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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:

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     Source: World Bank Data, 2016

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.

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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’.   

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’.

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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:

  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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Growing Education Parity in India: The Divide Between Rich and Poor

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The education gap between wealthier and poorer households in India and much of Asia is widening, exacerbated by the impact of climate change. As Ankush Banerjee highlighted in his article titled “The educational gap between poorer and richer households is growing in India and much of Asia, thanks to climate change” on Business Insider India, the recent heatwaves reaching 47°C forced the Delhi government to close schools early to protect students. However, many private schools remained open, equipped with air conditioning and other amenities, illustrating the disparity between private and public education systems.

The COVID-19 pandemic had already brought attention to the detrimental effects of interrupted schooling, which disproportionately affects disadvantaged students. Climate change-induced disruptions further compound this problem. Poorer families, who often lack resources for remote learning, find their children falling further behind, as high temperatures and extreme weather lead to more frequent school closures.

Education and Economic Disparity

The economic disparity in India has also been growing, with the rich contributing increasingly more to the country’s GDP while the poor struggle to keep up. As reported by Deccan Herald, India’s richest 10% contribute more than half of the country’s GDP, while the bottom 50% contribute only 17%. This wealth gap is mirrored in the education sector, where children from affluent families have access to better educational resources, while those from poorer backgrounds are left to navigate the challenges of underfunded public schools and lack of infrastructure.

The rising costs associated with private education, coupled with the inadequate state of many public schools, mean that poorer families are often unable to afford quality education for their children. This creates a vicious cycle, where lack of education leads to fewer economic opportunities, perpetuating poverty across generations.

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Climate Change and Educational Outcomes

As the UNESCO report cited by Banerjee indicates, extreme weather events linked to climate change are causing more frequent and prolonged school closures, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. The heatwaves in India, for instance, have not only led to early school closures but have also significantly impacted students’ academic performance. High temperatures have been associated with lower grades and poorer test results, disproportionately affecting students from poorer households who lack the means to mitigate these impacts.

Remote learning, while a potential solution, poses its own set of challenges. Children from low-income families often lack access to necessary technology and internet connectivity, further widening the educational gap. Additionally, online education cannot replicate the essential one-on-one interactions that are crucial for young learners, particularly those who require more guidance and support.

Addressing the Parity

To bridge this widening gap, there needs to be a concerted effort to improve the quality of public education and make it accessible to all. This includes investing in school infrastructure, providing adequate training for teachers, and ensuring that learning resources are available to every student, regardless of their socio-economic background.

Furthermore, policies should be geared towards making education resilient to climate change. This means building schools that can withstand extreme weather, integrating climate education into the curriculum, and ensuring that contingency plans are in place to minimize disruptions to learning.

The growing educational disparity in India underscores the urgent need for systemic changes. As climate change continues to affect school attendance and performance, it is imperative that steps are taken to ensure that all children, regardless of their socio-economic status, have access to quality education. Only by addressing these issues can we hope to create a more equitable and sustainable future for all.

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Navigating Post-Class 12 Career Choices: A Comprehensive Guide

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Every student experiences a great sense of accomplishment when completing class 12, which signifies the conclusion of their time in school and the start of a new adventure into the realm of higher education and job options. Selecting the ideal path may be both exhilarating and overwhelming with so many alternatives accessible. To successfully traverse the ever-changing field of professional options and forge a rewarding and happy career path, it is imperative to remain proactive, adaptive, and open-minded. Here, we try to understand a few career options to opt for after graduating class 12.

