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Provide free books, uniforms or get de-recognised: Govt to private schools

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Provide free books, uniforms or get de-recognised: Govt to private schools

The Education Department has issued strict directions to de-recognise schools which do not give free books and uniforms to children under the EWS category.

There are 68,951 EWS students in Delhi. According to an affidavit submitted by the Directorate of Education in the Delhi High Court, 51,000 of them are currently studying in schools that do not provide books and uniforms for free.

 Shikha Sharma
There are 68,951 EWS students in Delhi. According to an affidavit submitted by the Directorate of Education in the Delhi High Court, 51,000 of them are currently studying in schools that do not provide books and uniforms for free.
Private schools refusing to provide free books and uniforms to children studying under the Economically Weaker Section (EWS) category will soon face the prospect of de-recognition.
The Education Department has issued strict directions to de-recognise schools which do not give free books and uniforms to children under the EWS category.
Stating that schools “cannot escape from the obligation laid down under the provisions of the Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009”, the order directs schools to either comply or face the prospect of de-recognition.
“In case of non-compliance with the directions, the process of de-recognition of the school – on account of violation of relevant provisions under the RTE Act, 2009 (Rule 15) – shall be initiated. The issue will also be brought to the notice of the competent authority in the DDA for taking necessary action against the defaulting schools,” the circular sent by the department to all schools states.
There are 68,951 EWS students in Delhi. According to an affidavit submitted by the Directorate of Education in the Delhi High Court, 51,000 of them are currently studying in schools that do not provide books and uniforms for free.
The Supreme Court in 2011 had ruled that any barriers, including financial ones, which prevented children from getting quality education, should be removed. Section 8(1) of the Delhi RTE Act also states that entitlements — including books, uniforms and writing material — have to be provided by schools.
Noting that it was “wholly unacceptable” on the government’s part that nearly 51,000 children have to go without books and uniform, the High Court had said last year that “it was the government’s as well as the schools’ duty to ensure that free textbooks are provided”.
But with the entitlement amount per child — that is given by the government — being too low to meet all costs, schools said they are under no obligation to adhere to the rule.
“The government pays a little more than Rs 600 for each child’s books and uniform. The amount is hardly enough to compensate us. We can’t be expected to pay lakhs of rupees from our own pockets,” R C Jain, president, Delhi State Public Schools’ Management Association, had said.
TRIBUNE, JUL 09, 2015

Shelley Walia

Commodification of education

Imposition of a uniform curriculum will curtail the liberal mind

Can we allow our syllabus to turn into something ordinary and invisible?

THE hegemonic imposition of a uniform curriculum under the leadership of Smriti Irani focuses attention on the intent to bureaucratise education that would, no doubt, suffocate scholars and scholarship across the country. With this new agenda on the cards, it now appears that any change in the ongoing exercise of shaping a syllabus would sadly and ridiculously require the endorsement of an unimaginative bureaucracy in the UGC office. 
How many of us academics would like to endorse that? Are we prepared to be handmaidens to an anti-intellectual ideology? Without participation in reshaping our own curriculum, we will become guilty of following the colourless lens of oppressive perspectives without an academic cause.
The recently-floated idea of centralising the drafting of curriculum at all levels of higher education proposed by Smriti Irani, the HRD Minister, displays blatant contempt for public voices and ensures the end of autonomy and critical inquiry. Irani’s initiative of introducing uniformity in curriculum across the nation so all universities follow a homogeneous syllabus obstructs the free practice of innovation, experimentation and formulation across disciplines. By upholding a narrowly tailored system, she has initiated an assault on decentralised democracy and heterogeneity. The MHRD and a compliant UGC — the very constituents of the government machinery specifically required to safeguard and sustain higher education and its generation of an engaged citizenry — thus end up brutalising higher education.
Quite on the contrary are Prof Romila Thapar’s views of drafting the syllabus at the JNU: “We were given substantial time to frame syllabi based on our new concepts of courses suited to a semester system. In the Centre for Historical Studies members of the faculty constantly debated and discussed what should be included in our courses. We would discuss different proposals intensively. There were disagreements, compromises and agreements, and it was also one of the most intellectually exciting years for me inasmuch as I was forced to think analytically about many aspects of the discipline of history.”
The rigorous and democratic exercise she outlines would surely and certainly be overruled under the new dispensation. Since any adjustment in a syllabus would need the approval of the UGC, education would become merely a wing of neoliberal, right-wing forces that would impart skills suitable to the state economy and the corporate sector all right, but also reduce instruction to a technicality. 
A uniform curriculum promoted by the BJP would provide a system that churns out citizens more immersed in self-growth than in social responsibilities, promoting not a free development of interests or the substantive growth of the democratic process through education, but the ideology of a market-driven, capitalistic economy that heeds only to consumerism and instant profit. As Terry Eagleton has appropriately emphasised: “Across the globe, that critical distance is now being diminished almost to nothing, as the institutions that produced Erasmus and John Milton, Einstein and Monty Python, capitulate to the hard-faced priorities of global capitalism.”
Such an argument must not lead to the impression that an interdisciplinary curriculum is in favour of jettisoning professional skills altogether. John Dewey, the American philosopher and educational reformer, recognises the necessity of gainful employment through education which integrates daily work with “all there is in it of large and human significance”. Such a system inculcates a culture of openness that allows learning through “the process of living”. The uniformity that is sought by the reigning ministry is contrary to such a system though it is fundamental to the bureaucracy’s shenanigans of straitjacketing the academia that would lead inevitably to the closing of the liberal mind. 
What we need to understand is this: the imposition of a uniform curriculum retards radical imagination, which, in turn, displaces the academy’s broad intellectual engagement with society that is necessary for local needs as much as for the larger national concerns. We need to look beyond the campus to a life of continuous learning through enhancing and restructuring the processes of understanding ourselves as well as the world to which we contribute in our own small way. We would like to rediscover our own free space in which, no matter how despotic our government may be, we would have the stamina to fashion our own freedom. Educational activism has to respond to the hegemonising tendency of established structures of disciplines and curricula, moving into a new era of post-disciplinarity where research becomes a collective and comparative enterprise.
The retrogressive politics of the MHRD undermine the very raison d'être of a curriculum that needs to reflect critical radical thought through engagement with the central aims of higher education that go beyond mere skill-imparting training. Such an exercise would have to involve brainstorming sessions among the faculty, the students and the research scholars who alone can help to retard the gradual demise of the university as a “centre of humane critique”. Liberal learning must be seen as a priority over specific and narrow requirements of a job. 
The government has to realise that education calls for a diverse participation in a globally engaged democracy. A curriculum imposed from above in a culturally diverse country like India will smother the interaction that a student has outside the university. The educational experience of a student cannot pan out in isolation from its geographical context and within the constraints of a uniform national syllabus. Education cannot be imparted at the cost of a decentralised democracy that emphasises self-governance, civic virtue and individual freedom in institutions of higher learning, supporting engagement between academic learning and nation-building.
What we need is to introduce some colour into the drab uniformity of the curriculum and flaunt our insubordination of repressive regimes so as to imaginatively articulate and shape our vision for the future of higher education in India. What the present government does to our education system is what we allow it to do. The significant question that is called for at the moment is: do we, in fact, know what we want? I think many of us would agree that we cannot negate ourselves under the authority of a system with ideological limitations. And we cannot allow our syllabus to turn into something ordinary and invisible because that is what it would become through the very nature of its uniformity. 
The writer is a Professor of English at Panjab University, Chandigarh

