashoka University, Nisha Bhakar from Nandha Gokulam Life School, Sandeep Sethi from Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II Museum Trust, Vivek Atray from Shoolini University, and Prof. Saikat Majumdar from Ashoka University.

Additionally, LASSI 2024 will showcase leading Liberal Arts colleges from India and around the world, helping guide prospective students in making informed decisions about their educational futures. Success stories and groundbreaking research findings presented at the symposium will underscore the transformative impact of Liberal Arts education on careers and personal growth.

Set against the backdrop of Good Shepherd International School’s commitment to excellence in academics, sports, and co-curricular activities, LASSI 2024 promises to be a landmark event in the educational calendar. The school’s ethos, encapsulated by its motto “Truth, Trust, and Triumph,” aligns perfectly with the objectives of the symposium, promising a conducive environment for learning and interaction.

As LASSI 2024 prepares to open its doors, ScooNews and Good Shepherd International School invite educators, students, and all stakeholders to join in this enlightening journey. The symposium is poised to not only discuss but also shape the future of education, preparing the next generation for the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century.

 

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Scindia School Students Launch Start-Ups with White Canvas India’s Young CEO Program

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The Scindia School, in collaboration with White Canvas India’s Young CEO Program, has achieved a remarkable feat in fostering young entrepreneurship among its students. Inspired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit on October 21, 2023, where he encouraged students to “Dream big and Achieve big”, the school has seen the successful launch of three student-led start-ups within 100 working days following the event.

The newly established ventures include E – Siksha Sankalp, India’s pioneering digital literacy initiative that scales socio-entrepreneurial impact. Additionally, the students introduced Popped and Poppin, a novel superfood brand led by teenagers offering flavoured Makhana, and Bam brush, which features a range of sustainable products aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

The teenage founders Khush Todi, Arrthham Jalan, Harshvardhan Wadher, Tanush Somani, and Ved Gupta have been deeply involved in every facet of their businesses. From conducting need analysis and crafting professional business plans to negotiating with vendors and marketing their products, these young entrepreneurs have actively demonstrated their capabilities in the real world. Their efforts are supported by the White Canvas India Young CEO Program, India’s first and most extensive entrepreneurial skills initiative for teenagers.

Shri Ajay Singh, Principal of The Scindia School, expressed his satisfaction with the program’s success, noting, “The program has met its outcomes and I am very happy.” Furthermore, Samaresh Shah, Founder of White Canvas India, highlighted the program’s broader mission, stating, “The White Canvas India Young CEO program is committed to making every Scindian a Viksit Bharat Ambassador.”

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This initiative is in line with the National Education Policy and supports the vision of the World Economic Forum, Harvard Business Reports, and Forbes Entrepreneurship guidelines. It aims not just to educate but to empower students, equipping them with the necessary skills to thrive as future leaders and innovators.

As these young CEOs continue to develop their enterprises, they not only contribute to their personal growth but also set a precedent for youth entrepreneurship in India, proving that age is just a number when it comes to innovation and leadership.

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Knowledge

Young Birders’ Workshop Opens Registration for Children Aged 10-13 Years

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Early Bird, a not-for-profit initiative by the Nature Conservation Foundation, has announced the launch of an online birdwatching workshop tailored specifically for young enthusiasts aged 10-13 years. As birdwatching gains popularity across India, Early Bird aims to deepen young birders’ understanding of their natural surroundings, beyond merely ticking off bird names from their lists.

Set to commence during the summer holidays, this 4-week intensive programme will explore various themes through online sessions that combine multimedia, guided interactions, and lively discussions. These weekly live sessions will be held on consecutive weekends, each supplemented by an illustrated activity sheet that encourages participants to engage with and observe the green spaces around their homes.

The workshop is designed not only to educate but also to foster a deeper appreciation and awareness among children of the ecosystems they inhabit. “The workshop has changed our lives so much. We have found around 30 bird varieties around our house which we were completely unaware of,” shared Rupinder Kaur, a parent of a participant from previous workshops.