  1. Architecture:
    Architecture has proven to be an enticing career path if you have a passion for creativity, design and innovation. It is a broad field that incorporates art, science, technology, and social responsibility in addition to building design. After high school, pursuing a career in architecture can lead to a world of creativity, innovation, and professional fulfilment. Various career options after class 12 under Architecture are Bachelor of Architecture, Bachelor of Fine Arts, Bachelor of Design studies and Bachelor of Vocational studies.
  2. Business Management:
    A career in business management offers a bright and exciting future for people with a flair for strategy, innovation, and leadership. Numerous industries, including corporate organisations, consulting firms, financial institutions, startups, government agencies, and non-profit organisations, present job options for individuals pursuing a career in business management.
  3. Bachelor in Business Management (BMS)
    Following class 12 with a degree in Bachelor of Business Management (BMS) might be a wise investment in one’s future as it provides a route for both professional and personal development in the business sector. A BMS degree gives students the information and abilities they need to thrive in today’s competitive business world, thanks to its extensive curriculum, emphasis on leadership development, practical learning opportunities, and variety of career routes. This undergraduate degree prepares students for a wide range of job prospects in the corporate sector and beyond by giving them a strong foundation in business principles, leadership abilities, and strategic thinking.
  4. Sports Management:
    A career in the business of sports administration offers an interesting route for people who are enthusiastic about sports and want to integrate their love of the game with their professional goals. Following class 12, students have the opportunity to delve deeper into the exciting field of sports management, which includes managing the strategic, operational, and business facets of sports organisations.
  5. Event Management:
    After completing your 12th grade education, event management could be the ideal career option to explore for you if you have a passion for creativity, organising, and uniting people. A career in event management provides numerous options in a variety of events such as wedding and social events, corporate events, reality shows, award functions, media promotions, live music festivals, sports events, tourism and hospitality related events.
  6. Tourism:
    After high school, pursuing a career in tourism opens doors to a world of discovery, adventure, and cross-cultural interaction. It also enables people to have a significant impact on creating lifelong memories for other people via travel. Graduates may consider positions as a tour manager, travel advisor, destination expert, airline representative, cruise director, or executive in tourism marketing, and many more.

Authored By- 
Dr Pinkey Bharadwaj, Faculty, ASBM (Aditya School of Business Management)
Mr. Vipul Solanki, Director Future Varsity

 

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Education

Understanding Food Labels: A Guide for Students and Parents

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In an era where food marketing is dominated by attractive advertisements and appealing packaging, it’s crucial for students and parents to understand the significance of food safety and reading food labels. Unfortunately, this essential knowledge is often overlooked in school curriculums. Educating children about food safety is not only about preventing foodborne illnesses but also about empowering them to make informed choices about what they consume.

Why Food Safety Should Be Taught in Schools

Children are not just passive consumers; they are active participants in their health journey. Understanding food labels equips them with the knowledge to navigate the complexities of modern food marketing. It helps them identify what goes into their bodies and make healthier choices, which can lead to better long-term health outcomes.

The Hidden Dangers of Attractive Ads

Many food products, especially those targeted at children, come with enticing advertisements that highlight taste and convenience but often mask the less desirable ingredients. For instance, products containing palm oil are prevalent due to its low cost and versatility. However, the production of palm oil has significant environmental and health implications. India’s drive for palm oil, as highlighted by Dialogue Earth, faces a reality check due to these issues​ (Dialogue Earth)​.

Moreover, companies like PepsiCo are recognising the need to replace palm oil in their products. They have started trials to find healthier and more sustainable alternatives for their popular snacks​​ (Read More). This shift reflects a growing awareness and responsibility towards food safety and health, which should be mirrored in educational initiatives.

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Reading Food Labels: A Lifelong Skill

Understanding how to read food labels is a critical skill that should be nurtured from a young age. Here’s why:

  1. Identifying Ingredients: Knowing how to identify and understand ingredients can help children avoid harmful additives and allergens.
  2. Nutritional Information: Learning to interpret nutritional information enables students to make choices that support their overall health and well-being.
  3. Expiration Dates: Recognising the importance of expiration dates helps in preventing foodborne illnesses.

How to Read Food Labels

  1. Ingredients List: Teach children to look for whole, unprocessed foods and to be cautious of ingredients they can’t pronounce.
  2. Serving Size and Calories: Understanding serving sizes and calorie counts helps in managing portions and energy intake.
  3. Nutritional Content: Focus on the amounts of fats, sugars, and sodium. Encourage a diet rich in fibre, vitamins, and minerals.

