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Part 4 – Students themselves tell us what they want in a school! Are we ready to listen, minus judgement?

Forget about what students ‘need’. Students themselves tell us what they want! Are we ready to listen, minus judgement? Here is the third part in our series on children’s views on their dream school.

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From the government to the management to educators to parents – everyone seems to have a say in the school system but for the main stakeholders: the children themselves. With World Children’s Day (November 20) and National Children's Day (November 14) this month, ScooNews threw open its pages, inviting this long-neglected and most important segment – children – to tell us exactly how they envision their dream school. Read on, educators, there might be nuggets of value for us all in here…

“Each class would have freshers, juniors and seniors”
Arjun Sahai

My thought for an ideal school would be one with only fun and excitement. The school would be circular in shape and blue in colour. There would be no particular dress to wear, and children would have the permission to leave whenever they wanted. There would be exciting sections like a petting zoo, a swimming pool and a park. There would have also been a fairy tale room with different fairy tale characters. To eat, children would have to go to the ‘fairy tale food restaurant’. In this restaurant, there would be foods that one reads and sees in fairy tales like rainbow ice-cream, insect pizza, wizard pie, dinosaur popsicle and dragon’s drink. This school would also have a reading room with different sorts of books and it would be painted in different colours. Each student could go to any room whenever they wanted to. Each student would have to pay Rs.10 before entering a room because the money would help to make more exciting rooms in the school. There would be different sports fields and courts in the school.

There would be only a few teachers in this school, some strict and some fun. The strict teachers would like discipline in the classes, and the fun teachers would let the children do whatever they liked. In each class, there would been three batches – freshers, juniors and seniors – so that children could make friends with children elder to them. I would love to go to a school like this. It would feel like a being on a holiday!

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(Eight-year-old Arjun Sahai studies in class III, at National Public School)

“What the child thinks should get jotted down on the smartboard”
Tavishi Saxena

Tweet-tweet, buzz-buzz; such melodious and peace providing sounds which help to concentrate with an increasing ease, is what I want as the environment of my school. The magnanimous, technophile and eco-friendly classroom with extra relaxing, cushioned sofas should be a classroom. This would keep the children content and lead them to study without being pressurized. For me, my dream school should have escalators and the attendance should be by a face detector. There should be glass walls and when swiped the scenic beauty should be changed. The smartboards should be linked in a way that what the child thinks is jotted down on the screen giving a great exposure to the thinking of every child. I would like to have different study methods like for humanities we can have a play and enact the people to get a better and fruitful understanding. The educators should teach with a great passion and encourage the children by bringing out talents that are not only in direction of science but a fusion of scientific and artistic mind. Thinking and passion for learning should be the basis of a child’s genius. Smart classes can be more fun to learn and movies related to the subject should also be projected. We can discuss a lecture on Facebook or create a google hangout to talk about a class assignment.

Play and laughter are said to simulate the imagination and to increase the neuro-transmitters for memory and alertness so, we should have a positive learning environment allowing us to play in between to shape our brain, revitalise our soul and open our imagination. Home assignments should not be based on absorbing large amounts of factual knowledge but it should have the three Cs: critical thinking, collaboration and creativity. Now we come to the most favourite part that every child adores and it’s none other than FOOD! The ambrosial and fresh smell of the yummy food should activate the olfactory senses of the children. The kids should be given a few intervals to eat their loved food and this would help them to study with a refreshing mind. All these things, according to me, should be added in the school but at the end a school also has some moral values and I do not want them to be removed. The children when being given so many comforts should not find it difficult to follow the rules and principles of the school.

(Tavishi Saxena, 13, studies in grade VIII, Jayshree Periwal International School, Mahapura, Jaipur. Her Instagram/ Facebook page Swirlingbrushes@tavishiart displays her passion for art)

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“Teachers will allow us to speak out our minds”
Chrisanne D’Souza

My dream school would be fun and interesting. There would be various types of activities for all kids. The lesson periods would contain fun learning and less writing. The playground will be extraordinary, with swings, slides, and even fountains! During recess, we would go to the cafeteria where different types of snacks would be served. The uniforms will be colourful and we will be allowed to wear party clothes once a week – or have costume days. The teachers should allow us to speak out our minds. School bags should contain very few books, which will be easy to carry. There should also be a classroom for pets, where kids can interact with animals.

