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Dr Madhav Deo Saraswat on NEP: Vocational Training Makes Schools Progressive

Activities are not and should not be mere pass time. They can be strategically crafted to provide the best of both the worlds to our prodigy i.e. development of vocational skills and purposeful pass time.

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The National Education Policy of 2020 has left many wondering about the success of its implementation. Like any other policy, it has categorically reflected on the objectives that our nation seeks to achieve on the basis of the challenges that we have been facing until now. The task hereafter is to identify the pre-requisites and establish the path that would realize what has been drafted in black and white.

The population of a country can be an asset or a liability, depending upon how it is utilised. As a nation when we talk about our huge population, there is a negative connotation to it. In Economics, the People of a country are referred to as the Human Resource, which indeed is one of the most or rather the most important resource for any nation. If we look around us, we will find practical examples from amongst our neighbouring countries that have successfully proven that a large population can also be a boon and not necessarily a bane. From this stems that conclusion and the hope that a humongous population can be successfully converted into one that contributes to nation-building and education is an inevitable requisite for the same. China and Japan are classic examples of how populated countries can convert their people into a resource, who then, in turn, contribute towards the growth and overall betterment of the society/country at large.

India tops the chart of countries with the highest levels of educated unemployment, which is a matter of concern, as it has serious consequences. If we wish to witness a present that ensures empowerment for the masses and a future that promises sustenance for the nation, we are good to go. Among all recommendations suggested in the NEP 2020, Vocational Training seems to be one that has immense potential. I believe we must wholeheartedly welcome the suggestion of including vocational training right at the school level. Integration of vocational training at the school level is certainly a step forward towards plugging a void in the educational landscape of the country. Education, healthcare & skill development are three pillars on which the success of a country greatly depends.

Providing vocational training in schools will not only make a person more employable in the long run but would provide a window for students to identify and pursue their passion. Once a person identifies his/her passion, it becomes simpler and meaningful to engage in economic activity to be able to earn a livelihood and support the family and thereby, the country. Schools must design their activity program keeping this factor in mind. Activities are not and should not be mere pass time. They can be strategically crafted to provide the best of both the worlds to our prodigy i.e. development of vocational skills and purposeful pass time.

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As a progressive school, we had identified the significance of skill-building and had introduced skill-based activities, dating back to many decades. Painting, Metal-work, Wood-work, Tie & dye, Batik, Culinary art, Photography, Robotics & Artificial Intelligence are some of the activities in the long list of co-curricular pursuits we have been offering to our children. Thus, our school has not just stood the test of time in grooming children to unleash their potential, it has also enabled them to be contributory citizens and render their share in nation-building. The often said phrase of children being the future of the nation has materialized within the ambits of the Fort for more than a century now. Apart from focusing on excelling in academic endeavours and educating of livelihood, The Scindia School always strives to educate for life. It is this notion which cements our faith in aspects like Vocational Training, contributing to the physical, mental, and creative health of the child. In the words of T. Harv Eker, “The purpose of our lives is to add value to the people of this generation and those that follow.”

About the author:

Dr Madhav Deo Saraswat, Principal, The Scindia School, has more than 31 years of experience in teaching, academic administration, team building and community development programmes. He served a long stint as a teacher at The Doon School, Dehradun (1989-2005), where he was profoundly engaged with the Round Square activities right from 1990. While at Doon, he led many Service Projects wherein he raised funds, built new infrastructure and instilled ideas of a more inclusive and humane culture in students and adults alike. He is an exponent of the ideology of ‘Leadership through Service.’

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Knowledge

Navigating Future Horizons: The Imperative Need of Updated Career Counsellors in Indian Schools

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Image Source- Envato Elements

In the evolving landscape of education, the role of career counsellors in schools has become increasingly indispensable. Today, as we stand on the cusp of technological advancements and globalization, the need for informed career guidance has never been more critical. This article delves into the necessity of updated career counsellors in Indian schools, shedding light on misconceptions, highlighting new-age career paths, and emphasizing the importance of equipping students with the requisite skills and knowledge for their future endeavors.