Implementing Food Safety Education

Integrating food safety education into school curriculums can be achieved through various methods:

  1. Interactive Lessons: Use engaging activities and real-life scenarios to teach students about food labels and safety.
  2. Workshops and Seminars: Invite nutritionists and food safety experts to conduct workshops for students and parents.
  3. Practical Applications: Incorporate cooking classes where students can practice reading labels and preparing healthy meals.

Incorporating food safety education into school curriculums is essential for empowering children as informed consumers. By understanding food labels, students can make healthier choices, resist the allure of misleading advertisements, and take control of their dietary habits. As companies move towards more sustainable practices, like PepsiCo’s initiative to replace palm oil, it is crucial that education keeps pace, equipping the next generation with the knowledge they need to make responsible food choices.

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Education

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

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

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

A Message from the Future

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

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

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More Than Just Theory

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

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

Films and Books for Environmental Curriculum

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

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

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

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Building Global Schools: Global Outreach, Local Values

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In an increasingly interconnected world, the role of education transcends borders. As the director of Dalimss Sunbeam School, I am deeply committed to crafting an educational environment that prepares our students not only for the challenges of today but also for the complexities of tomorrow’s global landscape. Central to this vision is the concept of Building Global Schools – institutions that seamlessly integrate global outreach with the preservation of local values.

At Dalimss Sunbeam School, we believe that embracing a global perspective does not require sacrificing the rich tapestry of local cultural values. Instead, it involves finding a delicate balance between the two, ensuring that our students are exposed to diverse worldviews while remaining rooted in their own heritage. This approach fosters a sense of cultural competence, empathy, and open-mindedness among our students, essential qualities for navigating an increasingly interconnected world.

One of the primary ways in which we promote global outreach while preserving local values is through our curriculum. We have developed a curriculum that is not only academically rigorous but also culturally inclusive. Our students learn about the history, traditions, and customs of various cultures around the world, allowing them to develop a deep appreciation for diversity. At the same time, we incorporate elements of our local culture into the curriculum, ensuring that our students remain connected to their roots.

Moreover, we actively seek opportunities for international collaboration and exchange programs. Through partnerships with schools in different countries, our students have the chance to interact with their peers from diverse backgrounds, fostering cross-cultural understanding and friendship. These experiences not only broaden their horizons but also deepen their appreciation for their own culture and identity.

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Furthermore, we understand the importance of incorporating global issues into our teaching practices. From climate change to human rights, we encourage our students to critically engage with pressing global challenges. By analyzing these issues through both a local and global lens, our students develop a nuanced understanding of the interconnectedness of the world and their role as global citizens.

In addition to our academic endeavors, we also place a strong emphasis on extracurricular activities that promote global awareness and understanding. Through activities such as Model United Nations, cultural festivals, and community service projects, our students have the opportunity to engage with global issues in a hands-on and meaningful way. These experiences not only complement their academic learning but also instill in them a sense of responsibility towards the global community.

Building Global Schools is not just about expanding horizons; it is about embracing diversity, fostering empathy, and nurturing global citizenship. At Dalimss Sunbeam School, we are committed to creating an educational environment where global outreach and local values coexist harmoniously, preparing our students to thrive in an increasingly interconnected world. By embracing this vision, we believe that we can empower our students to become compassionate, informed, and culturally competent leaders of tomorrow.

Authored By:
Pooja Madhok
Director
DALIMSS Sunbeam Group of Schools & Hostel

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Creating an Inclusive Curriculum: A Leader’s Perspective

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“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world,” Nelson Mandela once said. This resonates deeply with me as I reflect on the necessity of an inclusive curriculum to ensure the well-being of our students. As a mother, an educator, and a school leader, I recognize the profound impact that inclusive decisions at the leadership level have on shaping a school’s culture.

A school’s culture is defined by its core values and the shared understanding of these values among all stakeholders. Inclusion should be at the forefront of this culture, starting with our teachers. It is essential that every teacher feels heard and valued, with their suggestions taken seriously. We must prioritise dialogue over mere discussion, creating safe and brave spaces where everyone can share their viewpoints and take responsibility for their words’ impact.

