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Need of the hour: Special status for teachers

PARVATHY JAYAKRISHNAN examines the many valid reasons why teachers need to be given the respect, remuneration, safety and security they deserve

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A teacher fills in as a parent in the formative years of a child, she/he guides and corrects a child when he make mistakes, encourages students to reach for the stars and applauds their achievements. All packed in one, a teacher’s role is not an easy one. A teacher sometimes takes on the role of a parent, a friend, a confidant and much more. A student spends so many years interacting with his/her teachers on a daily basis and the role of a teacher in a student’s life cannot be replaced by any other professional in society. And clearly, it is the teachers who are responsible for building good citizens. Hence, good teachers are truly what a country needs to move forward. The unfortunate reality is, despite all these responsibilities and roles resting on a country’s teachers, they not given the respect and special status they truly deserve.

An army man in uniform or a doctor is well-respected in our society. In some states, patients remove their footwear before entering a doctor’s chamber as a mark of respect – the kind of respect that you give God while entering a place of worship. We smile and sometimes even bow our heads as a mark of respect when we see an army man in uniform. However, the work and efforts of teachers are more often than not ignored in our society. Is it a kind of conditioning that we are brought up with?

We are very proud of our sacred guru-shishya parampara, which is a tradition of spiritual relationship and mentoring where learning is transmitted from a guru "teacher" to a shishya "disciple". Such knowledge, whether it be Vedic, agamic, architectural, musical or spiritual, is imparted through the developing relationship between the guru and the disciple. We talk ever so proudly about our Gurukul system of learning where the students live near the guru or in the same house as the guru and learn lessons of life from the guru. The guru does this without accepting any fees from the students because the relationship between a teacher and student is considered sacred.

Sonal Ahuja, Learning evangelist, founder, House of Learning explains that for thousands of years, the Indian subcontinent revered its teachers to the highest level. “Indian tradition dictated that teachers must be treated with respect that paralleled kings. The Mahabharata famously depicted the story of Eklavya, a gifted archer who cut off this thumb as Guru Dakshina to show his unconditional gratitude to his Guru, Drona.”

So, we cannot completely blame our conditioning because our traditions and values teach us to respect “the teacher” the same way that you respect God. Then where did we go wrong and why aren’t teachers today given the kind of respect they deserve?

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Urvashi Warman, Principal, The Palace School, The City Palace, Jaipur believes that the government needs to step in and set high parameters for teacher selection. She says, “When we have such stringent standards set at the entry level for doctors and engineers,  why are we so lax in raising the bar at the entry level to become a teacher … a teacher who actually helps to give good doctors and engineers to the society? The government should also set decent rates for monthly emoluments so the teacher is not forced to indulge in additional commercial activities to make two ends meet. This by far is diluting not only the standard of education being imparted but is also lowering the stature of a teacher as he gets relegated to the level of a commercial tutor rather than getting elevated to the pedestal of an Acharya or Guru.”

Shalini Dahiya, educator, Modern School – Barakhamba Road, New Delhi explains why teaching is underrated today.

“Occupational status depends on the public valuing of the competence, role and overall contribution of a particular occupation to individual and social welfare.

Teachers are struggling for a special status as firstly they are not considered as a temple of knowledge or a good character building instrument, with the surge of social media and too much of information available on the internet.”

Teachers in other countries

Japan

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Japan is one of the countries in the world where the teaching profession is respected and valued. Here’s how they make sure that teachers are given the special status they deserve…
Teachers in Japan have traditionally been paid better than other civil servants. Japan’s average teacher salary for a lower secondary school teacher after 15 years of service is US$47,561, as compared to the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) average of US$40,569. Following WWII, over concerns about teacher shortages, the Prime Minister decreed that teachers would be paid 30 percent more than other civil servants. Although this gap has decreased over the last 50 years, by law teachers remain relatively highly paid among civil servants. Also, teacher salaries do not vary much across the country because teachers are paid from both the national government and the prefecture government so they are relatively consistent regardless of an area’s income levels or property values.