Misconceptions and Realities
One prevalent misconception is that career counselling is only necessary for high school students approaching graduation. However, career development is a lifelong process, beginning as early as childhood and continuing throughout one’s professional journey. By integrating career counselling into the curriculum from an early age, students can explore various interests, talents, and aspirations, thus making informed decisions about their academic and career paths. Another misconception revolves around the notion that career counselling is solely for students struggling academically or uncertain about their future. On the contrary, career counselling is beneficial for all students, regardless of their academic prowess. It helps students align their interests, skills, and goals with suitable career pathways, fostering a sense of purpose and direction.

New Age vs. Conventional Careers
The contemporary job market is witnessing a paradigm shift, with emerging sectors such as artificial intelligence, data analytics, and renewable energy gaining prominence. While conventional careers like medicine, engineering, and law continue to hold sway, the landscape is diversifying rapidly, offering a plethora of unconventional yet promising career avenues.

In this era of innovation and disruption, students must be exposed to a spectrum of career options beyond the conventional ones. From digital marketing and sustainability consultancy to content creation and app development, the possibilities are endless. However, navigating these uncharted territories requires expert guidance and up-to-date information, underscoring the need for informed career counsellors in schools.

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The Crucial Role of Career Counsellors
Career counsellors serve as the bridge between students and their future aspirations. They possess the expertise to assess students’ aptitudes, interests, and personality traits, thereby recommending suitable career pathways. Moreover, they stay abreast of industry trends, market demands, and educational policies, equipping them with the knowledge to guide students effectively.

In the Indian context, where the education system is often rigid and rote-learning oriented, career counsellors play a pivotal role in challenging traditional mindsets and fostering a culture of innovation and exploration. By advocating for skill-based learning and experiential education, they empower students to embrace their uniqueness and pursue unconventional career paths with confidence.

The Need for Informed Career Counsellors
India’s demographic dividend, characterized by a burgeoning youth population, presents both opportunities and challenges. While the youth bulge holds the potential to drive economic growth and innovation, it also underscores the urgency of equipping young minds with the requisite skills and knowledge to navigate an increasingly competitive global landscape.

In this regard, informed career counsellors serve as catalysts for change, guiding students through the intricacies of career selection, course planning, and overseas education opportunities. They demystify the application and admission processes for prestigious institutions, provide mentorship for entrance exams, and facilitate internships and industry interactions, thereby nurturing well-rounded individuals poised for success.

As we march towards a future characterized by uncertainty and rapid transformation, the role of career counsellors in schools becomes paramount. By dispelling misconceptions, embracing new-age career pathways, and championing skill-based learning, they pave the way for students to embark on fulfilling and meaningful professional journeys.

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In essence, investing in updated career counsellors isn’t just a necessity; it’s a strategic imperative for shaping the future workforce and fostering socio-economic development. As educational leaders, let us recognize the pivotal role of career counselling in shaping the destinies of our students and strive towards creating a generation of future-ready individuals equipped to thrive in the dynamic world of tomorrow.

Authored By- 
Archana Singh
Principal, Sunbeam Suncity (School & Hostel),
Varanasi

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Education

An Alarming Future: India’s Extreme Heatwaves and the Urgency for Environmental Education

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As we mark World Environment Day, the searing heatwaves sweeping across India this year serve as a dire warning. The temperatures, reaching unprecedented highs, underline an urgent message: our current environmental trajectory is unsustainable. If we fail to act now, we won’t have the luxury of choosing to be climate activists or champions in a decade; we’ll be forced to address the catastrophic consequences of our inaction.

This year, India has experienced some of the hottest temperatures on record. From the arid landscapes of Rajasthan to the bustling streets of Delhi, the oppressive heat has not only caused widespread discomfort but has also had severe repercussions on public health, agriculture, and the economy. Heatwaves have become more frequent and intense, a stark indicator of climate change’s accelerating impact.

A Message from the Future

The extreme heat is a glimpse into a future where climate change dictates our way of life. If we continue to prioritize short-term development over long-term sustainability, we are setting the stage for a scenario where environmental degradation becomes irreversible. The deforestation, pollution, and rampant urbanization we often justify in the name of progress are, in reality, regressions. They are actions that are eroding the very foundation of our future.

Ten years from now, the choice to become a climate activist will no longer exist; it will be a necessity. Our children and grandchildren will inherit a world where survival might hinge on how well we manage the environment today. The trees we cut for new infrastructure projects are the same trees that could have mitigated flooding, reduced urban heat, and cleaned the air. True development cannot occur without sustainable practices at its core.

