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Going the Extra Mile

TEACHER- Being one is the highest Privilege, Having one is the best Blessing, says Harsha G Ramaiya.

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Teachers are the foundation to make a good and balanced generation. We hold the utmost responsibility to serve our nation, as we have the roots in our hands. We are the actual nurturers of this Garden. A teacher plays a vital role in moulding a child’s entire personality. We believe that a teacher is not just performing a job as an individual, but she works for a noble cause. A teacher should be proud of the duty she performs, she is a mother-like figure making school a second home for kids.

We teachers should believe in ourselves and have a vision to make the best generation only then we can work towards our goal. A teacher is not only to teach what is given in the book or in the syllabus. We should not set boundaries around ourselves limited to only the syllabus, as actual teaching is beyond the syllabus and only a teacher can do it, but for that we have to go the extra mile. I think we should go that extra mile as only then will we be able to serve the actual purpose of being a teacher. A teacher has a lot of impact on a student’s mind so to prove ourselves as the real role models we should give that extra mile an effort. When I say impact, it means children believe us more than even their parents and this belief is our strength and that can inspire us to deliver more and the best. The child absorbs each and every word said by his teacher, which remains with him throughout his life, and mostly the teacher’s words become a student’s character.

Children are so inspired by their teachers that mostly in their school days most of the kids want to become teachers and when they role play, they enact their teachers. Seeing how much impact a teacher, her behaviour, her attitude holds on minds and hearts of the kids, don’t you think it’s a big responsibility to portray ourselves right?

Our goal as teachers is not and never should be the completion of syllabus given to us, because as teachers we should believe that the sky is the limit for us to reach and to teach.

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Our attitude should be to make studies enjoyable and interesting rather than a burden for kids as in today’s scenario, studies have become a burden and very boring. The main reasons for this are…

1 We focus on showbiz rather than on the actual essence of education. (Here I mean textbooks are chosen by their cover and not by the content)

2 We have become mechanical, that human touch of thinking and teaching with heart is missing.

A teacher is not only an employee and should not think that way, our wages are given as a token of our services rendered to a particular institute but we owe our duty towards society as we are in a noble profession and our thinking also should be expanded to more than just a time bound duty.

If we consider wages and time to time duty then we are in a wrong profession. We should look into ourselves and question ourselves that, if I have chosen teaching as my profession then I have to give my 100% and expect (here wages or recognition) almost nothing. By this I don’t mean that you should be under-paid or tolerate work exploitation but I am trying to say that the quality of our work should not get diluted because of any reason as we have to set the society an example of what a teacher actually means.

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A teacher takes the initiative in bringing up students to be responsible citizens. We strongly believe that a teacher has unconditional love towards her students irrespective of job timings and wages paid to her.

It is we who make a subject interesting or boring as no subject is actually interesting or boring. As we have often heard students saying, ‘I like this subject because my teacher teaches in such a way, that it becomes easy and interesting’. We also hear the students say the same in the reverse way.

We should remind ourselves daily that we are very important to make the change in the society and we should not have any bar of wages, time, and efforts etc to give our best.

We should ignite ourselves to make the change in society, we should regularly update ourselves through the resources available as only then can we help the coming generation better.

Let’s pledge to have a very happy, interesting, innovative, creative, out of the way, out of the box teaching.

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Harsha G Ramaiya is founder and director Small Wonders, ECA National Core Committee Member, Admin First Moms Club and President Bhavnagar Pre-School Association TIE.

Image Courtesy: TheKindergartenTeacher

Education

5 Computer Exercises You Can Teach Your Students in School for Better Computer Literacy

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As the world observed Computer Literacy Day this past Saturday, December 2nd, we must discuss how Indian schools can take proactive measures to enhance computer literacy among students.

Computer literacy is the ability to use computers and related technologies effectively and efficiently. It is a vital skill for children to learn today, as computers are ubiquitous and indispensable in almost every aspect of life. Here are some reasons why computer literacy is important for children to know:

  • Cyberbullying and cybercrimes: As more and more children use the internet and social media, they are exposed to the risks of cyberbullying and cybercrimes, such as harassment, identity theft, fraud, and hacking. Computer literacy can help children to protect themselves from these threats, by teaching them how to use online security tools, such as passwords, antivirus software, and encryption. It can also help them to recognize and report cyberbullying and cyber crimes, and to seek help and support when needed.
  • Artificial intelligence (AI): AI is the technology that enables machines to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as learning, reasoning, and decision-making. AI is transforming various fields and industries, such as education, health care, entertainment, and transportation. Computer literacy can help children to understand and interact with AI, by teaching them how AI works, what its benefits and limitations are, and how to use it responsibly and ethically.
  • School curriculum and career opportunities: The school curriculum and the job market are increasingly demanding computer literacy skills, such as coding, web design, data analysis, and media creation. Computer literacy can help children to excel in their academic and professional pursuits, by teaching them how to use various tools and software that are relevant and useful for their learning and work. It can also help them to explore and discover new interests and passions, and to develop their creativity and problem-solving skills.

