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Sampark Foundation takes the help of technology to teach children in rural India

Sampark foundation takes the help of technology to teach the children of remote India

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The Sampark foundation, which has been helping children to access quality education, is making use of audio technology to educate children in rural India.

The foundation introduced and distributed an interactive kit that included different learning aids to make the teaching method more interesting. An important device of the kit is called Sampark didi. Resembling to a portable radio transistor, it has an LCD panel, control buttons, a speaker set and a MicroSD card which is pre*loaded with lessons.

The aim is to teach the children with stories.

"For instance, Sampark Didi narrates the story of Bhagat Singh to children. At the end of the story, the teacher can ask the children mathematics questions with the help of an interactive timeline. Say, if Bhagat Singh is at position 6 and the police at position 4, then how many positions does the police need to advance to, to be able to catch him?"

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Vineet Nayar, former CEO of HCL, along with his wife Anupama, founded Sampark in 2004. "A lot of school children in rural areas do not have the basic knowledge in various subjects. And often, due to the lack of interactive learning, they are deprived of the education," said Nayar, speaking with HuffPost India.

Sampark didi will be teaching two subjects, Maths and English. To teach English, the lessons have been have been recorded Hinglish (Hindi+English) It has 30 stories and 15 rhymes to teach with 500 English words. For Maths, 100 pre-loaded activities are recorded to teach 23 basic concepts.

"Children understand more when something is presented to them in a story. Maths and English are pillars of education in the current age," Nayar said. "It is estimated that out of 144 Million children studying in 714,000 schools in India, over 50% in the 5th grade cannot read simple English words or recognize numbers beyond 99. We want to remove that barrier."

"We are tying up with state governments directly for the distribution the devices," he added. "And devices hardly need maintenance. We have designed the product in such a way that it is easily replaceable. We also monitor every kid based on the performance and modify our program accordingly till we reach satisfactory results."

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The Sampark foundation is helping close to 3 million children in about 50,000 schools and has the goal of reaching out to 10 million children by 2020.

Image Courtesy:  Sampark Foundation

Education

PeakMind Report: 47% of Delhi/NCR Students Battle Sleep Problems Amid Growing Mental Health Concerns

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Delhi, June 17, 2024: PeakMind, a leading mental wellness platform, has unveiled a comprehensive survey highlighting significant mental health challenges faced by students in the Delhi/NCR region. The survey, conducted among over 10,000 students nationwide, revealed that 28% of the respondents were from Delhi/NCR, providing valuable insights into the unique challenges faced by students in this area.

The survey identified several pressing mental health issues. Among the respondents, 36% reported excessive worrying or overthinking, 38% admitted to becoming easily annoyed and irritable, and 33% expressed experiencing little interest and pleasure in doing things. Additionally, 39% revealed feeling bad about themselves, and the most prevalent issue, affecting nearly half of the students, was sleep disturbances, with 47% indicating they were either unable to sleep or sleeping excessively.

Charu Lavania, Lead Psychologist at PeakMind, stated, “The mental health of students is a pressing concern, characterized by a myriad of challenges ranging from academic pressure to social and personal stressors. Anxiety, depression, and burnout are increasingly prevalent, impacting academic performance and overall well-being. The transition to adulthood coupled with societal expectations exacerbates these issues, often leading to feelings of isolation and inadequacy.”

Neeraj Kumar, Founder & CEO of PeakMind, commented on the findings, emphasizing the urgent need for targeted mental health interventions and support systems for students. He highlighted the alarming percentages of students experiencing anxiety, irritability, lack of interest, self-esteem issues, and sleep disturbances, calling for immediate action from educational institutions, parents, and mental health professionals. Kumar stated, “Implementing targeted interventions, providing access to counselling services, and raising awareness about mental health are crucial steps to effectively address and support the mental well-being of students.”

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Kumar further stressed the importance of community involvement, stating, “Creating a supportive environment for students requires collaboration between educators, parents, and mental health professionals. Our goal is to empower students with the tools they need to thrive, both academically and personally. PeakMind invites educational institutions, policymakers, and mental health advocates to join hands in addressing these critical issues and supporting the mental well-being of students.”