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More Than Just Theory

Environmental studies should transcend the boundaries of theoretical knowledge. To cultivate a generation that values and protects the environment, we must embed practical environmental education into the curriculum. This means moving beyond textbooks and exams, and instead fostering real-world experiences and actions.

Schools should integrate activities like tree planting, waste management projects, and community clean-ups. Such hands-on experiences instill a deeper understanding and respect for the environment. Moreover, incorporating environmental ethics into daily school life can help students see the direct impact of their actions on the planet.

Films and Books for Environmental Curriculum

To enrich the curriculum, here are five films and books that vividly illustrate the importance of environmental conservation:

  1. Film: “An Inconvenient Truth” (2006)
    • Al Gore’s documentary highlights the science of climate change and the urgent need for action.
  2. Book: “Silent Spring” by Rachel Carson
    • This groundbreaking work raised public awareness about the dangers of pesticides and sparked the modern environmental movement.
  3. Film: “Before the Flood” (2016)
    • Leonardo DiCaprio’s documentary showcases the impact of climate change across the globe and explores potential solutions.
  4. Book: “The Lorax” by Dr. Seuss
    • A classic children’s book that tells the story of the environment through the character of the Lorax, who speaks for the trees.
  5. Film: “Our Planet” (2019)
    • This Netflix series, narrated by David Attenborough, showcases the beauty of our natural world and the urgent need to protect it.

The extreme heatwaves in India are a clear, urgent call to action. We must rethink our approach to development and education, ensuring that environmental conservation becomes a core value. By integrating practical environmental studies into our education system and using powerful films and literature to inspire change, we can hope to create a future where true development is sustainable, and our children can live in harmony with the planet. On this World Environment Day, let’s commit to making these changes, for there’s no time left to lose.

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Education

What It Takes to Be Well-Educated; Not Just Well-Read

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The need to bridge the gap between what should be and what’s being delivered in the school educational system in India is most severe than ever before. As we see the rise in the number of Indians as global leaders in the corporate, tech, art and political sector we must ask ourselves whether we are catering to the demand of 21st century and doing justice to our younger generation or not!

It won’t be an exaggeration to say that India is living in one of its best times in terms of industrial growth, demand of higher education and service sector, religious and spiritual awakening and humongous rise in the national infrastructure and the commitment to grow further can definitely be seen when 3.3 percent of total GDP has been outlaid for infrastructure in Union Budget 2023-24 but at the same time this peak also alarms the need to prepare thought leaders, logical/critical individuals, go getters and prepare the most efficient workforce for the years to come.

What we need to deliver to the younger generation along with the industrial and employable skill is the idea and importance of mental health, argumentative skills, decision making skill, communication skill and to summarize the contemporary demand in a single word is to be the ‘human’ first in a way that the almighty intended us to be i.e. just, fair, hardworking with balanced scientific temperament. Even World Health Organization expressed serious concern over mental health issue of adolescents by stating that globally, one in seven 10-19-year-olds experiences a mental disorder, accounting for 13% of the global burden of disease in this age group.

NEP 2020 points out several changes in the formal education policy right from the pre-school till the university space but the right steps for its most efficient implementation so as to achieve a holistic and comprehensive development is still a long way to go. As per the All India Survey on Higher Education 2019 report, India’s higher education sector consists of 3.74 crore students in nearly 1,000 universities, 39,931 colleges, and 10,725 stand-alone institutions. Thus, a countrywide implementation of this mega education policy is going to be a mammoth exercise involving multiple stakeholders at the state, district, sub-district, and block levels.

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Change and regularly updating the curriculum, minimum standard maintenance of quality education, teachers training and uniformity amongst several state and national board are few urgent and at most necessary steps amongst other factors. And the functionaries of these changes aren’t just educational leaders and teachers but the parents and students themselves. They need to ask the right questions, consider all the factors such as time, investment and opportunities and be firm while saying a big NO to sub standard institutions which are just making a hole in their pockets in return of nothing more than a window dressing in the name of mark sheet and degree based system.

