The reports show some very clear trends as you will see below.
The more prosperous states do well overall, with education improving and % of girl children in schools increasing as well. Focused literacy and education programs are starting to bear fruit. Punjab is an example. Eastern states are starting to do well, and a solid performer has been Himachal Pradesh.
Many states have produced variable results. Year 2009 seems to have been one of fluctuating fortunes as well. The states which are usually oppressive towards girl children (Rajasthan, or western Uttar Pradesh) do poorly even in this survey, naturally. Haryana however, is starting to show improvement.
Very surprisingly Tamil Nadu is one of the worst laggards in providing education (of relevance or impact) in rural areas. The impact of whatever education is getting provided in the state is clearly minimal. This is surprising because there has been no political turmoil of significance, no startling violence or impact of terrorism.
|% of 11-14 year old girls who are not in school||Rajasthan||10-15%|
|attendance % for enrolled children attending primary school||Uttar Pradesh, Bihar||50-60%|
|% of children in Std III who can read Std I text||Tamil Nadu||<30%|
|% of children in Std V who can read Std II text||Tamil Nadu||30-40%|
|% of 11-14 year old girls who are not in school||Punjab, Haryana||0-3%|
|attendance % for enrolled children attending primary school||Himachal Pradesh||>90%|
|% of children in Std III who can read Std I text||Himachal Pradesh, Mizoram||<30%|
The following post is the first part of our analysis of the Annual Status of Education Report 2010 (ASER)
In year 2010, the survey run by NGO Pratham was conducted across 700,000 children in rural India. The survey aimed to find out the impact and efficacy of school education on these children.The outlook is not very encouraging overall.
Reading and Mathematics
Children's ability to read has dropped a few notches in the last five years. In Std. I, a third of the children could read nothing. After having studied for five years (from Std. I), their reading capability did not improve much. Last year, more children (31.4%) were unable to read. However, what the study will find difficult to find is the socio-economic conditions of these children. There is a slight chance that many of the children enrolled this academic year might be from households where they are the first generation to go to school, and thus overall literacy and education might have become more attractive. Whether that is true or not, only time will tell.
But, even by Std V, only 53.4% of children were able to read commensurate to the age and grade level they were at though this number has improved slightly over last year. The number of children in Std V, who were able to read at Std II level dropped 3.4% from 56.2% over last year.
In mathematics, the results are worse. Instead of 65.8% children last year, only 69.3% are able to recognize the numerals. In class VIII, many students aren't able to perform basic arithmetic.
There are many states where one sees regression. But, there also are states where positive movement has happened. For instance, in Punjab the number of students in Std II who could read shot up by 10% over the last two years and children who could perform subtraction went up about 30% during the same time frame.
This area provided about unchanged status with 96.5% enrollment and 73% attendance over the last three years. But, the number of five year olds enrolling in school has gone up by more than 8% over the last year.
Bihar has shown improvement for teens and pre-teens in the last five years. In 2006, 17.6% of girls and 12.3% of boys of ages 11-14 were not enrolled. Now the number has dropped to less than 5%.
In the 13,000 government schools visited by Pratham, it was found that school teacher attendance dropped from 73.7% to 63.4% over the last three years
Private schooling and tuition
Private schooling is becoming more popular in south India. For instance the enrollment percentage went up by 6.4^ to 36.1% over the last year. Over 25%, and over 50% of children are enrolled in private schools in Tamil Nadu and Kerala respectively. There also is a very clear trend showing up in certain states for private tuitions that students are starting to take across the country.
Weekend back, we wanted to step out to sit at a cafe (the weather was truly very nice), sip at coffee and get some work done. Our usual haunt which we use for change of environment is the set of shared offices by Regus. But, this was a Sunday with Regus shut. Even otherwise, a bunch of our meetings with vendors, potential associates happen in coffee shops.