“My son never journaled or made notes. Now, he has started noticing everything when we go out to walk and wants to carry his journal. He has always hated writing but now carries his book and pencil and is ready to make notes. This workshop has made a difference to the way he looks at things. Quite enlightening. Has a lot to ask and share.“ said another participant’s parent.

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While the workshop itself is free to attend, there is a nominal fee of Rs. 800 for materials, ensuring that all participants have access to the necessary resources to fully benefit from the experience.

Registrations for the workshop are now open and can be accessed through the link provided here. This initiative aims to be an enlightening experience, allowing young minds to discover and connect with the biodiversity that exists right in their backyards.

Early Bird continues to dedicate itself to bringing children closer to nature through educational content, training educators, and direct outreach, fostering a new generation that values and conserves our natural world.

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Education

STEMpedia Successfully Completed Codeavour 5.0- India’s National Innovation Fest

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STEMpedia, in collaboration with ART PARK@IISc, India’s premier AI & Robotics Technology Park, established by the Indian Institute of Science in Bengaluru, successfully concluded the national level event of 2023’s biggest innovation fest, Codeavour 5.0 International. This year’s event, supported by leading organisations including AI Foundry, Startup India, and INDIAai, witnessed participation from 300,000 students across 70 countries, underscoring its global impact and the cumulative achievements of the competition to date.

The event, which also enjoyed backing from entities like AWS, NITI Aayog, and STEM.org, focused on fostering hands-on learning and innovation among next-gen participants. They were encouraged to create projects using PictoBlox that would contribute towards making the world a better place, aligning with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Dhrupal Shah, Director and CEO of STEMpedia, reflected on the journey and the fest’s objectives, saying, “Five years ago, we initiated Codeavour with the intention to empower young innovators and equip them with the necessary skills for the future workforce. This year, we are thrilled to announce that the top 20 winners will be awarded a trip to Mexico to participate in the FAB24 Event, accompanied by their mentors.”

The fest not only highlighted the technical skills of young minds but also provided them with a platform to showcase their creative solutions to real-world problems. In addition to the innovation and entrepreneurship track, participants competed in the AI-Robo City Challenge, demonstrating their prowess in applying AI and robotics to urban development challenges.

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The panel discussion titled “AI EduFusion Conclave: Shaping Global School Education with AI, Robotics, and Policy Insights” was a highlight of the event, featuring experts like Dr. Sreejit Chakrabarthy from GEMS Dubai American Academy and Mr. Pankaj Verma from STEMpedia. The discussion provided insights into how governments and educational institutions are integrating AI and robotics into school curriculums to prepare students for future job markets.

The event culminated with the National Innovation Awards, where participants presented projects that tackled environmental challenges and proposed sustainable solutions. Winners from the event will now proceed to the International Showdown in Dubai, hosted in partnership with Dubai American Academy.

As Codeavour 5.0 International wraps up, its success marks a significant step forward in integrating technology and education, inspiring the next generation of innovators and leaders to think critically and act creatively. The continued expansion of this fest promises to keep pushing the boundaries of what young students can achieve in the fields of AI and robotics.

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Education

CBSE to Initiate Pilot for National Credit System in Grades 6, 9, and 11

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The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) is set to launch the pilot for National Credit Framework for students in classes 6, 9, and 11, commencing in the 2024-25 academic session. This innovative step, aimed at fostering a seamless integration of school, higher, and vocational education, aligns with the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020’s vision for a holistic and flexible educational system.

Under the new scheme, students will have the opportunity to earn credits through a variety of learning avenues, including classroom teaching, laboratory work, projects, sports, performing arts, NCC, social work, vocational education, and experiential learning. These credits will be accumulated in the Academic Bank of Credit (ABC), linked to the student’s APAAR ID and DigiLocker, ensuring a cohesive and secure record of their academic journey.