We have already achieved remarkable feet in terms of numeracy and literacy skills for foundation classes/toddlers, the Annual Status of Education Report says that in 2023, 73.6% of 14-18 year-olds could read a Class 2 level text, and arithmetically, in 2023, 43.3% of youth could do a simple (class 3-4 level) division problem; our graduates are breaking glass ceiling with every passing hour when it comes to innovation, design and product enhancement, Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) recognized 1,17,254 startups as on 31st December 2023 and as per the Economic Survey Report 2022-23 in 2022 alone, homegrown startups generated 2.69 Lacs jobs in the country. 

With the rising trend of Ed-tech and content creation through media there is plethora of knowledge awaiting to be learned but international exposure, state of the art facilities and hefty charges alone cannot cater to the students’ needs but developing emotional quotient, awakening self awareness and the sense of integrity and service motive is what’s going to sustain the social ecosystem in a way which will result into an overall development of the younger generation thus achieving social, economical, political development and a level playing field for every opportunity that our beautiful world has to offer.

This article is co-authored by:
CA, Suresh Prabhu, Founding Chancellor , Rishihood University; Visiting Professor at London School of Economics; Former Union Minister of Railways
Rajat Shah, Advocate; Edupreneur/Trustee, Narayani Public School; Visiting Professor of Law and Management.

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Education

Education Through a ‘Humane’ Lens

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Picture Credits: Anipixels

Our history has traditionally embraced the importance of building relationships with animals. From an animal’s loyalty to bravery, various instances have been highlighted in historical texts and scriptures (Mahabharata and Ramayana). Many children grew up listening to stories, stories of compassion; further encouraging them to experience the human-animal bond. But in recent years, as we witness an increase in animal cruelty and pet abandonment cases, compassion seems to be at a loss today.

According to the report findings by the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations (FIAPO) and All Creatures Great and Small (ACGS), between 2010-2020, a total of 4,93,910 animals were victims of crimes committed by humans. Keeping in mind that many cases go unreported, out of the 720 documented cases of crime against street animals, 20 cases were of assault by children. With nearly 50% of India’s population under the age of 25, such revelations underscore the urgent need to cultivate empathy and compassion from a young age. Humane Education, an approach that cultivates children to be empathetic and compassionate not only towards fellow beings but also all sentient beings, is an important pillar of 21st-century sensibilities. 

(Picture Credits: Peedu’s People)

“Children are human beings to whom respect is due, superior to us by reason of their innocence and of the greater possibilities of their future.”Maria Montessori

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Founded in 2021, India Animal Fund (IAF) along with NGOs like Peedu’s People; are working to ensure wholesome child development through holistic learning for school children. For young children and students to make informed and ethical choices, through humane education sessions, we introduce them to this concept via experiential, learning, observational and application learning. “Along with our partner Peedu’s People, we have delivered over 250 sessions across India. Around 10K+ children were introduced to humane education and workshops reached over 55 schools. The next steps involve expanding the programme and integrating it into the NCERT syllabus for broader reach.” says Sandeep Reddy, COO – India Animal Fund (IAF). From environmental conservation to social justice, such initiatives are crucial for creating a sustainable and equitable society. 

Another study from Science Directs indicates that children who exhibit cruelty towards animals may have witnessed or experienced family violence and are at risk of engaging in human-directed aggression during adolescence and adulthood. Implementing such programmes not only prevents violence, but also increases the likelihood of detecting and intervening early. Not only would it be beneficial for the children from K-12, if implemented in the school curriculum, via teacher training programmes, educators or schoolteachers can also be equipped with the tools and resources needed to integrate humane education into their teaching practices.

While we have animal protection laws in our country, this strategic investment may lead to a cornerstone of our educational system. By nurturing empathy and compassion among children today, we can empower the next generation to build a better world for all living beings, for them to navigate an increasingly interconnected and complex world.

Authored By-
Nidhi Gupta
Manager- Content and Communications,
India Animal Fund (IAF) 

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Education

Why Sex Education in Schools is a Battlefield: A Look into Recent Debates and the Path Forward

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Sex education in schools has once again found itself in the eye of a political storm. In the UK, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s recent overhaul of sex education and gender identity teachings in England’s schools has sparked intense debate. As reported by CNN, Sunak’s administration claims the changes provide much-needed clarity, but critics argue they are politically motivated and detrimental to students’ wellbeing.