However, many schools are behind in teaching students about actual tools and software that they must know. They are only taught the basic HTML, MS Office, and some redundant software which are now becoming obsolete. They must teach students beneficial software and exercises, such as:

  • Coding basics: This exercise introduces students to the fundamentals of programming, such as variables, loops, functions, and logic. Students can use online platforms such as Code.org, Code For Life, Microsoft MakeCode, Machine Learning for Kids, or Scratch, these are free-to-use tools available to create interactive games, animations, and stories using block-based or text-based coding languages.
  • Web design: This exercise teaches students how to create and design their websites using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Students can use online editors such as Codemoji, Weebly, Adobe Express, Google Sites, and WordPress.com to write and run their code and see the results in real-time. They can also learn from tutorials and examples on YouTube.
  • Media creation: This exercise encourages students to express their creativity and communication skills through digital media, such as images, videos, and podcasts. Students can use online tools such as Canva, Pixlr, Storybird, Padlet, and Tellagami, to edit and create images, WeVideo or Animoto, VN or Photogrid to edit and create videos, and Spotify, Anchor or SoundTrap to record and produce podcasts. They can also share their media creations with their peers and teachers on online platforms.
  • Online research: This exercise trains students to find and evaluate information from various online sources, such as search engines, databases, and websites. Students can use online tools such as AI Tools named Bing or ChatGPT to search for information on different topics, Google Scholar or Zotero to generate citations and references, and Grammarly to check and improve their writing.
  • Digital citizenship: This exercise educates students about the ethical and responsible use of technology, such as online safety, privacy, and cyberbullying. Students can use online resources such as Common-Sense Education or The Achievery to learn about the best practices and guidelines for being a good digital citizen. They can also participate in online discussions and activities that foster digital citizenship skills and awareness.

 

 

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WORLD AIDS DAY- Ending The Stigma Around HIV/AIDS through Sex Education in Schools

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In the vibrant tapestry of education, there exists a transformative force often relegated to the sidelines of comprehensive sex education. As we celebrate a year of embracing openness and understanding, the time is ripe to confront the enduring stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS.

HIV/AIDS, once shrouded in whispers, continues to suffer beneath the weight of myths and misinformation, impacting millions globally. Education, beyond being a conduit for facts, serves as a bastion of empathy, capable of dismantling barriers and dispelling fallacies. Embedding sex education in school curricula emerges as a guiding light, steering the younger generation toward a future free from the chains of ignorance. “The stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS affects our entire community, hindering access to information, testing, and treatment. As members of the school community, we can reshape this narrative. By educating ourselves about HIV/AIDS—its transmission, prevention, and dispelling myths—we wield knowledge as a powerful tool against stigma. Fostering open dialogue creates a non-judgmental space, supporting those affected by HIV/AIDS.”Anju Luthra, Deputy Director- The Lexicon Schools.

At its core, comprehensive sex education transcends biology, embracing discussions on consent, healthy relationships, and the power of empathy. By nurturing emotional intelligence, students become advocates for change, challenging societal norms and shattering stigmas that surround HIV/AIDS. This education becomes a beacon, guiding informed individuals into adulthood, and shaping broader attitudes that echo understanding and acceptance. “Leveraging technology for social media campaigns and creating safe spaces for discussions further contributes to destigmatizing HIV/AIDS. Together, through education and awareness, we can dismantle prejudices and foster a society that is well-informed, empathetic, and committed to eradicating the stigmas.” Dr Jayanthi Ranjan, Dean Academics, Sharda University.

Lack of sex education can lead to unrealistic expectations of sex when children grow up. What they see on the internet is often fabricated and not really how it works in real life. Sex education can help children understand the diversity of sexual orientations, preferences, and expressions, and respect the choices and consent of others. It can also help them develop healthy relationships and communication skills with their partners.

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Sexual health is just as important for teens as it is for adults. They need to be aware of intimate hygiene and healthy sexual practices, such as using condoms, getting tested for sexually transmitted infections, and seeking medical help when needed. Unhealthy sexual practices can lead to irreversible damage to a child’s physical and mental well-being, such as unwanted pregnancies, abortions, infections, trauma, or depression.

“According to the National Family Health Survey 5 (2019-21), more than 4/5th of girls aged 15-19 and 9/10th of boys of the same age group had heard about HIV / AIDS. However, only half of them had the knowledge that using condoms and having only one partner was key to reducing the risk of being infected with HIV / AIDS. Only 0.9% of girls aged 15-19 and 4.0% of boys of that age reported having sex with someone they were not married to or living within the past year. What this data suggests is that awareness is but the first step and that attitudes, skills, and behaviors related to sex need to be discussed with adolescents to impact their behaviors meaningfully. Said Dr Anand Lakshman, Founder & CEO, AddressHealth.

Indian parents often refrain kids from watching anything remotely intimate in their vicinity, thinking that it will protect them from the influence of sex. However, this does not stop the kids from watching it in private, without any guidance or supervision. Instead of shying away from the topic, families need to start having open conversations with kids about sex and sexuality and provide them with reliable and age-appropriate resources. A good example of this is the Netflix show Sex Education, which depicts the struggles and experiences of teenagers and their parents humorously and realistically.