In Japan, teachers are addressed with the honorific sensei, a term also used when addressing a doctor or member of Parliament. Teachers are held in such high regard that they are often contacted before parents by the police if a student is in trouble with the law.

The teaching profession in Japan is also highly selective which ensures that only the best and most committed teachers enter the profession. Those who do make the cut only do so after a rigorous set of school board exams and evaluations and teachers must hold a degree from an institution of higher education.

Finland

The Finland education system regularly tops the international Pisa performance rankings and the teachers need to take the credit for it. Finland’s teachers are different from the rest of the world because they believe that extensive training is the basis for giving teachers the autonomy to work the way they want. The result is a highly prized profession and good education system. This has even led to educational tourists coming in to learn the Finnish experience. The high-level training is the basis for giving young teachers a great deal of autonomy to choose what methods they use in the classroom – in contrast to most countries where teaching feels like a profession that oscillates between administration and giving tests to students. In Finland, teachers are largely free from external requirements such as inspection, standardised testing and government control – school inspections were scrapped in the 1990s. In Finland, teachers are given high-quality education so that they know how to use the freedom they are given in the classroom and they learn to solve problems in a research-based way.

China

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The 2013 Varkey Foundation Global teacher status index report revealed that it is only in China that people think of teachers are being most closely compared to doctors. In the US, Brazil, France and Turkey, people thought teachers were most similar to librarians and in New Zealand people think the job of teaching is most similar to nursing. The report found that teachers in China have the highest level of public respect. Most foreign English teachers in China receive benefits like free or reimbursed airfare to and from their home country, and/or free furnished housing. Many teachers also receive health insurance and paid vacation. It is one of the few countries where  parents were most likely to encourage their kids to become teachers.

Respect and remuneration

One important dimension of how an occupation is regarded, and which is inextricably linked to standing or social status, is pay. An individual’s standing in a culture depends on how much they are paid in absolute or relative terms.

The 7th Pay Commission, launched in September 2015 ensured that the teachers in primary schools, secondary and higher secondary schools, colleges and universities get a hiked net salary of 16 per cent. However, the yearly increment of 3 percent did not change.

Dr. Dheeraj Mehrotra, National Teacher Awardee 2005 & Academic Evangelist, Next Education India believes that “The imbalance from the teaching profession, highlights a great divide with narration of unethical practices of low salary and refund of said amount via account transfer as reverse payment. There must be a check on equal pay for all grades and at all levels.”

It is important that teachers are provided with a substantial yearly increment to prevent attrition and keep them motivated. Also, there is a huge gap between the salaries of a primary school teacher and a high school teacher. This gap needs to be addressed as primary school teachers are equally important and this has to be shown by ensuring their salaries are on par with the rest.

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Urvashi Warman, Principal, The Palace School, The City Palace, Jaipur avers, “The teacher is by far a silent sentinel of a country's future and if this sentinel is not compensated adequately in terms of financial and social security, the country's future is sure to be doomed. This doom is inevitable because the poorly compensated  teacher, who is a role model for his students,is sure to indulge in acts which totally demean his stature and thus sets a poor example for his students to emulate.”

According to Dr Jagpreet Singh, Headmaster, The Punjab Public School, Nabha, “The primary reason we all work is for money – so teachers should get their due financial recognition which will definitely bring young, intellectual people into this noble profession. Proper management of funds by the school authorities should be done and teachers should be given regular incentives and bonuses on the basis of their performance. ”

Measures to ensure teachers’ financial stability

Teaching is a profession which requires going beyond the call of duty to deliver great results. Financial stability is a must for teachers and the government must bring in special allowances and privileges for teachers so that they can sustain themselves well without having to find secondary jobs to make ends meet. The remuneration you receive is also a sign of your value to the school and an underpaid teacher will always feel unimportant.

