HH Dalai Lama Inaugurates Second Edition of National Teachers Congress

Image Courtesy: Lobsang Tsering/Dalailama.com
HH the Dalai Lama adressing the audience at the 2nd National Teachers’ Congress at MAEER MIT World Peace University in Kothrud, Pune

Pune, January 10: Second edition of the National Teacher’s Congress was inaugurated at the MIT World Peace University in Kothrud, Pune, by Tibetan spiritual leader, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso. Addressing the inauguration, Dalai Lama hailed India’s unique potential to become a world leader capable of combining ancient wisdom with modern science.

He remarked he was the student of ancient Indian knowledge and finds many among the audience showing genuine interest in his explanations.

The National Teachers Congress, started in 2016, works with the objective to instigate and encourage teachers of Higher Education from across the nation. The Congress takes place for three days with extensive deliberations and dialogues. The aim of Congress is to awaken the spirit of teachers to look beyond the monetary values and develop the wider value impact on the society through this noble profession. The Congress is the common platform for every teacher to learn and know about national issues and to create awareness of it. Every year around 8, 000 teachers attend the deliberations.

An eighth-century Tibetan emperor once invited top masters from the Nalanda University. Tibet has preserved the Nalanda tradition for over 1,000 years even as Indians have forgotten it. Now is the time that India must revive its past through rigorous study.

– HH Dalai Lama

In view of the recent violence during 200th-anniversary celebrations of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon, His Holiness lamented that religion is the personal business and its ones own choice; whichever religion he or she follows is totally the personal matter. The society should not mobilise or create groups based on the religion. India is the country where different religion coexists together and has the great sense of tolerance and acceptance. It has become a wonderful place to live for people across faiths, especially those arriving from the Middle East in the form of Christianity or Islam.

His Holiness put his faith in India that he can foresee the possibilities of religious tolerance despite India being the young and complicated nation.

Source: Hindustan Times, The Indian Express

AICTE to shut 800 colleges all over India due to low admission figures and quality

As per TOI reports, the Chairman of The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), Anil Dattatraya Sahasrabuddhe, has decided to shut down 800 engineering colleges all over India due to failing to procure admissions and fill up seats which have been declining every year.

As it is, almost 150 colleges shut down voluntarily every-year due to stricter rule compliances of AICTE. The Chairman also pointed out that according to a rule of the council, colleges lacking required infrastructure and those reporting admissions to be less than 30% for five consecutive years, have to be shut down.

As per AICTE website, the council has approved progressive closures of more than 410 colleges all over India from the year 2014-2015 to the year 2017-2018. Progressive closures are the type of closures where the institute cannot admit students for first year in that particular academic but allows other existing students to continue. Maximum closures were approved in the year 2016-2017. Twenty of these institutions were in Karnataka. Usually because private colleges fail to survive, they either opt for progressive closures or become arts and science colleges or polytechnic colleges.

Facing the challenges in quality of engineering education and balance of the number of students and their employability, AICTE has introduced a plan for teacher’s training. AICTE also wants to ensure students are industry-ready and now from this academic year onwards, even second and third year students have to do internships compulsorily.

AICTE’s Chairman has advised colleges and institutes to renew and revise syllabus in order to improve their quality of education and thus avoid low admission numbers.

Sources: The Hindu, TOI

UP government launches online portal for Madrasas

Led by Yogi Adityanath, the UP government has started a website for the madrasas in the state .The government has also made it compulsory for all madrasas to register on their newly launched website .
The website was inaugurated by Minority minister Laxmi Narayan Chaudhry in Tilak Hall of Vidhan Bhavan . According to Chaudhary, the new portal will be helpful for improving the quality of madrasa education.
As per the new system , all the madrasas are required to submit the details of employees,teachers along with other details such as building, class details and photographs.
The government’s move was highly appreciated by UP state minister Mohsin Raza .Further , he believes that the ”move will bring transparency”.
Madrasa managers and Muslim clerics were against the creation of the portal and believed that they were being ”targeted” by the Yogi government .
However , Rahul Gupta ( Registrar of UP Madrasa Shiksha Parishad ) believes that there is nothing wrong with the online portal.

What made her Malala Yousafzai

Eight years ago, an eleven year old girl started writing blogs for BBC Urdu, describing her life in the Swat valley which happened to be occupied by the Taliban. This girl, Malala Yousafzai then grew up to be the youngest Nobel Prize Laureate, which she won for fighting for female education. Growing up with parents who ran schools in Swat Valley, Pakistan,

As a child she became an advocate for child’s rights and women’s rights and this put her in the radar of the Taliban which had been issuing notices for schools to be shut down, especially for girls. The Taliban issued a death threat against her because of her activism.  Along with being under the radar of the Taliban, Yousafzai also came to the notices of scores of NGOs globally, which helped her fight for her cause. With the help of the NGOs and the UN, Malala brought eh the plight of women;s and children’s education in Pakistan to light.