Being a start-up, paying for wi-fi anywhere does hurt. In Bangalore, one would expect free wi-fi to be available at many places, and most of all towards the city centre. We went to try our luck at the Cafe Coffee Day flagship store Coffee Day Square near UB city. As we sat down and ordered coffee, we also asked about wi-fi. We were told that it is a paid service at Rs 27/hour. That is sort of steep, isn't it? But that was not the end of it. One should have perhaps asked, but later when the check came in, a black-cuppa-joe is for Rs 135. That sounds incredibly high priced to us.
On recommendation from friends, because we posted on FB, we propelled ourselves to Matteo on Church Street / Rest House Road. Last time I had been there, service completely sucked. Well, that has not improved too much yet...but the coffee isn't too bad at Rs 50 a cup, with free wi-fi. The cafe is divided into three sections, the outside, then the regular inside and deep inside which reminds one of a European taverna converted to a cafe. The centre, has a rectangular bar with electric plug points to get laptop juice. The only glitch with this ersatz taverna is that there is no alcohol (not even wine) available. But, surely a good place with energy, decently priced coffee (and there is a bunch else to eat as well) and free wi-fi.
Now, if Starbucks did make an entry into India (if ever), and opened up multiple stores they will thrive based on free wi-fi. But, of course the usual conditions of decent pricing apply! As, I write Starbucks and Tatas have signed a deal for the former to start sourcing from the Tata coffee estates...maybe this will get Starbucks to ride on Tata's real estate clout and perhaps start showing up around Westside and Croma stores.
KOOLSKOOL being a start up effort, every Rupee and every Dollar counts. Travel always, for us or large behemoths, is always a major expense whether its just local intra-city or inter-city travel. After having done some math, we quickly moved to traveling discounted and low cost airlines with Indigo being our usual choice.
Like most other low cost carriers there is no free food on board, but available for purchase. The only low cost carrier which was an exception was Kingfisher Red (erstwhile Air Deccan) which did provide free food. That will now change as well. Kingfisher Red calls it the "Sky Treats", an exclusive gourmet service. I saw the menu, didn't seem any gourmet to me. The important difference however is that there are specific time of the day options, besides the standard all day sandwiches and the like. For Rs. 200 for a regular meal, not a bad idea at all really. Oh well there are hot beverages too unlike Indigo. If prices were to be similar, Kingfisher Red it would be for sure (you got to consider the on-time factor too, I guess)
Very soon, quite like legal and medical practitioners, teachers will be bound by a code of ethics and will undergo an oath in a bid to instill professionalism.
A four-member committee of the National Council of Teacher Education (NCTE) has unveiled a mechanism for registration of individuals eligible for teaching in schools. Freshly-appointed teachers are to be administered an oath to observe a 23-point code of professional ethics to enhance the dignity of their profession.
The committee, led by former NCERT director, A K Sharma, has drawn up a three-tiered code listing the obligations of teachers towards students, parents, society and their colleagues. This of course, implies that there will be further committees set up to deal with violations of the code. The penalties range from issuing advisories to withdrawal of eligibility or cancellation of registration prohibiting erring teachers from taking up the profession.
The code, while imposing restrictions on teachers from lowering the esteem of a child in front of others, obliges them to demonstrate love and affection to all students, irrespective of their achievement level. Once the code is in place, teachers will have to maintain confidentiality of information concerning students, their family, culture and community. The draft code states “A teacher should understand the difference between education and propaganda and in no case should use the platform of the school for the propagation of his/her personal views about different religions, regions or castes... While discussing current social and political conflicts in the country, the teacher should refrain from taking sides and should always present a balanced and objective view of the conflict,”
The code is being framed in the backdrop of the newly-implemented Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act 2009 which has a bearing on the duties and responsibilities of teachers. NCTE will evolve a procedure for registration of eligible teachers and the responsibility for registration will be shouldered by the state councils for education research and training.
Teachers would also have to politely refuse expensive gifts from students, parents and even from book publishers and science equipment suppliers. Given that a large part of the upper market schooling system in cities like Bangalore has teachers expecting gifts from students and suppliers, this certainly is a move in the right direction. It is quite well known in the industry that teachers and administrative staff of schools are regularly bribed by book distributors and retailers for maintaining business. Very often implants of publishers are appointed into the school administrative system that help in administration and are on the bribe roll of the local book supplier.
