Prof. Noam Chomsky, shares his thoughts on the purpose of education, impact of technology, whether education should be perceived as a cost or an investment and the value of standardised assessment.
Mr P Kishore, CEO of Everonn, an education providing company, was arrested by CBI on charges of bribing an income-tax official with Rs 50 lakh.
A CBI statement said that during a search operation of Everonn early this month Income Tax official Andasu Ravindar found Kishore concealing a taxable income of Rs 116 crore. Kishore is alleged to have requested the Income Tax official to "suppress" Rs 60 crore of the concealed amount. It was toward this that a bribe of Rs 50 lakh was sought and paid. However, it was at the removal of the money to an "unknown place" that the CBI, acting on a tip-off, came into the picture, followed through and made the arrest.
Everonn's (a public company) stocks hit a 52-week low over the last two days after Mr Kishore (founder of Everonn) was arrested. This arrest has also led Mr J J Irani, to step down as the chairman of the board of directors of the company.
The question is will Everonn be able to inspire potential customers / students to be in one of their schools when basic integrity is a problem with its core? How would a parent be assured that they will not be fleeced, cheated or that their children will not learn just the wrong things?
Though on the first view, the budget appears to be great for education, a closer look shows a bunch more. To start with, the process of education and procuring of material to support a student's studies is just about to become costlier.
Notebooks and exercise books, earlier exempted from excise duty, will now attract 1% duty without CENVAT credit facility. Also, a general effective rate of 5% has been prescribed for these items and facilities and this includes items such as fountain pen ink, ball pen ink, geometry boxes, colour boxes and pencil sharpeners. This implies that the MRP of each of these items is just about to increase. Paper will also not be exempt from excise duty anymore, thus eventually make text books costlier as well.
Most of the direct sops to educational institutions have been provided to institutes in poll bound states.
The increase for RTE is actually an effective Rs 2,000 Cr only, since the budget had been increased by Rs 4,000 Cr last year.
More importantly, the increase in outlay for primary education is just a Rs 3,000 Cr which effectively is a mere adjustment for inflation. The much larger and disturbing trend is that of this total amount of Rs 29,000 Cr, Rs 18,000 Cr comes from Prathamik Shiksha Kosh - the non-lapsable fund where 2% education cess is collected. The ASER report that we talked about earlier shows in fact exactly the correct trend and perhaps is also a forecast (in a manner ) of the way elementary education will continue to be treated in our country.
The government and the Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee have considered education to be the key to reaping the benefits of the demographic dividend in the form of a young population. In the Union Budget for 2011, Mr. Mukherjee has announced a 24% hike in the budget allocation for education. "For education, I propose an allocation of Rs.52,057 crore, with an increase of 24 percent over the current year," Mukherjee informed the Lok Sabha while presenting the budget.
"Our demographic dividend, a relatively younger population compared to developed countries, is as much of an opportunity as it is a challenge. Over 70 percent of India will be of working age by 2025. In this context universalising access to secondary education, increasing percentage of our scholars in highereducation and providing skills training is necessary," he said.
The allocation for Right to Education (Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan) was hiked by 40 percent. "The operational norms of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan have been revised to implement the right of children to free and compulsory education which came into force from April 1, 2010. For the year 2011-12, I propose to allocate Rs.21,000 crore which is 40 percent higher than Rs.15,000 crore allocated in Budget 2010-11," he said.
The finance minister also said that vocationalisaton of secondary education will be implemented from 2011-12 as a centrally sponsored scheme to improve employability of youth.
The minister also announced a scheme for scholarship for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes students in classes 9 and 10. "Empowerment flows from education. While the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes students have access to post-matric scholarship, there was so far a lack of pre-matric scholarship scheme." "In 2011-12, I propose to introduce a scholarship scheme for needy students belonging to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes studying in class 9th and 10th. This would benefit about 40 lakh students," the minister said.
Inflation is rampant in the country right now. The government has chosen to de-roster some of the items from the CPI basket to show a lower inflation number. Food inflation in real terms is over 20% now. With all that, and fuels going costlier, the education sector can not remain far behind.
School managements are starting to consider and implement fee hikes by 10-25% now for the academic year 2011-2012. School managements are complaining that they are left with no choice but to increase fees because infrastructure costs, and salaries have gone up. Similarly, travel by school buses is expected to become costlier as well this year. Diesel has become costlier by about 20% over the last year.
Besides these books have already become costlier by about 5-8%, and notebook prices have already gone north by about 5%, and another increase of 5% expected after Feb 15th. Similarly, we are seeing a 5-10% increase in prices of shoes as well as school bags.
Bottom-line, "Back to School" will become dearer for parents next academic year.
School students continue to be victims in Kashmir (as we had mentioned in one of our earlier posts). Schools being open has become a rarity in the last half year. However, one school in Srinagar remains determined to make an impact and continue to impart education. Sarfi Memorial Institute has decided to remain functioning through the curfews and the terrorist / separatist called shutdowns.
The school has been advertising on local TV channels and newspapers that it would provide education through extended periods of turmoil. "We have decided to have lodging and boarding facilities in the same building where classes will be organised. In the past, we gave priority to quality teachers. This time, we recruited four teachers only on the promise that they would work during nights and stay here," Muhammad Ashraf, the administrator of the institute mentioned. Sarfi Memorial Institute has constructed a new 60-room building with classrooms with residential facilities. The school is receiving a large number of queries from parents on how the school would run during curfew and street protests.