The Current Debate

The newly unveiled guidelines mandate that children cannot be taught sex education before the age of nine, with explicit discussions on sexual activity delayed until age 13. Additionally, the concept of gender identity is deemed “highly contested” and is to be excluded from the curriculum. Education Secretary Gillian Keegan emphasized that teachers should impart facts rather than push agendas, a statement that has further fueled the controversy.

Pepe Di’lasio, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, criticized the move as being driven by a “political agenda at the front of a campaign season.” He pointed out the lack of substantial evidence backing the changes, suggesting they are more about garnering votes than genuinely addressing educational needs.

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The Politics of Sex Education

Sunak’s approach is seen by many as a bid to win over socially conservative voters ahead of an impending general election. This strategy has involved a series of divisive announcements, with sex education being the latest target.

Critics, including Paul Whiteman of the National Association of Head Teachers, argue that the rigid limits on discussions could drive students to seek information from unreliable sources. Sam Freedman, a senior advisor at the Ark education charity, echoed this sentiment, highlighting the educational value of discussing contested topics like gender identity in a balanced manner.

The Case for Comprehensive Sex Education

The debate over sex education isn’t limited to the UK. In India, where traditional attitudes often dominate, the need for comprehensive sex education is equally pressing. According to a 2022 survey by the Indian Journal of Community Medicine, only 20% of Indian adolescents reported receiving formal sex education. This gap leaves many young people ill-equipped to navigate their sexual health and relationships safely.

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Sex education opponents often cite cultural and moral grounds, fearing that such education might corrupt young minds. However, evidence suggests otherwise. A UNESCO report from 2018 highlighted that comprehensive sex education can lead to delayed sexual initiation, reduced risk-taking, and increased use of contraception, thereby reducing rates of unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections.

Breaking the Stigma

The stigma surrounding sex education often stems from misconceptions and a lack of understanding. Addressing these misconceptions requires a multi-faceted approach:

1. Parental Involvement: Engaging parents in the dialogue around sex education can help demystify the topic and alleviate fears. Schools should offer workshops and resources to help parents understand the curriculum and its benefits.

2. Teacher Training: Educators need robust training to handle sex education topics sensitively and effectively. This includes understanding diverse perspectives and being equipped to support students’ varied needs.

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3. Evidence-Based Policies: Policymaking should be grounded in research rather than political agendas. Studies consistently show that comprehensive sex education supports better health outcomes. Policymakers must prioritize students’ long-term wellbeing over short-term political gains.

4. Community Engagement: Building community support for sex education involves transparent communication and collaboration with local leaders, healthcare professionals, and advocacy groups. Creating a community consensus can help overcome resistance and build a supportive environment for students.

A Path Forward

The controversy over sex education in schools highlights a broader issue: the tension between political agendas and educational integrity. While Sunak’s new guidelines may cater to a specific voter base, they risk undermining the comprehensive education that young people need to thrive.

In both the UK and India, breaking the stigma around sex education requires a commitment to evidence-based practices and an open, inclusive dialogue. By fostering understanding and addressing concerns head-on, we can create a more informed and healthier society.

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As we navigate these debates, it’s crucial to remember that the ultimate goal of education is to equip students with the knowledge and skills they need to lead healthy, fulfilling lives. Let’s ensure that political motivations do not overshadow this fundamental objective.

(Inspired by recent analyses from CNN and BBC on UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s new education guidelines)

References:
– Rob Picheta, CNN Analysis
– The Indian Journal of Community Medicine
– UNESCO Report on Comprehensive Sexuality Education (2018)

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Education

Teaching Sensitivity to Kids in School: A Necessity for Today’s World

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In recent years, instances of bullying, violence, and other harmful behaviours have alarmingly increased among young children. Various factors contribute to this troubling trend. The omnipresence of social media, exposure to violent content, familial discord, and the high-pressure environment of academic and extracurricular achievements are significant reasons. These influences create an environment where children may not develop the necessary empathy and understanding to coexist harmoniously with their peers.

Given this backdrop, it is crucial to emphasise the teaching of sensitivity to children in schools. Sensitising kids towards each other, society, animals, nature, and humans in general is not just beneficial—it is imperative for fostering a more compassionate and cohesive community.

The Importance of Sensitivity

Firstly, teaching sensitivity is essential to combat bullying and violence. When children are taught to understand and appreciate the feelings and perspectives of others, they are less likely to engage in harmful behaviours. Empathy and kindness can act as powerful deterrents against bullying. Moreover, children who are sensitive to the emotions of their peers can contribute to a supportive and inclusive school environment, where everyone feels valued and respected.

