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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.”

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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?

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.”

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Teachers in other countries

Japan

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.

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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

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

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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.

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.”

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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.

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Safety for teachers in schools

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.

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“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.

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.

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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

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.

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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.”

Mohammed Azhar, Principal, Knowledge Academy School, Chennai

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“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

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“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.”

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

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Swiss Learning’s interactive showcase on global learning concludes in Mumbai

The interactive showcase themed ‘Discover the World of Swiss Education’

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Swiss Learning, a Switzerland-based educational organization, organized an interactive showcase on global learning on February 3. The interactive showcase themed ‘Discover the World of Swiss Education’ was held at The St. Regis Mumbai.
According to a press release issued by Swiss Learning, the interactive showcase was attended by various dignitaries from Switzerland, including the Consulate General and the Founder & Director of Swiss Learning, Christophe Clivaz along with parents, students, and 11 of the top boarding and hospitality schools of Switzerland.

Sharing his thoughts on the event, Christophe Clivaz, Founder & Director at Swiss Learning said, “Switzerland has emerged as a prime location for research, education, and innovation. Students traveling to Switzerland are also exposed to a variety of a-graded programs in different languages. Every year, we see 50-100 Indian students traveling to Switzerland in pursuit of the country’s educational excellence and world-class boarding facilities.”

The event hosted in partnership with Zista Events started with a Leadership Masterclass hosted by Stuart Alan White, Principal, Collège Alpin Beau Soleil. Next was interactive networking which explored the virtues of time management, emotional intelligence, decision-making, problem-solving, and creativity.

Further, Alumni from 2 Swiss boarding schools, namely Aiglon College and Institut Le Rosey, hosted a panel discussion with Mr. Clivaz and discussed how a Swiss education has made a lasting impact on their lives, both personally and professionally, as per the press release.

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PARAKH becomes the First National Assignment Regulator

NCERT selects ETS for establishing national assessment regulator PARAKH

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Performance Assessment, Review, and Analysis of Knowledge for Holistic Development (PARAKH) will act as a top body for setting norms, standards, and guidelines for student assessment and evaluation for school education boards.

Educational Testing Service (ETS) on Tuesday announced that they have been selected by the National Council of Education Research and Training (NCERT) for establishing PARAKH, the country’s first national assessment regulator.

Performance Assessment, Review, and Analysis of Knowledge for Holistic Development (PARAKH) will act as a top body for setting norms, standards, and guidelines for student assessment and evaluation for all recognized school education boards in the country.

Announcing ETS as a technical partner for PARAKH, Professor Indrani Bhaduri, head of the Educational Survey Division at NCERT, said, “NCERT on behalf of the Ministry of Education, Govt. of India, is in the process of setting up PARAKH, as mandated by the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 and is delighted to have ETS as the technical partner in this endeavor.”

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“Their understanding of global best practices in curriculum and assessment will be a great asset in standardizing these aspects across the various school boards in the country….”

Amit Sevak, CEO of ETS, said, “ETS is honored to work alongside NCERT in building the future of learning through innovation and quality assessment expertise to measure what matters most as India becomes a powerhouse in global education.”

NCERT has launched PARAKH intending to remove disparities in scores of students enrolled in different state boards.

It is in line with NEP 2020 which envisaged a standard-setting body to advise school boards regarding new assessment patterns and the latest research, and promote collaborations between them.

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Oxford University Press India releases early-year solutions aligned with National Curriculum Framework for Foundational Stages (NCF-FS) and NEP 2020

The flagship OUP titles My Learning Train (pre-primary and primary), Oxford Advantage Little Champ (blended product for beginners and levels 1&2) and New Enjoying Mathematics (grades 1,2) emphasise interactivity-oriented approach conforming to the National Curriculum Framework for Foundational Stages 2022.

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Oxford University Press India (OUP), a department of the prestigious University of Oxford, has released its early-year range of blended solutions conforming to the National Curriculum Framework 2022 for Foundational Stages (NCF-FS) based on the recommendations of the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020.  A leader in the K-8 education segment in India, OUP is one of the first solution providers to launch NCF-FS aligned series of schoolbooks, workbooks and blended products.