Recognizing the diverse nature of classrooms today, inclusive sex education becomes a force for breaking down walls of prejudice. Respecting cultural differences and incorporating LGBTQ+ perspectives into the curriculum ensures that no student feels marginalized. By championing inclusivity, sex education becomes a transformative power against the shadows of ignorance surrounding HIV/AIDS.

Yet, integrating sex education faces its challenges, notably resistance from conservative viewpoints. Advocacy for evidence-based, age-appropriate content becomes crucial, requiring collaboration between educators, parents, and health professionals. Navigating these challenges ensures a holistic approach that caters to the unique needs of each community. “It is crucial to create an awareness that understanding and empathy are the antidotes to prejudice. Empower young individuals to be advocates for HIV/AIDS awareness.”Dr. Kalpana Gangaramani, Managing Director, Target Publications, Pvt. Ltd.

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As we mark a year of enlightened education, let our classrooms resonate with understanding, dispelling the shadows of ignorance surrounding HIV/AIDS. By championing comprehensive sex education, we pave the way for a future unburdened by the weight of stigma, where knowledge empowers and a world where HIV/AIDS is understood, not feared, is within reach.

“In our ongoing commitment to learner’s holistic development, at Chaman Bhartiya School, we have integrated comprehensive sex education into our curriculum to combat HIV-AIDS stigma. This proactive step aims to provide accurate information, promote healthy attitudes, and foster a safe space for discussions. By equipping our middle-year students with knowledge and understanding, we hope to break down misconceptions and eliminate the stigma surrounding HIV-AIDS.” Said Nishita Israni, Vice Principal, Chaman Bhartiya School when asked about how institutions are incorporating these changes.

According to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, over 50% of people harbor negative and discriminatory attitudes towards those living with HIV. The severe effects on mental and physical health, economic stability, and access to care necessitate a call to action.

HIV stigma and discrimination act as barriers to testing, prevention, and treatment services. Education emerges as a potent HIV-prevention tool, empowering young people with the skills, attitudes, and values needed to combat HIV-related stigma.

Comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) emerges as a key component, covering human development, relationships, gender identity, and HIV prevention. Despite its transformative potential, CSE often faces resistance, necessitating a collective effort to overcome obstacles.

Policies reducing stigma and discrimination are pivotal to ending the HIV epidemic by 2030. Talking about the resistance from educators for sex education, Lt Col A Sekhar (R) Principal, Hyderabad Public School said, “Sex education is, now, less of an educational issue, much more a socio-cultural challenge with the patriarchal society resisting sensibly balanced, grounded learning big time in the name of ‘tradition’.Taking into consideration that, in our society, patriarchy is the root cause of many such stigmas and issues we discuss. And the solutions we seek, lie within us.

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Unlocking Excellence: Top Reasons Why Study Abroad Aspirants Prefer the UK

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Some of the prominent universities in the world have their origins in the UK. The Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, and colleges like the Imperial College are well known and have been beacons of education historically. The UK offers a wide range of relevant graduation and postgraduate programs in various disciplines that can appeal to the diverse student diaspora throughout the world. This diversity offers opportunities for students at multiple colleges and academic institutions. Further, the education system of the UK is unique in a number of aspects. These are –

  1. Emphasis on Research
  2. Importance of Projects like Capstone Projects.
  3. Internships
  4. Development of skills, thinking, and applications of the various courses of study.

From an Indian perspective, the degrees and diplomas awarded by UK-based institutions are recognized & accepted the world over.

The main requirement from a foreign student would be proficiency in the English Language which is validated through various tests like IELTS, Pearson PTE, ESOL, etc. This is mandated as the mode of instruction for the UK-based colleges and institutions is primarily in English. The major advantage for the Indian students is the cultural diversity and acceptance at the UK-based universities. Students from various parts of the world converge in the UK making it a cultural conundrum of countries, races, religions, and exposures. This is one of the greatest advantages of studying in the UK.

The UKVI norms allow for a student to intern during his studentship. This adds a separate dimension to the work experience of the students. The students will be free to convert their student visas to work visas post the completion of their academic commitments. Networking among students is also a great way to earn employment. UK universities allow for events such as job fairs wherein the recruiters and the students can meet and exchange their requirements. This remains one of the most popular methods of gaining employment in the UK. Alumni referrals also facilitate employment. The alumni are the ambassadors of education at UK-based Universities as students can reach out to them and understand about cultural differences, changes in the academic structure at UK, Internship opportunities, assessment systems, etc.

Finally, a UK-based academic program may be perceived as costly. However, this requires a micro detailed research as earning and interning opportunities will end up renumerating in UK Pounds which is a strong currency. The currency differentials will make the program viable. Secondly, the UK-based institutions will offer employment or internships in world-class organizations that will offer worldwide exposure.

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Hence, a UK-based education offers exposure, excellent academics, internship opportunities, the best cultural interfaces, reputed universities, and colleges, etc. that will offer education of world standards.

Authored By: Dr. Raju Varghese, Director PGDM & Global Programs, Lexicon MILE

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The Future of K-12 Education in Low-Income Countries: A Digital Learning Perspective

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Digital learning has become an essential part of education in the 21st century. It has transformed the way students access information, engage with content, and interact with educators. However, the implementation of digital learning in K-12 education in low-income countries faces a unique set of challenges. 