Since March of this year, attendance at schools has dropped, particularly in separatist-dominated areas (including the capital city of Srinagar) since parents refrain from sending their children out of homes for fear of violence on days of curfew or shutdowns.
The state government is starting to respond to the educational needs of students who could not attend classes this summer by reducing the annual syllabus for board exams and plans to organise post-examination classes on lessons and chapters dropped from the syllabus.
The cases of violent behavior amongst children is increasing by the day due to violent cartoons on TV.Note Cartoon Watching has become a favorite past time for children in India .This is due to a number of reasons like the busy life of parents,nuclear families,lack of safe open playgrounds etc.
In July 2006, when Shin Chan first appeared on Indian television screens, there were concerns regarding language, the behaviour and the mannerisms of the character Shin Chan. Due to this, the government banned Shin Chan in India till all such objectionable content was edited out.
This is leading to the harmful development of school children who try to repeat behaviour of cartoons in real life at schools.Bashing up classmates and objects becomes justified in children's mind as they see them on TV.Using abusive language and bad behaviour are some of the other harmful mannerisms being learned by children.
In our opinion children need to be encouraged to go out play with peers as this provides both exercise and a chance to develop interpersonal skills. It in a way is also the parents’ duty to censor what their children watch.
India is going to triple its numbers of high school students in the next decade. With increasing per-capita consumption and a scorching 9% GDP growth rate,India's higher education is going to see a massive boom.India has relatively low numbers of high school penetration due to its poor human resources development.Both the quality and quantity of high school education is quite woeful in the country. At similar per-capita income,other countries have a much better education infrastructure than India does right now. For the millions of Indians mired in poverty,Education remains the only path to a better humane living standard. Kapil Sibal,the minister of education said that they are looking to add 1000 Universities to accommodate the surge in students.
India’s higher education enrollment will move up to 44 million from the current 14 million in a decade, the Central government said on Friday, underlining that private players, distance education and foreign education providers will play key roles in ensuring this growth.
Human resource development (HRD) minister Kapil Sibal said at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit that the Central government looks to add 30 million more students at this level by 2020. “Industry does not create (human) wealth, it translates ideas into wealth. Higher education will create this human wealth.”
You read in the previous article about students /children learning rapidly when they collaborate with their peers. Research says that "People learn best when they participate in activities that are perceived to be useful in real life and are culturally relevant.1" The question to ask would be if that is understood by the people who design the students’ curricula in our country. Being the parent of a four year old, I have seen group activities being conducted for Montessori kids. I can’t remember and neither could other folk (including my nieces) recollect enough instances of the schools getting students to collaborate enough and learn. Getting children together for just a regular activity or a project is not enough, and neither is getting 40 children to sit together in a class room. However, if you were to compare this to what happens in higher education (business school for instance), the difference is stark. But, then again we are dealing with a different ball-game altogether. One would think it would help to teach problem solving skills to students.
The other interesting thing that I discovered is the findings of another study published in the Journal of Developmental Psychology. This study2 was conducted across 44 children aged between three and four by Dr. Hannes Rakoczy of Max Planck institute of Evolutionary Anthropology. The children were showed a video of an invented game being played by a boy, and a man. When asked to imitate the actions showed in the game, the children imitated the adult’s actions more often than the boys. Dr. Rakoczy concluded that children chose to learn more often from adults than from children when it came to rule-governed activities like learning a new game. Besides the fact that children rely on adults in framework based, and competitive situation, the study very clearly tells us that this could have wider implications in learning social (good or bad) behavior.
1 Brown, Collins & Duguid, 1989; Heath, 1983.
2 British Psychological Society (BPS) (2010, February 23). Children don't trust each other when learning the rules. ScienceDaily. Retrieved
For the last few years, besides all other types of work, even education has started to get outsourced in many ways. One kept hearing of incidents where college students from western countries got their term papers, project reports etc researched and written by Indian students or professionals for a fee. A Bangalore based company also started providing tuition in various subjects to children outside the country using the web as the communication medium. Teachers from India get on the web and teach children, and it seems quite successfully.
Now, the latest is that Ashmount Primary (a school in North London) has outsourced mathematics teaching to India. Though the news surprises you a bit, its not very untoward if you think about it. The reason for outsourcing (regardless of industry) is lack of relevant skills in the geography and thus the related cost. That is what made it work for R&D, and IT. And similarly lack of teachers in the schooling system is making it work for Ashmount Primary.
BBC reported that the students found this way of teaching to be fun. Bright Spart Education Company (BSEC) which is facilitating the classes, uses about 100 teachers from Ludhiana. Lessons get booked over a day in advance at at the rate of £12 an hour, for blocks of two to five hours. The only drawback, if you will, in the system is that the teacher and the student do not get to see each other. But, that is only a surmountable (over time) technology issue.
Please indulge my thought instigator for a moment - one of the largest problems in the education system in India is the lack of teachers. Outsourcing of education (though good for individuals) will take teachers away to teach the kids in western countries. So, the impact is...