The draft code is under review currently. Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) Karnataka advisor and educationist A S Seetharamu says it is difficult to justify a need for such a code for teachers. “All doctors today are administered an oath on professional ethics. But if you ask me whether they abide by it, it becomes difficult for me to answer,” he said. Perhaps Mr Seetharamu is unaware of the current situation or prefers to be unaware.
A more reasonable and practical Primary and secondary education minister Vishveshwar Hedge Kageri welcomed the move saying ”In today’s context there is a need for such a code. The state, too, is planning a similar code for teachers and we are holding consultations with stakeholders. This code, however, will be voluntary,”. And the last sentence is Mr Hegde Kaveri's statement is what keeps the code completely open to continuing of corruption which is so rampant among schools. The question is whether schools and teachers sign up for this, or how many teachers will stand up to be counted?
Dimag ki batti jala de? Don't know about that, but the fact that Mentos is clearly targeting children as a large set of consumers is certainly worrying. Mentos has regular commercial spots in cartoon channels which are viewed by children of all ages across the country.
In case you are not that familiar with Mentos, it is a brand of mints (of the scotch mint type) and is marketed by Perfetti Van Melle International. These oblate spheroids with a crunchy exterior and chewy interior were first made in the Netherlands in the '50s and now are sold across the world in various types of packaging. Till the time that Singapore had chewing gum banned, Mentos remained a rather popular substitute.
Nutritionally speaking, its a rather poor food though it provides some energy without too much calories. The original Mentos mint roll has 10 calories per mint with no protein, 2.5 g carbohydrates, 2 g sugar and negligible amounts of fat and sodium. But per piece of candy, it has rather a large amount of sugar. Mentos now is also made sugar free. The sugar free variety has is sweetened using aspartame, which is uniformly known to be harmful for adults and children. The list of side-effects of aspartame is indeed long, and certainly not the kind of chemical that you would want your children to be introduced to.
Do you still believe Mentos lights up your child's brain?
It is not too rarely that one hears about accidents involving school transport, or during school picnics and outings. In the recent months, there were quite a few news items relating to such student deaths in Karnataka.
However, the government in Tamil Nadu has taken the first steps towards children safety. For the first time three different departments of the government – school education, transport and the police have come together to publish detailed guidelines for schools, parents, children and other stakeholder to safeguard school going students. Courts are gradually ruling, naturally so, that schools are responsible for the students’ safety and well-being from the time they are in school provided transport to the time they are handed back to their parents.
Tamil Nadu government’s response comes in the wake of recent incidents of school children getting kidnapped and abused. Many parents and schools have welcomed the move but skepticism remains about whether the guidelines can really be followed strictly and whether they actually provide a long-term solution. Counselors believe that inadequate security is schools is a matter of concern and also that parents need to play an important part in addressing issues. Besides this, however technology and the changing society provides many a potential trap for students including those provided by the cyber world, social networking and television which influence students in many ways.
The Chennai police commissioner suggested schools to install CCTV to enhance security. However, many schools believe that setting up such infrastructure is not always financially viable for all schools. Schools believe that it is important to create enough awareness among teachers, parents and students as well as empowering children.
Based on the latest AICTE Process Handbook 2011-2012, the admission to any of the professional course including engineering, pharmacy and hotel management will need at least 50% in the required subjects. This is in addition to the policy recommendation which gives more weight to Class XII exams for admissions through IIT-JEE.
We welcome this move as this forces the students to pay attention to school curricula instead of only chasing coaching centers for an entrance examination. The downside of studying with blinders on is that many students who aspire for an IIT or professional degree focus on the core subjects and miss out of the basic language and social skills.
There will be significant impact of this policy as in some states like Gujarat the present cut-off is as low as 35% for admissions. Also this affects states like Bihar where the access to good schools in rural areas is a problem. There may be yet other problems arising out of varying marking schemes followed by different state and national boards.
Over-all this might turn out to be an astute move, but the implementation of this is yet to be seen.