AP inks MoU with TISS to increase employability of students

AP inks MoU with TISS to increase employability of students

HYDERABAD: The Andhra Pradesh government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS).

The MoU envisages implementation of programme activities of ‘Andhra Pradesh University Students Employability Skill Development Programme,’ a flagship initiative of the state government.

The MoU was signed in Visakhapatnam yesterday on the occasion of Teacher’s Day, in presence of chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu and minister for HRD Ganta Srinivas Rao, an official release said.

“We aim to transform Andhra Pradesh state into a knowledge hub by providing quality education and giving opportunities for students to develop employability skills among the Universities and Colleges in the state,” Naidu said.

The MoU involves strategic partnerships with civil society organisations, public sector bodies, private sector institutions and social entrepreneurship organisations, etc., to complement the efforts of the AP State Knowledge Mission, and accelerate its progress for achievement of the mission objectives, it added.

TISS has been designated for the implementation of National University Student Skill Development Programme (NUSSD), which aims to enhance employability skills of university students. Currently, it is being implemented across 11 universities in India.

A comprehensive skill development model has been developed that will have elements of english communication and soft skill, digital/computer skills, analytical skills, financial literacy, legal literacy, entrepreneurship, leadership development.

The model will also add on a specialisation in a specific domain to make the graduating youth employable, it said.

The programme will be carried out through Jawahar Knowledge Centres (JKC) across the state and will also include some of the best courses and practises from National University Students Skill Development Programme.

Principals to get more power

NEW DELHI: Delhi Government is set to give more powers and freedom to principals of the schools it runs. School heads will no longer have to move files to the department for minor work in their schools. Steps will also be taken to ensure basic amenities are made available fast.

The education minister, Manish Sisodia was speaking at the State Teachers’ Award function at Thygraj Stadium. Seventy-five of Delhi’s teachers were awarded as the Government School Teachers’ Association protested outside.

Although there’s constant effort to provide the basic facilities in government schools, there are delays due to complicated administrative processes, said Sisodia. “Whenever I go to any school and ask why it doesn’t have desks, why the lights are broken, toilets are in a bad state and why there are no fans, the principal invariably replies that the file’s been sent to the department. When I ask department officials, I’m told the file’s with finance. Files related to even very minor matters travel from department to department, from desk to desk, for months and kids have to suffer unnecessarily.” He said that the government is in favour of making principals, school committees and teachers “self-reliant” and will permit them to take decisions on small matters without having to wait for administrative approval.

Sisodia explained that he discusses matters related to school with eight-ten principals every week and that one of them had pointed out to him that the school receives a fund of Rs. 5,000. What it’ll be spent on is pre-decided and the school has to seek the permission of the Deputy Director before spending any part of it.

“We can tell from this that in the current set up, not only are principals and school administrations helpless, but the DDE’s time is wasted too,” he observed. “I believe,” he continued, “That if it is already decided what the fund is to be spent on, the principals should be allowed to spend it. We trust our principals completely and will give them full freedom. If anyone misuses, we’ll take strict action.”

He spoke of complaints related to security and sanitation, both services have been outsourced to private agencies. He said that if the principals give a negative report, the government will stop the payment for the relevant agencies and also fine them.

The chief minister spoke of the increased budget allocated to education. “It is said that we can revolutionize education by allocating 6-7% of our total budget. We have given education 25% of ours but just increasing allocation will not help. The real revolution in education can be brought only by you (teachers),” he said.

Meanwhile, scores of teachers were stationed outside the stadium, participating in a protest organised by the Government School Teachers’ Association. The GSTA has been protesting for days now demanding, among other things, full implementation of the Sixth Pay Commission recommendations. They point out in a statement that many goverment schools lack even the basic facilities. “Despite the great shortage of teachers in the government schools, the government seems to be spending the increased budget allocation on model schools,” says their statement. They also dismiss the government’s getting the President to teach a class on teachers’ day as a “show.”

Hrushikesh Senapaty to be NCERT’s new director

Hrushikesh Senapaty to be NCERT's new director

NEW DELHI: More than a year after Pravin Sinclair was unceremoniously ousted as NCERT director, HRD ministry has finalized the name of Hrushikesh Senapaty as her likely replacement.

Senapaty is an old NCERT hand and currently principal of its Regional Institute of Education, Bhopal.

In a meeting of the search-cum-selection committee on August 24 headed by Md. Akhtar Siddiqui names of Senapaty and Anil Shukla were shortlisted. Shukla is professor in the department of education in Lucknow University. HRD sources said Senapaty has been preferred over Shukla because of his wide experience within the NCERT system. “He has never served in Delhi and is expected to bring a fresh perspective to the NCERT that is known for groupism and political affiliations of faculty members,” a ministry source said.

