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Guidelines regarding precautions to be observed by schools to combat the ill-effects of the heat-wave

The Ministry of Education yesterday issued the following guidelines regarding precautions to be observed by schools to combat the ill effects of the heatwave.

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Ministry of Education yesterday issued the following guidelines regarding precautions to be observed by schools to combat the ill effects of the heatwave.

  1. Modification in School timings and daily routine
  • School hours may start early and get over before noon. The timing may be from 7.00 AM onwards.
  • The number of school hours per day may be reduced.
  • Sports/other outdoor activities which expose students directly to the sunlight may be appropriately adjusted in the early morning.
  • School assembly should be conducted in a covered area or in classrooms with reduced timing.
  • Similar care may be taken during dispersal after school is over.
  1. Transportation
  • The school bus/van should not be overcrowded. It should not carry students more than the seating capacity.
  • Drinking water and a first aid kit should be available in the bus/van.
  • Students coming to school on foot/bicycle should be advised to keep their heads covered.
  • Parents should be sensitised to pick-up the students themselves, to the extent possible, to avoid public transport and minimise their time out in the sun.
  • School bus/van may be parked in a shaded area.
  1. Hydration
  • Students may be advised to carry their own water bottles, caps and umbrellas and use them when out in the open
  • School should ensure availability of sufficient potable water at multiple places preferably at temperature lower than that of surroundings.
  • Water cooler/earthen pots (pitchers) may be used for providing cold water.
  • In every period, teacher should remind students to sip water from their water bottles.
  • While going back home, schools must ensure that students are carrying water in their bottles.
  • Students should be made aware of the importance of proper hydration to combat the heat wave and advised to drink sufficient water at regular interval.
  • With increased hydration, use of washrooms may increase and schools should be prepared for it by keeping the washrooms hygienic and clean 
  1. Food and Meals

PM POSHAN:

  • Heat can spoil food therefore hot-cooked meals under PM POSHAN must be served hot and fresh. In charge teacher may check the food before serving.
  • Children carrying tiffins may be advised not to carry food that can turn stale quickly.
  • Canteens in schools should ensure that fresh and healthy food is served.
  • Children may be advised to have light food during lunch/tiffin.    
  1. Comfortable classroom
  • School should ensure that all fans are functional and that all classrooms are properly ventilated.
  • Availability of alternate power back up may be arranged, if possible.
  • Curtains/blinds/newspaper, etc. may be used to stop the sunlight entering directly into the classroom.
  • If any local traditional practices are being followed by the school to keep the surroundings cool such as ‘khus’ curtains, bamboo/jute chiks etc., they may be continued.
  1. Uniform
  • Students may be allowed to wear loose and light coloured cotton material dress.
  • Schools may relax norms regarding uniforms such as neckties.
  • Canvas shoes may be allowed instead of leather shoes.
  • Students may be advised to preferably wear full-sleeve shirt.
  1. First-Aid facilities
  • Sachets of ORS solution, or salt and sugar solution to treat mild heat-stroke should be readily available in the schools.
  • Teaching and non-teaching staff should be trained to provide first aid to students in case of mild heat-stroke
  • Schools must ensure quick access to nearest hospital/clinic/doctor/nurse, etc. in case of heatstroke.
  • Essential medical kits should be available in school.
  1. Do’s and Don’ts for students
  • Do’s& Don’ts regarding heat wave should be displayed at prominent places in the school. These may include the following:-

Do’s:

  • Drink sufficient water- even if not thirsty
  • Use ORS (Oral Rehydration solution), homemade drink like lassi, torani (rice water), lemon water, butter milk, etc. to keep yourself hydrated.
  • Wear lightweight, light coloured, loose, cotton clothes.
  • Cover your head by using cloth, hat or umbrella, etc.
  • Stay indoor as much as possible
  • · If you feel faint or ill, see a doctor immediately

Don’ts:

  • · Do not go outside on an empty stomach or after consuming heavy food
  • · Avoid going out in the sun, especially in the afternoon if not required
  • · Avoid strenuous activities when outside in the afternoon
  • · Do not go outside barefoot
  • · Do not eat junk/stale/spicy food
  1. Exam Centres:
  • Children may be allowed to bring their own transparent water bottle in the examination hall.
  • Examination centres should ensure availability of potable drinking water which is easily accessible to the candidates at the centres.
  • Examination Centres should ensure that the candidates are promptly supplied water when asked for at their seats in the examination hall
  • Examination halls may be provided with fans. 
  • Students waiting area at the examination centre may be in a shaded/covered area with provision of water.
  • Linkage of examination centres should be made with local health worker and medical centres for any emergency. 
  1. Residential Schools

            In addition to the above, residential schools may take the following additional measures:

  • Essential medicines for common ailments related with summer season should be available with Staff Nurse.
  • Students may be made aware regarding prevention of heat stroke.
  • Windows in the dormitories should be provided with curtains.
  • Lemon, butter milk& seasonal fruits with high water content should be included in the diet.
  • Spicy food should be avoided.
  • Continuous availability of water and electricity should be ensured in classrooms, hostels and dining hall.
  • Sports and games activities should be conducted in the evening.

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Psychologists Are Afraid Children May Suffer From PTSD, Suggest Art as Therapy

Experts all around the world are worried about children’s mental health in these uncertain times

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Corona is not a ‘friend’ or a ‘foe.’ Corona is just a virus and it needs to go!

However important it is to stay at home and stay safe from the Coronavirus, it is equally important for adults to shield the children from the mental damage the current situation may do.

Children are not just at risk of the virus physically but their innocent minds are also at risk of the Post Traumatic Symptom Disorder (PTSD) due to the lockdown/quarantine, social isolation and otherwise seemingly increasing toxicity on the digital social platforms.

