The director of public instructions in Kerala, Mr A.P.M. Mohammad Hanish, perhaps went somewhat overzealous on 31st July and issued an order banning cinematic dance in all government, aided and unaided schools across Kerala. This order also includes CBSE and ICSE affiliated schools (which operate on the basis of a No Objection Certificate) in the state. The district education authorities are to implement the order with immediate effect in 15,000 schools across the State.
Mr Hanish said “It has come to our notice that certain private organisations and TV channels are promoting cinematic dance in schools all over the state...It has reached ridiculous levels with classrooms are being used for cinematic dance training.’’
He said there were reports that some of the so called cinematic dance experts and trainers were using the opportunity to exploit students. Such restrictions are the need of the hour, he said.
Though the order does border on the humorous, there might be an element on skewed focus in some schools. The dance training is obviously, not the focus for a school and neither is lending out class rooms for commercial purposes.
Very recently, as you must be aware, the AIEEE exam papers leaked out in Kanpur and Lucknow. All students in that area already had to take on a separate set of question papers, or will be sitting for the examination on a later date. Now, a special task force set up to trace the leak might have followed the leak to Bihar and Gujarat. It is said that the prime accused (based in Ghaziabad) may have links into Sasaram in Bihar, and Ahmedabad in Gujarat, among half a dozen other smaller towns in Uttar Pradesh.
At the beginning of a new academic year, all students in a school need to procure their new books, notebooks and stationery. Some schools just provide a book list and the parents go from place to place to procure the material. While other schools point the parents to a particular book store that the school might have tied up with. And the third category of schools tie up with retailers, and the latter open up a book stall inside the school premises for a few days.
The last category sees the most amount of blatant cheating. Here is an example from one of the book distributor retailers in Bangalore - Subhas Books. Not that they have a great reputation for doing clean business even otherwise in the market. Subhas books sells their wares in many schools in Bangalore. Their overall invoice (and packing list) is broken down to books as one category, and notebooks and stationery as the other. The example that I use is of a UKG invoice in a CBSE school, where Subhas Books supplies. The books are individually priced at MRP, which is alright. The other category which is priced above Rs 1000 is where the cheating happens. The branded stationery totals up to a little more than Rs 400 (from the MRP labels). The other material remaining are six notebooks (school branded but without MRP), one color paper packet, some labels, brown plastic covers and a school diary (both without price). This implies that the remaining material costs close to Rs 600 per the retailer, which is totally impossible!
This might not sound very untoward to you, or maybe it does. If you have experienced something like this, do write in to us. We will publish the names of these retailers, and the schools too.
Unscrupulous book retailers to avoid:
- Subhas Books - Bangalore (they sell at Royale Concorde International School)
Unaware Of revised SAS Rules, schools have to pay surcharge on tax. More than 800 schools and colleges in Bangalore are receiving notices from the BBMP with a list of arrears since 2008. At a broad level, all educational institutions in the city are exempt from paying property tax. However, the revised rules under self-assessment scheme (SAS) 2008 make it mandatory that they pay 25% of the tax amount as ‘service charges’ to the corporation considering that they also use the civic amenities provided. Majority of the institutions are not aware of the revised rules.
As per BBMP records, there are over 2,000 schools and colleges in the city including at least eight national institutions. Per BBMP, only 60% of them have promptly paid the service charges since 2008.
CBSE has issued a circular earlier this month, directed at heads of institutions with the aim of inculcating reading habits among school students. This circular is in continuation of CBSE's earlier circular from October 2009, and also provides a list of recommended books.
As one would expect, the list of recommended books covers a wide range of subjects and areas, and are from various publishers and authors. The list has many of Children's Book Trust books (thus keeping the prices low), and there are some authors who have seen more than one of their books being included in the list. However, again akin to any other government organization's work, low amount of research has gone into the availability of the books in the list. Many of the books are out of print, or at least not available in the market.
You will find the list of recommended books here.
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.
Chairman Vineet Joshi led CBSE released a circular on 27th October which will endear him to many a parent, and perhaps get him hated by an equal number. This circular makes compulsory some amount of physical activities in school. In our opinion, this is a welcome departure from the 7-9 hour forced education sessions in schools these days. As it is, the school hours are longer than they used to be, and rapidly the amount of time dedicated to physical activities (in a day or week) has dropped drastically.
The circular specifies that, (and we quote):
- "There should be at least 40-45 minutes of Physical Activities or Games period for Classes I-X everyday.
For Classes XI – XII it should be ensured that all the students participate in Physical Activity / Games / Mass P.T / Yoga with maximum health benefits for at least two periods per week (90-120 min / week).
- In case the school has constraints of space, climatic conditions, presence of enough PE Teachers, or coaches it may consider indoor activities which would provide maximum health benefits (Aerobics / Meditation / Yoga & Asanas).
- Mass P.T. in the morning keeping in view the climate conditions is another alternative the school can have."
The daily physical activities and sports will now be a mandatory part of the curriculum under the new CCE, and will be implemented in all CBSE affiliated schools across the country. This implies that the students will be assessed on these activities as well. The assessment part is perhaps a bit of an overkill but then in our country, if an assessment is not linked to a part of the curriculum it will certainly get neglected and remain un-implemented.
Given that the schools today have become completely exam oriented, we say this is a very welcome move Mr. Joshi! What do you think? Please write in, let us know...
News report from yesterday mentions that CBSE is introducing Mandarin as a language from the 2011-12 session. This should be welcome news to many Chinese people who live in our country, especially in cities like Calcutta (Kolkata, if you must). CBSE already offers a host of foreign languages including German, French, Arabic, Spanish, Portuguese etc as optional subjects across the country.
A panel of experts set up by CBSE will prepare the syllabus, textbooks and recommend training methods and mechanisms. Besides some other schools Kendriya Vidyalaya Sanghathan declared that they might start offering Mandarin as well.
We believe this is an astute move given the fact that many people travel to China, conduct business there and that Mandarin is the most widely spoken language in that country. But, two questions come quickly to mind:
- Where will we find teachers to teach Mandarin?
- And what about the many Tibetan people who live in our country, will they like this move?
Something that I noticed recently between my three nieces (in class XI, XII and freshman year) triggered a thought, and then led of a bit of research and finding out. One rather warm afternoon, my nieces were spending time trying to crack puzzles published in puzzle books and newspapers. One of them started on her own, the second one joined in. Gradually the eldest one got bored of watching TV and joined the younger ones.
The progress that the made together was remarkable compared to the slow start that the first young one made. It is also not as if the first one is less sharper than the other two. Very clearly three heads working together are better (you knew that), and three heads working together learned the mechanics of cracking the different types of puzzle schemas rapidly as well.
They moved from one puzzle type to the other, and cracked through rapidly. It also was evident that each of them excelled in a particular type. The gaps in understanding were filled in by the other two.
In the usual school education system, students interact with their teachers and parents. Parents and teachers interact with each other periodically, but there is hardly any formal education related interaction that students have together even sitting in a school.
This led me to do the quick search and research on the web, and not surprisingly plenty of research has been done in the past on collaborative learning. While, I read through research work, I also asked myself if children would collaborate as much if what they learned gave them a competitive edge over her/his peers.
To be continued...