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Webinar: School & Infrastructure Experts Discuss The Future of Learning Spaces

Schools in India are getting ready to reopen, what will they look like post-COVID lockdown? Here’s our webinar exploring the Future of Learning Spaces – the new pedagogy, the govt. policies, and the changes in infrastructure. Read on.

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This webinar was conducted with 5000+ viewers on 9th September 2020 by ScooNews, in collaboration with Godrej Interio, that discussed the Future of Learning Spaces when the school will reopen.

(MODERATOR)

Dr Arunabh Singh, Director Nehru World School, Chairperson FICCI Arise, Western UP

(SPEAKERS)

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Mr Sameer Joshi, Head, Workspace Research & Ergonomics, Godrej Interio 

Ms Meena Murthy Kakkar, Design Head & Partner, Envisage

Dr Swati Popat Vats, President, Podar Education Network

Ms Geetika Bahuguna, COO (Services), Millennium Education Management Pvt. Ltd

Mr Himmat Singh Dhillon, Headmaster, The Lawrence School, Sanwar

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Excerpts

Dr Arunabh Singh: How do you see the network of Millenium schools when they would reopen? What kind of pedagogical shifts would it require?

Geetika Bahuguna: Let me start by telling you what we are currently doing. According to us, the change has to happen in 2 phases and we have covered the 1st phase of preparing the schools for this shift. Millenium schools have very strong learning philosophy, culture, curriculum and infrastructure which helps the learning approach. But since the lockdown, the use of infrastructure that helped in not only academic learning but also skill-based learning was out of the window, we created virtual portals. With the help of teachers, matter experts and mentors, we also updated accordingly. 

When NEP came out, we mapped out a 10-year-old 5E learning approach that is used in millennium schools with the NEP and realised we were already 80 % there. So what we have planned for reopening is that only 33 % of total students would come to school for 2 days a week. This will bring that socio-emotional bonding back between the teacher and children. Because even when children are cognitively learning at home and the virtual portals are working fine, the emotional connect is still left out. Reopening would bring that back and let us use the infrastructure along with the virtual learning modules, that are carefully drawn, to help in the kind of learning millennium schools believe in.

Arunabh Singh: In your opinion, what would you say the schools would require when they reopen?

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Sameer Joshi: We carried out a survey of 350 students and parents for teachers and schools to understand their mindset in terms of online learning and for when schools may reopen. What is interestingly surprising is that 33% of parents do not wish to send their wards to school anymore out of concern for their safety. And this is understandable when you look at the office/school spaces, they weren’t initially built to stop the spread of infection but to bring people together. So the main concern comes down to infrastructure. 

Another one is staggering timing of crowd amongst the campus. What school basically need to do is not only create safer spaces but also be visually communicative of the safety measures they are taking for students as well as teachers. 

There need to be several interventions regarding a variety of points like protocols, isolation (in case needed), safety procedure and whatnot. We have come up with a summary that gives out the possible interventions that are emerging as a critical need for the schools, both for online and on-campus studies.

Dr Arunabh Singh: How are you planning to regulate 4-5-year-olds when schools reopen?

Dr Swati Popat Vats: Reopening of schools and educational institutes is going to be the new normal because schools that we knew of do not exist any more. There will be a new kind of reality in schools. As for children, we should remember that since the last 6 months, they are no more in a habit of ‘sitting’ in one place. But as the schools reopen, they will be expected to ‘sit,’ not move around and be socially distanced. For this, we have realised that the ‘Bubble Format’ has been very useful, we are seeing that in schools abroad. It is not a literal bubble but a group of children with one teacher, they do not interact with another group or teacher. What will be challenging is that Indian schools have more number of students so not all of them will be able to attend at once. And for those bubbles to remain non-contagious, we will have to make sure to keep an eye on no-exchange of items amongst children, no close proximity contact, etc. It will be difficult and challenging, a lot of activities like playing with sand/water will not be possible in the beginning in order to keep safety a priority. 

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 What can be done to ensure this includes:

  1. Proper training of the staff so they do not become too obsessed over a lot of things and stress unnecessarily. 
  2. Parent-partnership is going to be very important.
  3. To open early schools at the last after older classes have reopened and it is been studied how things are going.
  4. The physical structure of the classroom to keep it safe and comfortable for the children to sit for a longer duration as they are not used to it anymore.

What might help parents and children, is virtually getting used to the transition before physically getting used to it. 

Dr Arunabh Singh: What are the expected changes for residential schools like The Lawrence School?