Difficulties and Challenges

Lack of Infrastructure and Resources: One of the primary challenges in implementing digital learning in low-income countries is the inadequate infrastructure and resources. According to a report by UNESCO, only 10% of low-income countries had sufficient facilities to ensure the safety of all learners and staff in early 2021. This lack of basic infrastructure, including access to clean water, sanitation, and hygiene, creates a challenging environment for effective digital learning.

Limited Access to Digital Devices and Internet Connectivity: A significant obstacle to digital learning in low-income countries is the limited access to digital devices and internet connectivity. The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) reported that half of the 1.5 billion students affected by school closures worldwide faced economic and technical barriers to online learning, with the majority of these students residing in developing countries. This lack of access to devices and the internet hinders students’ ability to participate in digital learning.

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While these challenges are significant, there are also opportunities that can be leveraged to reimagine K-12 digital learning in low-income countries. Reports indicate that digital technology is becoming more accessible to the bottom segment of the population in low-income countries. This trend suggests a growing need to invest in digital infrastructure and education, making digital learning a reality for more students.

Open Educational Resources (OERs)

Open Educational Resources (OERs) are a powerful and transformative concept in education. They represent a wide array of educational materials and resources, including textbooks, lectures, videos, quizzes, and more, that are made freely available to the public. OERs have the potential to revolutionize education by eliminating financial barriers, expanding access to quality learning materials, and fostering a culture of collaboration and sharing. Unlike traditional textbooks and proprietary educational resources, OERs are typically released under open licenses, such as Creative Commons, which allow users to access, modify, and redistribute the content. This openness not only reduces the financial burden on students who no longer need to purchase expensive textbooks but also empowers educators to adapt and customize materials to better suit their students’ needs and local contexts.

Moreover, OERs promote innovation and pedagogical diversity. They encourage educators to experiment with new teaching methods, as they can easily access a wealth of materials to support their instructional objectives. 

This freedom to adapt and tailor resources to individual students’ needs fosters a more inclusive and personalized learning environment. OERs enable international collaboration and knowledge sharing, breaking down geographical barriers and allowing educators and learners to access high-quality educational content from around the world. As the OER movement continues to grow, it has the potential to make education more affordable, adaptable, and inclusive, ultimately contributing to improved learning outcomes and a more equitable educational landscape.

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OERs are freely accessible, openly licensed educational materials that can include text, media, and other digital assets. OERs provide a solution to the lack of access to traditional textbooks and educational materials in low-income countries. These resources can be tailored to local contexts and are a cost-effective way to enhance learning.

Strategies for Reimagining K-12 Digital Learning in Low-Income Countries

To make digital learning a reality in low-income countries, a multi-faceted approach is needed:

  • Investing in Digital Infrastructure: Governments and stakeholders should invest in digital infrastructure, including high-speed internet connectivity, reliable electricity supply, and computer labs in schools. Adequate infrastructure is essential for effective digital learning.
  • Providing Digital Devices: Governments and organizations should provide digital devices, such as laptops or tablets, to students who cannot afford them. This initiative ensures that all students have equal access to digital learning resources.
  • Developing Context-Relevant OERs: Governments and stakeholders must focus on the development of open educational resources that are tailored to local contexts and curricula. These OERs can replace traditional textbooks and be made accessible to all students, regardless of their economic background.
  • Teacher Training: To implement digital learning effectively, it is crucial to provide teachers with training on how to use digital devices and integrate technology into their teaching. Teachers play a vital role in delivering quality education through digital means.
  • Collaboration with the Private Sector: Governments can collaborate with private sector companies that specialize in educational technology solutions. This partnership can result in affordable and context-relevant educational technology solutions for schools.

Reimagining K-12 digital learning in low-income countries is a complex and critical task. These strategies can not only enhance educational opportunities but also contribute to reducing educational inequalities and promoting economic development in low-income countries.

 

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The Indian National Education Policy: Embracing Multidisciplinarity in Higher Education

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The work of Leonardo da Vinci is regarded as the pinnacle of human brilliance in the archives. He was a Renaissance polymath who made significant contributions to science, architecture, and many other disciplines in addition to his artistic talent. The tale of Da Vinci serves as a powerful symbol of the importance of interdisciplinary knowledge. The Indian National Education Policy (NEP) has welcomed the idea of multidisciplinary with open arms in today’s interconnected world where the lines between disciplines are becoming more hazy. The expanding tendency of colleges to offer a broad range of subjects from numerous fields reflects this policy change.

Fast forward to the 21st century, we live in a society that appreciates multiple skill intersections more than ever. Individuals who can adapt, innovate, and work across disciplines are needed to meet the challenges of today’s globalized, rapidly evolving job environment. Higher education institutions are redesigning their educational programs to offer multidisciplinary programs that give students a wider range of skills in response to these requirements.

From 2023, many advanced management programs in India will start to offer interdisciplinary skills. These programs emphasize that current employees require a toolset that cuts across disciplines rather than merely a restricted specialization in one area. This change in education is a reflection of what students themselves want.