Teachers can be granted allowances based on the number of years of service or excellence in their work. It is worth a thought whether the salaries of teachers need to be taxed at all or even if they are taxed, there needs to be a separate slab which will ensure minimal taxation.

Every school can also ensure that a teacher’s child learns for free or is given a subsidized fee.

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Lavita Kacker, Head of Department- Social Sciences, Sacred Heart School, Kalyan suggests that “Financial stability measures for teachers may include provision of housing allowances, reduction in taxation on income, attractive investment schemes, medical reimbursement, concession on public transport and better pension facilities.”

Shraddha Bhatnagar, Headmistress (Head of Cambridge Section), Seedling World School, Udaipur wishes that the government checks the imbalance between salaries of teachers in private and government-run schools.

Proper remuneration is important to boost a teacher’s self-confidence and make her/him feel secure in the job. Yearly increments and bonuses are also required for the same reason. A job which does not do that will, at some point, end up being taxing.

“The pay commissions are restricted to government aided, affiliated and government run schools. There is no start up point for early childhood sector and private schools where teachers are exploited with low pay scales. A respectful minimum pay scale should be mandatory for schools to pay to their teachers. There should be levels of training with specialisations in teaching as in the medical field and accordingly a pay scale armed with good gratuity, pension, and life covers for financial stability,” says Smriti Agarwal, Sr. Headmistress, Podar Jumbo Kids Powai, Mumbai.

Kavitha Vyas, Director, Crystal Kids Pre-School, Vadodara mentions that job security is absolutely necessary to ensure a teacher’s financial stability. They can be trained further for higher grades and regular promotions to improve their pay scale. More social security and medical benefits for their family are also required, she maintains.

Safety for teachers in schools

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It is not uncommon today to hear the news of a teacher being stabbed by a student or attacked by an adult or a mob in the school premises. So tricky is the state of affairs today that teachers are often scared of even punishing a child for doing wrong for fear of his/her own safety. Safety of students in schools is always talked about as a priority that is pursued by parents. However, a school should also provide safety and support to its teachers so that they can function normally and without fear. Merely providing compensation to the family of the deceased is not a solution to the problem. Teachers need to feel safe to do their job faithfully and without fear. School authorities need to ensure this happens. Parents also need to teach their children the importance of teachers in their lives.

According to Dr Jagpreet Singh, Headmaster, The Punjab Public School, Nabha, “A school should be as safe for a teacher as it is for a student. Rather than enforcing restrictive discipline among children, the parents should take equal responsibility of bringing up their children and instil strong moral values and ethics.”

Speaking about the need for an emergency response system,Yasin Khatri, Sacred Heart School, Kalyan explains that teachers must be trained to handle any crisis that takes place around them. The feasibility of the emergency response system must be checked through frequent mock drills at school. “Students must be sensitised and teachers should be trained to identify such cases within the classroom or around. Immediate psychological help must be provided to pupils who need it.”

Priyanka Singh, ICT Educator, The HDFC School, Gurgaon emphasises that schools should have a security check system at the entrance so that people cannot enter a school premise with weapons. She also suggests schools have a police booth in its vicinity so that help can be immediately sought in case of any mishaps.

“The Government must have good health care and on-call medical facilities in every school across the country. Metal detectors and CCTV cameras should be installed within the school. EQ and IQ evaluation of students should be conducted to identify problems amongst students. Uniform level of safety and security measures for all schools should be ensured,” says Lavita Kacker, Head of Department – Social Sciences, Sacred Heart School, Kalyan.

Suggesting that self-defence for teachers can be part of the teacher training programme, Smriti Agarwal, Sr. Headmistress, Podar Jumbo Kids Powai, Mumbai also advocates instant justice and firm law in cases where teachers are physically, emotionally or sexually harassed, so that it creates a sense of fear in any individual towards the consequences of such an act.