The newly designed series of blended products are based on the recommendations of NCF-FS for a seamless developmental continuum for children between the age groups of 3-8 covering Early Childhood Care and Education of the first three years and classes 1 and 2, with teachers as torch bearer of this change. Transitioning to the new curricular and pedagogical structure, the products are available in print and digital (blended) formats to be deployed by the partner schools in the upcoming academic session 2023-24.

Releasing India’s first series of NCF-FS aligned solutions, Sumanta Datta, Managing Director, Oxford University Press India, said, “OUP has been instrumental in providing research and pedagogy based high-quality content to the learners. In the last eleven decades of our presence in India, OUP has been trusted for providing meaningful content, learning resources and for extending support to school teachers and parents to offer holistic learning. We welcome the National Curriculum Framework for the Foundational Stage (NCF-FS) and assure that our products would empower teachers and educators to implement the objectives of NEP2020 while incorporating 21st century skills of communication, critical thinking, creativity and collaboration through many of its features.”

About the newly released blended solutions:

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  1. Oxford Advantage Little Champ is a blended product, available both in print and digital formats.  It follows theme-based approach to help children achieve foundational literacy and numeracy and build general awareness about their surroundings.  For beginners, and levels 1 and 2, Little Champ uses age-appropriate text and illustrations for visual appeal, audio-visuals and storytelling to introduce letters in a fun way, number rhymes for numeral recognition, augment-reality enabled colouring sheets, visual arts and more. Following NCF’s five steps learning process Panchaadi, OUP’s Little Champ is mapped to the five domains of physical development, socio-emotional and ethical development, cognitive development, language and literacy development.
  2. The interactive training series My Learning Train introduces teachers to Kinolearn and Kinophonics activity-based methodologies developed in India by the author Sonia Relia.  Using easily accessible resources across different regions, this series brings treasure bogies of activities, resource books, workbooks, stories, rhymes, folk tools, rhythms and music, art, games, templates, extended story banks with bilingual stories, flashcards, boardgames, worksheets, finger puppets, posters and much more that help children to comprehend and develop skills across all learning domains and learning styles. It focuses on inherent skill development and learning-by-doing and uses activities to introduce concepts and reinforce learning.
  3. OUP also recently revised its bestselling Mathematics series New Enjoying Mathematics to cover all five levels of the Foundational Stage (3 years of pre-primary, along with grades 1 and 2). The series covers all maths-specific competencies listed in the NCF for the foundational stage.  The series author Aashalata Badami deploys ELPS method (E-experience with concrete objects, L-language, P-picture, S-symbol) for concept-building and incorporates an activity-oriented approach, which aims to remove maths phobia from the minds of young learners. The series emphasises on the cognitive, creative, and physical development of children, using a variety of tools to connect ideas with their immediate world and interests.

The National Curriculum Framework for Foundational Stage (NCF-FS), released in October 2022 marks a paradigm shift in our understanding of education.  It sets clear guidelines towards play and activity-based learning rooted in Indian ethos. NCF-FS recommends a seamless developmental continuum for children between the age groups of 3-8 covering early childhood care and education for the first three years and classes 1 and 2, with teachers as torchbearers of this change.

***

About Oxford University Press

Oxford University Press (OUP) is a department of the University of Oxford. It further affirms the University’s objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide. OUP is the world’s largest university press with the widest global presence. It publishes in many countries, in more than 40 languages, and in a variety of formats – print and digital. OUP products cover an extremely broad academic and educational spectrum, and it aims to make content available to users in a format that suits them best.

OUP celebrates 110 years of its presence in India. Branching out from publishing – OUP India has emerged as an integrated education services provider.  OUP products cover an extremely broad academic and educational spectrum; publishing for all audiences – from pre-school to secondary level schoolchildren; students to academics; general readers to researchers; individuals to institutions.

Learn more about OUP at www.india.oup.com

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Budget 2023: Education Ministry gets a highest-ever allocation of ₹1.12 lakh cr

This is also the highest-ever budget allocated to the ministry.

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Education Ministry’s Department of School Education and Literacy has been allocated ₹68,804.85 crores, while the Higher Education Department has been allocated ₹44,094.62 crores.