Adults are still trying to wrap their heads around everything that is going on, imagine being one of the 300 million children worldwide, who are living in a whole new reality, and trying to comprehend it.

Art to the rescue! Is not just a creative thought, but it has been considered by psychologists all over the world, and has very much proven its worth.

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Because of parents who are eager to share on social media, there has been news coming from all parts of the world where children are using art to manifest their emotions, especially regarding COVID-19.

Some depict the virus as a looming presence outside, with families inside. Others show the virus as an invading army against an armed response of the medical frontliners. Many place a smile on the virus, which could be in order to make it seem less threatening.

University of California’s Psychologist Chandra Ghosh Ippen told The Bulletin, “If you think about children as meaning makers, they're constantly trying to make meaning of this, and one of the things that they make meaning of is danger. How much danger am I in? What does this mean for me? What does this mean for our family?”

Robin S. Cox Professor Disaster  & Emergency Management, Royal Roads University, Victoria, Canada said, “Children may not have as much access to physical activity, which is another way of managing anxiety and fear, so [art] provides another way of managing anxiety and engaging with those emotions.” 

Ghosh Ippen added, “In drawings, you can do things that in life you can't do. You can have the coronavirus be a thing. When you personify something, when you give something a body, you're able to talk about it, you're able to manage it. In the play, kids are able to beat it up, they're able to jail it, they're able to yell at it, they're able to say, ‘Hey, you go away!’”

“I would encourage grownups to just be present, be at the table,” Ghosh Ippen said. “Some kids like to draw, other kids like to do other things. They like to do it with Play-Doh, you know, finger paints—it is both an activity that you're doing together and a chance to share your reality together.”

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“Children are a quarter of our population, but they're 100 per cent of our future, and so, you know, we have to pay attention to them,” said Peek Professor Sociology & Director Natural Hazards Center, University of Colorado, Boulder.

That being the thought in every child psychologist's mind and every country’s, one of the concerns if not primary in these times, art competitions are being organised.

In Hyderabad, India, an art competition called ‘Art Karo Na’ has been launched, they are taking online entries from not just India but abroad as well. 

“In the lockdown period, there is a lot of colour and art to look forward to,” expressed Atika Amjad of Children’s Fine Art Gallery. 

This gallery is an initiative of ‘Daira’ a Centre for Culture & Arts. They collaborated with ‘Teach For India’ to launch this competition for children from five years to teenagers till 18.

They explained the reason behind calling it a ‘competition’ so that is taken up as a challenge to explore new themes. “Also parents are at home and can support with technology. The Fellows attached to ‘Teach for India’ also promote it and the parents have to see WhatsApp status which reveals themes to work on and digital certificates are sent to the winners,” said Amjad.

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‘Teach for India’ helps those who can not upload their work online by registering on their behalf.

Amjad added, “In the topic ‘Change the shape’, the young minds gave new shapes to existing things. We gave them examples of fruits too asking them to draw a square-shaped watermelon, circular banana and a rectangular pomegranate. There were a lot of exciting shapes.”

Themes change daily, Amjad revealed they have been receiving more than 1000 entries every day. “The student-works have to be genuine. We can guess when an adult helps the ward.”

“The winners are announced online every day and all of them will receive digital certificates at the end of the lockdown," says Amjad.

About celebrating the closing of the competition, she said, "On April  30, we want everyone to come out to display their artwork in whatever form in their balconies. This is to appreciate each other’s art and efforts for making it through these tough times."

This competition is more than a good opportunity for children around the world to learn while drawing. Encourage them and not scare, their minds are way too fragile to be scarred forever.

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To know more about the said competition, call on 98499 87187 or 08019762868; email: [email protected]. If one is unable to upload their artwork, contact 75691 91615 or 97555 49063.

 

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Check Out Free Online Courses From The Ivy Leagues Universities

Find the most looked-up online courses from Ivy League Universities here.

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All of us have at least once dreamt of studying in an Ivy League University, some of us might have also tried pretty hard to make that idea come true. For those of us who could not carry out their plans for Ivy League, here's some good news amidst the gloominess of COVID_19 surrounding the world. 

There are 500 free online courses available from these prestigious Ivy League Universities that are offered to the general public to utilize their time of lockdown well. 

From Shakespeare to classical music & Buddhist philosophy to courses in Computer Science, you can find any topic of your interest and register yourself. 

Some of our favourites are:

  1. "The Science of Well-Being," Yale 
  2. "Introduction to Computer Science," Harvard 
  3. "American Capitalism: A History," Cornell 
  4. "Introduction to Marketing," University of Pennsylvania 
  5. "Economics of Money and Banking," Columbia 
  6. "The Computing Technology Inside Your Cell Phone," Cornell
  7. "Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Technologies," Princeton 
  8. "Improving Your Business Through a Culture of Health," Harvard 
  9. "Viral Marketing and How to Craft Contagious Content," University of Pennsylvania  
  10. "Entrepreneurship 1: Developing the Opportunity," University of Pennsylvania 
  11. "Machine Learning," Brown 
  12. "Networks: Friends, Money, and Bytes," Princeton

Find these courses on this link: https://www.classcentral.com/collection/ivy-league-moocs

Also, let us know about similar courses that you come across at [email protected]

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Coloring Book That Teaches About Coronavirus Playfully

A colouring book has been created and launched for a better understanding of the Coronavirus for kids.

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"Learn About the Coronavirus," is a colouring book created by St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, USA, to help patients, children in general, understand the virus and its associated health problems.

Under an electron microscope, the Coronavirus looks like a particle covered with protein spikes. But in this whimsically illustrated colouring book, it is represented less clinically. It could have a pointy exterior and a mean grinning look, that shows the menace it really is.