(Chrisanne D’Souza is in class V, St. Anne’s High School, Malad, Mumbai)

“My dream school students will make the change others want to see…”
Arnav Bachheti

"School is a building which has four walls with tomorrow inside.” – Lon Watters

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The school of my dream would be like a haven for the students. Everyone would be treated equally. There would be no fee, and mid-day meals would be provided to them. My dream school would be an ordinary school but the difference would be in the students and their thinking. Every single activity would be there. There would be no force to study. If a child thinks his career is in sports rather than in academics he /she will be encouraged. I wish for a school that teaches its students to be a little mischievous and naughty yet well behaved and grounded. There would be picnics and excursions. National and international trips would be held. Annual Day and Sports Day will be held where many reputed persons would be called as chief guests. The school of my dream would have three playgrounds, one swimming pool, one roller rink, and much more.

Children would learn that if they are not willing to learn, no one can help them but if they are determined to learn no one can stop them. My dream school students will make the change others want to see in this world. They will prove themselves to the people who think that average people can't do anything. My school would have evening practice classes for sports and other co-curricular activities. On certain days teachers would not come to classes. Students themselves will be the teachers, educators and facilitators. Students will learn collaborative skills, group management skills and, above all, social and thinking skills. They would have the best technology, including laptops and educom. My dream school would definitely make me say in future – “School life is the best phase of life.”

(Arnav Bachheti, a student of Army Public School, Birpur, Dehradun, studies in class VIII.)

"Nobody must feel out of place or lonely…"
Lakshmi Premkumar

Every school student would definitely have an answer to this question. Each one of us have our own dream of what we would want our school to be like.

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I would want our teachers to interact with us and ask more questions to ignite our minds. This would make us interested in classes, unlike now when it’s just the teachers who talk and talk and all we can do is sit and nod our heads in agreement. According to me, an interesting class should be an interactive session between the teachers and students. We should be allowed to ask endless number of questions.

Each student has different interests. One student may like Math whereas another student may like history. I strongly feel we must just be taught the basics of all the subjects and then we should be given the option to choose the subjects we like.

Classes should not be confined to a room with four walls. There is so much we can learn from outside. Sitting inside a room and just reading books and writing notes are not enough. We can learn so much by just interacting with people or by observing nature and people. Math doesn’t necessarily mean I need to sit in a class and work all the sums. I can go to a basket ball ground and be asked to find the perimeter and area of the ground. Nowadays it is hands on were that makes us interested.

In my dream school there must be a place for everybody to fit in. Nobody must feel out of place or lonely. There should be a place for students who love sports, for students who aspire to take up music or students who like indoor activities.

Another thing that children seem to have is exams. I could say I am terrified and that I loathe exams. The fact that a piece of paper can decide your future sounds ridiculous to me. Children are compared based on how much they score. This makes them feel either too smart and inferior or too proud and egoistic. In my school there would be no comparison. Exams have to be written, because it is what our Education system wants, but no child shall be judged by their marks. The only criteria for judging would be their social skills and behavior, because at the end of the day when you go to the real world and interact with people you need to come off as well-mannered person.

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These are some of the things I would look for in my dream school so that at the end of the day we are all equal. No one is better than the other, and there is no comparison between intelligent and dumb or rich and poor.

(Lakshmi Premkumar, a student of C S Academy,Coimbatore studies in class X. Her ambition is to be a Journalist.)

This story was our Childrens' Day special feature in the November 2017 issue.

Header image courtesy – Pixabay

Read Part 3 Here

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Education

World NGO Day: Including Social Service and Philanthropy in Curriculum

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On World NGO Day, celebrated each 27th of February, we’re reminded of the pivotal role NGOs play in fostering social change and development. It’s an opportune moment to reflect on a critical gap in our education system—integrating social service into school curriculums. While Indian schools commendably cover moral science and discuss the multifaceted challenges of poverty, they often skirt around a crucial lesson: the importance of giving back to society, a principle that acknowledges our inherent privileges.

