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‘Buddy’ program in Ludhiana to help students from govt schools

The district administration of Ludhiana has planned a ‘Buddy for a day’ program where children from private schools become buddies with students from govt schools and share knowledge, information and help them groom. The district administration is hopeful of good results.

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Across the world ‘Buddy’ programs have been a hit and have provided varied results ranging from reduced discrimination to easy exchange of knowledge, from a good way to introduce new concepts to a great way to increase bonding. ‘Buddy’ programs have largely been successful across the world in varied institutions and it’s a good sign that Ludhiana is going to very soon have its very own ‘Buddy’ program but with a difference.

According to the scheme envisaged by the district administration, students from private schools will become ‘Buddy for a day’ for their counterparts from government schools and help groom them. Under this, students of private schools will share their skills, ideas and knowledge with their buddies.

The aim of introducing this program is to groom, uplift and expose government school students to private school students and their thought process. With this in mind, the district administration approached all private schools and mooted the idea of conducting regular combined sessions of private and government school students and teachers to facilitate exchange of ideas, knowledge and experiences.

The move has received an encouraging response with as many as 15 schools of Khanna area having agreed to come onboard. Some prominent schools like Sacred Heart Convent School, Delhi Public School, and Hindu Putri Pathshala are also part of this project.

A committee has also been formed to ensure the smooth functioning of the initiative and comprises the deputy district education officer (secondary) Charanjit Singh, deputy district education officer (elementary) Dimple Madaan and 4 representatives of private schools under the supervision of sub divisional magistrate (SDM), Khanna, IAS Shaukat Ahmed Pare.

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SDM Khanna Pare said, "There would be a cultural programme followed by a session on 'introduce your buddy', some games and debates as well. Since government school students don't have much, bringing them on one platform would help these students become even."

Mohini Badarwaj, vice senior coordinator of Sacred Heart Convent School, Khanna appreciated the initiative saying that with this move the district administration has taken a step towards reducing discrimination amongst school students. We have discovered that upon reaching college, government schools tend to face some inferiority complex. This will definitely help alleviate this possibility. We may also plan some inter-school competitions under this project."

Under this initiative, private school students and government school students would build up a bond, share their thoughts, skills and knowledge. It is believed that it will not only groom govt school students but also remove the problem of discrimination.

Education

Education for Girls

Department of School Education and Literacy (DoSEL), Ministry of Education is implementing ‘Samagra Shiksha’, for universalization of quality education throughout the country in coordination with the States and UTs.

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Education is a subject in the concurrent list of the Constitution and the majority of schools are under the jurisdiction of the State Government. Department of School Education and Literacy (DoSEL), Ministry of Education is implementing a centrally sponsored Integrated Scheme for School Education ‘Samagra Shiksha’, effective from 2018-19, for universalization of quality education throughout the country in coordination with the States and UTs. Bridging gender and social category gaps at all levels of school education is one of the major objectives of the Samagra Shiksha. From the year 2018-19 to 2020-21, the Drop-out rate of girls at the Secondary level decreased from 17.03% to 13.7%, Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) at the secondary level increased from 76.93 to 79.45, and GER at the higher secondary level has increased from 50.84 to 54.65. (Source: UDISE+).

Under Samagra Shiksha, there is a provision for gender-segregated toilets in all schools. As per UDISE+ 2020-21, 97.45% of Government schools have gender-segregated toilets. Also, there is a provision of a Composite School Grant which may be used for annual maintenance and repair of existing school buildings, toilets, and other facilities to upkeep the infrastructure in good condition.

School Health Programme, under Ayushman Bharat which is a joint collaborative initiative of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and DoSEL, Ministry of Education, a module on ‘Growing up Healthy’ has been incorporated, which interalia includes information on physical challenges during adolescence and attaining puberty.

The National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) is implementing the Adolescence Education Programme (AEP) as part of the National Population Education Project (NPEP). One of the learning outcomes of AEP is to make the learners aware of the concerns of adolescence, i.e. process of growing up during adolescence, and to inculcate in them a positive attitude regarding these concerns.

Additionally, vide a joint letter of Secretary, DoSEL, and Secretary, Ministry of Jal Shakti dated 08.03.2022, the states have been advised to utilize funds earmarked for Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) and management of menstrual waste under the Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin) Phase-II at the village level, for installation or maintenance of incinerators in schools having girls from classes VI to XII and for creating awareness on MHM among adolescent girls and in the society in general.

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Moreover, all States and UTs have been requested to take necessary steps to create awareness amongst adolescent girls in schools about the safe usage and the benefits of Sanitary Napkins. It has also been communicated that subsidized sanitary napkins are available at the Jan Aushadi Kendras set up by the Ministry of Chemical and Fertilisers, Government of India.