Himmat Singh Dhillon: In every crisis, there is a hidden opportunity! What is requite is infrastructure and space currently which we have. Having said that we have come up with SOPs during all this time we had. According to which there will be staggered induction of some grades like class 12, there are going to be decontamination zones, holding areas for quarantine and a set process of integration for students as well as teachers that will be a minimum of 14 days. We are very thankful to have received guidance from the secretary of education who is our chairperson and have had collaboration like, Indian Public School Conference to map out a do-able, well thought out SOP. As for the common areas, there will be no congregation allowed whether, during meals or breaks, masks and shields will be mandatory. Sanitization of not only hands but of common area, surfaces, items will be a priority, children and teachers will not come in face to face contact with the cleaning crew and all the staff members will have Aarogya Setu apps. We are going to set the classrooms and dormitories in a way that abides with the 6-feet distance rule and further bring similar changes to the safety of children and teachers.

Dr Arunabh Singh: As an architect, what do you think are the areas of schools that need more analysis after this pandemic?

Meena Murthy Kakkar: It is extremely important to understand the demographic population of a school, concerns will vary accordingly. A meticulous training of the staff is significant to equip them for the reopening of schools. Space layout and circulation is to be chalked out literally to avoid overcrowded routes for students and teachers. And of course, individual class/activity room layouts need to be looked at as well. Process of functioning will have a lot of administrative part in it apart from design.

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What usually gets looked over at is the building’s services and ventilation, we need the already present air to be cleaner apart from all the sanitization of spaces and materials. A critical look at technology and communication is required as well. 

More importantly, a health audit of the building should be done before putting in expenditure in all the redesigning, to check what already is available. And after all that we do not want the schools to look like hospitals, we need to address the fears of children and parents in order to encourage them to come back.

Dr Arunabh Singh: How are classrooms going to provide that feeling of collaboration under these social distancing times and norms?

Geetika Bahuguna: Collaboration is of two kinds physical and mental, we are leaning towards the mental collaboration where a child is able to share thoughts connected with the idea and exchange views because that is how learning happens. At the bottom line comes the training of children and teachers because once the students are in school, it is a whole different play so we are planning to start with the senior lot.

Dr Arunabh Singh: What is your advice for people who run early childhood schools?

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Dr Swati Popat Vats: Firstly please stop calling them pre-primary, that brings the focus on preparing them for primary and removes it from the Early Childhood category. 

Second training and mock drill before children come back is going to be extremely necessary.

Lastly, it is prime to have parents trusting you and feeling safe with leaving their children with you so parent-partnership is going to be of utmost importance.

Dr Arunabh Singh: How would you bring the parents to trust and feel safe in sending their children to residential schools?

Himmat Singh Dhillon: Faith can only be there when there is communication and trust. There has to be a relationship with the parents. To do so, we share as much as possible with them, students and all the stakeholders. We would also share the SOPs and would invite suggestions as to what more can be done for the children once they are back at the campus. 

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I would also like to say that there are two ways of looking at a residential school. One, it is isolated during this pandemic and two, there is not yet a single case on the campus. All we want to tell the parents is that we will leave no stone unturned in taking care of them.

Arunabh Singh: What is your advice to people who are starting to design a school?

Meena Murthy Kakkar

  1. Look at the indoor air quality, pressure intake and circulation. Do not restrict learning to authentic style classroom, make sure to incorporate open spaces into the building.
  2. Multiutalitarian spaces are needed, especially in these social distancing times. Flexibility is the new buzz word in school design.
  3. Incorporate technology into the system. The learning took a paradigm shift recently and some of the technology and online learning is here to stay along with the tech tools, do not avert from them, instead accept them.

Dr Arunabh Singh: What can we expect from companies like Godrej Interio, what can we expect to learn from White Paper? 

Sameer Joshi: Investment in the flexibility of infrastructure, design and other areas seems to be the way forward. What White Paper deals with is what was just discussed here – the generic problem; what changes do I make; how do I take care of safety, etc. It provides guidelines based on survey and research on a vast number of queries.

Earlier, we came out with another White Paper that dealt with the health and wellness of teachers, where a survey of 600 teachers was done. We need to add that extract of health and wellness to dimension as well.

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To contact Godrej Interio for school infrastructure, just go to the website and put in the contact info and the team will reach out to you.

Dr Arunabh Singh: What must be done if a child tests positive for COVID?

Dr Swati Popat Vats: So, if a child is positive, the entire bubble should be quarantined.  If more than one child is positive, the entire school should be closed and quarantined for at least 14 days. Surely, our government will come out with guidelines as well. Meanwhile, what schools must remember is to be transparent and not hide if a positive case is found. Reporting the case is important, do not worry about reputation, you will not lose anything for being straightforward but you might lose if you do not come out clean.

Dr Arunabh Singh: What about school in semi-urban settings?

Dr Swati Popat Vats: Local governments will have to be reached out to in case of all the budget-related constraints. Reach out to ECA & NAPER if you need trained staff or need parents to understand what to expect during these times, etc.

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Dr Arunabh Singh: Apart from all this, there is a 5-page SOP that has been launched and it shows several demographics and geographical variations that were kept in mind. Check it out.