PeakMind, grounded in expert-led research, is India’s digital platform exclusively dedicated to making students happy and successful. Utilizing advanced AI and chatbot systems, the platform enhances accessibility to professional support while ensuring complete privacy and deep personalization for greater efficacy. From identifying at-risk students to guiding daily journeys and teaching essential psychological skills for success, it aims to addresses the entire spectrum of mental health and well-being needs.

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UGC Unveils Flexible Curriculum and Credit Framework for PG Programmes

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The University Grants Commission (UGC) has introduced a revamped curriculum and credit framework for postgraduate programmes, aligning with the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020. This new framework offers flexibility and mobility by allowing Indian universities to admit students twice a year and enabling students to opt out after the first year of a two-year programme. The framework is designed to cater to the evolving educational needs, providing diverse options such as one-year and two-year PG programmes, PG diplomas, and integrated five-year Bachelor’s/Master’s programmes.

UGC Chairman M Jagadesh Kumar emphasized that this initiative aims to provide students with more freedom and choice in their academic paths. “The framework, with no discipline-specific entry requirements, outlines the credits and academic structure for both one-year and two-year PG programmes. Flexibility and mobility are its key features,” Kumar stated.

The key aspects of the new PG curriculum framework include the ability to change disciplines, options for students to choose courses based on their interests, and flexible learning modes (offline, online, hybrid, and ODL). The framework also introduces the Academic Bank of Credits to facilitate mobility, credit transfer, and multiple entry and exit points in academic programmes.

Eligibility for PG programmes will be based on the completion of relevant undergraduate majors or minors, with admission criteria involving performance in UG courses or entrance examinations.

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This progressive move is expected to enhance student enrolment, reduce wait times, and align Indian higher education with global standards, fostering better international collaborations and student exchanges.

You can access the official circular here.

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Ministry of Education Takes Initiatives for Menstrual Hygiene of Students During Board Examinations

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The Department of School Education & Literacy (DoSEL), Ministry of Education, has introduced a series of proactive measures to support female students during the 10th and 12th Board Examinations. Recognizing the challenges posed by limited access to sanitary products and menstrual hygiene facilities, DoSEL has issued guidelines to ensure the health, dignity, and academic success of girls across all schools, including Central Board of Secondary Education, Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan, and Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti.

Key initiatives include providing free sanitary pads at all examination centres to ensure girls have access to essential hygiene products during exams. Additionally, female students will be permitted to take necessary restroom breaks to address menstrual needs, alleviating discomfort and promoting focus during exams.

To further support menstrual hygiene management, educational programs will be implemented to raise awareness about menstrual health and hygiene among students, teachers, and staff. This initiative aims to reduce stigma and foster a more understanding and supportive school environment.

By addressing menstrual hygiene concerns during exams, DoSEL emphasizes the importance of treating female students with dignity and respect, empowering them to confidently participate in examinations and achieve their academic potential.

 

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The NEET Debacle: Understanding the Issue and Looking Ahead

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The National Testing Agency (NTA) has recently found itself at the centre of a significant controversy concerning the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (Undergraduate) 2024. This examination, pivotal for aspiring medical students, has been marred by issues surrounding the awarding of grace marks to 1,563 candidates due to a loss of examination time. The Supreme Court has since intervened, and the situation has evolved rapidly. Here, we dissect the events that led to this debacle and explore the steps being taken to address it.

The Emergence of the Controversy

The NTA conducted the NEET UG 2024 across 571 cities, including 14 international locations, on May 5. This year’s results, announced earlier this month, revealed an unprecedented 67 candidates achieving a perfect score of 720/720. This exceptional performance raised eyebrows and led to scrutiny over the fairness of the examination process.

Concerns were specifically raised regarding the grace marks awarded to 1,563 candidates who experienced a loss of exam time. This decision led to petitions being filed with the Supreme Court, demanding the cancellation of the results and questioning the integrity of the examination process.

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The Committee’s Formation and Findings

In response to the uproar, the Ministry of Education and the NTA constituted a special four-member committee. This committee included a former UPSC chairman, a member from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), a representative from the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS), and another UPSC member. The committee’s task was to review the circumstances under which grace marks were awarded and to recommend a course of action.

Supreme Court’s Intervention

The Supreme Court, upon hearing the petitions, was informed by the NTA that the grace marks awarded to the 1,563 candidates would be cancelled. Instead, these candidates would be given the option to retake the examination on June 23. Those opting not to retake the exam would have their results based on the actual marks they scored without the grace marks.