Under Samagra Shiksha, there is a provision of Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalayas (KGBVs) in the Educationally Backward Blocks, which are residential schools for girls belonging to disadvantaged groups such as SC, ST, OBC, Minority, and Below Poverty Line (BPL). KGBVs were functional for classes 6th to 8th under the erstwhile Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan. Under Samagra Shiksha, a provision has been made to upgrade/converge the KGBVs with girls hostels to cover girls up to classes 10th (Type II) and 12th (Type III) to reduce dropout and enhance enrolment of girls at Secondary and Higher Secondary levels. In KGBVs, specific skill training is imparted to provide need-based vocational education to girls.

Further, Special State Specific Projects for varied interventions under equity are emphasized for enhancing access, retention, and quality of girls by promoting enrolment drives, retention and motivation camps, gender sensitization modules, etc. Financial Support is also being provided under State Specific projects as per the allocation of flexi funds under quality to the state subject to viable proposals received from the respective State and UTs. Such projects include Life Skills, Awareness programmes, Incinerators, Sanitary Pad Vending Machines etc.

Moreover, Samagra Shiksha aims at integrating Vocational Education with general academic education in all Secondary/Senior Secondary schools including KGBVs; enhancing the Employability and Entrepreneurial abilities of the students, providing exposure to working environment; and generating awareness amongst students about various career options so as to enable them to make a choice in accordance with their aptitude, competence, and aspirations.

The information was given by the Minister of State for Education, Smt. Annpurna Devi in a written reply in the Lok Sabha on 1st August 2022.

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NITI Aayog and Bharti Foundation announce the launch of ‘Convoke 2021-22’

The applications for CONVOKE are open now and applications will be accepted towards the end of January.

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NITI Aayog in partnership with Bharti Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Bharti Enterprises, launched Convoke 2021-22.

Convoke is a National research Symposium that aims at addressing challenges in imparting education and strengthening its quality with a special focus on all teachers, educationists, heads of schools across India. Through this platform, School Teachers/ Heads/Principals of Government Schools and teachers from the Bharti Foundation network will be encouraged to use research-based solutions through a scientific approach, and showcase their efforts taken at the grassroots level in improving learning outcomes.

The National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 also recognises and identifies teachers and faculty as the heart of the learning process. It recommends that teachers will be recognised for novel approaches to teaching that improve learning outcomes in their classrooms. NEP recommends developing platforms so that teachers may share ideas and best practices for wider dissemination and replication.

Teachers over the years have been coming up with innovative solutions to help support students and even more during the lockdown. Through Convoke they can now share their micro research papers. These research papers will be analyzed by a panel of Educationists. The shortlisted Research Papers will be presented during the ‘National Research Symposium’ scheduled in January 2022.

The event was chaired by Dr. Rajiv Kumar, Vice Chairman, NITI Aayog, and attended by Shri Amitabh Kant, CEO, NITI Aayog, Dr. Prem Singh, Adviser (Education), NITI Aayog, Shri Rakesh Bharti Mittal, Co-Chairman, Bharti Foundation, and Ms. Mamta Saikia, CEO, Bharti Foundation and also virtually attended by representatives of Ministry of Education, NIEPA, Officials of Education Departments/ SCERTs of all States/UTs.

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Speaking during the event Dr. Rajiv Kumar, Vice Chairman, NITI Aayog, said, “There is a need to focus on quality as we have achieved near-universal access in elementary education. It becomes an immediate and foremost important task given the learning regression that has happened due to the Covid 19 school closures. I hope that CONVOKE will become a platform that will be pan-India and it will become a movement towards improving learning outcomes through joyful teaching and learning. I appeal to all the education stakeholders to make quality education a mission to meet the aspirations of our youth. We must also focus on pre-school education as a significant number of children are not attending pre-school and therefore lagging behind in learning outcomes when they enter schools.”

The National Education Policy 2020 gives a lot of emphasis on finding solutions using scientific methodology, helping teachers and students develop 21st-century skills. It envisions a comprehensive approach to transform the quality and quantity of research in India, which includes definitive shifts in school education to a more play and discovery-based style of learning with an emphasis on the scientific method and critical thinking.

During the event, Shri Amitabh Kant, Chief Executive Officer, NITI Aayog emphasized that “CONVOKE will immensely help in bridging the gap between academia, policymakers, and practitioners in the education field. The findings from the ground by the teachers on ‘what works’ will help policymakers to design policies that are responsive to the needs of the grassroots. It will also inform the academia of the challenges associated with improving learning outcomes and potential research areas where the teachers at grassroots could even be co-investigators.”

Emphasizing the need to improve learning outcomes, Dr. Prem Singh, Adviser (Education), NITI Aayog highlighted that “CONVOKE will promote the suggestions of the National Education Policy 2020 on recognizing novel approaches to teaching that improve learning outcomes in their classrooms. Convoke will help in creating a culture of using research-based pedagogy to improve learning outcomes in school education”.