In the 2023-24 financial year, the central government plans to spend over ₹1.12 lakh crore in the education sector. An outlay of the Ministry of Education for the next financial year is ₹1,12,898.97 crore, which is a significant increase from revised estimates of the current financial year.

This is also the highest-ever budget allocated to the ministry.

Education Ministry’s Department of School Education and Literacy has been allocated ₹68,804.85 crores, while the Higher Education Department has been allocated ₹44,094.62 crores.

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As per revised estimates for the 2022-23 financial year shown in budget documents, the Higher Education budget for the current financial year stands at ₹40,828.35. The School Education Department got ₹59,052.78.

Education Budget 2023: Key Highlights

In the school education budget, the government has allocated ₹364.1 crore for Central Sector Schemes/Projects, which include National Award to Teachers, Pradhan Mantri Innovative Learning Programme (DHRUV), and the National Means cum Merit Scholarship Scheme.

Expenditure of autonomous bodies for 2023-24 is at ₹14,391.36 crores. This includes ₹8,363.98 crores for Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan (KVS); ₹5,486.50 crores for Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti and ₹518.50 allocated to the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT).

A large chunk of the school education budget has been allocated to Samagra Shiksha. The government has announced ₹37,453.47 crores for the country’s biggest school education scheme.

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The government plans to spend ₹11,600 crore under Pradhan Mantri Poshan Shakti Nirman (PM POSHAN). PM Poshan is a replacement for the mid-day meal scheme.

In the Higher Education budget, the center has allocated ₹1,554 crores for PM Uchchatar Shiksha Protsahan (PM-USP) Yojna and ₹400 crores for PM Research Fellowship.

For Digital India e-learning, the government has allocated ₹420 crores, just 5 crores more than revised estimates for 2022-23.

The total expenditure budget for Research and Innovation is ₹210.61 crore.

Statutory bodies University Grants Commission (UGC) and All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) have been allocated ₹5,360 crores and ₹420 crores, respectively.

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Support to Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) is at ₹9,661.50 crore and support to NITs and IIEST is at ₹4,620 crores.

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Cambridge International co-ed School, Jalandhar hosts The New India Education Summit – Edition 2.0

To set a path towards a New India, NIES is focused on discussion, deliberation, and action.

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The New India Education Summit edition 2.0 was held on 4th February 2023 at Cambridge International co-ed School, Jalandhar, Punjab. To set a path towards a New India, NIES is focused on discussion, deliberation, and action. Over 100 educators from Ludhiana, Amritsar, Mohali, Patiala, and Jalandhar gathered to discuss the theme – ‘Enabling New India’s Aspirations with the NCF’.

After the morning coffee and registrations, educators gathered in the Plenary Hall and were addressed by Harleen Mohanty, Principal, of Cambridge International Co-Ed School. This was followed by a welcome note from Ravi Santlani, CEO, ScooNews. Anand Krishnaswamy, Innovator, Strategist and Educationist delivered a brief introduction to begin the conference.

A digital note was delivered by Dr. Swati Popat Vats, President, the Early Childhood Association (ECA) & Association for Primary Education and Research (APER) on the Crux of NCF-ECCE. Following this, Mihir Gupta, Co-Founder, and CEO, of Teachmint, delivered a presentation on Integrated Curriculum. Leena Singh, Director, Content Solutions, Burlington English, spoke about the how, when, and why of The White Paper.

Ravi Santlani proceeded to introduce Maj Gen SS Nair AVSM (Retd), Director, Birla Education Trust, Pilani, Urvashi Warman, Principal, The Palace School, Jaipur, and Anand Krishnaswamy, Innovator, Strategist & Educationist, mentors for the focused discussion groups.

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After a quick tea break, the school leaders were divided into groups in three separate breakout rooms for discussion. The first group was mentored by Urvashi Warman on NCF-ECCE. The second breakout room was mentored by Anand Krishnaswamy on the topic NCF-School Education. The third breakout room was mentored by Maj Gen SS Nair AVSM (Retd) on NCF-Teacher Education.