The Decision to Retest

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The NTA’s decision, as presented to the Supreme Court, means that the scorecards issued on June 4 for the affected students will be withdrawn. These students will now receive their actual scores, sans compensatory marks. For those who choose to retake the exam, their new scores will replace the original ones. The results of the retest are expected to be announced before June 30, ensuring the counselling process scheduled to begin on July 6 remains unaffected.

Key Dates and Processes

  • Retest Date: June 23, 2024
  • Result Declaration: Before June 30, 2024
  • Counselling Begins: July 6, 2024

Details of the Controversy

The NEET UG 2024 saw around 39 lakh candidates register, with approximately 24 lakh of these for the Class 10 exams. The affected examination centres included locations in Chhattisgarh (Balod and Dantewada), Meghalaya, Surat, Haryana’s Bahadurgarh, and Chandigarh. The decision to award grace marks was based on a normalisation formula derived from a 2018 Supreme Court judgment related to a similar incident in the CLAT exam. This formula adjusted candidates’ scores based on time lost and their answering efficiency.

The controversy over the awarding of grace marks arose from concerns that it led to an inflated performance, questioning the examination’s fairness. The committee, in its meetings, proposed that the scorecards of the affected candidates be cancelled and a retest offered to ensure transparency and maintain the examination’s integrity.

Government and Court Responses

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Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan has come out in support of the NTA, asserting that there is no evidence of a paper leak and that allegations of corruption are unfounded. He described the NTA as a credible body and urged that the process be allowed to proceed without further disruptions.

The Supreme Court, for its part, has been keen to ensure that the retesting process is conducted smoothly and that the counselling and admissions processes are not delayed. It emphasised the importance of maintaining the timeline for counselling and admissions to avoid further complications for the candidates.

The Way Forward

The NEET UG 2024 controversy highlights the challenges in administering large-scale examinations and the importance of maintaining transparency and fairness. The NTA’s decision to retest the affected candidates is a significant step towards restoring trust in the examination process.

Candidates now have the option to either accept their original scores, minus the grace marks, or retake the examination. This approach aims to balance fairness with practicality, ensuring that students are given a fair chance while maintaining the integrity of the examination process.

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As the situation unfolds, the focus will remain on ensuring that the retest is conducted smoothly and that all stakeholders are kept informed. The lessons learned from this incident will hopefully lead to improved processes and greater transparency in future examinations.

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UGC Allows Indian Universities to Offer Admissions Twice a Year

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In a significant policy shift, the University Grants Commission (UGC) has approved biannual admissions for Indian universities and higher education institutions, starting from the next academic year. Admissions will now be available in January/February and July/August, providing more opportunities for students who miss the initial cycle due to various reasons.

UGC Chairman Professor Mamidala Jagadesh Kumar explained that this move will reduce wait times for enrollment, increase student motivation, and enhance employment opportunities by allowing industries to conduct campus recruitment twice a year.

Previously, biannual admissions were permitted for Open and Distance Learning (ODL) and Online modes, which saw nearly half a million additional students enrolling. Encouraged by this success, the UGC extended the policy to regular mode programmes. However, adopting biannual admissions is not mandatory, and institutions must amend their regulations to accommodate this system.

As per the information furnished by the HEls on the UGC DEB portal, in addition to a total of 19,73,056 students were enrolled in July 2022 and an additional 4,28,854 students joined in January 2023 in ODL and online programs.

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This change aligns Indian universities with global practices, potentially improving international collaborations and student exchanges. It is expected to increase the Gross Enrolment Ratio and contribute to making India a ‘Global Study Destination’ as envisioned in the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020.

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Chandigarh to Launch First-of-its-Kind Health Education Centre

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The Chandigarh Health Education Centre (CHEC) will be established at the Government Model High School (GMHS), Sector 22, by December 1. This initiative, a collaboration between the UT administration and the Chandigarh Rotary Club, aims to provide comprehensive health education to approximately 1.5 lakh government school students annually. The centre will focus on general health, oral health, nutrition, physical activity, substance abuse prevention, and social and emotional health.

Rotary Club will contribute ₹1 crore worth of exhibits, including high-tech holographic models. The project, initially proposed in 2017, is inspired by the McMillan Centre in the USA. It includes six teaching rooms and an auditorium, with a ₹50 lakh central government grant for this year and a potential ₹1.2 crore for next year.