The privilege of accessing education and enjoying life’s luxuries is not a universal given; it’s a blessing. Recognizing this privilege entails acknowledging our responsibility to contribute positively to society, underscoring the necessity of philanthropy in our educational ethos. However, mere acknowledgment isn’t enough; action is imperative. This is where the collaboration with NGOs becomes invaluable.

Consider the transformative potential of inviting NGOs working in education into our schools. These organizations, such as Pratham, Akshaya Patra, and Teach For India, are not just entities; they are repositories of real-world experiences and agents of change. By partnering with these NGOs, schools can offer students more than theoretical knowledge; they can provide them with hands-on experiences in social service, embedding the value of giving back into the fabric of their education.

Imagine the impact of integrating assignments that require active participation in social causes—organizing donation drives, participating in animal welfare activities, or contributing to environmental conservation efforts. Such initiatives do more than inculcate a sense of responsibility; they foster empathy, cultivate a sense of community, and prepare students to be conscientious citizens.

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The benefits of integrating social service into school curriculums extend beyond moral and ethical development. They equip students with critical life skills—teamwork, leadership, problem-solving, and empathy—preparing them for the challenges of the real world. Moreover, these engagements offer tangible experiences of impact, teaching students that their actions can indeed make a difference. For example, organising donation drives and animal welfare camps where students can be the volunteers for a better, bigger cause is a great way to include social services into our curriculum.

The partnership between schools and NGOs can take various forms, from guest lectures and workshops to long-term projects and internships. These collaborations provide a platform for NGOs to raise awareness about their causes and for students to engage with these issues deeply and meaningfully.

By making social service an integral part of the curriculum, we can ensure that education transcends academic achievements to include the development of well-rounded individuals who are aware of their social responsibilities. It’s about creating a culture of giving back, fostering a generation that is not only educated but also empathetic and engaged with the world’s pressing challenges.

So, let’s commit to enriching our educational systems with the values of social service and philanthropy. Let’s embrace the opportunity to partner with NGOs and transform our students into not just scholars but also compassionate contributors to society. In doing so, we pay forward our blessings and take meaningful steps towards building a more equitable and caring world.

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Education

Education or Profit? Bombay High Court Calls for Accessible Learning for All

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The image is generated using AI

In a recent statement that hits home for many, the Bombay High Court pointed out a harsh truth: education, once considered sacred in our culture, has now become something many can hardly afford. The court stressed that it’s the government’s duty to make sure everyone in the country has access to good quality education, highlighting the importance of education in the growth and development of society.

Judges AS Chandurkar and Jitendra Jain shared their thoughts during a case involving a request to open a new college. They mentioned a concern that only letting groups with previous experience in education open new colleges could unfairly keep new players out of the game. This could lead to a few big names controlling the education sector, which isn’t fair to everyone else. Yet, they also acknowledged that experience is important to make sure these new institutions can actually provide good education. While acknowledging the importance of experience in managing educational institutions, the justices called for a more balanced approach. They suggested the establishment of clear, quantifiable parameters for evaluating applications for new colleges, thereby ensuring a fair and competitive educational landscape.

This judicial intervention is a stark reminder of the ongoing transformation of the education sector into an ‘education industry,’ where the pursuit of profit often overshadows the noble mission of disseminating knowledge.

With tuition fees skyrocketing and private coaching centers popping up everywhere, education is becoming more about money and less about learning and growth. It’s a wake-up call for those running educational institutions to remember the real reason they’re in this field – not to make a profit, but to educate and shape future generations.

This scenario demands a reevaluation of our priorities. Education should not be a luxury only a few can afford. It’s a fundamental right that paves the way for a better future for individuals and society as a whole. It’s time for educational institutions to reflect on their purpose and for the government to take action to ensure that quality education is accessible to everyone, regardless of their financial status. This entails not only regulating fees and ensuring transparency in the functioning of educational institutions but also investing in public education to enhance its quality and reach.

