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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? This is the first 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…

“A boarding school on a mountain cliff by the sea…”
Omkar Mantri

School, a place which we all have a love-hate relationship with! There are days we love it and days we don’t. School can be annoying, boring but on some days it can be exciting and nice. But can you imagine that perfect school or a perfect school day? How much fun would it be to play board games or eat pizzas in school every day?

If I could design my perfect school, it would be a boarding school in the middle of the woods or what would be way more cool and mystical is if our school was perched on a mountain cliff by the sea. That way, we would have amazing views from our classroom windows.  Imagine this school with a huge library with all kinds of books and no one to tell you what you can or cannot read. Field trips would not involve long bus rides on Bangalore roads, but rather we can apparate to different interesting places. This incredible school will allow us to bring pets and our favourite toys. Sports activities could mean a variety of board games instead of getting sweaty on a basketball court.

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Obviously there would be no homework and exams will be discussions with our teachers where they will actually have to pay heed to our opinions (don’t think that will ever happen!).  Lunch breaks would be awesome with pizza delivery straight to our classrooms from our favourite pizzerias and food from all over the world. We wouldn’t be forced to eat watery sambar and rice. Our curriculum would not include mundane subjects that can be looked up on Google, but rather more interesting things like ancient scriptures and scrolls or ancient magic that proficient people will come teach.

But can such a school exist? Is it even possible to make schools that let children decide what they want to know, and how they want to learn?  Oh well, it sure was nice to imagine that perfect school. But till then let’s keep imagining and let our dreams be made of perfect schools and perfect schools days, after all dreams do come true!

(Omkar Mantri, 12, is a student of class VII, Vibgyor High.)

“My school will focus on two things: coding and sports”
Pranav Ramanathan

My dream school would be located in the hills where the climate would be very cold. This would help the students who are interested in sports to adapt to the cold weather which will help them play in all conditions and progress in their field of sport. The teachers must go through training at the end of which they must appear for an exam. Teachers who score 95% and above will be the chosen ones, who will teach at my school! If any student is lagging behind then the teachers will be held responsible and could be suspended. This will allow the teacher to work harder and make sure that they do their best to make sure that no student fails. There will be over 10 subjects from grade V – ITC, Math, English, Javascript, C and AI. The school will focus only on two things: coding and sports. There will be different kinds of sports such as American football, soccer, rugby, basketball, cricket, tennis, baseball, swimming, water polo, polo, athletics, kho-kho and kabaddi.

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The reason I am adding a lot of sports to the curriculum is because when you think of a topper you think of a fat boy drinking soda all day and getting good marks. So in my school it will be made compulsory that every student plays a sport and that all students must score above 90% and that’s the only way you can stay in this school.

I recommend that you send your child to my dream school from pre-KG so they are accustomed to the lifestyle of sport and study. As many of you will know, the mission of Olympics is to combine academics, body, will and mind… and to live in this world we would need these four attributes.

(Pranav Ramanathan studies in grade VII at Yellow Train, under the IGCSE syllabus. His passions are football and computers)

“I hope we will be treated in a way that we rightfully deserve”
Nicole Fernandes

If I had the opportunity to have my own dream school, wow, how wonderful childhood would be! Just imagine, I would go and come from school with glee. I would not have to take the burden of a heavy bag, as everything would be digitalised. The classrooms would have the comforts of home as they would be well-furnished and air-conditioned. I wish there were no exams at all, just a simple evaluation. At the end of the day, it is our knowledge that has to be tested, not our by-hearting skills and patience. I wish all teachers would be sweet and child-friendly, with proper teaching skills and would handle the class with etiquette… rather than treating us like a bunch of animals. I hope that soon people realise the value of education and ensure that we get the proper ambience for the same, and will be treated in a way that we rightfully deserve. My dream school is not just a dream but a possibility. And I hope it comes true one day; if not for my benefit then at least for the next generation.