The introduction of the National Credit Framework marks a significant shift towards competency and outcome-based education, aiming to bridge the gap in achieving learning outcomes. It encourages students to engage in additional courses, programs, or projects beyond the mandatory 40 credits, offering them the flexibility to tailor their educational experiences to their interests and career aspirations.

To facilitate the smooth implementation of this framework, the CBSE has developed draft guidelines, which have been refined through multiple workshops and received approval from the Union Ministry of Education. “To further test, refine, and assess their effectiveness in real-world contexts, a pilot implementation of these guidelines has been planned in schools affiliated with CBSE,” stated a letter from the CBSE to school principals.

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Schools interested in participating in this groundbreaking pilot program have been invited to register their interest, marking a collaborative effort to enhance the educational offerings for students across the nation.

This initiative not only promises to transform the way students learn and earn qualifications but also paves the way for a more inclusive and flexible education system that caters to the diverse needs and aspirations of India’s youth. As the CBSE embarks on this ambitious journey, it sets the stage for a future where education is not just about accumulation of knowledge but the holistic development of every student.

(Source- PTI)

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Education

NCERT Introduces Bridge Month Programme for Class 6 Amid Textbook Transition

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In a bid to revolutionize the educational landscape and foster a more dynamic learning environment, the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) has unveiled its Bridge Month Programme tailored for Class 6 students. This initiative marks a significant departure from conventional teaching methodologies, placing a heightened emphasis on interactive sessions and projects aimed at enhancing students’ overall skill set.

Aligned with the National Curriculum Framework for School Education (NCF-SE) and the recently implemented National Education Policy (NEP), NCERT’s Bridge Month Programme is poised to redefine the educational experience for both students and educators alike. By steering away from rote memorization towards a competency-based approach, the programme seeks to cultivate a deeper understanding of various subjects while nurturing critical thinking and problem-solving abilities.

The month-long bridge course is meticulously crafted to equip teachers with innovative pedagogical tools designed to engage students in enjoyable and enriching learning experiences. Through a curated blend of fun-based, play-based, and discovery-based activities, educators are empowered to guide students towards holistic development, transcending the boundaries of traditional classroom instruction.

Central to the programme’s ethos is the integration of vocational skills within the curriculum, commencing as early as Class 6. This forward-looking approach not only broadens students’ horizons but also fosters practical, real-world application of academic concepts. Additionally, the restructuring of the Grade 6 timetable allows for a dedicated immersion period, during which students can delve into a myriad of engaging activities spanning subjects like science, social studies, and vocational education.

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With the impending release of new textbooks for Classes 3 and 6, NCERT’s phased approach ensures a seamless transition to the updated curriculum across all educational levels. As educators and students embark on this transformative journey, the overarching goal remains clear: to cultivate a generation of lifelong learners equipped with the skills and knowledge to thrive in an ever-evolving world.

As reported by India Today.

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Education

Indian Embassy Advocates for India-US Collaboration in Education Sector

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The Indian Embassy in Washington DC has underscored the significance of fostering collaboration between India and the United States in the realm of education. In a recent social media post on platform X, the embassy expressed contentment with the fruitful engagement it had with senior faculty members from esteemed universities in Washington DC.

During the interaction, the embassy stressed the substantial opportunities for bolstering knowledge and research partnerships between India and the US. This joint endeavour aims to bolster educational initiatives and advocate for the well-being of Indian students pursuing studies in the United States.

“Excellent interaction with senior faculty from prominent universities in Washington DC on India-US collaboration and opportunities for strengthening knowledge and research partnership and promote well-being of Indian students in the US,” stated the Indian Embassy in a post on X.

Moreover, amidst recent distressing incidents involving Indian nationals or individuals of Indian origin in the US, US Ambassador to India, Eric Garcetti, has addressed concerns regarding the safety of Indian students studying in the United States. Garcetti urged students to remain vigilant and employ appropriate safety precautions, while emphasizing the importance of staying connected with peers and utilizing campus safety resources to enhance awareness and preparedness.