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“Although ‘education’ is a pious in our culture but with change in time it has taken a different colour and has become unaffordable. It is the State’s Constitutional responsibility to ensure quality education reaches all the citizens of this country to achieve the growth and development of humanity”, the court said. 

The Bombay High Court’s remarks are a crucial reminder for us all. It’s a call to action to prevent the commercialization of education from overshadowing its true value and to work towards a system where education is seen not as an industry, but as a vital service that nurtures humanity’s growth and development.

(With inputs from Livelaw.in)

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Inspiration

Hidden Figures: A Film Every Student Should Watch and Why

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In the vast tapestry of cinematic storytelling, few films carry the weight of transforming our understanding of history and the unsung heroes within it quite like “Hidden Figures.” This masterpiece not only unfolds the extraordinary tale of three African-American women who were pivotal to NASA’s success in the space race but also serves as a beacon of inspiration for students across the globe. As the world recently celebrated the International Day of Women and Girls in Science on 11th February, it is imperative to delve into why “Hidden Figures” is a must-watch for every student.

“Hidden Figures” brings to light the incredible journey of Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson, portrayed with compelling depth by Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monae, respectively. These brilliant minds overcame the dual hurdles of racial and gender bias to lay the groundwork for John Glenn’s historic orbit around Earth. Their story is not just a chapter of NASA’s triumphs but a testament to the indomitable spirit of those who dare to dream big and defy societal constraints.

For students, “Hidden Figures” is much more than a history lesson; it is an exploration of the values of perseverance, integrity, and teamwork. The film adeptly captures the essence of these values, showing that success is not the reserve of a privileged few but achievable by anyone with the talent and determination, regardless of their background. This is the story of three strong women who are independent, making a way of their own in a time where people do not even believe that NASA hires women and that too women of colour. When they ask for what they deserve, they are frowned upon and rejected. They are expected to know what their place is and what is the way to look like a white person. Still, these women thrive. Today, the situation has improved for better but our students should understand what it took for the trailblazers and women like these three to bring the world where it is today.

The narrative rhythm of “Hidden Figures” mirrors that of an underdog story, making it relatable and engaging for a younger audience. It offers a linear and steady progression, showcasing the personal and professional challenges these women faced, their initial setbacks, and their ultimate triumph. Furthermore, the film’s emphasis on education and intellectual prowess as tools for breaking barriers is a critical takeaway for students. It highlights the importance of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education and the role it plays in shaping the future. “Hidden Figures” demonstrates that knowledge and skill are powerful agents of change, encouraging students to pursue their interests in these fields with zeal.

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The film does not shy away from the harsh realities of the era it depicts but chooses to focus on the triumph of intellect and determination over discrimination and adversity. This balanced storytelling approach makes “Hidden Figures” an educational tool that transcends the classroom, imparting lessons of equality, respect, and the pursuit of excellence.

Hidden Figures is more than just a film; it is a catalyst for change, inspiring students to recognize and challenge the societal limitations placed upon them. It encourages a deeper appreciation for the contributions of women and minorities in science and technology, urging a more inclusive recognition of achievement in these fields. For these reasons and more, it is a film that every student should watch, serving as a reminder that history is made by those who dare to believe in the possibility of the impossible.

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Education

Empowering the Future: The Success of Beti Bachao Beti Padhao in Girls’ Education

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As we commemorate National Girl Child Day and International Day of Education on 24th January, we celebrate the profound impact of the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao campaign, an initiative that resonates deeply with ScooNews’ vision of nurturing potential and fostering empowerment. Launched by the Government of India in 2015, this campaign represents a significant stride towards dismantling the societal barriers that hinder the progress of girls and women in our nation.

Spanning 640 districts, the campaign’s influence is evident in the marked improvement in the Child Sex Ratio (CSR), which rose from 918 in 2014-15 to 934 in 2019-20 in the focus districts. This positive trend reflects a societal shift away from the discriminatory practices of sex-selective abortions and towards a future where every girl child is valued.