To foster an inclusive learning environment for our students, we must first create a welcoming and inclusive environment for our staff. Leaders need to be open to feedback and suggestions, engaging in weekly open dialogues to promote teacher voice. Clear expectations, opportunities for professional development, and allowing staff to achieve outcomes using varied methods are key strategies in this process.

When teachers feel included and empowered, they are better equipped to ensure inclusion in the classroom. Inclusion goes beyond its traditional perception; it’s about giving every child the opportunity to participate fully in learning, fostering a sense of belonging and contribution.

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Often, when we hear the term “inclusion,” we immediately think of ways to support students with different learning needs. While this is crucial, we must broaden our perspective. Inclusion means including everyone—students, teachers, and staff alike.

One effective strategy for creating an inclusive classroom environment is curriculum compacting. This approach is particularly beneficial for students who demonstrate high potential and are already operating at a relational abstract level. By engaging these students in research and project-based work, we can provide them with challenges that extend their learning beyond the standard curriculum.

In curriculum compacting, regular lessons are replaced with opportunities for students to delve into more complex concepts through student-led projects. Teachers guide these projects, helping students apply their conceptual understanding to real-life applications. This not only caters to their advanced learning needs but also nurtures their potential to reach higher levels of abstract thinking.

Inclusion, at its core, is about ensuring every student feels a part of the learning journey. As leaders, our commitment to creating an inclusive culture will ultimately transform our schools into places where every individual—staff and student alike—can thrive.

Authored By- 

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Aanchal Shah,
Global Curriculum Coordinator, Professional and Personal Skills Coordinator,
The Kulish School, Jaipur

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10 Summer Safety Tips for Kids During Summer Breaks

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Summer breaks are a much-anticipated time for children, filled with opportunities for fun, adventure, and relaxation. However, amidst the excitement, it’s crucial to prioritise safety to ensure that these experiences remain enjoyable and hazard-free. Here are some essential safety tips for kids during the summer holidays.

1. Stay Hydrated

One of the biggest risks during the summer is dehydration. Children often get so engrossed in play that they forget to drink water. Encourage your kids to drink plenty of fluids throughout the day, even if they don’t feel thirsty. Water is the best option, but natural fruit juices and milk are also good choices. Avoid sugary drinks and sodas, as they can lead to more dehydration. Teach children to recognise the signs of dehydration, such as dry mouth, dizziness, and fatigue.

2. Sun Protection

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The summer sun can be harsh, and overexposure can lead to sunburn, heat exhaustion, or even heatstroke. Ensure your children wear sunscreen with at least SPF 30, and reapply it every two hours, especially after swimming or sweating. Hats, sunglasses, and light, breathable clothing can also provide additional protection. Encourage kids to play in the shade during peak sun hours, typically between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

3. Water Safety

Whether it’s the beach, a pool, or a lake, water activities are a summer favourite. However, they come with inherent risks. Always supervise children when they are near water. Teach them basic swimming skills and ensure they know never to swim alone. If you have a pool at home, make sure it’s fenced and that the gate is locked when not in use. Familiarise your children with water safety rules, such as not running around the pool area and recognising the significance of lifeguard instructions.

4. Bike and Scooter Safety

Cycling and scootering are popular summer activities, but they require safety precautions. Ensure your child wears a properly fitted helmet every time they ride. Elbow and knee pads can also prevent injuries in case of falls. Teach them to follow traffic rules, use bike lanes where available, and to be aware of their surroundings. Reflective clothing or accessories can make them more visible to motorists, especially during early morning or evening rides.

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5. Stranger Danger Awareness

With more time spent outdoors, it’s vital to remind children about stranger danger. Teach them not to talk to strangers or accept gifts or rides from people they don’t know. Establish a family code word that only trusted individuals know, which can be used in emergency situations. Equip your child with a mobile phone if they are old enough, and ensure they know how to use it to contact you or emergency services.

6. Safe Playgrounds

Playgrounds are fantastic places for children to burn off energy and socialise, but they must be safe environments. Check that the playground equipment is in good condition and that the surfaces are made of impact-absorbing materials like wood chips, sand, or rubber. Teach your children to play safely, avoiding pushing or shoving, and to be mindful of younger kids who may be playing nearby.