Higher learning

Mamta Singh
US Ivy-League Cornell University has launched a specially-designed management programme in India, in collaboration with global learning company Pearson, aimed at imparting globally applicable management skills, including insights and perspective, to help accelerate career growth of Indian professionals.
The Cornell-ILR Experienced Managers Programme (CEMP) is crafted as 12-month certificate programme and concentrates on core competencies of management, including Human Resources, Operations, Finance, Marketing and strategy. In addition, the program focuses on enhancing managerial skills, such as building expertise on leading global teams, conflict resolution skills, mitigating business risks, developing entrepreneurship skills and many more.
CEMP’s first learning centre has been set up in Gurgaon, Haryana. The advance learning centre will hold in country seminars live on line classes, faculty sessions and networking events. CEMP follows an integrated approach, covering theoretical as well as practical modes of learning. The programme includes a “Capstone Project” that provides participants with an opportunity to solve real-world problems faced in industry or organisations.
Recruitment for the first batch of participants has already begun and the enrolment process will remain open until 23 September. The programme fee is 15,000 dollars. inclusive of a five-day programme at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, and New York City.
Speaking at the launch programme in the Capital, Joe Grasso, co-director of the Cornell-ILR Experienced Managers Programme said, “India is one of the fastest emerging economies today and it is competing with the rest of the world in several industries and sector. Because of this competition, the need to remain up to date with globally applicable knowledge and skills sets has become imperative for Indian professionals. We have designed this programme specifically for Indian professionals, keeping in mind the emerging trends and local market requirements.”
Deepak Mehrotra, managing director of Pearson India stated, “The concept of executive MBA is fast gaining popularity among working professionals in India. However the effectiveness of this learning model is not fully achieved.” 


VCs of central varsities agree to implement CBCS
Vice chancellors of all central universities on Tuesday agreed to implement the Choice Based Credit System (CBCS) in their institutions, the human resource development ministry said.
The decision was taken in a review meeting of the vice chancellors here.
"All VCs assured that their preparations are complete and they will be starting CBCS from this academic session," the ministry said in a statement.
Teachers and students have been protesting against the implementation of CBCS, saying it was adding to their distress.
However, the University Grants Commission (UGC) clarified that the introduction of CBCS would not "in any way" hamper the academic liberal environment of the universities.
Out of 39 central universities, 37 have introduced CBCS at the post-graduate level and 18 introduced the same at the undergraduate level, the statement said.
In the meeting, it was said that the UGC has developed model syllabi for 85 mainline and 18 specialised courses.
The syllabi will give leverage to the universities to modify the same to the extent of 30 percent depending upon their areas of specialisation, the statement added.

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