Central to the campaign’s success is its emphasis on education as a transformative force. Beti Bachao Beti Padhao has catalyzed an increase in the enrolment and retention of girls in schools, thanks to a suite of holistic interventions. These include providing scholarships, enhancing educational infrastructure, and introducing innovative learning methodologies. The results are encouraging: the gross enrolment ratio of girls at the secondary level escalated to 81.32 in 2018-19, while the dropout rate decreased to 14.53, showcasing the campaign’s tangible impact on girls’ education.

Moreover, the campaign has ignited a nationwide discourse on gender equality, challenging deep-rooted biases and advocating for a society that respects and upholds the rights and dignity of girls and women. Through various platforms, Beti Bachao Beti Padhao has sensitized communities, engaged stakeholders, and celebrated the achievements and potential of girls and women.

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However, the journey towards gender parity is not devoid of challenges. Deep-seated social norms and attitudes continue to undermine the status of girls and women, necessitating a persistent, multifaceted approach to drive change.

  • Amplifying resources and ensuring the integration of the campaign with other governmental initiatives will provide a robust financial foundation and a unified direction for these efforts.
  • Additionally, a robust monitoring and evaluation framework is crucial to accurately assess the campaign’s progress and impact. This will not only facilitate transparency and accountability but also provide valuable insights for future policy formulation and implementation.
  • Fostering collaboration among stakeholders is another critical aspect. By strengthening partnerships between government bodies, educational institutions, civil society organizations, and communities, the campaign can harness collective expertise and resources, thereby accelerating progress towards gender equality.
  • At the heart of sustainable change is the empowerment of girls and women. Creating newer platforms where their voices are heard, their rights are acknowledged, and their achievements are celebrated is vital. Engaging and educating families and communities to challenge and transform discriminatory norms will further reinforce this empowerment, paving the way for a society that values and invests in every girl.

As we reflect on the journey of Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, it’s evident that the campaign has made significant strides in improving the lives of girls and women in India. The achievements are commendable, yet the road ahead demands continued dedication, innovation, and collaboration. ScooNews proudly stands in solidarity with this transformative campaign, advocating for education and empowerment as the keystones for building a society where every girl, every woman, and every future leader can thrive. As we forge ahead, let’s reaffirm our commitment to nurturing potential, fostering equality, and creating a world where the dreams and aspirations of every girl are realized.

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Education

Can Hindi Become the Next Global Language?

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(Photo credit: Twitter/@IBSIndia1)

As we celebrate “World Hindi Day” today let us understand the vast scope of the Hindi language globally and the respect it deserves.

Hindi is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world, with about 600 million speakers, including native and second-language users. It is the official language of India, the second most populous country and the fifth largest economy in the world. It is also an official language in Fiji and a recognized minority language in South Africa and the United Arab Emirates. Moreover, Hindi is spoken or understood in many other countries, such as Nepal, Mauritius, Singapore, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Suriname, and the United States.

let’s talk about Hindi’s rich history– it’s like the language derived from the core of Hindustan, tracing back to our Sanskrit roots. Imagine it as the dynamic kid in the Indo-Aryan crew of the massive Indo-European language family. Hindi has got some serious flair. It’s not just sticking to its roots; it’s been a major part of the group of prestigious languages like Persian, Arabic, Turkish, Portuguese, English you name it. Yet Hindi has got its distinct style. Awadhi, Bhojpuri, Braj it’s like Hindi’s got a whole wardrobe of linguistic outfits, showcasing the cultural fiesta in India.

When it comes to writing, Hindi leads the Devanagari script. It’s not just a language thing; it’s a script trendsetter, setting the stage for Sanskrit, Marathi, Nepali, and many more. The world has seen many Hindi literary legends. Munshi Premchand whose stories we have all grown up reading. Harivansh Rai Bachchan the poetic genius. These legends aren’t just local stars; they’re global wordsmiths.

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Hindi has great potential to become a global language, as it is the language of a rising power and a vibrant culture. India is a fast-growing economy, with a large and young population, a strong democracy, and a strategic role in regional and international affairs. India is also a major source of culture, innovation, and talent, with a rich heritage of literature, art, music, cinema, and science. Hindi is the medium of expression for many of these domains, and also a bridge for communication among Indians of different linguistic backgrounds.