"We know sometimes that medical things like diagnoses are difficult to understand because they're under the surface or they're very small and not something we can see. So coming up with a visual for it gives children a reference. It makes the information a little bit more digestible,” said Rachel Schmelzer, Child Life Specialist.

The book is a way of informing children without panicking them unnecessarily, things like "Did you know that when you wash your hands, germs like Coronavirus go away?" and "Coronavirus is a big word, but did you know that 'corona' means crown because when you look at Coronavirus under a microscope, a part of the virus looks like a crown” are to be found in it.

"The main focus is to keep in mind the audience for the piece," said Emily VanGilder, the graphic designer who drew and designed the colouring book. "It was a challenge, I didn't want to make the virus too scary. I tried to go for a little more mischievous look, rather than make him a villain,” she added. “I think bringing creativity into any type of situation can help relax and turn something that could potentially be scary into a learning experience."

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This colouring book is "a resource we produced for everyone” and it can be downloaded for print-outs through the St. Jude "Together" website at together.stjude.org, informed Marvin Stockwell, St. Jude Director of Media Relations.

They are so pleased with the colouring book that a sequel has been developed following the colouring book. "Learn About Coronavirus and COVID-19" is an activity book aimed at "tweens" (ages 10-13, more or less) that includes crossword puzzles, word searches and information that is useful for – as the saying goes – kids of all ages.

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Check Out The Apps, e-Books & Podcasts For Kids by NASA

Here’s a long list of apps, ebooks, and virtual tours recommended by NASA for kids!

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NASA has stood as the symbol of excellence in space research for decades and continues to be the best space research organization in the world. Apart from this, NASA is also known for providing exceptional insight into the wonders of the universe through its apps, ebooks, and virtual tours, which have ultimately turned out to be interesting learning tools for children. 

Here's a long list of helpful resources, especially recommended by NASA, that can be used to keep children entertained while they're on their voyage to discover new information! 

MOBILE APPS

Mobile apps have turned out to be an excellent way to impart knowledge in kids, provided we manage the screentime. NASA has its own range of mobile apps that can be useful for educating children. Download link: https://www.nasa.gov/connect/apps.html

1. NASA App

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The NASA app has some of the finest collections of images and videos, NASA television content, on-demand videos, solar system exploration features, podcasts, news and features stories, etc. The app is available for both iOS and Android.

2. NASA Selfies

Who doesn't enjoy taking selfies? Let's kids take selfies dressed in a spacesuit and with wonderful backgrounds from around the cosmos. Let them feel like an actual Astronaut!

3. Exoplanet Excursions Vr

VR tours are widely cherished by children as they give access to a guided tour of the TRAPPIST-1 planetary system.

4. Spacecraft AR (Augmented Reality)

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It gives a great learning experience by putting 3-D models of NASA’s space robots on a flat surface.

BOOKS

NASA also provides a range of well-crafted e-books for children who have an active interest in reading. Download link: https://www.nasa.gov/connect/ebooks/index.html

1. Earth

‘Earth’ is one of the most wonderful books with visually refreshing images and comprehensive text to give children a new perspective on our planet.

2. Hubble Focus: Galaxies through Space and Time

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The e-book provides an insight into the cosmos through the eyes of the Hubble telescope. Packed with powerful images from around the universe, it's recommended for children who are interested in astronomy.

3. Earth at Night

‘Earth at Night’ is a wonderful compilation of images supported by relevant text to give children a firsthand experience of the nightlights of earth.

4. The Saturn System Through the Eyes of Cassini

NASA’s Cassini-Huygents mission is one of its greatest achievements that provided us much valuable information about the ‘Saturn system’. The book is a collection of wonderful images and comprehensive text about the system to give children an idea about this unique planet.

PODCASTS

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Listening to informative podcasts can tickle the imagination of young ones and give them that perfect sense of wonder.

1. Welcome to the Rocket Launch

It is the official podcast of the Kennedy Space Centre (NASA). This podcast will give children an informative insight into the working of this highly-respected spaceport. Link: https://www.nasa.gov/kennedy/rocketranch 

2. This Week @NASA

The podcast presents a weekly video and audio highlights of NASA’s activities including launches, landings and spacewalks and also the recent developments and discoveries. Link: https://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/podcasting/twan_index.html

3. Space to Ground

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A weekly short podcast that gives highlights about the latest news and science from the International Space Station. Link: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/update/index.html

4. NASA Explorers: Apollo

The audio series gives informative insights about the moon and the people who are busy exploring it. Link: https://www.nasa.gov/nasa-explorers-apollo

Cover image courtesy: NASA tumblr

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Here’s Everything Prof. Sugata Mitra Said About e-Learning at ScooNews’ Webinar

ScooNews held a free webinar on e-learning addressed by educational laureate Prof. Sugata Mitra.

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The community of educators throughout the world are opting e-learning methods and virtual classrooms to reach out to their students during the global lockdown. In order to shed more light on this plan of action, ScooNews organised a Free Webinar on 30th March 2020 “FROM TEACHING AND EDUCATING TO LEARNING” addressed by Prof. Sugata Mitra, which was joined by more than a thousand people on Zoom and ScooNews' Facebook & YouTube pages. 

Prof. Mitra is the Ted Prize winner of 1 million Dollar for his predominant ideas in the initiative ‘School in the Cloud’. He retired as Professor of Educational Technology at the School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences at Newcastle University in 2019 and is currently Professor at Emeritus and at an honorary position at NIIT.

Prof. Mitra starts off by addressing the matter in hand – what to do when there are no schools and classes for at least next few weeks, how does one continue teaching their pupil. He says, “When children are given access to the internet in a correct and controlled environment, they can learn almost anything, especially when in groups.” Considering the current situation, when no children are allowed to gather in the playgrounds or attend study halls anymore, how can we make virtual learning equally effective?