Addressing the gathering during the event, Mr. Rakesh Bharti Mittal, Co-Chairman, Bharti Foundation said, “At Bharti Foundation, we endeavor to enhance the quality of teaching and improve learning outcomes amongst teachers & students in schools. We are honoured to partner with NITI Aayog for CONVOKE 2021 at a pivotal time when NEP 2020 is being rolled out nationally. Together we will provide a platform for educators to spread their knowledge across the country so that the goals put forth in NEP 2020 can be realized with speed and consistency.”

Ms.Mamta Saikia, Chief Executive Officer, Bharti Foundation, spoke about how CONVOKE has evolved from being a small-scale discussion forum to promote teacher interaction to now becoming a unique platform of a National stature that will promote micro researches from teachers that will further plough into the policymaking in the country.

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The applications for CONVOKE are open now and applications will be accepted towards the end of January. Further details about the event can be accessed at https://bhartifoundation.org/convoke/

 

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Ministry of Education organises a National webinar on Quality Teacher Education, Accreditation, and Teacher Development

Ministry of Education, AICTE, and the National Council for Teacher Education organized a national webinar on “Quality Teacher Education, Accreditation, and Teacher Development.” 

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Ministry of Education, AICTE, and the National Council for Teacher Education organized a national webinar on "Quality Teacher Education, Accreditation, and Teacher Development."  Dr. Jitendra Singh, MoS (Independent Charge) for Science and Technology, PMO, and DOPT was the chief guest for the webinar.

Addressing the participants, Dr. Jitendra Singh said that in line with the vision of the Prime Minister, the National Education Policy 2020 will help  in realising the goal of New India. The Minister stressed that there is a strong need of aligning professional degree and career choices. He also spoke of integrity in the selection process of teachers and incentivizing the best students to take up teaching as a profession.

The Minister said that teachers have been at the centre of education since ancient times and contributing to the country’s progress. High-quality teaching will improve educational outcomes and will lead to the holistic development of students.

Prof. Narendra Kumar Taneja, VC, CCS University; Prof. C.K. Saluja, Rtd., CIE, Delhi University; Prof. M. Jagadesh Kumar, VC, JNU; Prof. Padma Sarangpani, Tata Institute of Social Sciences; Dr. Maitreyee Dutta (Head), Dept of Computer Science & Engg., NITTTR, Chandigarh; Ma. Ramya Venkataraman, CENTA also participated in the webinar.

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The webinar featured two sessions on

(i) Quality Education and Teacher Development

(ii) Accreditation.

Prof. HCS Rathore, Former VC, South Bihar Central University, and Prof. Mahendra P. Lama, School of International Studies, JNU facilitated the questions/answers/interactions and summarized both the sessions.

The webinar focused on Digital Integration in Quality Education, Impact of Language on Quality Education, Maintaining Quality of Education, Holistic Teacher Development, Teachers of the Future, Teacher’s Role in Developing 21st Century Skills, Quality Technical Education, and Accreditation and Teacher Accreditation.

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Trained At Tata Motors Vigyan Ashram Program, Rural Girl Grabs Job At Wikipedia

She is a beneficiary of one of Tata Motors programs and is now instrumental in changing lives for more individuals like her.

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When companies work towards bringing a positive change in society, it only helps builds trust with their consumer base. One of the best examples of CSR in India is Tata Motors that works wholeheartedly in the fields of skill development, education, sanitation, safety, sustainability, etc. in rural areas.

A recent example of their social service is the story of Pooja Jadhav from Pabal, Pune, Maharashtra. With the company’s support, Pooja has been able to continue her education post-high-school, polish her tech skills and become financially independent, something that’s rare for the women of her village.

She's a beneficiary of one of Tata Motors programs and is now instrumental in changing lives for more individuals like her. Remembering her childhood and the limited opportunities, she says, “As an impressionable young child living in the rural region of Pune, I noticed the hardships that the villagers face due to a lack of education and development opportunities. Deeply impacted by hardships due to lack of basic necessities, I resolved to bring out some positive change in this hamlet. Noticing my determination, my father encouraged me to not lose hope and take one small step at a time 'Ek ek paul pudhe pragati chya vat chali kadhi.'"

It was her father who believed in her calibre and pushed her to study and acquire more knowledge, which he believed would help her with this objective. Even though their financial situation was dire, her parents constantly encouraged her to study further and get a degree. You know what they say about teaching a woman – you ultimately end up teaching a family, an entire generation and ultimately the nation.

Soon after her graduation in BSC Computer Science, Pooja enrolled herself with Tata Motors Vigyan Ashram program. “Along with 16 other girls, I learned new-age skills such as 3D printing, web communication, and web management. With our newly acquired skill set, we bagged a project with Wikipedia to transcribe articles to Marathi and thus became a senior regional contributor at Marathi Wikipedia. So far, I have edited more than 4,000 articles for Wikipedia in Marathi and ran Optical character recognition of 15,000 pages on Wiki source,” she shares.

