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PM addresses the 108th Indian Science Congress via video conference

“Abundant availability of data and technology in 21st-century India will help science”

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The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi addressed the 108th Indian Science Congress (ISC) via video conferencing today. The focal theme of this year’s ISC is “Science and Technology for Sustainable Development with Women Empowerment” which will witness discussions on issues of sustainable development, women empowerment, and the role of science & technology in achieving this.

Addressing the gathering, the Prime Minister highlighted the role of India’s scientific strength in India’s story of development over the next 25 years. “When the spirit of national service gets infused in Science along with passion, results are unprecedented. I am sure, India’s scientific community will ensure a place for our country of which it was always deserving”, he said.

Pointing out that observation is the root of science, and it is by such observation that scientists follow patterns and arrive at required results, the Prime Minister mentioned the importance of gathering data and analyzing results. He highlighted the abundant availability of data and technology in 21st-century India and said that it has the potential to take Indian Science to new heights. He also informed me that the field of data analysis is moving forward at a meteoric pace which is of great help in converting information into insight and analysis into actionable knowledge. “Be it traditional knowledge or modern technology, each one plays a crucial role in scientific discovery”, the Prime Minister remarked. He also emphasized the need to strengthen the scientific processes by applying various techniques of research-led development. 

Speaking about the result of India’s tryst with the scientific approach, the Prime Minister said that India is being counted among the top countries of the world as India moved to 40th place in the Global Innovation Index in 2022 from 81st place in 2015. India is among the top three nations in the world in terms of the number of PhDs and startup ecosystems.

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Expressing happiness about the theme of the Science Congress this year which combines sustainable development with women empowerment, the Prime Minister emphasized the complementarity between the two areas. However, he stressed, “Our thinking is not just that we should empower women via science but also empowering science by the contribution of women.” 

Informing that India has been enshrined the opportunity to preside over G-20, the Prime Minister pointed out that women-led development is one of the high-priority subjects taken up by the chair. He informed that in the last 8 years, India has taken up extraordinary tasks ranging from governance to society to economy which is being discussed all over the world today. Highlighting the women who showcase their strength to the world, be it in a partnership in small industries and businesses or leadership in the start-up world, the Prime Minister gave the example of Mudra Yojna which has been instrumental in empowering women of India. He also pointed out the doubling of women’s participation in the field of extramural research and development. “The increasing participation of women is proof that women and science are both progressing in the nation”, Shri Modi said.

Talking about the scientists’ challenge of turning knowledge into actionable and helpful products the Prime Minister said, “Efforts of science can turn into great achievements only when they come out of the lab and reach the land, and their impact reaches from global to grassroots, when its ambit is from journal to jameen (land, everyday life) and when change is visible from research to real life.” He said when science’s achievements complete the distance between experiments to people’s experiences, it gives an important message and impresses the young generation who get convinced of the role of science. To help such youth, the Prime Minister emphasized the need for an institutional framework. He called upon the gathering to work on developing such an enabling institutional framework. He gave examples of Talent Hunt and Hackathons through which children with scientific temper could be discovered. The Prime Minister talked about India’s stride in the field of sports and attributed the success to the emerging robust institutional mechanism and guru-shishya parampara. The Prime Minister suggested that this tradition can be the mantra of success in the field of science.

Pointing out issues that will pave the way for the development of science in the nation, the Prime Minister remarked that fulfilling India’s requirements should be the root of all inspiration for the entire scientific community. “Science in India should make the country atmanirbhar”, the Prime Minister remarked as he noted that 17-18 percent of the human population resides in India and such scientific developments should benefit the entire population. He emphasized the need to work on subjects that are of importance to the entire humanity. To address the growing energy needs of the country, the Prime Minister informed that India is working on a National Hydrogen Mission and stressed the need to manufacture critical equipment like electrolyzers in India to make it a success.

The Prime Minister also emphasized the role of the scientific community in developing ways of dealing with emerging diseases and the need for encouraging research in developing new vaccines. He talked about integrated disease surveillance for the timely detection of diseases. For this, he stressed the need for coordinated efforts of all the ministries. Similarly, LiFE i.e Lifestyle for Environment movement may greatly be helped by the scientists.

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The Prime Minister noted that it is a matter of pride for every citizen that on India’s call, the United Nations has declared the year 2023 as the International Year of Millets. He pointed out that work can be done to improve India’s millets and their use while effective steps can be taken by the scientific community to reduce post-harvest losses with the help of biotechnology.

The Prime Minister underlined the role of science in waste management as municipal solid waste, electronic waste, bio-medical waste, and agricultural waste are expanding and the government is promoting a circular economy.

The Prime Minister acknowledged the role of low-cost satellite launch vehicles in the booming space sector of India and mentioned that the world will come forward to take our services. The Prime Minister highlighted the opportunities for private companies and startups by associating with R&D labs and academic institutions. He also pointed out quantum computing and how India is making its mark in the world as a quantum frontier. “India is moving fast in the direction of quantum computers, chemistry, communication, sensors, cryptography, and new materials”, the Prime Minister said as he urged young researchers and scientists to gain expertise in the quantum field and become leaders.

Shri Modi stressed the need to focus on futuristic ideas and areas where no work is happening anywhere. He asked for keeping AI, AR, and VR as priorities. He exhorted the scientific community to come up with innovations in semiconductor chips and asked them to think about keeping the semiconductor push future ready from now on. “If the country takes initiative in these areas we will be in a position to lead Industry 4.0”, he said.

Concluding the address, the Prime Minister expressed the belief that a clear roadmap for the future will be prepared on various constructive points during this session of the Indian Science Congress. “In Amrit Kaal, we have to make India the most advanced laboratory of modern science”, Shri Modi concluded.

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Background

The focal theme of this year’s ISC is “Science and Technology for Sustainable Development with Women Empowerment”. It will witness discussions on issues of sustainable development, women empowerment, and the role of science & technology in achieving this. The participants will discuss and deliberate on ways to increase the number of women in higher echelons of teaching, research, and industry, along with trying to find ways to provide women with equal access to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) education, research opportunities, and economic participation. A special program to showcase the contribution of women in science and technology will also be held, which will also witness lectures by renowned women scientists.

Several other programs will also be organized alongside ISC. Children’s Science Congress will also be organized to help stimulate scientific interest and temperament among children. Farmer’s Science Congress will provide a platform to improve the bio-economy and attract youth to agriculture. Tribal Science Congress will also be held, which will be a platform for the scientific display of indigenous ancient knowledge systems and practices, along with focusing on the empowerment of tribal women.

The first session of the Indian Science Congress was held in 1914. The 108th annual session of ISC will be held at Rashtrasant Tukadoji Maharaj Nagpur University, which is also celebrating its centenary this year.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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PARAKH becomes the First National Assignment Regulator

NCERT selects ETS for establishing national assessment regulator PARAKH

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About the newly released blended solutions:

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

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

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About Oxford University Press

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Education Budget 2023: Key Highlights

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Seth Anandram Jaipuria Group of Schools Announces New Leadership

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

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

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

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

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

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

About SAJS Group

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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UNESCO dedicates International Education Day to Afghanistan girls

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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