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Furthermore, sensitivity towards society and the environment is crucial for nurturing responsible future citizens. Teaching children to care for animals, respect nature, and understand social issues instils a sense of responsibility and stewardship. This not only benefits the immediate community but also contributes to the broader goal of sustainable living and environmental conservation.

Implementing Sensitivity Education at the Grassroots Level in India

To effectively implement sensitivity education, a multifaceted approach is necessary, starting at the grassroots level. Here are several strategies that can be employed:

  1. Incorporate Sensitivity into the Curriculum: Schools should integrate lessons on empathy, kindness, and respect into the existing curriculum. Subjects like Social Studies and Environmental Science can include modules that teach children about the importance of sensitivity towards others and the environment. Stories, role-playing activities, and discussions can be powerful tools in this regard.
  2. Teacher Training and Development: Educators play a pivotal role in shaping the attitudes and behaviours of students. Providing teachers with training on how to foster empathy and sensitivity in the classroom is essential. Workshops and seminars can equip teachers with the skills and knowledge to create an inclusive and supportive learning environment.
  3. Extracurricular Activities and Clubs: Schools can organise clubs and activities that promote sensitivity. For instance, eco-clubs can engage students in activities like tree planting, waste management, and animal care, fostering a sense of responsibility towards nature. Similarly, social service clubs can involve students in community service projects, teaching them the importance of giving back to society.
  4. Parental Involvement: Sensitivity education should not be confined to the school environment. Encouraging parents to reinforce these values at home is crucial. Schools can organise workshops and provide resources to help parents understand their role in teaching empathy and kindness to their children.
  5. Creating a Safe and Inclusive School Environment: Schools should strive to create an environment where every student feels safe and valued. Anti-bullying policies, counselling services, and peer support programs can help achieve this. Additionally, celebrating diversity and promoting inclusivity through cultural events and awareness campaigns can enhance students’ understanding and appreciation of different perspectives.

Teaching sensitivity to children in school is not merely an optional add-on to education; it is a fundamental aspect of nurturing well-rounded individuals who can contribute positively to society. By addressing the rise in bullying and violence through empathy and understanding, we can create a more compassionate and harmonious community. Implementing sensitivity education at the grassroots level in India requires a collaborative effort from educators, parents, and the community. Together, we can ensure that our children grow up to be empathetic, responsible, and sensitive citizens, ready to make a positive impact on the world.

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Education

Beyond Appearances: Prachi Nigam’s Triumph and The Pressures of Appearance-Based Bullying in Schools

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Image Source- BBC Hindi

The news of Prachi Nigam, a diligent 10th UP Board Topper, unleashed a disturbing chapter in the history of our society. Despite her unquestionable academic talent being the main topic of a discussion it was superseded by the inappropriate emphasis on her appearance. These events clearly underline the intricate and destructive beauty standard that plague the learning institutions.

It perhaps resonates with the fact that, in the process, we form these gigantic LED screens of illusory beauty standards, which subsequently hover over our young, leaving long shadows behind their achievements. Even if they keep advancing up the ladder of academic strength, their way at the top is checked through the view of how attractive they are. The risk of humiliation due to poor marks and failing an exam is unavoidable. The true woe Prachi has is the desire for anonymity despite her impressive winning activities, which emphasises how emotional hearts of young people can be dysfunctional from such pressures.

Time has come for all of us, as a society, to shape direction which mostly depends on whether empathy has the right place in our classrooms or not. Let this be a lighthouse to the teachers to build suitable defences of comfort around the children thus, no kid should be caught hiding from scrutiny in the shadows. Teachers are doing not only a transmission of knowledge but also establishing an arena where jokes and laughter is shared with no one’s dignity being mocked. When a person makes fun of someone for his/her looks, it should not have a tolerance or a laughter of agreement but condemnation with the sober reminder of respect and tolerance.

The heart of our education philosophy must be the acceptance that the human body is the norm, in its different shapes, and be explained that those changes in adolescence, which are taken as anomalies, are just threads in the rich diversity of our human experience. The burden exists equally in both teaching our young boys that hair is a natural part of a woman’s presence and passing judgement or hearsay based on the absence of hair is unjustifiable, besides disrespectful.