In a poll by TeamLease Edtech, a shocking 94% of students reportedly expressed a significant interest in studying multidisciplinary degrees. Additionally, 70% of respondents favored hybrid learning settings, which blend conventional classroom instruction with online and on-the-job training. This preference for a variety of educational opportunities highlights the dynamics of modern education 

Online education, once viewed with skepticism, is now gaining acceptance among students. More than half of the students surveyed (55%) said they would pay for online degrees offered by renowned professors. This represents a change in how students view the benefits of online learning, particularly when it originates from respectable schools.

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Furthermore, according to 60% of students, online courses should be cheaper than conventional in-person ones, reflecting the evolving economics of education. The landscape of higher education is changing as a result of the availability of quality education from the convenience of one’s home or place of work.

The New Education Policy (NEP) of the Indian government is a forward-thinking policy that precisely reflects the changing requirements and ambitions of students. In recognition of the fact that the workforce of the future needs a synthesis of knowledge and abilities from diverse fields, this policy has prepared the way for multidisciplinary degrees.

The NEP also introduces the idea of “Professors of Practice,” an initiative meant to encourage hands-on learning. Experienced professionals from a variety of industries are invited into the classroom to give students practical knowledge that is essential in today’s job market.

Recognizing the value of online education in the age of technology, the University Grants Commission (UGC) has also taken action by promoting online course credits. This change in policy embraces the flexibility and accessibility that online education can provide in addition to recognizing the value of multidisciplinary.

The change is undoubtedly difficult in higher education towards multidisciplinary and online learning. But it also has a great deal of promise. It promises to provide students with a wider range of skills, better preparing them for a labor market that is continually changing. In order to reach students in the most remote areas of the nation, it claims to make education more inclusive and accessible. It guarantees that graduates are prepared for employment right out of school by bridging the gap between academia and business.

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The Indian National Education Policy’s embracing of multiple learning routes and multidisciplinary degrees is a noteworthy move in a world where Leonardo da Vinci’s ideology of multidisciplinarity is as important as ever. It reflects students’ shifting requirements in a changing educational landscape and workforce. Moving forward, we must continue to support these programs in order to ensure that education remains an empowering force for future generations. Just as Leonardo da Vinci’s talent overcame boundaries, so can India’s multidisciplinary education system create a better future for everybody.

Authored By- Avya Jain

Avya Jain, a passionate high school freshman, explores her deep interest in geopolitics and history. With a keen eye for global affairs and an insatiable curiosity about the past, Avya delves into complex narratives, viewing history and geopolitics as threads weaving our world together. Committed to unraveling these stories, she brings a fresh perspective to topics like the role of technology in wildlife conservation, showcasing her skills in research and content creation. 

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Irony of the Idiot Box: How Television made Education Smarter?

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Television, often labelled as the ‘idiot box,’ paradoxically stood as a formidable force that reshaped the educational landscape in India. Its influence, both before and after the internet era, was transformative, leveraging the power of visual and auditory stimulation to enhance learning experiences. This medium, with its broad reach, played a pivotal role in overcoming barriers to education, acting as an inclusive educator that transcended geographical, linguistic, and socio-economic boundaries.

Educational programs address issues ranging from social justice to environmental sustainability, instilling values of democracy, diversity, and tolerance. The medium serves as a conduit for raising awareness and sensitizing viewers to the pressing challenges faced by society. One remarkable example is the vast array of educational programs under the PM e-Vidya initiative, with India boasting the largest number of educational TV channels globally, totaling 280. This initiative underscored television’s potential as a tool for democratizing education, making quality content accessible even in the remotest corners of the country.

Television’s impact on academic performance is substantiated by a study from the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), revealing that watching educational TV programs could improve students’ academic performance by a significant 10 to 15 percent. These findings emphasized the educational value embedded in televised content.

The rural penetration of television, as highlighted by a survey conducted by the Centre for Media Studies (CMS), was striking. More than 80 percent of rural households in India had access to television, and over 60 percent of rural children regularly engaged with educational TV programs. This extensive reach underscored television’s role as a key player in disseminating educational content to a diverse and widespread audience.

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India-specific shows further exemplified television’s prowess as an educational tool. The iconic ‘Mahabharata’ and ‘Ramayan‘ adaptations by BR Chopra and Ramanand Sagar, respectively, not only popularized ancient Indian scriptures but also conveyed enduring values to a vast audience. These epics became cultural touchstones, imparting lessons of duty, loyalty, courage, and morality.

Bharat Ek Khoj,’ a historical series based on Jawaharlal Nehru’s book, offered a panoramic view of India’s history, tracing its evolution from the Indus Valley Civilization to modern times. This show served as an educational journey, enlightening viewers about the diverse and complex tapestry of India’s past.

Shaktimaan,’ a superhero series, did not just entertain but also educated a generation. Through the protagonist’s battles against evil forces, the show imparted knowledge on scientific, social, and environmental topics. It stood as a testament to television’s ability to combine entertainment with education, fostering a sense of responsibility and curiosity among its viewers.