Therefore, Hindi deserves respect and recognition as a language of global importance. It is not a language that students or teachers should look down upon or neglect, but a language to be proud of and promoted. Hindi can offer many benefits and opportunities to students to become great speakers and learners, such as access to a vast and diverse body of knowledge, a deeper understanding of India and its culture, and a wider network of contacts and collaborations.

Hindi is not a threat or a competitor to other languages, but a partner and a friend. It can coexist and cooperate with other languages, such as English, which is also widely used in India and the world. It can enrich and enhance the linguistic and cultural diversity of the world, and contribute to global dialogue and harmony.

Hindi is a language of the past, the present, and the future. It is a language that connects us to our roots, our identity, and our aspirations. It is a language that can inspire us to learn, to create, and to share. It is a language that can make us global citizens. Hence first and foremost, we as Indians, should start giving Hindi respect through our curriculum in schools. 

 

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Education

Empowering Futures: Nurturing Human Rights Advocates in School

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In the dynamic landscape of the 21st century, where tweets can change destinies and TikToks spark revolutions, the knowledge of human rights is like having a superhero cape – powerful, transformative, and absolutely essential. We’re living in an era where this awareness is both a given and, paradoxically, under threat. As we navigate the rollercoaster of global politics and online trends, the need to arm our youngsters with the understanding of their rights becomes paramount.

India, a land of diverse cultures and stories, is also a party to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). It’s like being part of a global club that says, “Hey, every child deserves certain things, no matter where they are.” And what are these things? Well, let’s dive into the colourful world of children’s rights.

According to the latest report from our National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), we’re receiving more complaints than we’d like, especially in the kid’s department. Child labour, child marriage, sexual abuse, trafficking – it’s like a list of things that should never be associated with childhood. Sure, we’ve made strides in health, education, and social protection, but there’s still some unfinished homework.

Now, don’t get us wrong; we’re not trying to act like the spoilers of the story. Progress is progress, but if there’s a chance for more, why not aim for the stars? This is where our schools come into play.

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Imagine a classroom where kids not only learn about algebra and the periodic table but also about their right to life, survival, and development. A world where they’re aware that education is not just about acing exams but a key to unlocking their potential. In this utopian classroom, children are shielded from harm, their voices are heard, and they actively participate in decisions that shape their lives.

The right to life, survival, and development is the superhero cloak we mentioned earlier. It means every child has the right to live, grow, and become the incredible human they’re destined to be. A bit like saying, “Here’s your life, and here’s a manual on how to make it fantastic.”

Then there’s the right to education. It’s not just about memorizing the capital of every country but understanding that education is their ticket to shaping a future they dream of. And guess what? It should be free and compulsory because, let’s face it, no superhero pays a fee for saving the day.

Protection is another superhero power – the shield that guards against harm. Children have the right to be protected from all forms of abuse, violence, and exploitation. They should be treated with dignity and respect, a bit like how superheroes should be treated in the superhero HQ.

According to the latest report of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), India received 55,858 complaints of human rights violations in the financial year 2023-24, out of which 9,795 were related to children. The most common issues were child labour, child marriage, sexual abuse, trafficking, and juvenile justice.

Lastly, the right to participation is like giving our young minds a seat at the Avengers table. They have the right to express their thoughts, be heard, and even participate in decisions that affect them. After all, they’re the future architects of this world.

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So, why this deep dive into children’s rights? Because an educated child is an empowered child. As we teach them maths and science, let’s also teach them about justice, equality, and the power they hold as individuals. Let’s create an army of mini-advocates who not only understand their rights but are ready to stand up for the rights of others.

In the end, it’s not just about educating children; it’s about fostering a generation of changemakers. Because when you empower a child with knowledge, you’re not just shaping their future; you’re sculpting the future of an entire society. Let’s make our schools the breeding ground for not just scholars but for compassionate, informed citizens who understand the power of their voice in making the world a better place.

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Education

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Education

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

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Narayana Murthy, Co-Founder, Infosys

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Written by Deepti Sharma, Director, ThinkerPlace

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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