Creating a monument for our schools is to convert them into sensitive meeting places where each child can grow up in freedom without the worry of being dug out for their uniqueness. These classrooms nurture compassion from which the saplings of mature citizens emerge; their spiritual vision awakening the logical perception which glimpses beyond obvious matters. However, beauty is a kaleidoscope, and for our brains, the time to adjust to its actual spectrum is right at hand. 

When building up such an environment, we do not just educate students, we plant the seeds of change in a world where people are cherished not by the size and shape of their bodies but by their uniqueness and achievements. The story of Prachi standing fearlessly up to the rushing flood of hate, should sound in the corridors of every school, it would be among the strongest lessons in fortitude and the ability to endure as an example.

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We are not merely shaping the students of today but creating a world where every young Prachi will find a space to fly free from unwarranted prejudices. As educators, students, and members of this complex society, we need to topple the divergent walls of superficial standards and in their place to grow a garden which allows every flower, despite how it differs from others in terms of size, colour or shape, to be valued for the gift that it brings to the world. It won’t be until after when we can say we have not failed our children, only when we can tell that we are proud of having brought up not just scholars, but decent human beings.

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Education

Unsupervised Explorations: Rethinking Student Trips

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In a tale of youthful exuberance and unforeseen peril, six students from Class 12 embarked on a journey to Goa, a rite of passage celebrated by many as a final hurrah before stepping into adulthood. With permission from their parents, who were perhaps too trusting or caught up in their own lives, the group set out with excitement pulsing through their veins. Upon landing, they were greeted not just by the balmy Goan air but by three massive SUVs, reserved for their adventure—a promise of freedom and the thrill of the open road.

Their accommodation was a sprawling villa, costing a small fortune at 70,000 INR per night, equipped with private pools and luxuriously appointed rooms. It was a palace for kings and queens of the night, a haven for six souls intertwined in the throes of adolescence. Three rooms for three couples, the arrangements were a testament to their intentions, seeking privacy and moments of unchecked passion under the guise of a holiday.

As the days unfolded, the allure of Goa’s vibrant nightlife beckoned. The students, drawn to the magnetic pull of music and dance, found themselves in the heart of the party scene, clubbing into the early hours. It was here, amidst the revelry, that they encountered individuals with sinister motives—drug peddlers who saw not just customers but vulnerable targets in these wide-eyed teenagers.

Swept up in a desire to appear worldly and sophisticated, the group made a decision that would pivot their holiday from a dream to a nightmare. They purchased drugs, a choice made without foresight or understanding of the consequences. Their naivety became their downfall when the police, vigilant and unyielding, caught them in possession of these illegal substances.

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The aftermath was swift and severe. The teenagers, underage and unprepared for the legal ramifications, were thrust into the cold reality of juvenile custody. Their parents, irrespective of their affluence, were faced with a situation no amount of money could easily resolve. Frantic and fearful, they did everything within their power to secure their children’s release, confronted with the harsh truth of their offspring’s actions.

This story, inspired by real events, serves as a stark reminder of the dangers lurking behind the facade of freedom and the allure of adulthood. It raises pressing questions about the role of guardianship and parental oversight in the lives of teenagers standing on the precipice of adulthood.

Could this grave misstep have been avoided had there been a local guardian present, a guiding light in unfamiliar territory? Would a more vigilant approach from the parents, a pause to question and understand, have rewritten the story’s conclusion? This incident forces us to confront the reality of our responsibilities towards our youth—not just to grant them freedom but to equip them with the wisdom to navigate it. As we ponder the delicate balance between trust and caution, we must ask ourselves: At what cost does freedom come, and are we doing enough to ensure that the journey into independence does not lead to a fall from grace?

To read more on such trends that need to be called out and #un-trended, head to the April issue of our magazine here

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Education

Pricey Presents, Precocious Pressures: The Cost of Gift-Giving to Children

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In the intricate fabric of contemporary society, entwined with the threads of status and materialism, the ritual of gift-giving to young children has morphed into a showcase of wealth and social stature. This tale shines a light on the ripple effect of such extravagance through the eyes of Ayaan’s peers, young souls caught in the whirlwind of competition and comparison.