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She didn’t limit her knowledge to herself. With a fancy job in hands, she returned to her village intending to inculcate interest in technology and science applications in the minds of young women like her. She states, “I have been conducting workshops to promote self-employment and guiding and encouraging girls to be financially independent. Currently, I am working on a project that will help the villagers with better water management. The technology will assess the water levels through sensors and notify the villagers through an LED display. Taking one small step at a time, I am getting closer to my objective of changing lives…'Ek ek paul pudhe pragati chya vat chali kadhi.'"

Pooja’s story is of perseverance, awareness and encouragement. With many companies doing their part, we now see far-reaching efforts changing the lives of those with fewer resources.

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Learn About GIGA: Connecting Every School to the Internet

GIGA, an initiative launched by UNICEF and ITU in September 2019 to connect every school to the Internet and every young person to information, opportunity and choice, is supporting the immediate response to COVID-19.

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The COVID-19 outbreak has created a climate that poses a colossal threat, now and in the future, to children and their families – a grim reality especially compounded among children already affected by poverty, disability, or social exclusion. Experts predict that, given high contagion risks and the time needed to develop and distribute a vaccine, COVID-19 is poised to be a long-term global health and welfare crisis. 

The current climate created by the COVID-19 outbreak has shown us the importance of universal connectivity.

The global school shutdowns and health crisis exacerbate already challenging realities for lower-income countries: with the limited or non-existent infrastructure to connect to distance learning and essential services, their current education and economic stability, as well as future opportunities and welfare, are significantly set back. This current situation proves how critical it is to now accelerate connectivity, online learning and other initiatives for children and their communities, and drive economic stimulus.

GIGA, an initiative launched by UNICEF and ITU in September 2019 to connect every school to the Internet and every young person to information, opportunity and choice, is supporting the immediate response to COVID19, as well as looking at how connectivity can create stronger infrastructures of hope and opportunity in the "time after COVID."

The GIGA team has accelerated work on key connectivity initiatives, with a focus on providing connectivity and necessary services to 11 high-impact countries in the months between April and September.

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GIGA Initiatives supporting communities during COVID-19:

Critical Software and Content: Identifying, strengthening, and scaling proven and new innovations in software, learning systems, and content that support telework, tele-education, tele-health, and financial services – all of which can be deployed at low-cost, scale, and customized to local languages.

Broadband Connectivity: Developing a comprehensive strategy to map unserved schools; develop better and/or new financing programs to bring together diverse public and private funding; initiate large-scale procurement and improve transparency in monitoring.

Digital Financial Services: Since GIGA will use public block-chains for monitoring and managing payments, one can work with governments and providers to explore how connectivity infrastructure can also lead to extensions of online banking and electronic financial networks, potentially, enhancing the efficiency and accountability of government programs that disseminate payment.

Updates from GIGA's work in three regions: (January- March 2020)

Central Asia: Kazakhstan signed on as the “Regional Lead” in January 2020 and the first financial model is being developed for this region. A GIGA Regional Centre and regional team in Astana has been established to implement the initiative with a commitment to bring together countries in the region to refine financial models over a series of workshops and meetings. In Kyrgyzstan, by obtaining real-time mapping of all 2180 public schools, the government was able to use the mapping information to go on to connect 690 public schools(~32%) of them. In Kazakhstan, it integrated 10,200 schools onto the global mapping platform which currently displays over 800,000 schools in 15 countries.

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Eastern Caribbean: 9 out of 11 countries in the Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) have completed mapping of their school connectivity. In partnership with the OECS, GIGA will enhance the connectivity of schools and develop digital public goods needed to support the new Caribbean educational model.

East Africa: Working with the governments of Rwanda, Kenya, and Uganda in mapping school connectivity real-time, and developing business models to make connectivity affordable and sustainable. In Kenya, it’s supporting the development of educational digital public goods to be rolled out with the introduction of a new competency-based curriculum.

Global updates:

  • Digital Public Goods Alliance kicked off with Norway: The Digital Public Goods Alliance, with the support of the government of Norway, is assessing, strengthening, and scaling a range of critical open source software and content that could address critical needs, especially during the current crisis. 
  • Softbank Investment Advisory services joins GIGA: Through the collaboration with Softbank Investment Advisors and industry experts, it established GIGA’s financial model —developing a reliable, evidence-based model on the return of investment of connectivity, and providing advisory services to governments to build country-specific finance and delivery approaches.
  • GIGA is anchored and recommended: In the Secretary-General's High-Level Panel on Digital Cooperation: Recommendation 1B which calls for the UN to create and provide access to vital “Digital Public Goods,” and Recommendation 1A which calls for universal access to connectivity.

To learn how you can contribute and become a part of this initiative, log on to https://gigaconnect.org/.