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In a recent interview with ANI, Garcetti acknowledged the distressing incidents involving Indian students, noting that such occurrences can statistically happen in a country of this scale. He reiterated the importance for students to remain vigilant and take necessary safety measures.

As per reports, five Indian students were reported dead in separate incidents in the first two months of 2024. (Source: ANI)

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Education

CBSE Updates Exam Structure for 11th & 12th Class; Concept-based Questions Now 50% of Weightage

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Image Source- Envato Elements

In a significant overhaul of the examination structure, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has announced changes to the year-end assessment format for Classes 11 and 12, commencing from the academic session 2024-25. The board has decided to enhance the weightage for competency-based questions to 50%, a substantial increase from the previous session’s 40%. This adjustment aims to shift the focus towards application of concepts in real-life scenarios, aligning with the new National Education Policy (NEP) 2020.

The recent circular dispatched to all CBSE-affiliated schools outlines the board’s decision to reduce the weightage for traditional short and long-answer questions to 30%, down from 40% in the 2023-24 academic session. This move is part of the board’s ongoing efforts to foster an educational environment that prioritises critical thinking, creativity, and application of knowledge over rote memorisation.

“Continuing with its practice of aligning assessment and evaluation with the new National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 in the forthcoming 2024-25 academic session, the percentage of competency-based questions that assess application of concepts in real-life situations is increased by 10 per cent,” reads the circular issued on April 3.

Competency-based questions will encompass multiple-choice questions, case-based, and source-based integrated questions. According to a senior official from the CBSE, the increment in weightage for competency-based questions has been a consistent annual strategy for the past three years, reaching its peak at 50% this year.

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The CBSE has chosen not to modify the examination format for Classes 9 and 10, maintaining the structure set during the previous academic year. The changes for senior secondary classes reflect the board’s commitment to the NEP’s vision of competency-based learning as opposed to the traditional textbook-driven approach.

“The main emphasis of the board was to create an educational ecosystem that would move away from rote memorisation and towards learning that is focused on developing the creative, critical and systems thinking capacities of students to meet the challenges of the 21st century,” the CBSE conveyed in its letter to school heads.

This reform is a stride towards equipping students with the necessary skills and knowledge to navigate the complexities of the modern world, ensuring they are not only exam-ready but also prepared for the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead in the 21st century.

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Education

FPSB India and IIM Bangalore Forge Strategic Partnership to Advance Financial Education

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In a collaboration aimed at enhancing financial education and professional development in India, FPSB India and the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore (IIM Bangalore) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). Announced on March 29, 2024, in Bangalore, this partnership is set to revolutionize the landscape of financial planning education for working professionals and students alike.

Under the auspices of this strategic alliance, an Executive Education Programme in Financial Planning will be launched, tailored specifically to meet the needs of working professionals and students. This programme is designed to address the growing demand for advanced education in financial planning, drawing on the combined expertise of FPSB India and IIM Bangalore to deliver a comprehensive and enriching learning experience.

In a move to further empower aspiring Certified Financial Planner professionals, FPSB India has announced the provision of five scholarships based on merit. This initiative underscores the commitment of both institutions to foster talent and equip candidates with the necessary skills and certifications for success in the financial planning sector.

Moreover, the partnership will see FPSB India and IIM Bangalore jointly creating Continuous Professional Development (CPD) resources and co-curating various initiatives and events. These collaborative efforts aim to make education and training in finance more accessible to students pursuing a career in this field, thereby bridging the gap between academia and industry.

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Krishan Mishra, CEO of FPSB India, expressed his enthusiasm for the collaboration, stating, “This collaboration marks a significant milestone in our efforts to elevate the financial planning profession in India. By joining forces with IIM Bangalore, we aim to provide students with unparalleled opportunities to excel in the professional financial planning sector.”