Prof. Mitra shares the memory of a child saying –  “I wish I could go to school to meet my friends.” He notices how the child did not say, or for that matter, no child ever says, ‘I wish I could go to school to learn.’ He points out the difference in learning and studying here and asks if we should stop and take a hard look at the education system for why won't children wish to come and learn?

Professor also identifies the fact that children do not mind going to school to learn, they are just more excited about meeting their peers. Why is that, he asks. “…probably the curriculum we teach them is not as exciting as they expect it to be. We arbitrarily add into the curriculum which we consider important for students to know, but we seldom subtract from it,” he explains.

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By saying so, he meant, teaching kids about what happened several thousand years ago that gave birth to something we are using now is trivial. Because any question about what happened in the past can be answered by the internet, and so, it is the schools that need to figure out if such insignificant information should be crammed up or not!

Further Professor discusses the Self-Organised-Learning-Environment (SOLE) method, where it is possible to move the education system beyond the bounds of a classroom. It simply means to let groups of kids evaluate their technique when asked an interesting question which would lead them to the answer. This can very well be also done in these isolating times, let virtual worlds take over, and use technology so children could learn from teachers, each other, as well as the internet.

He talks about how he discerns in his study that learning gets self-organised through the ability of learners to come together and learn via Communication, Collaboration and eventually Spontaneous order. He is able to get this going in a classroom but is still finding a way to introduce this where the learners are isolated. He estimates, this is perhaps plausible when technology is more efficient than what we have now.

He then asks a very prudent question to the 1000+ educators who joined our Live session – “Can we get to a point where we would not care anymore if there was a physical classroom present or not? We would rather be okay with the evolution of learning into e-learning. Can we simply move on to something new rather than find ways to go back?”

Also, here he urges to take caution – “Do not try to drive an aeroplane on the highways when all the cars are gone from the world. The aeroplanes are meant to be flown and not driven.” He explains how he has seen educators giving e-learning half an approach but eventually trying to recreate a classroom that defeats the point. “There is no need for us to teach the 21st-century generation with 18th-century methods.”

Professor Mitra later goes on to take questions from the audience listening to him Live. Excerpts below:

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Q: What innovative ideas do you have to teach college students during the current situation?

Prof. Mitra: I am figuring it out. At NIIT, we are establishing a lab called ‘What’s Next.’ We are trying to answer the questions like – what happens when we introduce the internet into the curricula, can we change the need-to-know list, can we redefine what it means to be a graduate, about what assessment means, not only in schools but also in colleges, etc.

Q: Do you believe this is a time of great opportunity for both educators and their students?

Prof. Mitra: It had better be! Are we going to sit around or are we to find a better way because there isn't the old way available anymore and it is we who need to make this happen, so, let’s proactively do it!

Q: How do we connect with the preschoolers for whom sitting in front of the computer screens is not a very good idea?

Prof. Mitra: Why not? 2-year-olds can handle gadgets nowadays. These kids do not know how to read but are using different comprehensive techniques to understand games, Youtube, etc. So sit with them, give them a big screen and tell them ‘you go there, and I will go there with you.’ There is so much as teachers we do not know anymore and this is how we can prepare the future generations.

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Q: What would a curriculum of the future look like according to you? We are in a time of change and how do we ease the shift from into a curriculum of change?

Prof. Mitra: I do not know the answer, but I know that teaching them the past will not help. Packing their heads with what went down previously is not useful. I think the curriculum should not be about what we already know about the subject but what are the big unknowns in it. Humans are invariably interested in the unanswered. Children, on the other hand, are just hypnotized by the idea. Also, in the process to find out the answer, they will eventually stumble upon what all is already known. One way to form the new curriculum is to start with the future in mind.

Q: If learning is unstructured, does it lead to more joy than a structured one?

Prof. Mitra: The truth is in the middle. You can't just let the students run wild if you use a semi-structure and start with a question it should be more effective.

Q: e-Learning will help to teach, but how should we do an online assessment?

Prof. Mitra: With a system which tests for certain fundamental characteristics rather than focusing on details, like instead of accessing their memory in the rattling of crammed information. It is their ability to Comprehend, Communicate and Compute that you are supposed to assess. Assess using interesting questions that would require them to use these abilities and are not just available on the internet.

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Q: Do you think with SOLE the role of teachers might become obsolete?

Prof. Mitra: SOLE is driven by questions and who would make these questions? The art of building a good question is a difficult one, that only a teacher knows. We, as teachers, do not need to be the repository of answers anymore.

Q: How do we ensure self-learning goes in the right direction, can you drift off into a tangent?

Prof. Mitra: Drifting off in a tangent is not bad, it depends on the tangent. While finding something, if they come across something else and it interests them and can teach them new lessons as well then that is not wrong. To bring them back, you could use another interesting question in relevance to the topic you want.

Q: Isn't the physical classroom as essential, as we need human contact? Won't e-learning make us more mechanical?

Prof. Mitra: Yes, as of now. Virtual teaching is different from the physical classroom but that’s why I say – let us not go back to where we came from.

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Q: The Internet can give information, but it can not give insight. Do you agree?

Prof. Mitra: That is true, that is why when teachers chaperon the SOLE model, it works better because of the insight they can provide. If you ask where does it come from, I do not know, perhaps from experience.

Q: Does the SOLE model work in Math?

A: Yes, most definitely! I have seen it happen first-hand while teaching 10-year-olds Algebra, but you need to practice it yourself first.

Professor Mitra concludes the Live session with an inspiring thought. He tells his keen listeners, “Maybe in these difficult times there lies an opportunity that is greater than anything that education has ever faced before. Let’s find it out together!”

ScooNews wants to express immense gratitude to Prof. Mitra for providing us with an extremely insightful experience and giving us a peek into one of the most brilliant minds of our time.