Further enriching the educational spectrum was the show ‘Tarang‘ on Doordarshan, which was instrumental in making learning interactive and engaging. ‘Kaun Banega Crorepati,’ the Indian adaptation of ‘Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,’ not only continues to entertain but also encourages millions to expand their knowledge base through a quiz format. ‘Panchtantra Ki Kahaniyan‘ on DD, with its fables and moral stories, contributed to character-building and ethical understanding. In the realm of science, ‘Khud Bud: Khel Vigyan Ke‘ carved a niche. This show, with its focus on scientific principles and experiments, not only entertained but also educated, nurturing a scientific temperament among its audience.

The vastness of television’s reach, has potentially redefined the landscape of teacher education and, consequently, the quality of education imparted across the country. Television, once labeled an ‘idiot box,’ has proven to be a dynamic educational tool, reaching far beyond its initial moniker. It continues to shape the educational narrative in India, bringing knowledge, inspiration, and social consciousness to millions. As we celebrate the transformation wrought by this medium, it becomes evident that the ‘idiot box’ was anything but foolish—it was a catalyst for intellectual growth and societal progress.

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Educational Renaissance: Narayana Murthy’s Visionary Call for a $1 Billion Investment in Teacher Training

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Narayana Murthy, Co-Founder, Infosys

In a seminal declaration, N R Narayana Murthy has thrust the spotlight on a critical facet of India’s education system, urging an annual investment of $1 billion for the comprehensive training of school teachers. This visionary proposition advocates tapping into the wealth of experience harboured by 10,000 retired, highly accomplished educators from both developed nations and India, with a specific focus on STEM areas — Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.

At its core, this proposal compels us to reevaluate our educational priorities, directing attention towards the educators who are the architects of our nation’s intellectual foundation. While discussions on educational investments often revolve around students, Murthy’s call resonates with the acknowledgment that the future of teaching lies in the hands of our educators.

The fundamental question that emerges is, why the emphasis on such substantial financial allocation for teacher training? To begin with, investing in teachers is an investment in the very fabric of our society. They are the conduits of knowledge, shaping the minds that will steer the nation’s trajectory. However, despite the crucial role they play, the teaching profession is often undervalued and undercompensated.

The suggested $1 billion annual investment is undoubtedly a substantial figure, prompting some to question the necessity of such a significant financial commitment. It is imperative to recognize that teaching, despite its paramount importance, is often remunerated far less than corporate roles, despite the immense responsibility it carries. This discrepancy in compensation is a deterrent to attracting and retaining top-tier talent in the education sector. Hence, the call for substantial funding is not just an arbitrary figure but a strategic move to rectify the undervaluation of the teaching profession.

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Moreover, this proposal prompts us to reflect on the broader issue of the societal perception of teaching. Teachers, the architects of intellectual growth, deserve not only financial remuneration which is well deserved for their pivotal role in an economy but also comprehensive training that keeps them abreast of evolving pedagogical methodologies and technological advancements. Respect, a commodity sometimes undervalued, is also an integral part of the equation. The proposed investment is not merely a financial allocation; it is a symbolic gesture of acknowledging the critical role teachers play in shaping the future of our nation.

The concept of enlisting 10,000 retired, highly accomplished teachers, both from developed nations and India, is particularly noteworthy. It suggests a collaborative approach, harnessing global expertise to elevate the standard of teaching in India. The focus on STEM areas is strategic, aligning with the evolving demands of the job market and technological landscape.

The ‘Train the Teacher’ program, coupled with the proposed annual expenditure of $1 billion, stands as a transformative initiative poised to redefine the landscape of education in India. Envisaging this as more than a mere financial allocation, the program introduces a comprehensive training approach at the school level. This strategic move is not just about empowering teachers with subject matter expertise; it’s a holistic endeavor aimed at fostering a culture of critical thinking, encouraging experimentation, promoting teamwork, igniting curiosity, and honing problem-solving abilities among educators. By instilling these qualities in teachers, the initiative creates a cascading effect on students, shaping a learning environment that not only imparts knowledge but also nurtures the essential skills crucial for navigating the challenges of the future.

The broader impact of such an initiative extends beyond individual teachers. It gives birth to a ripple effect where enhanced teacher training translates into a more dynamic and effective education system. Students exposed to well-trained educators benefit from a more enriched learning experience, preparing them not just academically but also fostering critical thinking and problem-solving skills essential for the challenges of the future.

In conclusion, Narayana Murthy’s call for a $1 billion annual investment in teacher training is a clear and much awaited call for a paradigm shift in our approach to education. It beckons us to recognize and rectify the undervaluation of teachers, both in terms of remuneration and societal respect. It is an investment not just in individuals but in the very bedrock of our nation’s intellectual growth. As we navigate the complexities of the 21st century, the emphasis on teacher training becomes not just an option but an imperative for sculpting a future-ready generation.

 

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Transforming Young Minds: The Imperative of STEM Education in Today’s World

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We live in an era of rapid technological advancements and a dynamic job market. This has led to an increase in the need for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) learning now more than ever. STEM is not just an industry, it is the foundation upon which the future generation of our world will rely.  At ThinkerPlace, we understand the significance of STEM in nurturing young minds and are delighted to see that this understanding is being recognized on a broader scale, as seen in the National Education Policy 2020. 