Sameer Joshi: There is a lot of anxiety about it, but we need to give that positive message that it will be better now. Yes, a lot of interventions are required; people, process, workspace framework, all of it goes hand in hand. But with these difficulties, training, preparations and much more, we would go back to school for sure. As one of the principals said during the White Paper survey, “We build citizens of India, we instil discipline in them, we build morals and teach them a whole lot of things; it is just not about only textbooks and exams, there is no alternative to going back to schools.”

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

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

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

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

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

About the newly released blended solutions:

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

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

***

About Oxford University Press

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Seth Anandram Jaipuria Group of Schools Announces New Leadership

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

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

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

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

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

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

About SAJS Group

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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UNESCO dedicates International Education Day to Afghanistan girls

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Road safety to be included in UP curriculum

The state government is also organising Road Safety Month from January 5 to February 4.

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All departments related to education will make joint efforts to create awareness about road safety to save a precious life, state higher education minister Yogendra Upadhyay said while chairing a combined meeting of higher, secondary, basic, technical, and vocational education departments at Vidhan Bhavan, on Monday.

He directed that the topic of road safety should also be included in the Run for G-20 program to be organized on January 21.

He said that the higher education department will soon include road safety in the college curriculum, and chapters related to road safety at the secondary and primary level or in the book of moral education will be beneficial.

“Essay competition on road safety should be organized in all schools and colleges together on the same day and an oath for road safety should be administered in the assembly held in the schools/colleges,” the minister said. He said that efforts will be more effective if these programs are organized simultaneously in all institutes.

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Upadhyay said that road safety is a sensitive subject in the present context. It’s time to spread awareness among the masses. The state government is organizing Road Safety Month from January 5 to February 4, he said.

“To avoid loss of life and property in road accidents, it is necessary for citizens to follow traffic rules, and it is the responsibility of the education department to develop traffic rules among students,” he said.

In the meeting, technical education minister Ashish Patel said that to make the campaign more effective, students of technical colleges will be given traffic-related work as projects. In this, students will suggest ways to streamline the busiest traffic intersections of their city. He said that hoardings/posters related to road safety awareness should also be put up in all educational institutions.

In the meeting, the minister of state for secondary education (independent charge) Gulab Devi said that the department of secondary education will also ensure participation in making the road safety campaign a success. Awareness programs will be organized in schools and students will make people aware of traffic rules.

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No ‘sir’ or ‘madam’ in Kerala schools anymore?

The Kerala child rights panel considered a plea filed by a person seeking to end gender discrimination.

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In a move to promote gender-neutral terms in educational institutions, the Kerala State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (KSCPCR) has directed the schools in the state to address school teachers as ‘teacher’ instead of honorifics like ‘sir’ or ‘madam’. The directive came after the child rights panel considered a plea filed by a person seeking to end the discrimination while addressing teachers ‘sir’ and ‘madam’ as per their gender.

‘Teacher’ is a more gender-neutral term than honorifics like ‘sir’ or ‘madam’ to address them, the Kerala Child Rights panel directed.

A Bench, comprising panel chairperson K V Manoj Kumar and member C Vijayakumar, on Wednesday directed the General Education Department to give instructions to use the term ‘teacher’ in all schools in the State. The Commission opined that calling out “teacher” instead of sir or madam can help in maintaining equality among the children of all schools and will also increase their attachment to the teachers.

In 2021, a similar decision was taken by a local village panchayat in Kerala to ban usual salutations like ‘sir’ or ‘madam’ in its office premises with an aim to bridge the barrier between common people. The Mathur village panchayat in this north Kerala district became the first civic body in the country to ban the usage of salutations like this, setting a unique reformation model for other civic bodies.

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PM Modi launches masterclass for students

The Pariksha Pe Charcha 2023 event will be conducted on January 27.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi has launched a masterclass ahead of Pariksha Pe Charcha 2023 event. The masterclass for exam warriors introduced by the Prime Minister is a part of PPC 2023 scheduled to be held on January 27, 2023.

PM Modi took to his official Twitter handle to make the announcement. The tweet reads, “It is exam season, and as our #ExamWarriors are immersed in exam preparations, sharing an interesting repository of Mantras and activities that will help ease exam stress and also help celebrate exams.”

This masterclass will bring together all the important themes that the Prime Minister has touched upon in his interactions. Many questions that a young person may have about the topics of exams and life would be found here, along with the answers.

The newly launched class is hosted by Narendra Modi’s website where videos of the Prime Minister having question and answers is posted in it along with a text summary of the concepts and graphics that capture the message.

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The registration for PPC 2023 can be done till January 27, 2023. The event will also take place on January 27 at Talkatora Indoor stadium where the Prime Minister will share tips with students to overcome exam stress and answers their questions related to education and career.

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