UT Director of School Education, Harsuhinderpal Singh Brar, emphasised the centre’s role in creating a cycle of learning, where children educate their families, and teachers share knowledge with peers. The curriculum, developed by the education department in consultation with health services and Rotary Club, will ensure continuous learning.

The UT engineering department will oversee the centre’s construction at ₹71 lakh, with the finance department funding the salaries of 28 employees at ₹1.04 crore per year. No admission fees will be charged to students.

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As reported by Hindustan Times.

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CBSE Issues Advisory After Detecting Variations in Student Marks Across 500 Schools

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The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has issued an advisory to affiliated schools following the detection of significant discrepancies between theory and practical marks in various subjects among over 50 percent of students. This advisory, aimed at ensuring fairness and accuracy in assessments, is part of CBSE’s efforts to enhance the quality of education within its affiliated institutions.

The CBSE’s findings were based on data collected using advanced artificial intelligence (AI) tools. The board’s official notice revealed that these discrepancies were identified in approximately 500 affiliated schools, highlighting the need for more meticulous assessment during practical examinations.

“This variance highlights a need for meticulous assessment during practical examinations in schools. Consequently, the Board has issued an advisory to such schools to review their internal assessment procedures,” stated CBSE Secretary Himanshu Gupta, as reported by PTI.

CBSE’s goal is to establish a more robust and reliable system to ensure the authenticity of the evaluation process, thereby significantly contributing to the students’ educational experience. “This advisory serves as a reminder to prioritise fairness and accuracy in assessing practical examinations, thereby enhancing the quality of education imparted in CBSE-affiliated institutions,” Gupta added.

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In the latest examination results, at least 87.98% of students cleared the Class XII exams, with the pass percentage rising by 0.65% compared to the previous year. Girls outperformed boys by a margin of over 6.40%, with over 91% of girls passing the exam, while the pass rate for boys stood at 85.12%.

In Class X, a total of 22,38,827 candidates appeared for the exams, out of which 20,95,467 passed, resulting in a pass percentage of 93.60%.

Currently, the CBSE has opened the List of Candidate (LOC) registration window for schools to apply for the Compartment Exam 2024 on the Pariksha Sangam portal (parikshasangam.cbse.gov.in/ps/). Schools must submit the LOC information by June 15, 2024.

(With inputs from ANI)

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MoE Launched Tobacco-Free Educational Institutions Manual on World No Tobacco Day 2024

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On World No Tobacco Day (WNTD) 2024, the Department of School Education & Literacy (DoSEL), Ministry of Education, launched the Implementation Manual of Tobacco-Free Educational Institutions (ToFEI) in collaboration with the Socio Economic and Educational Development Society (SEEDS). The event, held in New Delhi, aligned with this year’s WNTD theme: “Protecting children from tobacco industry interference.”

The newly launched manual was designed to assist schools in adhering to the ToFEI guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The initiative aimed to create a healthier, tobacco-free environment for students by empowering stakeholders to adopt and enforce these guidelines, protecting students from the dangers of tobacco.

Shri Sanjay Kumar, Secretary of DoSEL, in his message prior to the event, urged all educational institutions to take steps to discourage tobacco use and safeguard children by making educational institutions tobacco-free zones.

During the unveiling, Shri Anandrao V. Patil, Additional Secretary, DoSEL, emphasized the importance of protecting children from tobacco as both a health imperative and a moral obligation. He highlighted the need to ensure that tobacco did not impact students negatively, stressing the harmful mortality rate due to tobacco consumption and encouraging stakeholders to actively implement the ToFEI manual.

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Dr. Amarpreet Duggal, Joint Secretary of DoSEL, welcomed participants and stressed the importance of collaborative efforts to combat tobacco use among students. She referenced the Global Youth Tobacco Survey (GYTS) 2019, which revealed that 8.5% of students aged 13 to 15 consumed tobacco.

All dignitaries present reiterated their commitment by taking an oath against tobacco use, a collective endeavour to create a healthier, tobacco-free future for the nation’s youth. Senior officials from the Ministry of Education, autonomous bodies, and States/UTs, attended the event.