When Ayaan arrives at school with sneakers worth 80k or brandishes the latest iPhone as casually as a textbook, it’s not just a display of wealth; it becomes a benchmark, setting aflame a cycle of envy and desire among his classmates. The children, innocent in their yearnings, unknowingly step onto a treadmill of materialistic pursuit, urging their parents towards the edge of financial prudence in a bid to not fall behind.

The spectacle reaches its zenith when Ayaan, in a display of unparalleled opulence, gifts iPods as return gifts on his birthday. An act, while grand, sends shockwaves through his circle, planting seeds of expectation and entitlement in young hearts. Parents, caught between nurturing happiness and teaching value, find themselves navigating a treacherous path of societal pressure and fiscal responsibility.

As each child in Ayaan’s orbit feels compelled to mirror his lavish lifestyle, the essence of childhood camaraderie is shadowed by the looming spectre of materialism. Friendships, once untainted by the world’s complexities, now bear the weight of economic disparity. The playground becomes a silent witness to conversations not of games and dreams, but of gadgets and brands, a testament to a culture veering away from the innocence of youth.

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The impact extends beyond the tangible, chipping away at the pillars of equality and mutual respect. As peers vie to outdo each other in a race fuelled by parental indulgence, the divide widens not just in their possessions but in their perceptions of self-worth and success. The classroom, a microcosm of society, reflects a disturbing trend of measuring one’s value through the lens of ownership and extravagance.

This narrative, while centred on Ayaan and his affluent displays, casts a spotlight on the broader societal implications of such gift-giving practices. It prompts a critical examination of the values we impart to our children and the world we aspire to create for them. As we navigate this maze of materialism and the stories of Ayaan and his peers unfold, they serve as a mirror to our collective conscience, urging us to reconsider the legacy we wish to leave behind. The question that beckons us to reflect is profound: Are we raising a generation that values possessions over people, status over substance?

To read more on such trends that need to be called out and #un-trended, head to the April issue of our magazine here

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Addressing the Transition From Classrooms to Coaching: The Shifted Focus

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In the bustling academic corridors of Woody High, nestled amidst the verdant suburbs of a thriving city, the story of Vikram, a bright and ambitious student, begins to unfold. Vikram, like many of his peers, found himself at a crossroads as he stepped into the crucial years of 11th standard, caught between the traditional path of school education and the burgeoning trend of dummy admissions.Classrooms to Coaching: The Shifted Focus

The lure of coaching centres, promising a direct route to success in competitive exams, became increasingly irresistible. Vikram watched as one by one, his classmates traded the familiar setting of classrooms for the rigorous regimen of coaching institutes. The promise was simple: a focused preparation tailor-made for cracking entrance exams, seemingly a pragmatic choice in an increasingly competitive world.

However, this exodus from school to coaching centres revealed a deeper malaise within the education system. Schools, once vibrant communities of learning and growth, had slowly morphed into factories churning out board exam results. The holistic development of students, their readiness for the world beyond the gates of Woody High, seemed to have taken a backseat to the singular pursuit of academic scores.

Vikram’s decision to join the coaching bandwagon was met with a mix of hope and apprehension. The initial months were a blur of new concepts, relentless practice sessions, and the constant pressure to outperform. Yet, as the novelty wore off, Vikram found himself yearning for the missed debates in history class, the group projects in science, and the sense of belonging that came with being part of the school community.

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The turning point came when Vikram, amidst his packed coaching schedule, volunteered for a community project. The experience was eye-opening, highlighting the gap between the rote learning at coaching centres and the practical knowledge and soft skills required in the real world. It dawned on Vikram that education was not just about clearing exams but about building a foundation for life.

As Woody High grappled with the dwindling numbers of students in its classrooms, it became evident that a change was needed. Schools had to evolve beyond their board-result orientation, integrating curriculum with real-world applications, fostering critical thinking, and preparing students for life’s myriad challenges.

The story, based on real incidents, raises the question that looms large, as we reflect on the narrative of #ClassroomOrCoaching: How can schools reclaim their role as sanctuaries of holistic education, ensuring they remain relevant and valuable in the lives of students like Vikram, not just as conduits to board results but as launchpads for their futures?

In a world where the race to the top often overlooks the essence of learning, can we afford to let coaching centres replace the rich, multifaceted experience of school education?

To read more on such trends that need to be called out and #un-trended, head to the April issue of our magazine here

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