(This article was first published on UNICEF.org)

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Tune Into Ek Tara’s Story, A Non-Profit Working For Girls In Urban Slums

This NGO is working towards holistic education of girls living in slums to give them an opportunity of a better future.

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Ek Tara, a non-profit organisation working towards educating girl child, started with 20 children under its wing. Nine years later, they are providing high-quality holistic education and livelihood skills to over 1300 children and women belonging to the low-income families of Topsia & Tiljala in Kolkata.

ScooNews spoke to the team to learn about their workflow, unique pedagogy, teacher training, and ways in which they've increased the graduation percentage in nearly a decade. Excerpts:

What motivated Vinita Saraf and Namrata Sureka to start Ek Tara?

Both Ms Saraf and Ms Sureka had been part of other non-profit boards for several years before starting Ek Tara. They also had hands-on experience as educators for children from slums. These experiences coupled with the need to improve the condition of girls in the slums of Kolkata led them to establish Ek Tara. When it started in 2011, the idea was to provide a safe learning space for women to learn basic life skills so that they could earn a living while their children (girls) had access to a pre-school set up before they got ready to go to school. However, over the years, the absence of good quality schools in our operations led them to look at the Education Programme for the children more seriously so that every girl from these slums had access to high-quality English medium education right from the foundation levels.

The name Ek Tara was chosen as they truly believe that every child is unique and when given the right education and opportunities, can shine like the brightest of stars.  

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How is the organisation funded?

The organisation is funded with support from friends and families of the trustees and their network, CSR grants, Foreign grants and individual donations. 

How are the educators oriented into Ektara’s workflow and what sort of training do they undergo? Are volunteers welcome, what’re the criteria?

Ek Tara strives for excellence across all levels of its work. With a focus on the delivery of high quality of education, Ek Tara ensures that all its staff members are in line with the mission and vision of the organisation. While the main subject and language teachers of the Early Childhood Learning Centre and the Primary and Middle school sections are all trained teachers who have an in-depth understanding of their subjects, they are supported in classrooms by young teachers who come from the communities we work in. These community teachers are young girls who, with Ek Tara's support, have completed school education and then given access to teacher training courses so that they can explore careers as junior and helper teachers in Ek Tara and elsewhere. All staff members are made to go through details of all the programmes that Ek Tara runs through rigorous job training which lasts from 1 to 3 months. Once they are inducted fully into the system, we continue to organise workshops and skill-building sessions for them in association with leading experts of the field. We offer a range of capacity building sessions for both academic excellence as well as for teachers to learn about new teaching-learning methodologies that are in keeping with new innovations in the education sector. 

Volunteers, too, are inducted into the system after proper orientations with our programme heads who, after discussing the skill sets of the volunteers, assign the roles which are best suited to them. Volunteers play an extremely important role in the organisation as they enable us to pursue extracurricular activities, special projects for our children to have a more holistic learning experience.

While academics are the main focus of our education programme, access to sports, arts, music, self-defence, etc. are also equally important. Every year, we enrol over 100 children in swimming, football and basketball sessions. In addition, through volunteer-run clubs and sessions, we run projects with leading schools in India and abroad. We have a pen pal club, Nature club, civic literacy club and shortly will start STEM learning and coding as well with support from volunteers and partners. 

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How do you solve the issue of parents who prefer their kids working rather than studying? Did you see children drop out at any point from the education program?

We run a very deep engagement programme with the parents of our children. While we continue to encounter a few parents who, once their children turn 13, want them to drop out of school, the majority of our parents have learnt the value of education for their children. Every week we do sessions with mothers and fathers on not just why they need to keep their children in school, but also help in building their capacities by providing them access to workshops and training on financial literacy, good parenting, health and hygiene practices for their families. These sessions are supported by us giving them starter kits or through camps that we hold in conjunction with leading hospitals and specialists. In addition, mothers are employed at Ek Tara as support staff where they see for themselves what the impact of education can be on their children. 

We also have a very strong outreach team that goes from home to home of our children to ensure they are well looked after and have access to information and facilities that they may require. This is supported by councillors who step in to resolve issues that children and even their families face which, if unchecked, can lead to children dropping out of school. 

The key to ensuring parents valuing the education of their child and for them to support the children to stay in the school lies in making the parents partners in the process, with whom we have very strong communication channels, who we empower with access to information and capacity building and with whom we participate in problem-solving exercises. These strategies have led us to witness a sharp decline in the drop out rate of the children, which is currently at about 3% per year.

What’s been your educational-strategy during the pandemic?

Right from the beginning of the lockdown, we realised we had to reach out to our children constructively. Just before closing down, we gave them learning kits consisting of workbooks, copies, stationery items so that they could be engaged properly. From April, we realised the digital divide would prohibit us from relying on online classes for our children, which is when we developed a tele learning project-based methodology with support from Education Above All (a leading education organisation in Qatar). Through the newly developed modules, our teachers would explain concepts, allocate work to children (sometimes via their parents for the younger children) on a daily basis which would lead to them working on weekly projects. All PBL modules were designed to ensure children can improve knowledge and understanding of the world, numeracy, communication and social skills. The direct engagement of parents for the first time as designated educators for their children led to them feeling empowered in a way they had never experienced before.  