The event concluded with a vote of thanks by Shri U.P. Singh, Director, DoSEL, who expressed gratitude to all dignitaries, partners, and participants for their support and contribution towards the successful launch of the Implementation Manual for ToFEI.

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Government of India Signs MoU for Digital Library Rashtriya e-Pustakalaya

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The Department of School Education, Ministry of Education, Government of India, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the National Book Trust (NBT) under the Department of Higher Education to establish an institutional framework for the Digital Library Platform, Rashtriya e-Pustakalaya. The event was attended by Shri K. Sanjay Murthy, Secretary, Department of Higher Education; Shri Sanjay Kumar, Secretary, Department of School Education & Literacy; Joint Secretary Smt. Archana Sharma Awasthi, and other senior officials.

In his address, Shri K. Sanjay Murthy highlighted the importance of non-academic books in shaping the future disciplines of students. He urged the National Book Trust to engage faculty members from academic institutes to contribute quality books to the platform.

Shri Sanjay Kumar emphasized the significance of fostering reading habits among children and youth. He mentioned that Rashtriya e-Pustakalaya will be accessible 24/7, regardless of geographical location, thus making books more accessible. He added that the digital library would solve the ‘last mile’ issue for many states and projected that over 10,000 books in more than 100 languages would be available in the next 2-3 years.

Smt. Awasthi stressed the importance of including non-academic titles in the digital library. She informed that over 1,000 books in 23 languages, including English, have already been added to Rashtriya e-Pustakalaya.

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Rashtriya e-Pustakalaya aims to instil a lifelong love of reading among Indian children and youth by offering over 1,000 non-academic books from more than 40 publishers in over 22 languages. The platform will cater to four age groups, as defined by NEP 2020: 3-8, 8-11, 11-14, and 14-18 years.

The Rashtriya e-Pustakalaya app will be available on both Android and iOS devices. It will feature books across various genres, including adventure, mystery, humour, literature, fiction, non-fiction, history, biographies, comics, science, and poetry. The initiative aims to foster cultural awareness, patriotism, and empathy among the youth.

This MoU marks a significant step towards bridging the digital divide and creating an inclusive atmosphere for all. The availability of quality non-academic reading materials is expected to propagate healthy reading habits among the youth.

A panel discussion on “Re-discovering Reading Habits in Bharatiya Youth” was also held, featuring experts from the Indian publishing world who shared their insights with an audience comprising Ministry of Education officials, school principals, publishers, scholars, and media members.

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OpenAI Launches ChatGPT Edu to Revolutionise University Education

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In a significant development for educational technology, OpenAI has introduced ChatGPT Edu, a specialised version of its popular AI, tailored for universities. Powered by the advanced GPT-4o model, ChatGPT Edu aims to transform academic and operational activities across campuses by integrating sophisticated AI capabilities.

Transforming Education with AI

ChatGPT Edu builds on the successful implementations at renowned institutions such as the University of Oxford, the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Texas at Austin, Arizona State University, and Columbia University. These universities have demonstrated how AI can significantly enhance educational outcomes and streamline operations.

Diverse Applications Across University Campuses

ChatGPT Edu’s versatility enables it to support a wide array of academic and administrative tasks:

  • Columbia University: Professor Nabila El-Bassel’s team uses a customised GPT to analyse large datasets quickly, aiding research on strategies to reduce overdose fatalities.
  • Wharton School: Professor Ethan Mollick’s students benefit from in-depth, reflective conversations with a GPT trained on course materials, enriching their learning experiences.
  • Arizona State University: Assistant Professor Christiane Reves has developed a Language Buddies GPT to facilitate German language learning tailored to students’ proficiency levels, thereby saving faculty time and enhancing student outcomes.

Enhancing Capabilities and Ensuring Security

ChatGPT Edu offers powerful features in text and vision reasoning, coding, and mathematics, supplemented by tools for data analysis, web browsing, and document summarisation. Supporting over 50 languages, it ensures improved communication and usability. Importantly, it maintains high standards of data privacy and security with administrative controls like group permissions, SSO, SCIM, and GPT management.

ChatGPT Edu is a pivotal step towards making AI more accessible and beneficial for educational institutions globally. Universities interested in this innovative AI solution are encouraged to contact OpenAI for more information on how to integrate ChatGPT Edu into their systems.

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(Source: Neuroscience News)

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