Post-lunch, the leaders assembled back to Plenary Hall where Urvashi Warman led an open house quiz on NCF ECCE. Following this, each group shared the findings on their respective topics led by their mentors. Ravi Santlani and Harleen Mohanty delivered the thank you note. Educators gathered for a group photo after the conference and the evening concluded over tea and snacks.

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Seth Anandram Jaipuria Group of Schools Announces New Leadership

Dr. Neeta Bali has been appointed as the ‘Director – Schools’  of Seth Anandram Jaipuria Group of Schools as an outcome of an extensive search. 

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Dr. Neeta Bali has been appointed as the ‘Director – Schools’  of Seth Anandram Jaipuria Group of Schools as an outcome of an extensive search. Through her wide educational experience and professional development, Dr. Bali impressed the selection committee as the candidate to lead the group schools forward and the continuation of the roadmap for SAJS Group School’s progress.

Dr. Neeta Bali has over 39 years of experience as an educator. She started her career as the Head of English department at Mater Dei School in Delhi, where she worked for 18 years. Then she served as Vice-Principal at Apeejay School in NOIDA for 6 years. From 2008 to 2014, she was the Principal and Head of School at G D Goenka World School. Afterwards, she led Kasiga School in Dehradun and then headed Podar International School in Powai, Mumbai. She made a shift to SAJS Group from G.D Goenka World School in Gurgaon-Sohna Road, India as its Director-Principal.

Dr. Bali is a sought-after speaker and trainer, and has been invited to speak at numerous educational conferences. She has expertise in various curricula such as ICSE, CBSE, Cambridge, and IBO programs. She has also worked with British Council and authored English language books and a book of essays. Her specialties are English language teaching, teaching of psychology, career counseling, and psychological counseling.

Shishir Jaipuria, Chairperson, Seth Anandram Jaipuria Group of Educational Institutions shared “We are happy and excited to have Dr Neeta Bali on board as the Director – Schools. Dr Bali comes with a rich experience and her views on education are in line with the progressive vision of the Jaipuria Group. We are confident that under her leadership our schools will continue to deliver quality education by adopting innovative practices, new-age pedagogy, tech integration and personalisation in student learning. Dr Bali will also guide the expansion of the network of the group’s partner schools in tier 2 and tier 3 cities. We look forward to her productive association with the group.”

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Dr. Bali has accepted the Board’s offer of appointment and joined Seth Anandram Jaipuria Group of Schools on the 1st of February 2023.

About SAJS Group

Seth Anandram Jaipuria Group of Educational Institutions under the leadership of Shishir Jaipuria, is a leading conglomerate of 16 K-12 schools, 5 preschools, 2 management institutes and a premier teachers’ training academy in north and central India. The group has a legacy of 77 years in the field of education and presently has the strength of 20,000 students, 15,000 alumni, and 800 educators.

 

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How One Small School in Goa is Winning Top Awards Across India

As long as we get the learning outcomes, we don’t dictate what goes on in the classroom. Teaching is not prescribed, it’s discovered.

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Paradise School Goa, a SOLE Cambridge International School from Grades 1 to 12, is making a mark in the world of education by winning major national awards. Three of its learners have recently received prestigious awards from Cambridge Assessment International Education to acknowledge their outstanding performance in the June 2022 Cambridge examination series.

The ‘Outstanding Cambridge Learner Awards’ programme celebrates the success of learners taking Cambridge examinations in over 40 countries around the world. The awards ceremony took place in Hyderabad on 21st January. Ram Huyssen from Paradise School won Best in India for Enterprise IGCSE (10th). Anishka Tewari won High Achievement for her AS Level in Digital Media and Design (11th). Ula Huyssen has won High Achievement for Marine Science A Level(12th). Last year, Paradise School was recognised as one of the top sixteen ‘Exceptional Schools of India’ at the Scoonews Global Educators Festival. This was for demonstrating ‘high quality collaborative and progressive practices across the domains of learning, teaching and leadership’. Basically innovating on every level.

So how has a boutique school of less than 150 children founded in 2016 managed to win national accolades in such a short space of time? For a start, its unique pedagogy and choice of subjects. Paradise School has taken on board the most progressive and exciting subjects available from the Cambridge curriculum and combined them with SOLE, Dr Sugata Mitra’s method of Self-Organised Learning.