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The Extracurricular Activity which is said to have been very successful, how do you think it has helped these children?

Extracurricular activities are essential for the proper development of any child, especially for first-generation learners as it gives them a chance to explore their talents and interests, which, in turn, motivates them to do better in school and complete school. Right from inculcating discipline, focus, concentration, the ability to develop leadership skills and the chance to learn and excel in areas that they have an inborn talent for, extracurriculars play a very important role. Often when children are not academically inclined, these classes allow them the scope to grow and nurture other skill sets. An example of this is our project coordinator for all ECA's in Ek Tara. She was a child who was not at all inclined towards education but excelled in dance and art. As she had the option of pursuing these interests, she developed leadership skills which allowed her to take on the role of project assistant. Today, she is the sole bread earner for her family! Had the focus always been only on children doing well in academics only, she would have dropped out of school earlier than she did and not been in this position of power and importance in her family.

ECA's, therefore, go a long way in enabling children to be focussed individuals who have the right spirit and can take decisions independently.  

What is the student graduation percentage at age 18 for Ektara?

Currently, as most children are still in the age bracket of 8-15 years, we have seen close to a 95% transition rate from one project to the other. So far all students who have completed secondary, higher secondary exams with Ek Tara's support have all secured 1st division grades making it a 100% graduation rate.

In only nine years, Ek Tara has over 900 girls under the wing, what are the future plans?

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Ek Tara has launched a state of the art Learning Centre for all its children which, in the years to come, will support over 2500 girls right from Montessori to Secondary levels. The curricula for the new ELC has been designed in line with the NEP so that our children, too, can be equipped with 21st-century skills which makes them employable in the future. In addition, Ek Tara is also stepping up its community engagement verticals by launching a community kitchen which is fully run by women who supply meals at a subsidised rate to factory workers and low-income households, by increasing training under our social enterprise so that more women can start earning a livelihood through our income generation project.

Know more about Ek Tara at https://ektara.org.in/

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Karnataka School’s Water Conservation Project Gets Praised Globally 

This school, in collaboration with the University of Glasgow, conserves 667 lt of water every day!

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Almost all middle schoolers have made Water-Filtration science projects, but many students and adults forget why water needs to be conserved. 187 students and 10 teaching staff of Berambadi Primary School in Karnataka did not only remember this important life lesson but worked towards it. 

The James Hutton Institute led a Water Conservation project along with colleagues from the Indian Institute of Science, the University of Glasgow, environmental non-profit, the Ashoka Trust, and staff of the school.

A collaboration between Scottish and Indian water and social scientists to deliver a low-cost wastewater treatment system for rural schools in India gave birth to this project. The water treatment plant is said to be easily adaptable for different sites and conditions. This means more schools and communities can benefit from it and more water wastage can be reduced.

Students from Berambadi School

Deputy First Minister John Swinney told Deccan Herald, "Clean water is vital for a good quality of life and we want to be a world leader in the responsible management of our most critical resource. We have an obligation to reach out to the world with our expertise to help others, to improve lives and advance our understanding of how to manage water sustainably, both now and in response to future challenges. This waste-water treatment system here at Berambadi is designed to recover resources, improve public health and safeguard the environment. I am pleased this system has been implemented with the local community in mind and in a low-cost, sustainable way."

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The water which is filtered comes from the school kitchen, washbasins and utensil washing. Particles are trapped in mesh and the water is passed through different level of treatments to remove the oil and germs. Since the COVID-pandemic, they have been using Ozone to disinfect the water, hence completely eliminating the need for hazardous oxygen cylinders. “This makes the system relatively foolproof,” said Lakshminarayana Rao, Assistant Professor, Centre for Sustainable Technologies.  

Prof. Rao also pointed out that the project’s origination depended upon realising that Indian population consist of 17.5% of the total world’s population and the water availability is only 4% of all usable water on the planet. The fact that India has more people than the quantity of freshwater brings the urgent need for its conservation.

The high throughput Ozonator from Rao’s lab (Photo: Rohini Krishnamurthy)

Manu D, an assistant teacher at the school, talked about how the system that was being used before the school closure due to pandemic saw 667 litres of water recycled daily!

These kinds of novel projects that not only teach students about various scientific ways but also bring something amazing to the school, nation and planet are worth celebrating.

Picture courtesy: connect.iisc.ac.in

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UNICEF Sends Loudspeakers to Peruvian Amazon’s Rural Schools

UNICEF, in an effort to help children keep learning in Nuevo San Rafael, a rural community in Peru, has sent big loudspeakers that broadcast the learning material for the community.