The search committee consisted of G C Tripathi, vice-chancellor, Banaras Hindu University, I K Bhat, director, NIT, Jaipur, Shyama Chona, former principal, DPS, RK Puram and M K Sridhar, professor, Canara Bank School of Management Studies (CBSMS) and member of Karnataka Knowledge Commission.

The immediate task, sources said, before Senapaty will be to accelerate the process of consultation on the proposed New Education Policy. NCERT has been tasked to take forward few crucial components of the NEP. He will also have to take a stock of the review of text books as well as formulate the new curriculum framework. The last curriculum framework was devised in 2005 for a decade.

An alumnus of BJB College, Bhubaneshwar and Ravenshaw College, Cuttack, Senapaty did his doctorate from Devi Ahilya University, Indore and has been a Unesco fellow who worked on information and communication technology in education (ICTE).

Odisha to formulate own education policy

Odisha to formulate own education policy

BHUBANESWAR: The Naveen Patnaik-led BDJ government in the state is going all out to be one step ahead of the NDA government at the Centre by working on formulating its own education policy even as consultations are on in Delhi for a new policy at the national level.

A nine-member state-level committee under the chairmanship of Fakir Mohan University (FMU) vice-chancellor S P Adhikary met here for the first time to evolve the draft policy on Monday.

Adhikary said the major thrust of the state policy would be to create enabling provisions to ensure quality of education in all spheres including medical and technical education and from schools to post-doctoral studies.

“Today’s discussion was a preliminary one. A workshop will be held shortly for wider consultation with all stakeholders including academics, education entrepreneurs and students,” he said.

Directors of higher education and technical education besides academics and administrators from both government and private sectors are members of the committee.

Adhikary said he hoped the committee would give final shape to the draft policy within the next three months. He said the state policy would be within the broader perspective of the proposed national policy. However, specific needs of the state, keeping in mind the socio-economic and cultural situation of Odisha would be given importance in it, he said.

Just like the national policy, the state policy too would lay greater thrust on job creation, research and financial self-reliance of campuses, he said.

Sources said the meeting discussed 20 major points. It emphasized on resource generation for the colleges and universities, promotion of research and compulsory periodic training of teachers to ensure quality faculty members.

The panel members also discussed how there could be policy intervention to create more scope for campuses to explore getting funds from outside, perhaps from corporate bodies through tie-ups and funding agencies for specific research instead of depending solely on the government.

According to the preliminary discussion, the draft policy would suggest broadly uniform syllabi for various study programmes offered by varied institutions. Scholarships for students would be wider and more institutionalized. Greater emphasis would be laid on the job prospects of graduating students, the sources said.

The state draft policy is likely to be ready before the draft national policy, which is expected by the year-end, government sources said.

Since the central education policy, likely to be implemented next year, is anticipated to bear the larger saffron family footprint, it would be interesting to see if the Naveen government’s policy tries to de-saffronize it to bolster its secular credentials, said an academic who did not want to be named.

A member of the committee, however, said he didn’t think there was any political motive from the BJD in bringing in the new policy. “The central policy may not fit into the state’s scheme of things in its entirety. The state policy would be in sync with the Centre’s with some variations to suit state needs,” he said.

The committee will give final shape to the draft policy within the next three months. The state policy will be within the broader perspective of the proposed national policy. However, specific needs of the state will be given importance.

SC asks NAAC to grade deemed universities

SC asks NAAC to grade deemed universities

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) to issue grade certificates to 41 deemed universities which have come under its scrutiny for allegedly failing to fulfill various criteria required for getting recognition.

A bench of Justices Dipak Misra and Prafulla C Pant directed the Council not to insist on 2010 regulation framed by UGC while deciding the grade of the universities. It asked all the education institutions to file self appraisal report within 10 days before the Council which would grade them within two months thereafter.

The bench made it clear that any decision taken by the Council would be subject to the final outcome of the proceedings pending before it.

The Centre is bringing new system to grade universities after holding consultation with various stake-holders including University Grant Commission (UGC), All India Council for Technical Education(AICTE) and NAAC.

The court, which has been examining the status of deemed universities since 2006, said the universities should not suffer because of accreditation and asked the Council to grade them as per its rules.

IIT study on merging arts, heritage with science

KOLKATA: In a bid to merge science with heritage, IIT Kharagpur has started a new project in which various themes of fine arts, meditation and social work had been merged with science to find out that the analytical mind and intuitive mind are complimentary to each other. The focus is to develop interface between science and heritage and how the economic regeneration can take place through 16 themes.

MHRD is sponsoring the project as it is an inter-institutional and people centric approach, said Prof Joy Sen of IIT Kharagpur’s architecture department, a key official of this project who aims to explore the possibility of how to improve the right brain for a person whose left brain is more developed. “As left brain development means better aptitude for science, so with right brain development he can lead a more balanced life.” Moreover, the areas of researches in this project include meditation and how the brain is affected with it and how it helps in the healing.