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If you were not able to attend the webinar for any reason, you can access the recorded version on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bcXXC13QvGQ

 

Image Courtesy: Google

 

 

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Inclusive Education: Tackling Inequalities and Promoting Learning

Mr Mame Omar Diop, Programme Specialist and Chief of Education at UNESCO, New Delhi, and Mr Abhinav Kumar, who works in the education sector at UNESCO, New Delhi, address Inclusive Education in India.

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Education offers the simple ability to read, write, count and calculate which plays a vital role in the process of social progress and development. Access to education has the power to improve the quality of life of an individual by providing economic opportunities; changing public perceptions towards human rights; giving a political voice and understanding legal rights- rights, which an individual might already possess but is not able to utilize because of a lack of knowledge and awareness about what it entails. While access to education is essential, the primary aim of schooling is to transfer knowledge and teach skills to students. In other words, it is important to balance an increase in ‘quantity’ of education with a simultaneous increase in the ‘quality’ of education which is accessible and affordable for each and every individual.

With the vision of “Leaving no one behind”, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) 2030 Agenda by the United Nations has played a pivotal role in drawing attention to the inequalities which restrict access to quality education across the globe. While SDG 4 and SDG 10 specifically talk about ’Quality Education’ and ‘Reduced Inequalities’ respectively, the remaining 15 SDG’s directly or indirectly highlight the emergent need to build an inclusive environment which provides equitable access to quality education for all.

Inequalities do not just exist in societies exclusively but in most cases, different forms of inequality intersect with each other and exacerbate the situation for some individuals. For instance, due to prevailing prejudices, a poor woman from an indigenous community living in a rural area is likely to be more disadvantaged than any other individual in the same locality. This highlights social injustice towards individuals within a community based on their gender, caste, location and cultural habitats. It is extremely important to realise that inclusivity is not restricted to providing access to schools by building infrastructure, ensuring school facilities and increasing enrolment. Geographical location; nutrition; mental health; disabilities are some of the many factors which need to be addressed whilst advocating for inclusivity in education.  

Bihar’s case highlighting the importance of inclusivity in education:

 

     Source: World Bank Data, 2016

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Figure 1. The graph depicts the disparities in educational attainment (%) among different social groups of Bihar

While there are policy frameworks laid down by the Government of India to reduce and challenge inequalities, they are either not applied correctly or there are multiple forms of inequalities which make these policies redundant. In the education sector, The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009 was passed in an attempt to boost primary level education enrolment rates for children aged between 6 and 14 (Government of India 2009). While this has had a positive impact on the enrolment rates in Bihar with student enrolment rates going above 90% for primary level education (Mukul 2015), figure 1 highlights the large number of disparities among different social groups. Nearly 60% of the Scheduled Caste (historically termed as ‘socially backward communities’ in India) remain to be illiterate while the ‘general’ category seems to have better access to quality education with a 20% figure. Consequently, these differences tend to restrict access to other social protection systems in the long run. This implies the need to amend policies in a way which creates equal opportunities for every individual in the country, regardless of her/his economic status or social identity.

Making foundational learning part of ‘Inclusive Education’

Inclusivity is also to be met with quality learning outcomes. The World Development Report 2018 entirely focused on the urgent need to promote learning to fully utilize the potential of education (World Bank 2018). The report shares a decline in the learning abilities of students mainly from developing countries and has emphasised on the need to prioritize learning and not just schooling. Amongst the developing countries, with a population of over 1.3 billion people spread across the 28 states and 8 union territories, the challenge of providing equal access to quality education is a tremendous one for India. In fact, as per the latest census data, India has a high child population (0-18 years) percentage (39%) highlighting the increased responsibility on the state for providing equitable access to quality education to all age groups (Government of India 2018).  While this shows that India has a huge challenge to overcome right now, an optimistic way to look at it is that if an ‘efficient’ education system is put in place at the earliest, the country can reap benefits of its high demographic dividend in the long run.

There are multiple pathways to building an ‘efficient’ education system in India. There is substantial evidence at both, international and national level to prove that one of the most effective ways to attain quality education for all is an investment in Early Childhood Education (ECE) (OECD 2019). The India Early Childhood Education Impact (IECEI) study, conducted by the ASER Centre and the Centre for Early Childhood Education and Development (CECED), shows that children who have access to high-quality ECE are more ‘school ready’ than those who do not (Kaul et al. 2017). Over and above ECE’s potential to improve linguistic, cognitive and socio-emotional skills of the child, ECE is also extremely beneficial for the mother, the family and the national economy in the long run (OECD 2017).

Despite increasing evidence that ECE contributes towards better education, social, health and economic indicators; universalization of pre-primary education was not given the priority it requires in India until recently. The draft National Education Policy (NEP) 2019 has stated that the learning gaps start even before children attend school. It has identified foundational learning as the root cause of the learning crisis in the country and it is now upon state governments to anticipate and simultaneously react to the challenges ahead in providing foundational literacy and numeracy skills to make all young children ‘school ready’.   

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In order to make sure a holistic approach towards inclusivity in education, UNESCO defines inclusive education as- “Inclusion is seen as a process of addressing and responding to the diversity of needs of all learners through increasing participation in learning, cultures and communities, and reducing exclusion within and from education. It involves changes and modifications in content, approaches, structures and strategies, with a common vision which covers all children of the appropriate age range and a conviction that it is the responsibility of the regular system to educate all children” (UNESCO 2005).

In its efforts to address inclusivity, the Government of India passed the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (RPWD) Act, 2016 which identified the types of disabilities have been increased from 7 to 21 and that the Central Government will have the power to add more types of disabilities. This was a great step taken in addressing inclusive education as it went beyond the physical aspects of disability and included mental aspects. Inclusive Education had to be rethought and implications of disabilities on learning had to be considered and addressed.