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Urvashi Warman, Principal, The Palace School, The City Palace, Jaipur has a different opinion on how to tackle the safety issue of teachers in schools. She says, “The solution to violence in schools does not lie in turning the school or any educational institute into a fortress. The solution lies in empowering the teaching faculty with proper life skills which they need to impart to students from a very young age. When the student community is sensitised and learns how to deal with issues like rejection, failures, grief, disappointment and general strengthening of the emotional quotient, the problem of increase in violence is sure to dissipate very soon.”

What we can do to ensure teachers are respected

The role of teachers is paramount in shaping the future of the country. The government should include teachers while reforming educational policies. With the digitisation of education happening at a rapid pace, the role of teachers is also changing drastically. Today, teachers are taking on roles of being advisors, friends and disciplinarians to students rather than the conventional role of a teacher who only explains what is there in the textbook. However, the role of a teacher is indispensable in a student’s life and it is imperative that the student understands it and respects the teacher accordingly.

Suman Sood, Territory Head, Kolkata Chapter, Early Childhood Association explains the importance of giving grants to teachers so that they can better themselves. She says “Involved and passionate teachers are always wanting to do things differently so that they may enhance learning of their students. Innovative teaching is important, but it can be expensive. The US model of giving grants to teachers for enhancing their skills and using funds for buying teaching aids can be followed for our teachers. Some of the grants given may be  Professional Development Grants for Teachers, Funds for Classroom Enrichment/Student Achievement, STEM Grants, and Humanities Grants.”

Shraddha Bhatnagar, Headmistress (Head of Cambridge Section), Seedling World School, Udaipur suggests, “Government can think of rewarding/awarding teachers annually for their outstanding contributions. One of these rewards can be the official use of the upaadhi ‘Guruji’ or ‘Gurudev’ with their names.”

Summary

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Verbally, we talk highly of teachers, praise their work and value them. But mere lip service is not enough. We need to show it by giving them the special status they truly deserve; by showing them that they are indeed doing a selfless job in raising citizens of this nation. We can take a leaf out of the books of some of the nations who treat their teachers on par with other noble professions and provide them with special rights. We need to make our teachers feel safe, secure and wanted.

To make sure that teachers continue in the same profession, we need to ensure that they are guaranteed financial stability and substantial yearly increments. A change in the mindset of parents is also very much required. It is very common to see parents wanting to see their children become doctors or engineers; we need to encourage our children to become teachers as well as ensure that the teaching profession is on par with any other profession. To facilitate this better, the salaries in the teaching profession need to be on par with those of other professions. Let us bring back the glory of the teaching profession from the days of Dronacharya or Ved Vyas and ensure that teachers today are treated with love and respect. We need to make a strong effort for this but together, we can.

What teachers want…

“Financial security being the top priority, recognition for their selfless service in the upbringing of others’ children which goes unnoticed. Teachers posted in remote areas should get extra allowances. Quality time to spend with family will work as an incentive in improving their output. Also, monitoring through CCTVs should be focused on students’ actions rather than teachers.”

Dr Jagpreet Singh, Headmaster, The Punjab Public School, Nabha

“Matching teachers’ salary to the best salary in the market is a must. Sponsorship of teachers to visit schools across the world to learn the best practices is important. Collaboration among Indian teachers and creating a forum of teachers to share best practices is also necessary. Teacher education courses should be enhanced and the process for it should be eased.”

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Mohammed Azhar, Principal, Knowledge Academy School, Chennai

“Teacher (Tr.) Title should be given to teachers and Sr. Tr. to teachers who have been into the teaching profession with a minimum of 15 years. A requisite of a Teachers’ Club in every city with provisions for teachers' welfare and community should be there. To teach is to preach; teaching is no doubt the most trusted profession in the world. Let teachers be recognised and saluted for their commitment towards enriching young minds and igniting them towards becoming prosperous nation builders of tomorrow.”