Prof Sen said that the left brain development means one is more analytical and logical while those with right brain developed are more creative and has holistic thinking and can visualise better. So, the study aims to bring the brain development more towards the middle path, so that one can go for meditation. He added that all psycho-somatic diseases along with life style diseases are interlinked with brain development and all these are parts of the research.

“IIT Kharagpur’s director Partha P Chakraborti is heading this project as it is a scientific approach to network and designing of heritage interfaces aiming to recognize our heritage through science,” Prof Sen said. This project was started a year ago and it will take over year to be completed. “In the meanwhile to create awareness about the on going developments a pictorial exhibition is going to be held at ICCR from September 11, to make the students aware,” said Prof Sen.

Particularly the project is going to focus on music and science through algorithms – as modern and ancient music of India has much links with algorithms. “Indian classical music is traditionally taught by Guru-Shishya parampara and student imbibes the finer nuances of a raga by hearing the renditions of the teacher, but is not feasible in the modern context. This project brings together researchers from diverse fields — signal engineers extracting melodies and notations from recorded music, computer scientists studying formal language theoretic interpretations of ragas and how they are rendered, machine learning experts who are looking for hidden features that characterize the stylistic aspects of rendering a raga, communication researchers and psychologists who are exploring the relation between language, music and cognition.”

Education minister says he will make available his marksheets

MUMBAI: Maharashtra school education minister Vinod Tawde said he will make available his Std X and XII mark sheets to all those who are seeking it.

Tawde claims to be a Bachelor of Electronics from the Dnyaneshwar Vidyapeeth, Pune. However, the course is not recognised. He has been accused of falsely claiming to be an engineering graduate in his election affidavit. Tawde has, however, defended his declaration saying he was aware the course was not recognised.

In a press release, Tawde said mark sheets are made available only to the candidate and would not be given even under the Right to Information Act. He, therefore, asked all those seeking his mark sheets to take it directly from him.

 

Private school heads condemn exam marking

Exam hall

The heads of leading independent schools say the exam-marking system for GCSEs and A-levels is “not fit for purpose”.

Chairman Chris King will tell the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference “urgent reform” is needed to improve the reliability of exam grades.

Last year more than 400,000 exam papers were challenged, with more than 77,000 grades being changed.

The joint exam boards body says markers are doing a “fantastic job”.

But Mr King says: “The current situation is untenable.

“We are facing a perfect storm, of both decreasing public confidence and increasing pressure in the system, as the greater emphasis on end-of-year exams creates even more work for examiners over the summer,” he will tell the HMC’s annual conference at St Andrews in Fife.

‘Unbelievable’

Mr King, head teacher of Leicester Grammar School, says marking remains a “cottage industry” that is unable to cope with the scale and stresses of the modern exam system.

Pupils can receive “frankly unbelievable marks or grades”, he says, which can mean missing out on university places.

And even if grades are improved on appeal, he says that it can be too late to take up university places, which will have already been allocated to someone else.

Chris King

The most recent figures, from 2014, show that inquiries about exam grades rose year-on-year by 48%, with a 42% increase in the number having their grades changed.

Mr King will say that the numbers of grades being changed is “shocking” and he says that if 6% of examiners are rated as “inadequate” by regulators, that “vast numbers” of marks could be affected.

But he says that there could be an even wider problem, as state schools might lack the funds to pursue challenges against a “byzantine” inquiry system.

The HMC says there needs to be more consistency across different subjects and exam boards and a bigger workforce of better-trained markers.

The independent school heads also want a more transparent process for appeals.

‘Robust processes’

But the Joint Council for Qualifications, representing exam boards, says the grades changed on appeal represent only 1% of entries.

“Our examination system relies upon the 50,000 teachers who each year mark over 15 million papers. They do a fantastic job and receive training from exam boards and ongoing monitoring to ensure high standards are maintained,” said director general Michael Turner.

“Where mistakes do happen, in what is a large and complex system, there are robust processes to correct them as soon as possible and often within days.”

A spokeswoman for the exam regulator Ofqual said that the quality of marking is “generally good”.

“Nevertheless, there is room for improvement. We have already conducted substantial research in this area and we will soon be launching a consultation on proposed changes to the appeals system.”

A Department for Education spokeswoman said: “Parents, teachers and young people need to have confidence that the grades they receive are an accurate reflection of a pupil’s performance. That’s why we’re pleased that the regulator is taking steps to improve the quality of marking.”

‘Perfect storm’ warning over teacher shortages

Teacher with child in lab

Teacher shortages and rising pupil numbers will create “a perfect storm” for schools in England, a head teacher has told the Conservative conference.

The crisis would harm children’s education and impair efforts to raise standards, said Allan Foulds of Cheltenham Bournside School.