UNESCO New Delhi is committed in promoting and ensuring the need to provide equitable access to quality education for all. Inclusive education comes out of a vision of the world based on equity, justice and fairness. In this regard, UNESCO New Delhi office launched, ‘N FOR NOSE – State of the Education Report for India 2019: Children with Disabilities’, in July 2019. It aims to articulate a vision of education for children with disabilities for 2030 as set out in national and international policy documents and legislative frameworks. Similarly, an annual report on Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) will be released in 2020. As we step up our efforts in the countdown towards achieving the 2030 agenda, we reaffirm the need to form an education system which is inclusive by tackling social, cultural, economic and spatial inequalities within countries. Concerted and multi-sectoral efforts are the need of the hour to ensure the fulfilment of the SDGs’ pledge of ‘leaving no one behind’.

In 2020 and during a period where almost all countries are going through a crisis situation due to Covid19, it is our duty to reflect on the difficulties of those people who cannot switch to e-learning methods due to their inability to access the internet, computers and laptops or even lack of knowledge about online learning courses. As we advocate for education for all in such testing times, we need to ensure that individual from all backgrounds is made part of the education ecosystem which can further empower them to fight situations like these in the future.

To face the COVID-19 crisis, UNESCO has provided immediate support to countries by updating the distance learning guides for more than 1.47 billion children who are out of school because of school closures across the globe (UNESCO 2020).

As a right, learning must continue and the efforts should go more to those who are the most disadvantaged. There is an urgent need to emphasize the role of education in responding to such crises. UNESCO New Delhi Education team will continue to think and reflect on:

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  1. How to ensure the continuity of learning for all even in times of crisis/emergency
  2. How to train teachers for their preparedness and what to include in the content of their education
  3. How to organize distance education, homeschooling and personalized pathways

 

       

Authors: Mame Omar Diop and Abhinav Kumar

Mr. Mame Omar Diop is Programme Specialist and Chief of Education at UNESCO New Delhi Cluster Office for India, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Maldives, and Mr. Abhinav Kumar works in the education sector at UNESCO New Delhi.

References:

  1. Government of India (2009) The right of children to free and compulsory education act, 2009. No. 35 of 2009. New Delhi http://mhrd.gov.in/rte   
  2. Government of India (2018), “Children in India 2018- A Statistical Appraisal”, page 68. By Social Statistics Division Central Statistics Office Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation. Retrieved from: http://www.mospi.gov.in/sites/default/files/publication_reports/Children%20in%20India%202018%20%E2%80%93%20A%20Statistical%20Appraisal_26oct18.pdf 
  3. Kaul, V., Bhattacharjea, S., Chaudhary, A. B., Ramanujan, P., Banerji, M., & Nanda, M. (2017),” The India Early Childhood Education Impact Study”, New Delhi: UNICEF, Retrieved from https://www.academia.edu/34458607/The_India_Early_Childhood_Education_Impact_Study,
  4. OECD (2017), “Improve early education and care to help more children get ahead and boost social mobility” Retrieved from http://www.oecd.org/newsroom/improve-early-education-and-care-to-help-more-children-get-ahead-and-boost-social-mobility.htm,
  5. OECD (2019), “Providing Quality Early Childhood Education and Care Results from the Starting Strong Survey 2018”, TALIS, OECD Publishing, page19-21, Paris, Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1787/301005d1-en,
  6. UNESCO (2005), ‘Guidelines for Inclusion: Ensuring Access to Education for All’ available at  http://www.ibe.unesco.org/sites/default/files/Guidelines_for_Inclusion_UNESCO_2006.pdf 
  7. UNESCO (2020), ‘COVID-19 Educational Disruption and Response’ available at https://en.unesco.org/themes/education-emergencies/coronavirus-school-closures
  8. World Bank (2016) ‘Bihar Poverty, Growth & Inequality’ last accessed on 12th January 2019 http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/781181467989480762/pdf/105842-BRI-P157572-PUBLIC-Bihar-Proverty.pdf    
  9. World Bank (2018), ‘World Development Report 2018: Learning to Realize Education’s Promise’. Washington, DC: World Bank. DOI:10.1596/978-1-4648-1096-1. License: Creative Commons Attribution CC BY 3.0 IGO https://www.worldbank.org/en/publication/wdr2018 

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Minecraft Video Game Evolves to Help Kids in E-Learning

Minecraft announces a new Education category in the marketplace, designed to help students stuck at home without being able to go to school.

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Minecraft is a sandbox video game, i.e a game where the player has the ability to create, modify, or destroy their environment. It is the best-selling video game of all time, with over 180 million copies sold across all platforms and over 112 million monthly active players by 2019.

In Minecraft, players explore a blocky, procedurally-generated 3D world, and may discover and extract raw materials, craft tools, build structures or earthworks, depending on game mode. 

But since the Corona pandemic and worldwide lockdown is not allowing kids to go to school, Minecraft came up with an appealing idea. It now has new and free educational content available on Minecraft Marketplace.

Since Xbox owns Minecraft, its head Phil Spencer addressed the Minecraft community on Tuesday, announcing a new education category in the marketplace, designed to help students now at home.

“We are living in unprecedented times, the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the lives of people around the world and changed the way we go about our daily lives. Here at Microsoft, we’re constantly asking ourselves what we can do to support people during this challenging time,” Spencer added.

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With the new educational content, players can “explore the International Space Station through a partnership with NASA, learn to code with a robot, visit famous Washington D.C. landmarks, find and build 3D fractals, and learn what it’s like to be a marine biologist.” All this content and more will be available through June 30, the informed.