7. Insect Protection

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Summer also brings out insects like mosquitoes and ticks. These can be more than just a nuisance; they can carry diseases. Use insect repellent containing child safety approved ingridients. Dress them in long sleeves and trousers during early morning and evening when mosquitoes are most active. After outdoor activities, especially in wooded or grassy areas, check your child’s body for ticks.

8. Food Safety

With picnics and barbecues being a staple of summer, food safety is paramount. Ensure that all perishable food is kept cold until it’s time to eat. Teach your children the importance of washing their hands before handling food. Be cautious with foods that spoil easily in the heat, such as dairy products, meats, and mayonnaise-based dishes. When in doubt, throw it out – it’s better to be safe than sorry.

9. First Aid Knowledge

Accidents can happen, no matter how careful you are. Equip your children with basic first aid knowledge. Teach them how to clean and bandage a minor cut or scrape, and how to identify when they need to seek help from an adult. Make sure they know the emergency contact numbers and how to explain their location in case they need to call for help.

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10. Safe Travel

If your summer plans include travel, ensure that your child’s car seat is properly installed and that they always wear a seatbelt. During flights, remind them to stay seated and follow the crew’s instructions. Carry a small travel first aid kit and any necessary medications.

By incorporating these safety tips into your summer routine, you can help ensure that your children have a fun, healthy, and safe holiday. Summer should be a time of joy and adventure, and with a little preparation and vigilance, it can be free from mishaps and worries.

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Education

Climate Change Erodes Education Outcomes: World Bank Report

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A new World Bank policy note reveals alarming evidence on how climate change is severely impacting education outcomes worldwide. The report highlights the increasing frequency of school closures due to extreme weather events and other climate-related factors, outlining the urgent need for adaptation measures within the education sector.

Over the past two decades, schools were closed during approximately 75 percent of extreme weather events affecting over 5 million people. It has become common for countries to close their schools multiple times a year due to heatwaves, flooding, and high pollution levels. The duration of these closures is often prolonged when school infrastructure is vulnerable or used as evacuation centres.

Climate change is also indirectly affecting students through increased diseases, stress, and conflict. The report notes that a one standard deviation change in temperature and rainfall has been linked to a 14 percent increase in the risk of intergroup conflict and interpersonal violence. These factors have severe consequences on children’s educational attainment and achievement.

The erosion of learning due to climate change translates into lower future earnings and productivity, especially for the poor. Research indicates that each additional year of schooling is associated with a 10 percent increase in earnings. As climate shocks reduce educational attainment, future earnings are likely to suffer, perpetuating cycles of poverty and limiting social mobility across generations.

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Despite these growing negative impacts, the report indicates that policymakers do not fully appreciate the urgency of climate adaptation within the education sector. A novel survey covering 94 education policymakers across 28 low- and middle-income countries reveals that nearly 61 percent ranked the protection of learning from climate change among the bottom three priorities in their country. This low prioritisation is troubling because the benefits of education are under threat.

To build resilience in education systems, policymakers must act on four fronts: education management, school infrastructure, students and teachers as change agents, and ensuring learning continuity. The report underscores the need for immediate action to adapt education systems to cope with extreme weather events.

For instance, global estimates indicate that the education sector experiences financial losses of $4 billion annually due to tropical cyclones alone. In the Philippines, over 10,000 classrooms are damaged per year due to typhoons and floods.

The World Bank’s findings stress that for millions of children who will need to attend school over the next 50 years, the results of climate mitigation will come too late. Governments must act now to increase the capacity of education systems to adapt and cope with these increasingly prevalent extreme weather events.

As climate change continues to pose severe risks to educational outcomes, it is imperative that policymakers recognise and address these challenges urgently. The future of education depends on our ability to adapt and build resilience against the adverse effects of climate change.

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Source- ANI

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Education

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

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

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

The Importance of Sensitivity

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

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

Implementing Sensitivity Education at the Grassroots Level in India

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

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

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

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