STEM education is not just preparing young minds for the future but it is also about empowering them with critical thinking, problem-solving, and analytical skills that will help them throughout their lives. It fosters curiosity, creativity, and a passion for learning. The practical application of STEM concepts in our daily lives, from smartphones to renewable energy solutions, underscores the need for a solid foundation in these fields. 

There is a high demand for STEM jobs in the current scenario that is focused on automation, data analysis, and technology-driven skills. To ensure that our children are not left behind, we must equip them with the necessary knowledge and tools to thrive in this digital age. This is where STEM education comes into play, preparing students to become the innovators, problem solvers, and leaders of tomorrow. 

The National Education Policy 2020 recognizes the importance of STEM education very well in shaping young minds for the future. It places a strong emphasis on holistic development, with an increased focus on experiential learning and skill development. One of the key aspects of the policy is the integration of STEM education from an early age, making it an integral part of the school syllabus. This shift acknowledges that STEM education is not a luxury but a necessity for students to succeed in an increasingly competitive global landscape.  

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STEM education is all about practical learning. When children build their own robots, experiment with circuits, or delve into scientific principles, they are not just memorizing concepts; they are experiencing the thrill of discovery. This kind of active learning ignites a passion for knowledge & curiosity that can last a lifetime. 

STEM education also encourages an entrepreneurial mindset. It empowers young minds to think outside the box, develop innovative solutions, and create new technologies. By nurturing a culture of innovation from a young age, we can inspire the next generation of inventors, entrepreneurs, and leaders who will drive progress and change the world. 

STEM education equips children with the skills, knowledge, and mindset needed to navigate the complexities of the modern world. The National Education Policy 2020’s recognition of STEM as a fundamental part of education is a wonderful step in the right direction much needed at this hour. 

It is crucial to foster a passion for STEM among our youth, after all, it is for the betterment of their future.  As we look ahead, it is clear that STEM education is the need of the hour, and we must embrace it wholeheartedly to ensure a brighter and more innovative tomorrow for our children and the world they will shape. 

Written by Deepti Sharma, Director, ThinkerPlace

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Preparing High School Students for Tomorrow’s Thriving Job Market: Is the Education System Up to the Task?

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In the rapidly evolving landscape of the 21st century, the job market is undergoing a profound transformation. Traditional career paths are giving way to innovative roles, demanding new skills and adaptability. The question that resonates across boardrooms, classrooms, and dinner tables alike is whether our education system is adequately preparing high school students for this dynamic future.

In this thought-provoking exploration, we delve into the heart of the matter: the readiness of our education system to equip students with the skills, knowledge, and mindset essential for success in tomorrow’s job market. Through insights from industry experts, we aim to dissect the challenges, unveil innovative solutions, and inspire a collective reimagining of education. Join us on this insightful journey, where we question, reflect, and envision a future where our students are not just equipped to survive, but to thrive.

However, the current education system in many countries, including India, is not adequately preparing them for this dynamic and uncertain scenario.

According to a report by the World Economic Forum in 2020, at least 54% of all employees will require significant reskilling and upskilling, and 42% of core skills required for existing jobs would have changed by 2022. Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of digital technologies and remote working, creating new challenges and opportunities for learning and employment

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As the world hurtles toward an unpredictable future, high school students find themselves standing at the crossroads, uncertain about the path that leads to tomorrow’s job market. In a conversation with Dr. Devesh Kumar Singh, Chairman of Noida International University, emphasises that “preparing students for the expanding labour market is our top priority in a world where change is continual.” He advocates for a curriculum that combines academic knowledge with real-world skills and adaptability, equipping students for the diverse opportunities they might encounter.

In today’s digital age, Mayank Singh, Co-founder of Campus 365, emphasizes the significance of digital readiness. He stresses that “digital literacy and the willingness to adopt technology by educational institutions are crucial in today’s fast-changing job market.” His perspective highlights the importance of bridging the digital divide and ensuring students are not only technologically adept but also agile in the face of technological advancements.

Mamta Shekhawat, Founder of Gradding.com, sheds light on an often-overlooked aspect of education: understanding the job market itself. She believes that “by learning about the job market, students can adjust to developing technology and develop more productive skills.” Her insight emphasizes the importance of students being cognizant of the evolving landscape they are about to step into. Education needs to promote lifelong learning and career guidance, that help students to adapt and grow in a changing environment, she says.

Ms. Shaina Ganapathy, Head of Community Outreach, Embassy Group said, “The education system should facilitate students’ understanding of what’s out there, both through exposure to the diverse array of industries and in understanding the kinds of skills required. Programmes should be put in place to help students gauge their strengths, weaknesses, and interests while mapping them to the industries in the existing job market. Furthermore, technological education and computer skills, including programming and data analysis, are essential to preparing students for the digital age.”

To prepare high school students for tomorrow’s thriving job market, the education system needs to undergo a fundamental transformation. It needs to shift from a rigid and rote-based curriculum to a flexible and learner-centred one, that fosters creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, and communication. Addressing the need for a lifelong learning mindset, Prof. (Dr.) Y.S.R. Murthy, Founding Vice-Chancellor of RV University, asserts that “we must teach students how to learn rather than what to learn.” His words underscore the significance of instilling not just knowledge, but the ability to adapt and continuously educate oneself in the face of constant change.