The president of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) said the system was near “breaking point”.

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said she recognised the challenge ahead.

Mrs Morgan said the government wanted all schools “to be able to recruit high quality teachers who can deliver our vision of educational excellence everywhere, which is why we are focused on attracting more top graduates into the profession”.

She said teaching remained popular as a career, “with the highest numbers of people joining since 2008 and with 3% more people due to start postgraduate teacher training than this time last year”.

“However, we recognise that there is a challenge ahead as the economy continues to strengthen,” she said.

But Mr Foulds said recruitment levels were too low and a combination of factors could push the system “to breaking point”.

‘Lifeblood’

There are already too few trainee teachers to meet the numbers needed in government projections, according to ASCL.

A fall in the birth rate in the late 1990s will mean a “steady decline” in the population of 21-year-olds until 2022, it adds, meaning the overall pool of graduates is likely to fall, resulting in fewer trainee teachers.

Allan Foulds

The economic upturn will make it harder to attract would-be teachers, while the number of pupils under the age of 16 is set to rise by some 615,000 to 7.85 million by 2020, says ASCL.

Mr Foulds told the meeting: “There is a real danger that a system which is already under severe strain will reach breaking point and that schools will be forced to drop more courses and increase class sizes further.

“This situation puts in jeopardy the huge progress that has been made by schools and undermines the drive to further raise standards.”

He said schools in the most challenging circumstances and the most disadvantaged children would be worst affected.

“That is the last thing we need in terms of closing the attainment gap,” he said.

“Teachers are the lifeblood of the system.”

Mr Foulds said non-specialists were already being asked to teach core subjects such as maths, English and the sciences, putting government reforms at risk.

“Time is running out, and the government must get to grips with this critical issue,” he said.

Labour’s shadow education secretary Lucy Powell blamed the government for a “chronic shortage” of teachers.

“The Tories’ botched handling of recruitment and doing down of the profession has left schools struggling to cope against falling applications and the highest number of teachers quitting in a decade,” said Ms Powell.

Mrs Morgan said the government had announced a new range of generous bursaries and scholarships for next year, worth up to £30,000 tax-free, “in the core academic subjects that help children reach their potential”.

“Through programmes like School Direct and Teach First, we are helping schools recruit candidates they may have previously struggled to bring in, and our Talented Leaders initiative is also placing outstanding head teachers into struggling schools,” she said.

The Department for Education said its teacher recruitment campaign also played an important role in attracting new people to teaching and encouraging more top graduates to consider training to teach priority subjects such as maths and physics.

Equality Commission reports inequality in NI education

The Equality Commission (EC) says inequality in education has become worse in Northern Ireland since 2007.

In a report, they highlight continuing, persistent underachievement by working-class Protestant children, and wider male underachievement in education.

They also say that “prejudice-based bullying is a persistent problem”.

They say the inequalities “have worsened over time” and have called for them to be addressed as a matter of urgency by government.

The commission’s Draft Statement on Key Inequalities in Education is their assessment of inequalities faced by those in education in Northern Ireland.

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Key findings

  • Males have persistently lower levels of attainment than females throughout primary and post-primary education;
  • Protestants have persistently lower levels of attainment than Catholics at GCSE and A-Level, and that gap has widened in recent years;
  • There are fewer male school leavers entering higher education than females and this has an impact on the make-up of the graduate workforce;
  • Minority ethnic school leavers are more than twice as likely to enter unemployment as their white peers;
  • Many schools are not effectively tackling racist bullying.
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The report also points out that while overall levels of educational attainment are increasing, “many inequalities remain persistent and hard to tackle”.

The EC published a statement on inequality in Northern Ireland in 2007, and the current report measures progress, or lack of it, since then in education.

They commissioned independent experts from Queen’s University to carry out the research.

Dr Michael Wardlow, chief commissioner of the Equality Commission, said that many children in Northern Ireland continue to experience persistent inequalities because of barriers linked to disability, gender, religion and their socio-economic background.

“We’ve known for a long time that while the education system in Northern Ireland works well for many of our young people, for too long, significant numbers of pupils have struggled to fulfil their potential as a result of that same system,” he said.

“Identifying and highlighting these inequalities is only the first step. These educational fault-lines must be followed by action.”

The report also claimed some students would not study at certain university and college campuses due to their political beliefs.

Researchers interviewed one unionist and one republican student group.

The republican group claimed they would not consider studying at Stranmillis University College and said they did not think Protestants would study at St Mary’s University College.

However, the report admits there is no data to back up that claim.

Stormont education minister John O’Dowd said: “Over the last 10 years, there have been policies introduced which are beginning to show change, but there’s a long tale of underachievement here for many reasons which we need to tackle.

“We need the community to involve themselves, and we need community activists and politicians to stand up and admit there’s something wrong.”