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Nuevo San Rafael, located in the Peruvian Amazon, is one of those remote rural areas that are hit badly by COVID-19. Not just the pandemic scare but also the education of the youth has come to an absolute halt. Since the schools are closed, children have not been able to come to the classroom and continue their learning. “We couldn’t talk to our teacher and I felt sad and worried. We couldn’t see each other, we can’t do group projects,” said 15-year-old Richard Guimaraes Camayo. 

This region in the Peruvian Amazon became one of the most affected in the country hence forcing the authorities to absolutely put a ban to gatherings. The only way left was remote learning for children of Nuevo San Rafael. “In the rural areas of Peru, we have approximately 1.2 million students, half a million of which belong to indigenous peoples. Thus, through radio, we’ve decided to provide the service of intercultural bilingual education”, explains Nora Delgado Díaz, Director of the Department of Alternative Basic, Intercultural Bilingual, and Rural Education Services.

But remote learning was again next to impossible as the community is not enough well to do, not all children can afford gadgets, not even televisions and radios. Also, the lack of electricity is a big problem, it is not available 24 hours a day.

Even though Nuevo San Rafael was facing so many issues, recently the school bell rang once again when UNICEF delivered four loudspeakers to the region. These were sent in response to all the difficulties faced by the community. Local authorities were asked to expand access to the educational programmes broadcast over the radio via the loudspeakers. In September, the loudspeaker reached Nuevo San Rafael, changing the lives of children like Richard.

They've installed loudspeakers atop community's tallest trees, next to the school cafeteria. Students gather around in, especially in small groups keeping the social distancing norms valid and listen to the content in each subject area.

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The broadcasting of the recorded lessons was another challenge for the community in the beginning. The recorded files containing the classes are copied to a flash drive, which a teacher transports from Pucallpa to Nuevo San Rafael. Once in the community, a small electric generator (purchased collectively by the parents) is started and the drive is connected which lets the children listen to the learning material.

Since listening is not enough to learn, Nuevo San Rafael’s students are lucky to have one of their teachers deeply committed to their learning and development, he is living in the community and is able to join students daily for additional support. 

All of this effort by UNICEF has brought back hope in the children of this Peruvian community. They are dreaming once again and learning, Richard says, “When I’m done with school, I want to keep studying at university and complete three-degree programmes to help my family and community”.

The power of education!

Source: unicef.org

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Initiative

ATL #TinkerFromHome For Students & Educators by Atal Innovation Mission

AIM of Niti Aayog came up with a brilliant solution at the beginning of the lockdown this dreadful year, Tinker From Home. While the schools were closed, this was AIM’s way of helping children learn with the same enthusiasm as they do in the ATAL Tinkering Labs.

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If one Googles #TinkerFromHome, they will come across a series of posts, tweets, pictures, videos and press releases from Niti Aayog’s Atal Innovation Mission (AIM). Amidst the COVID-19 lockdown crisis in the country, Atal Innovation Mission started with the “ATL Tinker from Home” campaign in March 2020, where students can learn new concepts and technologies and experience the joy of innovation from the safety of their homes. The objective of the initiative is to harness the creativity and innovativeness of children by encouraging learning through self-initiation.

A number of kids enrolled and educators of the nation have benefited from these many modules and ongoing webinars. Some of the most enrolled modules and most-watched webinars are listed below with the links to approach them. To add to the excitement, AIM comes up with regular competitions that get announced on days like Gandhi Jayanti and Community Day to keep the children involved. There are some competitions still running, check them out here.

ATL AI Base Module

Created in collaboration with NASSCOM, ATL AI Base Module aims at introducing young minds to the AI revolution. The hands-on module is available on the AIM website (https://www.aim.gov.in/Lets_learn_AI_Base_Module.pdf) and contains activities that enable young innovators to interact with different forms of Artificial Intelligence, view videos and engage in experiments.

Module Link – https://aim.gov.in/Lets_learn_AI_Base_Module.pdf

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YouTube Tutorials Playlist – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZbIfCUcX9k&list=PLe8QoqrwXb4SIpNfK59dMEpPKQVyh5kIO                                                  

YouTube LIVE Session – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yUNTnqff6mY

ATL Game Development Module

Developed in collaboration with DELL Technologies and Learning Links Foundation, ATL Gaming Module is an online platform to learn all about Game Development thereby providing an avenue to transform students from game players to game makers. The module is aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals and also contains a lot of interesting quizzes and projects for children to engage in. There are 3 different levels – Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced using different tools.