On October 9, 2012, A gunman shot Malala in the head. She survived and used the incident to push her cause further. She then went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 2013, making her the youngest Nobel Prize Laureate. In her speech at the United Nations, she said that she is just one of the people who were hurt by the terrorists and this incident gave her even more courage to fight for education.

On July 12, 2015, Malala Yousafzai turned 18 this is an important event of her life. Wanting to celebrate her birthday in a special way which was also Malala Day, she opened a school in Lebanon, for Syrian refugee girls. According to biography.com, she said during the inauguration, “Today on my first day as an adult, on behalf of the world’s children, I demand of leaders we must invest in books instead of bullets”.

Later, in October of the same year, a documentary on Malala’s life, named, “He Named me Malala” was released. The documentary was directed by Davis Guggenheim and it shows the life of Malala and her immediate family along with the work she does and her travel.

Two years later, Turning twenty, Malala spent her birthday in Mosul, Iraq, by way of her ‘Girl Power Trip’ , an initiative by Yousafzai where she travels around the world to educate people  and create awareness on the importance of education.

In Mosul, Malala spoke to girls whose education has come to a pause because of the activities of the ISIS. According to a report by Mic, Yousafzai met an Iraqi girl who who has not gone to school for three years because her father was captured by the ISIS. The girl, Nayir, told Malala, “No matter what, nothing will keep me from finishing my studies.” According to the report on the same website, Yousafzai said, “For me, the most important thing is talking to other people, learning from them and speaking out for what you believe in”.

In April 2017, Yousafzai was named the U.N. Messenger of Peace to promote girls education. Yousafzai has also been made into an honorary Canadian citizen.

News Source: Mic articles 

Image Source: Parade


Schools to hail Mamata’s bravado for the Singur’s struggle?

On August 31, the Supreme Court in a landmark judgement decided the fate of the Singur farmers, that had been hanging by a string for the past 10 years. Setting aside the land acquisition by the West Bengal Government in 2006, to allow Tata Motors to set up a factory for it’s Nano project, the apex court, directed the current government to return the land to it’s erstwhile owners within a period of 12 weeks. And buoyed by the SC’s verdict, the state government is advancing to include the topic in school syllabuses now.

This issue has been making headlines for the past few weeks now, with the West Bengal government calling it a “victory of the the people of Bengal”, while the leftists, labeling it to be the hegemonic triumph of Mamata Banerjee, who is said to have acquired power in Bengal riding upon the Singur controversy. Nonetheless, it is indeed a watershed moment for all agitations surrounding the adversities of land acquisition.

The Singur Movement, from 2006 to 2016 has now catapulted into a historic discourse about the success of a struggle of the farmers, which the state government is now pushing to launch as an event to be remembered for generations. And, for that the proposal to include it into school curriculum, is being made by this government.

As per reports, from the 2017-18 academic year, the syllabus of class IX and X will include the Singur struggle. History books would honor and eulogise the farmer struggle to acquire their land, and Mamata Banerjee’s 14-day dharna at Singur along with her fast that lasted some 26 days. Likening it to historic events like the Sepoy Mutiny and the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, the School Education Minister Partha Chatterjee said that a movement where the farmers together fought for a their own cause, despite all adversities, and eventually turned victorious at the end, is worth recognition in the history books, and that students should know all about this. Along with Singur, the Tebhaga movement and Krishak andolan (peasants movement) will be pitched for inclusion.

Earlier the Education Minister mentioned that as the Singur movement has historic relevance, he is consulting with intellectuals and educationists and pushing the proposal to include Singur movement in the Syllabus Committee. Once approved it will be taken forward.

A senior official of the education department, responded to this, saying “These are some of the major incidents that will surely get place in the syllabus but we are still to finalise the details of the movement. We had first round of talks and we need some more discussion before we can give it a final shape”.

With the Trinamool Congress Party gaining ground in the national landscape, this move although seemingly noble, might have a larger yet underlying discourse. The question that arises at this juncture, is that, would a similar mass struggle cropping up around the time of Mamata’s government, get the same recognition, as did the Singur movement, which was largely against the CPI(M) -led government of Buddhadeb Bhattacharya.

Is education India’s Achilles’ heel?