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Pratibha Sharma, Academic Director of Bhai Parmanand Vidya Mandir, champions a holistic approach to education. She believes that “the evolving job market demands a transformation in education. It is not merely about imparting specific skills; it is about instilling a mindset of lifelong learning.” Her perspective emphasizes the importance of nurturing curiosity, creativity, and adaptability in students, essential traits in the ever-changing professional world.

Ms. Aparna Prasad, Founder of Knowledgeum, points toward the future. She asserts that “embracing industry and technological advancements, coupled with dynamic and future-oriented approaches to education, is the way forward.” Her view emphasizes the need to expose students to emerging fields, preparing them for careers in areas like artificial intelligence, renewable energy, and cybersecurity.

Dr. Bishnu Pal, Dean of School of Engineering and Academics at Mahindra University, underscores the qualities demanded in the contemporary job market. He believes that “the booming job market demands individuals who can innovate, collaborate, and lead from the front with integrity.” His perspective accentuates the importance of nurturing qualities like innovation and ethical leadership in students.

Practical experience is paramount, as Mr. Patriek Karayil, President of American Colleges, suggests. He emphasizes that “in today’s high-speed job market, it is crucial for high school students to not only be knowledgeable but also to be shrewd in their academic and geographic choices for the future.” His words underscore the necessity for strategic decisions in education, aligning students’ choices with market demands.

Dr. Kasturi Bose, Strategy Consultant at Somerset English, advocates for experiential learning. “High school education is a crucial life-stage imparting skills to excel in a profession one will enter in the future,” she affirms, emphasizing the practical skills students gain during this period. She vouches for project-based learning, internships, and mentorships, that expose students to real-world problems and solutions.

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In today’s globally competitive world, Abhijit Zaveri, Founder and Director of Career Mosaic, asserts the importance of a broader perspective. He believes that “students must stay informed about current events, geopolitics, and tech innovations to thrive in a globally competitive world.” His words underscore the necessity for students to be well-rounded individuals, informed about the world beyond textbooks.

In India, the education system is facing several challenges, such as low enrolment and retention rates, poor learning outcomes, high teacher-student ratios, inadequate infrastructure and resources, and socio-economic disparities. However, the recent National Education Policy 2020, which aims to overhaul the entire education system, offers a ray of hope.

The policy envisages a holistic and multidisciplinary approach to education, that aligns with the global trends and needs. It proposes to introduce a 5+3+3+4 structure, that covers the age group of 3-18 years, and emphasises on foundational literacy and numeracy, experiential learning, skill development, and vocational education. It also proposes to integrate artificial intelligence, coding, and digital skills into the curriculum, and to create a National Digital Education Architecture, that will enable online and blended learning. According to Mr. Nasir Shaikh, Group CEO, The Lexicon Group of Institutes, Multifit & EduCrack, the Indian education sector is undergoing a transformation. “The Indian education sector is actively reshaping its approach by adapting curricula, prioritizing the development of essential soft skills, fostering valuable industry partnerships, embracing technology, and providing additional industry-relevant certifications,” he states, indicating the sector’s proactive stance in bridging the skills gap.

Meeta Kapoor, Principal of MGM First Steps School, delves into the heart of the matter. She believes that India’s education sector needs to focus on enhancing educational infrastructure, enabling access to quality practical skilling opportunities, and improving curriculum to match the prevailing market trends.

Vyankatesh Kharage, Founder and Director of Asude Foundation, emphasizes the urgency of action. “The time for action is now, as we cannot afford to let the potential of countless students, particularly those facing economic hardships, go untapped and unfulfilled,” he states, indicating the need for inclusive education that addresses the unique challenges faced by economically disadvantaged students.

These diverse voices collectively form a symphony of insights, urging educational institutions, leaders, and policymakers to chart a new course. As we navigate the intricate landscape of tomorrow’s job market, these perspectives illuminate the way, guiding us toward an education system that not only equips students with knowledge but empowers them with the skills and mindset to thrive in an ever-changing world.

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What are your thoughts on preparing high school students for the challenges of the future job market? Share your insights in the comment box below. Let’s continue this crucial conversation together.

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CBSE to Open a New Regional Office in UAE

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On 2nd November 2023 at the Consulate of India, Dubai, Sh. Dharmendra Pradhan, Hon’ble Union Minister of Education, Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, Govt. of India, addressed a long-standing demand of the overseas CBSE schools and announced the opening of a new CBSE Regional Office in UAE. This decision would help in streamlining operations and enhancing the teaching learning experience for students and teachers in the CBSE schools in GCC countries. 

Hon’ble Minister interacted with the local Indian community comprising educationists and School Heads from all across UAE. In his address, he stressed on the potential of the Indian Education system and its global reach. He congratulated CBSE and the Indian schools in UAE for their achievements in the field of education and creating a good name for the homeland India. The Minister also motivated the principals to come up with the expectations of the leadership of UAE for further strengthening the Indian educational ecosystem at UAE. 

Sh. Pradhan urged the school leaders to dedicate themselves to the future of the upcoming generation from the Bal Vatika Level, as envisaged in the National Education Policy 2020. 

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