Enterprise, Environmental Management, Global Perspectives, Digital Media and Design, Computer Sciences, Psychology, Sociology, Marine Sciences to name but a few are offered at the IGCSE and AS and A Level (10th and 12th). These are internationally recognised qualifications which gain access to universities and colleges in India and all over the world including the USA, UK and Australia.

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Founder and Director Shilpa Mehta says, ‘we pride ourselves on keeping up-to-speed with Cambridge and their latest educational thinking. They are right on point when it comes to making curriculum more relevant and pertinent to this day and age and for our young learners’. Added to which, Paradise School has a predominantly young faculty who are given the freedom to teach using their own methods and vision.

‘As long as we get the learning outcomes, we don’t dictate what goes on in the classroom. Teaching is not prescribed, it’s discovered’, says Head of School Harmeett Saini. This is what keeps young learners engaged. A vibrant modern culture, a centralised and shared powerbase rather than top-heavy management and a willingness to push the boat out is what makes Paradise unique.

Meaningful collaboration is the engine of the school borne from the SOLE method of learning. ‘Our school might be small, but we are punching way above our weight. We never set out to win awards. We just wanted to break the mould of traditional education and empower our learners. Give them wings, not anchors’, says Shilpa. And judging by these results, this adventure in educational possibility seems to be paying off.

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UNESCO dedicates International Education Day to Afghanistan girls

UNESCO is dedicating this year to girls and women in Afghanistan who have been deprived of their right to education.

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International Education Day is celebrated on January 24th to raise awareness about the importance of education as a fundamental human right and a tool for personal, social, and economic development. It was first celebrated in 2018 by the United Nations to acknowledge that education is a key driver of sustainable development and peace and to encourage the sharing of good practices and policies in the field of education.

This year marks the fifth year of celebration, with the theme ‘to invest in people, prioritize education’.
The event will be celebrated on January 25 at the UNESCO headquarters in New York. “International Day of Education 2023 will be a global platform to sustain political mobilization, take forward national commitments and global initiatives, and step-up public engagement in favor of education as the path to peace, sustainable development, and individual and collective well-being,” the UN release mentioned.

UNESCO is dedicating this year to girls and women in Afghanistan who have been deprived of their right to education. It calls for the immediate lifting of the ban restricting their access to education.
According to UNESCO, as many as 244 million children and youth are out of school, and 771 million adults are illiterate worldwide.

On December 3, 2018, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly adopted a resolution co-authored by Nigeria and 58 other member states, demonstrating the “unwavering political will to support transformative actions for inclusive, equitable, and quality education for all.”

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ASER2022 – The ‘Asar (impact)’ of the Pandemic

The ASER report shows the ‘asar (impact)’ of the pandemic and years of neglect of early years education.

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The ASER a very comprehensive report on education outcomes in government schools is out and as usual, the press is lamenting the fact of how children of grade 4 cannot do division or how children of grade 2 cannot read!

Well, what most journalists, parents, and policymakers do not understand is that till the foundation is weak, the building will always have cracks and be structurally unsound!

And that is exactly what is the problem with education in our country, which hopefully will now be rectified with NEP 2020 and NCF 2022.

Of course, children in grade 4 cannot do division, because these children were not taught numeracy skills in their early years. Of course, they cannot read in grade 2 because they were not given foundational literacy in their early years.

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But let’s focus on the positives in the report, page 27 talks about the early years, it states the following-