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(Nicole Fernandes studies in class VII at St. Joseph’s School, Malad, Mumbai)

“Love and acceptance would radiate all around”
Diya Menon

In an ideal world where the possibilities are endless, there would be things like “dream schools.” But what would a dream school look and be like? I believe, the campus would be filled with students walking around together in harmony with genuine smiles on their faces. There would be teachers with their classroom doors open for students to come in, learn, inquire, bond, and step into a realm of endless opportunities. There would be clean facilities, a clean campus, clean bathrooms, clean cafeterias, clean people, and more for students to be safe and healthy. Positivity, love, acceptance, and happiness would be radiating from all around, causing the vicious waves of cruelty brought on by things like bullying, racism, and discrimination, to fail to survive. Students would learn every day and be inspired to learn more. They would learn to challenge and question many of society’s norms. They would learn not just the facts, but how to apply these facts in the real world. They would master crucial life skills. They would be able to dive deep into their area of passion, whether that be by getting the opportunity to share their emotions through music, convey their thoughts by writing in the school newsletter, or channel their excess energy into playing a sport. A dream school would be somewhere people can interact, motivate, teach, learn, share, make an impact, laugh, and discover themselves. A dream school would have a strong support system for students, with programs that help students that are not as socially or academically gifted as their peers. It would provide a strong foundation for every aspect of life, the humanities, STEM, and more. It would have days where you can relax and take a breather. It would have fun field trips, dances, socials, even games. A dream school should be a home away from home, somewhere people can feel safe, loved, and happy. It would teach you not how to become the smartest in a class, but how to become a good person, someone who can make a positive impact on society. There would be clubs of all sorts, a place where every single student belongs. A dream school would be a place where kids find their purpose, a place where the future leaders of the world are born.

(Diya Menon is a freshman – IX grader – at Monta Vista High School in Cupertino, CA. She is passionate about academics, music, and writing. She aspires to become a cardiothoracic surgeon, but also wants to pursue her love for the humanities, singing and writing. She has written a book, available on Amazon, called Unfolding Love in Oppression and hopes to continue to develop her writing and singing skills with any opportunity that comes her way.)

Header image courtesy – Tavishi Saxena

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

Read Part 2 Here

Education

Confronting the Crisis: Addressing Student Suicides in Kota and Beyond

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Addressing the student suicides in Kota and beyond
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In a deeply troubling trend that underscores a crisis in India’s educational system, recent statistics paint a harrowing picture of the mental health challenges faced by students across the country. With reported cases of suicide linked to academic pressure on the rise, the urgency to address this issue has never been more critical. In the early months of 2024 alone, there have been distressing reports from prestigious institutions like IIT Kanpur, IIT Delhi, IIT Roorkee, and IIT BHU, totaling 5 incidents of student suicides.

Kota, often dubbed as India’s coaching capital, has become synonymous with the immense pressure faced by students preparing for competitive exams. The town witnessed an all-time high of 26 student suicides last year, a stark indicator of the unbearable stress these young minds are subjected to. This year, six students in Kota have already succumbed to the pressure, including an 18-year-old JEE aspirant who deemed herself a “loser” for not being able to meet the expectations set by the highly competitive exam.

These incidents are not isolated to Kota or the IITs; they are symptomatic of a larger, systemic issue plaguing educational institutions across India. A 17-year-old intermediate student in Telangana’s Adilabad district, for example, took his own life after being denied entry to an exam for arriving late, a decision that pushed him towards a tragic end.

The narrative emerging from these incidents is clear: the educational system, coupled with societal expectations, is creating an environment where failure is not seen as a part of learning but as an insurmountable setback. This mindset is contributing to a dangerous escalation in the student suicide rate, particularly in coaching hubs like Kota, where the pressure to succeed in exams such as NEET, UPSC, and JEE is immense.

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It is high time that schools, universities, and parents across India recognize the gravity of this issue. The relentless pursuit of academic excellence at the cost of students’ mental health is an unsustainable and harmful practice. Educators and caregivers must foster an environment where failure is acknowledged as a step towards growth and where students are encouraged to explore their passions without the fear of judgment.

Moreover, the implementation of comprehensive mental health programs and the promotion of open conversations about failure and resilience can significantly mitigate the risks associated with academic pressure. It is crucial for educational institutions to partner with mental health professionals to provide students with the support they need to navigate the challenges of their academic journeys.

So what is eventually required of the education sector? the alarming rate of student suicides in India is a call to action for all stakeholders in the educational sector. The tragic losses experienced in places like Kota serve as a stark reminder of the need to reevaluate our approach to education and student well-being. By cultivating an environment that values individuality, encourages exploration, and provides robust support systems, we can work towards a future where the pursuit of knowledge is not marred by the fear of failure but is celebrated as a path to personal and intellectual growth.

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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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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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