Dr Dheeraj Mehrotra, National Teacher Awardee 2005 & Academic Evangelist, Next Education India

“Funding needs to be provided for innovative teacher education, for programmes that target minority teacher recruitment, and for increased collaboration between universities and schools in preparation of teachers so that more participation and encouragement is provided to teachers coming from rural areas. Private sector teachers should also get benefits similar to the government set up. There should be provisions for continuous professional development, trips and excursions as a team building activity.”

Priyanka Singh, ICT Educator, The HDFC School, Gurgaon

“The Government of India should give teachers a professional designation and respect like those given to army personnel because the same way that the army defends the nation, teachers too defend the citizens from illiteracy, poverty, ignorance, unemployment, superstitions, mental and social evils. Their privileges could include subsidised accommodation, annual medical checkups and medical aid, standardised salaries, transport allowance, opportunities for professional development, work from home, financial incentives, better pension and retirement plans.”

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Lavita Kacker, Head of Department – Social Sciences, Sacred Heart School, Kalyan.

“The government can do a lot to change this scenario and create an atmosphere of great respect for teachers throughout the nation. This can be done by reiterating through various government campaigns and highlighting achievements of exceptional teachers. Following can be some privileges that can be given to teachers:

  1. Special considerations in all government-related jobs such as making passports, getting medical assistance, legal proceedings etc.

  2. Teachers to get special privileges like subsidised passes in railways, airlines and bus services.

  3. Subsidies on electricity and water bills.”

Shraddha Bhatnagar, Headmistress (Head of Cambridge Section), Seedling World School, Sapetiya, Udaipur

“Our government needs to attach value to teacher training and the profession with the same benefits and royal respect that the Indian Army gets. Like a civilian salutes a man in uniform when they come across him, there should be a bow to a teacher. The Government of India has not formed universities for teachers, regulations and government-accredited qualifications and national awards for teachers, which are prevalent in some countries. The most pertinent sector of early childhood education is the most neglected and sidelined. Let’s start from the roots, right from the very beginning and reap the fruits. Teachers need to be given an identity before discussing about privileges. Teaching is treated as a part time job for women. Doctors, engineers, IAS, IPS officers and defence personnel and other government officials are given the benefits of accommodation, respect and a standing in the society. The same attitude is lacking for teachers. Before special privileges, let’s make the basic amenities like resources, toilets, clean environment and good school buildings for teachers to give them a better workplace.”

Smriti Agarwal, Sr. Headmistress , Podar Jumbo Kids Powai, Mumbai

“The same way that a doctor can add his degree as a prefix to his name, a respectable term should also be given to the teacher.  Also, government advertisements promote and encourage citizens to join the defence system of the country. There need to be advertisements to promote teaching as well.”

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Sonal Chawla, Head of Department – Mathematics, Sacred Heart School, Kalyan

“The student-teacher ratio must be brought down. A higher ratio makes the job even tougher for teachers. Proper and timely payment of wages is a must. But the fact is that appreciation in form of financial incentive is not a very popular culture across our country. Delayed salaries and delay in implementation of the pay commission is a very common scene. Teachers, particularly in government aided schools, are compelled to do clerical jobs. This must completely stop.”

Yasin Khatri, Sacred Heart School, Kalyan

Education

Education for Girls

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The webinar featured two sessions on

(i) Quality Education and Teacher Development

(ii) Accreditation.

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

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

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Registration Open For The National Teacher Award 2021

Self nomination registration open for the upcoming National Teacher Award 2021.
Register now!

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It is time for the most awaited award nominations to begin. The National Teacher Award 2021 self nomination commenced on 1 June 2021. Since 1958, on 5 September (Teacher's Day) every year, the President of India accords the National Teacher Award to the winner. This honour is bestowed upon the best and meritorious teachers working in primary, middle and secondary schools in India.