  1.   The new education policy and its foundational stage emphasis– The impetus for integrating preschool and school education took another giant step forward with the release of the National Education Policy, or NEP, in 2020. This new policy did three things simultaneously: it acknowledged the vital importance of early childhood education, elevated it to the status of school education, and integrated it into the continuum of educational opportunities offered to children. It did this by envisioning age 3-8 as a single integrated ‘foundational’ stage in a child’s education, consisting of 3 years of pre-primary education and the first two years of primary school. This stage would offer a continuum of access, to be provided by expanding and strengthening the existing network of standalone AWCs, co-located AWCs, and pre-primary classes in schools; as well as a continuum of learning opportunities, to be achieved by developing a new curricular and pedagogical framework for the foundational stage.
  2.   Enrolment of 3- and 4-year-olds increased – Many observers expected that after remaining closed for such a long period, children and their families would find it difficult to return to school, resulting in higher dropout rates and lower enrolments in educational institutions. An important finding that emerges for all age groups, including the youngest learners, is that this is far from the case.
  3.   Shift from private to government, especially in early years-ASER 2022 enrolment data shows a shift from private to government institutions at all levels of schooling, unsurprising given the loss of livelihoods and financial distress experienced by households during the pandemic as well as the reported closure of many low-cost private schools. This pattern is visible among young children as well.
  4.   Stress on the appropriate age of entry to grade 1-Major national policy documents – the Right to Education Act (2009), the Early Childhood Care and Education policy (2013), and the National Education Policy (2020) all reiterate that children should enter Std I of primary school at age 6. However, on the ground, institutional guidelines for what 5-year-olds can do vary both by the state as well as by type of institution. For example, ICDS Anganwadis offer preschool education to children in the 3-6 age group, while many state governments allow children to enter Std I at age 5. These ambiguities have resulted in 5-year-old children being enrolled in many different forms and levels of educational provision

It is clear from the above that if the focus, as defined in the NEP 2020, is given on the early years, 3-6 years then the learning foundation will be strengthened, and to do that all states need to do the following-

  1. Uniform age of entry to grade 1 and nursery– Ensure that the age of entry to grade 1 is 6 and above and not 5. Sadly most of the states take children at age 5 in grade 1 and that robs them of a strong foundation in ECE and Foundational Literacy and Numeracy.
  2. Ensure that Anganwadis are linked with the schools, so that transition is smoother both in settling and curriculum, this is clearly envisioned, planned, and detailed in the NEP 2020 with Balvatika and the new 5+3+3+4 age breakup, where 3 years of preprimary and 2 years of primary are clubbed together. But only 23 states have accepted the NEP 2020!
  3. Train the teachers– Presently the Anganwadi teachers do not get training about ECE, they are involved in care, nutrition, health, election, and many other duties. The NEP 2020 has given a plan for teacher training too and it will soon be implemented. With trained teachers, children will learn in developmentally appropriate ways and then the ASER report would have more positives to celebrate.

ASER is always a wake-up call to our governments, SCERT, and policy makers, it’s time that we wake up and implement the right age, curriculum, and teacher training in the early years to become a country that invests in its littlest citizens.

The author is Dr. Swati Popat Vats, a child rights activist with over 33 years of experience in early years education and research. She serves as President of Early Childhood Association and Association for Primary Education and Research. She leads over 500 preschools of Podar Education Network that are completely in line with NCF 2022 and FLN goals.

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School fee paid during Covid lockdown to be returned rules Allahabad High Court

According to court orders, 15 percent of the fees must be calculated and adjusted in the next academic session.

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In a relief to parents, Allahabad High Court today ruled that ordered private schools to waive 15 percent of the fees collected during the Covid-19 period. The decision stands for all the schools in Uttar Pradesh for the academic session 2020-2021.

According to court orders, 15 percent of the fees must be calculated and adjusted in the next academic session. In the case of students who have dropped out or left school, the Court has ordered that the amount be calculated and returned to them. This exercise must be completed within two months.
Parents’ bodies have been demanding some relief from the Allahabad High Court in terms of slashing school fees in view of the Covid-19 pandemic situation. The High Court heard all the petitions on January 6, 2022. A bench of Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal and Justice JJ Munir has given this order on 16 January, Monday. The decision was made after considering that there was a lockdown during the session 2020-21, but the schools demanded full fees from the parents, even though the classes were only being conducted online.

Petitioners appealed that private schools did not provide any service except tuition fees during that session. Petitioners also reminded the court of the recent order passed by the Supreme Court in the case of Indian School, Jodhpur vs State of Rajasthan. The Supreme Court had said in its order that demanding fees without providing facilities is like commercialization and profiteering of education.
According to the court orders, the school will waive 15 percent of the total fees during the session 2020-21. The excess amount should be utilized for the next academic year or will be returned to them in case the student has dropped out.

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