Module Link – http://bit.ly/ATLGamingModule

YouTube Tutorials Playlist – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ugtajDT2nrs&list=PLe8QoqrwXb4R8lgLQvxqR_kan1BLuukI3

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YouTube LIVE Session – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1_TU400yxQY

ATL CollabCAD

Launched in collaboration with the National Informatics Centre (NIC), CollabCAD is an indigenous 3D Computer-Aided Design (CAD) Software. It provides a complete engineering solution for all things related to 3D Designing – right from 3D Product Part/Assembly Design to Visualization and Simulation. Students can use this software to design and materialize their ideas, creativity and innovation through 3D Printing.

Module Link – https://collabcad.gov.in/atlInfo.html

YouTube Tutorials Playlist – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7wAMou1D4Hw&list=PLe8QoqrwXb4TbRy7LUuWDSb3K0ouicJ-R

YouTube LIVE Session – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ChU3wLx4RAg

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Astronomy Webinar Series

It's a seven(7) Lecture Series on Astronomy with Aryan Mishra, India's youngest Astronomer from Spark Astronomy.

YouTube Tutorials Playlist – https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLe8QoqrwXb4T4r592QfIL1TNzeGA_HpaW

ATL App Development Module

The ATL App Development module has been launched in collaboration with Indian homegrown startup Plezmo with an aim to hone the skills of school students and transforming them from App users to App makers in the times to come under AIM’s flagship Atal Tinkering Labs initiative.

Module Link – https://bit.ly/ATLAppDevModule

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YouTube LIVE Session – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mVCDVMG82G0

ATL AI Step Up Module

The advanced edition to the Base module, the ATL AI Step Up Module launched in collaboration with NASSCOM is an addition to the previous one with the objective to provide a student further understanding into AI once they’re done with the basic concepts with a series of activities, tutorials, mini projects and real-time applications.

Module Link – https://www.aim.gov.in/Lets_learn_AI_StepUp_Module.pdf

YouTube LIVE Session – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zuRRyuGhe3k

ATL Python Learning Module

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It was developed in collaboration with Coding Elements, an Indian startup, with the objective to help teachers and students attain fundamental Python coding knowledge. It's meant to introduce them to the various concepts of text-based coding such as loops, syntax, OOP, etc.

Module Link – https://www.codingelements.com/python-foundation-course/

YouTube LIVE Session – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vkf4gX6A9hg

ATL Webinar Series

A series of live sessions on various topics that happen every Friday on the AIM YouTube channel.

YouTube Channel Link – https://www.youtube.com/AIMtoInnovate

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Tinkering with Drones with Drona Aviation

It's a series of webinars centred around the ATL Drone Module, to teach the students the fundamentals and concepts of Drone technology. The sessions were conducted by IITB Alumni StartUp Drona Aviation. Students in number of hundreads have participated in it so far.

3D Printing with Imaginarium

A series of webinars centred around the 3D printing technology, it's meant to teach the students the fundamentals and concepts of 3D design, 3D printer, Additive manufacturing. The sessions were conducted by Dr. Guruprasad Kuppu Rao, Imaginarium.

ATL Jigyasa Webinar Series with CSIR

AIM and CSIR have come together to foster science and innovation through various programs and initiatives. 20 interactive sessions with eminent Indian scientists have been conducted to initiate a dialogue on science and research. 

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In addition to these, several other training courses were done in collaboration with partners across the industries nationwide.

 

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Initiative

TATA Steel Foundation Funds Primary Education of 180+ Tribal Children

An educational collaboration from 2012 that started with 27 tribal kids of Kerala now hosts 180 children of 36 villages in India.

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In 2012, TATA Steel collaborated with Kerala English Medium School in Jagannathpur to bring the tribal children of Noamundi adequate, quality education. The collaboration began with 27 children of the West Singhbhum district. Today, over 180 children are enrolled under this fund.

The school is well-equipped with a hostel, educational devices and wholesome development facilities. The TATA Fund takes care of the tuition fees, hostel fees and other miscellaneous expenses like stationery and school uniform.

Children like Laxmi, who is one of the tribal students of the first batch, are now in middle school. She speaks fluently in English and wishes to become a nurse to help her community. Laxmi is immensely thankful to TATA Steel Foundation for funding her education as well as children like her who never, in their dreams, imagined so.

Today, children from 36 different villages across India are enrolled in such schools. On being asked about the fund and collaboration, one of the Tata Steel Foundation officials said, "The sponsorship programme has provided a level playing field for the young generation and has cut through the economic and social barriers providing an opportunity to them for getting a quality education.”

Inequity in education is one of the major issues across the world. Programmes like these are certainly helping the cause one student at a time. 

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TATA’s education trust was set up by Jamsetji Tata (founder) in 1892. After more than a century, the organisation has spread its reaches to educate children of the underprivileged community all over the country. 

“The Tata Trusts strive to provide ‘Authentic learning for all’ – high-quality, authentic, real-world, active learning experiences that mould productive and well-rounded 21st-century citizens, while working to ensure equitable access to these learning opportunities.” – Satyajit Salian, Head – Education, TATA Trust

(Source: Telegraph India)

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