Echoing these sentiments, Professor Rishikesha T Krishnan, Director of IIM Bangalore, highlighted the mutual goal of both organizations to enhance the connection between academic knowledge and practical industry application. “We are happy to partner with FPSB India in our shared mission to bridge the gap between academia and industry in the field of personal finance,” he said.

This partnership between FPSB India and IIM Bangalore represents a concerted effort to promote financial literacy, advance research, and cater to the evolving needs of the personal finance sector. Through their joint initiatives, both organizations are committed to nurturing a pool of talent that is poised to drive innovation and excellence in the financial planning services industry in India and beyond.

FPSB India stands as a leading authority in financial planning in India, dedicated to promoting professional standards across the country (with more than 2,731 CFP professionals in India and part of a global network representing over 223,700 professionals worldwide).

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Education

1 in 6 School-Age Children Face Cyberbullying: Calls for Immediate Action

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the concept of cyberbullying students as revealed in a study by WHO
The image is generated using AI

On 27th March 2024, WHO/Europe unveiled the second volume of the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) study, casting light on a growing concern in our digital age: cyberbullying. This comprehensive research, spanning 44 countries and regions, reveals some unsettling statistics – one in six school-aged children experiences cyberbullying, an issue magnified by the increasing digitalization of youth interactions.

Despite the stable overall trends in school bullying since 2018, the report highlights a notable rise in cyberbullying, underpinning the profound impact it has on young lives. The figures speak volumes: 12% of adolescents report cyberbullying others, with boys (14%) more inclined than girls (9%). This marks a worrying increase from previous years. Moreover, the experience of being cyberbullied has risen to 15% among adolescents, closely aligned between boys (15%) and girls (16%).

These statistics are alarming, not least because they often go unnoticed in schools. The invisible nature of cyberbullying means children suffer in silence, unable to voice their distress. In the Indian context, bullying – both offline and online – remains a pervasive issue, exacerbated by cultural and systemic barriers that discourage open discussion and resolution.

The advent of AI and deepfakes technology poses an even greater threat, making it easier to create and spread harmful content, potentially leading to an immense increase in cyberbullying incidents. This technological evolution, while offering myriad benefits, also amplifies the avenues for harassers to exploit, making it increasingly challenging to protect young people online.

Dr Joanna Inchley, HBSC study International Coordinator, emphasizes the dual nature of the digital world. “It offers incredible opportunities for learning and connecting but also amplifies challenges like cyberbullying,” she notes. This dichotomy necessitates comprehensive strategies to safeguard young people’s mental and emotional well-being, urging governments, schools, and families to collaborate in addressing online risks and ensuring adolescents have safe and supportive environments to flourish.

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Dr Hans Henri P. Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe, frames this as both a health and human rights issue. “With young people spending up to 6 hours online every single day, even small changes in the rates of bullying and violence can have profound implications for the health and well-being of thousands,” he states. This underscores the urgent need for action to protect our children from violence and harm, both offline and online.

In response, WHO/Europe has recently published its first-ever position paper on protecting children from online harms. This groundbreaking document aims to support governments in formulating consistent requests to technology companies, with the overarching goal of securing healthy online environments for children to thrive.

The HBSC study’s findings underscore the complexity of adolescent bullying and peer violence, highlighting the crucial role societal, cultural, and technological factors play. By providing a detailed overview of current trends and challenges, the report offers valuable guidance for stakeholders at all levels in their efforts to improve the health and well-being of young people across Europe, Central Asia, and Canada.

Investing in evidence-based interventions to combat bullying and peer violence is not just about supporting adolescent well-being; it offers broader societal benefits. From reducing healthcare costs associated with mental health issues to improving educational outcomes, the stakes couldn’t be higher.

As we delve deeper into the digital age, the need for fast, comprehensive, and evidence-based interventions has never been more critical. Cultivating empathy, respect, and resilience among adolescents is paramount in creating a safer, more inclusive digital landscape. The time to act is now, ensuring every young person can thrive in an environment that promotes their health and development.

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