“We understand the important role gaming is playing right now to connect people and provide joy in these isolating and stressful times, and our teams are working diligently to ensure we can be there for our players. to that end, we are actively monitoring performance and usage trends to ensure we’re optimizing the service for our customers worldwide and accommodating for new growth and demand.” Spencer said.

Source: news.xbox.com

Image courtesy: Google

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List of Significant Days Celebrating People With Special Needs

Here is a list of United Nations’ declared days to celebrate and observe people around the world with special needs.

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Commemorating our theme of the month – Inclusive Education, we’ve made a list of important days that are celebrated to promote awareness regarding people with special needs. The United Nations has designated these dates so we, as a race, can together take proper actions to create a better and welcoming environment at schools, workplaces, etc.

Teachers and administrations of schools for specially-abled students should acknowledge this list to recognise the relevant days in their respective institutions. Let’s stay aware of the sensitivity of the matter.

These are the international days currently observed by the United Nations:

4 January, World Braille Day: Celebrates awareness of the importance of Braille as a means of communication in the full realization of the human rights for blind and visually impaired people. It marks the birthday of Louis Braille, creator of this writing system.

1 March, Zero Discrimination Day: Zero Discrimination Day highlights how people can become informed about and promote inclusion, compassion, peace and, above all, a movement for change. It is helping create a global movement of solidarity to end all forms of discrimination.

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2 April, World Autism Awareness Day: World Autism Day is one of only seven official health-specific UN Days. The day itself brings individual autism organizations together all around the world to aid in things like research, diagnoses, treatment, and acceptance for those affected by this Developmental Disorder.

13 June, International Albinism Awareness Day:  It is celebrated annually on June 13 to celebrate the human rights of people with Albinism worldwide.

23 September, International Day Of Sign Languages: It is celebrated annually across the world on 23 September every year along with International Week of the Deaf. The choice of 23 September is the same date that the World Federation of the Deaf was established in 1951.

10 October, World Mental Health Day: It is an International Day for global Mental Health education, awareness and advocacy against social stigma.

3 December, International Day Of Persons With Disabilities: The observance of the Day aims to promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilize support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities. It also seeks to increase awareness of gains to be derived from the integration of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life.

10 December, Human Rights Day: It is celebrated annually across the world, the date was chosen to honour the United Nations General Assembly’s adoption and proclamation, on 10 December 1948, of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the first global enunciation of Human Rights and one of the first major achievements of the new United Nations.

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ScooNews hopes that the coming UN World Day would find us all celebrating everyone’s unique personalities in one voice.

Source: un.org

Image Courtesy: pixabay

 

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Early Childhood Association Conducts Webinar on Using Technology For Distance Learning

To help teachers lookout for new ways to make online home-based learning more innovative, Early Childhood Association conducted a Live talk in association with Google For Education, Association for Primary Education and Research (APER), and ScooNews.

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As an Early Childhood Education teacher, you're always looking for inspiration for your classroom. The quarantined situation that we all are in together has also pushed us further to lookout for new ways to make online home-based learning more innovative and creative.

To build this community of educators who are dealing with a situation like this for the first time, Early Childhood Association conducted a Live talk in association with Google For Education, Association for Primary Education and Research (APER), and ScooNews.

During the opening remarks and introduction, Co-conducting the Live session, Bani Paintal Dhawan, Head of Education, South Asia, Google, stressed on the fact that how using these online platforms will now serve schools during the emergency. She said, "Google has specific platforms like Hangout which can be used for flipped classrooms that the secondary schools are already using for quite some time now. We're happy and excited about the Early Childhood Education movement in India and believe that the concerned institutes will get a 'hang' of it soon."

Dr Arunabh Singh, Chair – Uttar Pradesh West, FICCI Arise & Director, Nehru World School, who took a quick session on 'School Journey on Technology Integration,' said that it's time we turn our learnings gathered from conferences so far into real actions. He stated, "Let's together experience the power of digital learning. There is no need to feel ashamed if you don't know how to use these apps. It's okay if we fail the first time. I remember when we, a bunch of educators, tried Google Hangout for the first time, we didn't realise a parent mistakenly became a part of it. We immediately learned from our mistakes. Also, as organisation leaders, make sure your team is comfortable and not scared or overwhelmed to try new things. Similarly, parents should be supported throughout as this is going to be something new for a majority of them."

Conducting an extensive talk on ‘Using Technology Effectively for Home-Based Learning in ECE,’ Dr Swati Popat Vats, President, Early Childhood Association, spoke on how ECE teachers can come up with a well-planned virtual learning curriculum that’s equally fun as any pre-school classroom. Apart from this, she also focussed on ways in which the teachers can make parents a part of this entire plan so kids can enjoy activities ranging from literacy, creativity, and physical fitness while at home.

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Based on the Live discussion that took place in three slots between 800 Early Childhood Educators from around India, below are some important points that, as educators, we need to focus on ensuring the following when we plan any home-based learning for the children:

  1. Avoid any planning that has ideas only from WhatsApp forwards, Pinterest, and web searches. Check whether it is developmentally appropriate for the child
  2. Completing the 'curriculum' is important because parents will want that too, but ensure that the focus is not on all screen-based activities and worksheets only. 
  3. Have a connection with the teacher every day, that is important for the children as they feel reassured.
  4. Guide parents to make the child talk on the phone with school friends, especially the ones that the child is close too. Let it not always be a video call. Children must be supported to communicate in all forms. 
  5. Have a combination of all life skills in the planning. Don't forget socio-emotional development.
  6. Make it a point to add home chores, so that children learn to be responsible and involved in the home, it can be as simple as helping fold the laundry, making the beds, laying the table, helping in dusting or cleaning, helping water the plants. 
  7. Cooking activities are fun too, especially when the child can eat what the child has prepared. Goes without saying that safety in the kitchen is a must. 
  8. Have activities that require the child to bond with parents and family, it can be through a board game or group games. 
  9. Include outdoor time like going for a walk, so that they get their daily dose of vitamin D too. A walk with dad at night, to go stargazing is also a good idea. Parent-child yoga is a big stress buster. Outdoor games with the ball, skipping rope is all necessary. After all, being cooped up at home will frustrate the kids.
  10. The earth without 'art' is just 'eh'! To ensure an ample dose of drawing, painting, origami, dance, playing a musical instrument, rhymes, listening to songs and stories, etc.
  11. The 3 R's need practise! Reading, writing and number education are an important part of learning and development, ensure that in the haste to complete books and worksheets, it does not end up being drill-based planning. 
  12. As much as possible have a daily connection with the class teacher on Facebook live or any other format. The teacher can explain concepts, tell stories, talk to the kids about the situation so that the panic is reduced and talk to the parents so that they feel reassured too. 
  13. Let it not all be one-way traffic, choose platforms of communication where children can send you their drawings, videos, etc. so that they feel cherished and valued. 
  14. Most importantly check for the above in your planning to ensure that this situation does not steal a play from children's lives.
  15. If you don't already use a platform for communication with parents, try SEESAW and CLASS TAG apps, they are quite good and easy for everyone to use. 
  16. Keep in mind parents from all cultural backgrounds, don't keep your communication only in English, if you know parents who are not yet comfortable with English then call them up and explain things to them. Don't lose out on personal connections. 
  17. Please note that many parents may not have computers but all have a phone, so whatever is your home learning planning, ensure that it is compatible with phones. 

Dr. Vats emphasised on how important it is to keep the education process on-going at home during this break as it would help kids overcome the stress they might be under because of the sudden confinement.

The interactive session also had suggestions based on which applications the Early Childhood educators can try and introduce to parents, who’re currently the link between them and their students.

BORN SMART APP 

  1. These 3-minute games in English and Hindi will allow parents to understand how, when and what to do with their children.
  2. The games will strengthen the parent-child bond and foster brain development.
  3. The games will develop their physical, emotional-social and language growth.
  4. The games also help nurture children’s social skills.

CODE MONKEY JUNIOR

  1. This app is for coding games with many visuals.
  2. It enables children to understand directions and movements.
  3. Since it has blocks, it makes it easier for children from 3.5 to 6 years of age to precode.
  4. With each progressing stage, the children will learn logic, algorithm, sequencing, loops, counting and direction orientation.

GOOGLE BOLO 

  1. The biggest benefit of this app is that it allows you to choose between 9 languages. 
  2. The app has a tutor-cartoon named Diya to connect to kids.  
  3. The older children can try reading interesting stories with great visuals and for the younger children, the parents will be able to read out stories.
  4. This app works offline as well, so does not need the internet once it is downloaded.

GOOGLE ART AND CULTURE APPLICATION

  1. With Google Arts & Culture you can visit top exhibits, zoom in on artworks in mind-blowing detail and browse thousands of stories, photos, videos, and manuscripts. Because we cannot take kids for museum tours at the moment, with this app we can take them anywhere and show them iconic sites, famous buildings, and natural wonders.
  2. It is appropriate for 4 – 6 years old with an adult’s active participation. 
  3. It can teach virtual visual-spatial skills through some features and give informative knowledge about some personalities.
  4. This app provokes a child’s thinking skills.

KHAN ACADEMY KIDS APPLICATION

  1. This application is for 3 years onwards.
  2. It engages kids in core subjects like early literacy, reading, writing, language, and math while encouraging creativity and building social-emotional connections.

SCHOLASTIC LEARN AT HOME

  1. It provides 20 days’ worth of active learning journeys designed to reinforce and sustain educational opportunities for those students who are unable to attend school.
  2. It gives you the advantage of day-by-day projects to keep kids reading, thinking, and growing.
  3. Suitable for 5+

MUSSILA MUSIC SCHOOL APP

  1. Teaches kids music while sitting at home.
  2. They get access to listening to the sounds of various musical instruments.
  3. It’s an app with hours of musical lessons, challenges and games carefully crafted by musical experts and educators.

The academic research and peer reviews during this Hangout were of great influence and we believe, will help the Early Education Curriculum get some more recognition during this tough situation.

According to Dr Vats, these innovative methods are going to create history for Early Childhood educators. She said, “It’s our duty to make home-schooling for our students full of surprises. Don’t make them feel that play-time is their reward, instead let it become a learning session for them.”

On how to deal with parents, she insisted that the teachers must interact with them once a week on-call. “Keep the activities simple for the parents to understand, don’t overwhelm them. Always brief them well about the tasks allocated that will also strengthen the bond of parent-child. Every learning activity that you propose must reduce the stress the families are experiencing currently," she added.

Image courtesy: Shutterstock

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We Absolutely Love This Cartoon Strip For Kids, Explaining Corona

Check out this comic depicting Coronavirus preventive measures for kids of 9-12 years of age.

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Coronavirus threat is real and has the governments around the world worried about the wellness and safety of their citizens. To educate adults about the precautions and measures they should take is competitively easier without panicking them, but to educate children about the threat is way harder and at the same time more significant, too.

In a rather creative social initiative, the Indian government has launched a comic strip depicting the threats and prevention for Coronavirus. This booklet is especially for our little ones who enjoy comics and tend to learn from them quickly. 

This initiative is a joint effort of Government of India along with Dr. Khaiwal (PIGMER), Dr. Mor (Panjab University) Chandigarh, and many others from across Chandigarh, New Delhi, WHO and NCDC.

Scroll down if you want to grab some important information about this deadly virus. And, yes, don't forget to share it with the kids in your school and family. 

Source: PGI

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Image Courtesy: Google

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