According to the official website the online self nomination started on 1 June 2021 and can be submitted till 20 June 2021. Following the same, the District Selection Committee nominations to be forwarded to the State Selection Committee through online portal from 1 July to 15 July 2021

The eligibility criteria for teachers are as follows-

School teachers and Heads of Schools working in recognized primary / middle / high / higher secondary schools under the following categories:

  • Schools run by State Govt./UTs Administration, schools run by local bodies, schools aided by State Govt. and UT Administration.
  • Central Govt. Schools i.e. Kendriya Vidyalayas (KVs), Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas (JNVs), Sainik Schools run by Ministry of Defence (MoD), Schools run by Atomic Energy Education Society (AEES) and Eklavya Model Residential Schools (EMRS) run by Ministry of Tribal Affairs.
  • Schools affiliated to Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) (other than those at (a) and (b) above)
  • Schools affiliated to Council for Indian Schools Certificate Examination (CISCE) (Other than those at (a), (b) and (c) above)
  • Normally retired teachers are not eligible for the award but those teachers who have served a part of the calendar year (at least for four months i.e. upto 30th April in the year to which National Awards relate) may be considered if they fulfill all other conditions.
  • Educational Administrators, Inspectors of Education, and the staff of training Institutes are not eligible for these awards.
  • Teacher / Headmaster should not have indulged in tuitions.
  • Only regular Teachers and Heads of Schools will be eligible.
  • Contractual Teachers and Shiksha Mitras will not be eligible.

All the applications would be received through an online web portal. Every applicant shall submit a portfolio, online along with the Entry Form. The portfolio shall include relevant supporting material such as documents, tools, reports of activities, field visits, photographs, audios or videos etc.

Register now!

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https://nationalawardstoteachers.education.gov.in/

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Learn About GIGA: Connecting Every School to the Internet

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

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

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

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

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

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

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GIGA Initiatives supporting communities during COVID-19:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Global updates:

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

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

(This article was first published on UNICEF.org)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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How is the organisation funded?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Robotraffic Competition By Israel Institute of Technology For Indian Students

Israel Institute of Technology opens its 11th annual Nadav Shoham Robotraffic competition for Indian students

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This is the 11th (Virtual) Nadav Shoham Robotraffic Competition organised by Israel Institute of Technology, the competition commences on 14 March 2021. The virtual contest goes on for five days, from March 14 to 18, 2021. 

Israel Institute of Technology’s Faculty of Mechanical Engineering is responsible for the 11th consecutive competition which is open for Indian students as well, specifically classes 10 & 12. For this, children will need a guiding teacher and can have a team consisting of 1 to 8 members.

Here are the guidelines released by the institute:

Goals

  • Develop sensors and systems to be implemented in the industry to reduce the number of car accidents
  • Expose students to the high tech multi-disciplinary area of robots and sensors
  • Build team-work capabilities

The main challenge is to build an autonomous robotic car model that can move according to the traffic rules, obey traffic lights and sign signals, and keep a safe distance from other cars.

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Competition Categories

Careful Driving/Racing/Reverse Parking

Traffic safety initiatives/3D CAD

  • The teams can compete in one or more categories

The first-place winners in the Careful Driving category receive a full one-year scholarship to Technion International undergraduate degree program!

Watch the Robotraffic steps: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OcOkzNEwA58

Application: https://int.technion.ac.il/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/Robotraffic-registration-form.pdf

For more information, please contact: [email protected]

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Rules

  1. Teams should consist of 1-8 students from the same school
  2. Student participants must be between 10-12 grade
  3. A teacher can act as an advisor, but the construction needs to be done by the students.

Submission

Deadline for registration: December 31, 2020, 23:59 (based on local time in Israel)

Deadline for submission: March 1, 2021, 23:59 (based on local time in Israel)

Source: https://robotraffic.net.technion.ac.il/robotraffic-rules/

https://int.technion.ac.il/programs/robotraffic/

 

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Karnataka School’s Water Conservation Project Gets Praised Globally 

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

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

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

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

Students from Berambadi School

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

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

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

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

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

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

Picture courtesy: connect.iisc.ac.in

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UNICEF Sends Loudspeakers to Peruvian Amazon’s Rural Schools

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The power of education!

Source: unicef.org

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