In light of a recently released report by the UNESCO, it has become imperative to re-examine India’s education system. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization report suggests that India might be 50 years delayed in achieving its global education goals, judging by its current trend. It also underlines the fact that the country’s education system needs an immediate overhaul if it is to meet its sustainable development goals’ deadline of 2030.

On the basis of current trends, UNESCO’s new Global Education Monitoring  (GEM) report states that the goals of universal primary education in South Asia will be realized by 2051, lower secondary by 2062, and higher secondary by 2087. The report also said that India is likely to achieve universal primary education by 2050, universal lower secondary education by 2060, and universal higher secondary education by 2085.

Looking at these figures, it might have occurred to some of the readers of this article, that we may not be alive to see India realize its education goals.

Since 2008-2009, enrollment has hit a new low by almost half, between class 11 and 12 and college, said a report by the Delhi-based Institute for Policy Research Studies (PRS). In class 10, the enrollment is currently at 77 per cent, while that of class 11 stands at only 52 per cent. Last month, the UNESCO reported a staggering 47 million youth belonging to secondary and higher secondary school-going age, as having dropping out of school by class 10.

Strangely enough, despite this, the report also noted a general rise in university enrollment since 2008. A report by IndiaSpend confirmed the enrollment of boys in higher education at 13 per cent, while that of girls overall was at 21 per cent, as of July 2016.

While a general rise in gross enrollment ratio (GER) at most levels of education in India confirms increased accessibility to the Indian education system, six million children aged 6-13 are gauged as still out of the school system, according to a Ministry of Human Resource Development survey in 2014.

Statistics in the report also disclose that only six per cent of adults in the poorest countries and just five in India have ever participated in literacy programmes, after passing the formal schooling system.

The report urges the governments of various countries to start seriously addressing inequalities in education by recording figures though direct collection from families.

“The new global development agenda calls for education ministers and other education actors to work in collaboration with other sectors,” said the report. Variegated benefits that could emerge if key players in education work in alliance with other sectors have been recorded in the GEM report. These partnerships could help deliver health intervention through schools, contribute to increase in crop yields by 12 per cent and use education to control population growth.

As reported by Firstpost, Uttar Pradesh leads the school dropout rates with 1.6 million children who are out of school, followed closely by Bihar and Rajasthan. This problem affects employment too. Nearly 18 per cent of 15-24-year-olds in the country are jobless, which is 5 per cent above the international average, as evaluated by the global youth unemployment rate of 2013. A November 2015 report by IndiaSpend said that the recently launched skills-based programmes need the fulfillment of minimum eligibility to apply for training. 5 of the 29 courses included in the Prime Minister’s Skill Development Scheme, also known as thePradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana require the class 12 examinations to be cleared, and in addition, four educational levels above class 12.

During a recent visit to India, Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam named education as India’s greatest hurdle right now. “Schools are the biggest crisis in India today, and have been for a long time,” said Tharman. He corroborated his statement with facts: Schoolteachers are in short supply by a staggering 700,000 across the country; 43 per cent of children do not make it to upper primary school; 53 per cent of schools provide toilets to girls; only 74 per cent of India’s population have access to potable water.

These dismal statistics serve to highlight (some of) the causes behind India’s impeded education sector. Only when the basic issues are dealt with will India be able to advance in its education endeavors. It should not take a foreign minister to point out our weaknesses. Introspection is the need of the hour.

Sources: TOIHuffington Post

UNESCO report : India behind on 2030 Sustainable Development Goals

According to a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) report – India will be fifty years late in meeting its global educational pledges.
Further, the country requires basic changes in the learning system if it is to reach its 2030 sustainable development goals as reported by The Indian Express.

UNESCO has a new Global Education Monitoring (GEM) report which says that at the current trend – universal primary education in Southern Asia is set to be achieved in 2051, lower secondary in 2062, and upper secondary in 2087. In India’s case, the three levels will be achieved in 2050, 2060 and 2085. It meant that the entire region would be more than half a century late for the 2030 deadline.

To achieve the goals laid out in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030 there is a time bound need for more headway in education and a makeover in the entire system while also the need to tackle problems faced by mankind and the Earth added the report.

They also spoke about another report titled Education for People and Planet. It mentioned the need for better educational systems detailing the dangers eminent to the environment. It said that India was the exception in a world which half the countries do not detail the environment in their syllabus. With 300 million school students receiving environmental education in India – the statistics in the report mentioned that only five percent of adult persons in India have attended literacy programmes once they graduated the formal schooling system.

The report appealed to education ministers and education actors to work in partnership with other sectors, the benefits of which may help with the increase crop yields by 12 per cent and family planning awareness among others.

Sources- TOI, Indian Express