CBSE asks schools to keep student bags light

(Representative image)Aiming to keep bags of school children light, CBSE has suggested that teachers should discourage senior students from carrying heavy reference books while schools may continue to keep books of kids up to class II in the school.

In a notification issued by it, CBSE has come up with various recommendations, including the suggestion that school heads and teachers should ensure that senior students bring books according to the time table, and discourage them from carrying heavy ‘reference’ books or other such materials to school.

It has also said it should be ensured that the school curriculum supports more activity-based, ICT-supported learning for all the main subjects in all classes, as far as possible.

Homework is to be ‘staggered’ to prevent overload and academic co-ordinators or supervisors may monitor this, is another suggestion offered by CBSE.

Schools have also been asked to explore the possibility of block scheduling of subject classes in the class time table.

Co-curricular activities should be conducted every day, and scheduled in the time table accordingly, to ensure the balance of bag weight throughout the academic session, the CBSE has said.

School heads should counsel parents and teachers about developmental issues caused by children carrying heavy bags to school, according to it.

Among other suggestions is restriction of number of textbooks to the prescribed norms [NCERT], particularly at the primary and upper primary levels.

It has also been recommended that books should not be covered with non-biodegradable plastic sheet.

Another suggestion is that schools may continue the practice of maintaining and keeping books of students up to class II in the school.

Schools may provide racks with locks in all classrooms, where reference books, sports equipment, uniforms can be safely stored without needing to be carried to school, is another suggestion.

Setting up of class libraries and asking students to carry well-designed backpacks correctly, to promote good posture, are among other recommendations.

The business of commerce

 A wide range of courses offered by institutions in the city may make the art of choosing difficult.
An inclination towards commerce, and juggling with numbers can present you with a plethora of opportunities, especially in financial and banking sectors. While a number of focus areas under commerce are available at the undergrad level, a specialisation accounting and finance or banking management could pave the way for job opportunities involving data analysis, financial transactions and corporate or managerial positions. Both courses will give an insight into business and corporate laws, banking theory and practice, regulatory mechanism of banking, financial services, credit management, and business statistics among other topics.
Aspirants who possess mathematical aptitude and a knack for analysis or logic can be cut out for such jobs. Those with a banking management background can get into nationalised, private banks or regional reserve banks. Enhancing your commerce knowledge with a master’s degree could earn you a career in HR or finance divisions of multinational corporations. Other options include data analyst, banking associate, sales manager, business banking relationship manager in banks, priority investment corporate banking managers.

Teaching dance as art, not just shaking a leg

“Sir, I want to leave my job at the bank to learn Bharatanatyam in Tamil Nadu,” says a 30-year-old Keralite living in Bangalore who is a mother of a one-year-old. To compound the situation for me, she says her husband wishes to quit his job too, to work full-time in theatre. Two decades ago this would have been unheard of, but not today.

Learning music or dance has now taken centre-stage. Just 50 years ago, women performing in public were looked down upon. Since then we have had pioneers like Rukmini Devi and Vallathol building institutions like Kalakshetra and Kalamandalam. Today the situation is different. Come summer, children are sent to art and music classes that crop up in every locality. So the popularity would be good news for the fraternity. Unfortunately it is not so. The mushrooming schools of art, dance and music may seem to nurture the creative aspirations of students, but rarely do they meet the yardstick in terms of style, knowledge and aesthetics. Also the values behind learning are often misplaced.

Why have dance and music become important? A few decades ago, it was important because it gave an understanding of culture and mythology. This idea has got diluted over the years. Till a few years ago, performance on stage meant being socially visible and competing with film stars. Today it is all about making a career. Most youngsters know they can earn a livelihood, if not by performing, then by teaching.

But not everyone who learns dance can become a star dancer, singer, or an actor. Neither is it guaranteed that they will be good teachers unless they put in the required dedication and research. Here comes the role of parents who think learning an art form for a few years is enough for their ward to be the next big thing on stage. They forget that those who have made it big on stage -the Dhananjayans, Padma Subrahmanyam, Malavika Sarukkai and Bombay Jayashri or Aruna Sairam -have at least 20 to 40 years of work behind them. For them their art was a complete engagement, sometimes at the cost of family.

Here comes the question of what the dance instructors are teaching. The other day I was asked the meaning of ‘alarippu’ by a young girl. I explained how it energises the body and awakens chakras (energy vortices) if done properly, and how once so charged, the body has the stamina to perform for long, effortlessly.

She then asked me “Sir what’s a chakra? I thought it meant going in circles in Kathak.” Her questions reminded me of another time a foreigner asked me, almost philosophically, “Last time I was in India there was this form called Kathak. When did they add ‘ali’ to it to make it Kathakali?” So, when a student of dance asks such questions, is it the student or the teacher who is at fault?
It’s time we re-examined the way we learn and teach the arts. Firstly, the arts cannot be seen in isolation. There has to be a thorough study of literature, music and aharya to gain full knowledge about dance. This approach to learning is taken up only in established institutions and by senior gurus who teach the A, B, C of dance -Aharya or the costume, Baani or style, and Chitra or documented heritage.
National agencies like the Sangeet Natak Akademi ought to make certification of schools teaching dance or music stricter by conducting inspections before giving grants. Teacher training programmes with refresher courses need to be introduced and practised well. Once every five years, the CCRT (Centre for Cultural Resources and Training) should evaluate and conduct training. In this regard a ‘goshti’ (council of senior gurus) can also be the conscience keeper of standards and annually visit teaching institutions to assess, guide and advice. The idea is to inculcate reverence and focus on the arts, and not treat it like a hobby or career devoid of any passion for it. Only then can we bring back meaning and soul to every performance.

Mission admission: The science of computing

Ethiraj College for Women has 100 BSc computer science seats. Last year, the cutoff was 86%. (TOI photo: C Suresh Kumar)Today’s focus: BSc (Computer Science)

Ever since the IT boom, a degree in computer science has been a sought after course by students at the UG level and has been perceived as a lucrative option to start a career. Those keen on computer programming, maths and logic may be naturally cut out for such courses which involve all the three elements. Head of the computer science department at MOP Vaishnav College D Radha said a course in computer science not only opens doors into the IT sector but provides many more opportunities. Students with a degree in computer science are hired for developing programmes or software, software testing, coding, and developing android applications, and even infrastructure management among others.
Some students also tend to get into the banking field dealing with accounting and such, she said.
An MTech, MSc or even an MBA degree will enhance career opportunities in the field by opening up doors across sectors.
While the IT sector hires fresh grads in large numbers, those seeking higher positions or a faster career growth may do well by opting for a postgraduate degree.

Centre plans to launch Bal Sansads across India

The ministry of human resource development is preparing a massive plan to launch Bal Sansad or children’s parliament across schools in India.

While CBSE-affiliated schools will have Bal Sansad for sure, state governments will be requested to start it in their schools with help from the Centre. “The idea is to help children imbibe knowledge outside textbooks and classroom,” a top ministry source said.

Jharkhand, considered a pioneer in having Bal Sansad in its schools, has been asked to share best practices and help the HRD ministry in fine-tuning the idea. On its part, the HRD has decided that the best Bal Sansad, to be decided through a congregation of Bal Sansads in a state, will be given a prize of one lakh rupees.

To be modelled on Lok Sabha, Bal Sansad will have a robust opposition and a Cabinet complete with a PM to be selected by a method adopted by the school. A Bal Sansad will take up the problems of the school. The ruling side will be hardselling government programmes on cleanliness, environment, education and gender.

“We would also like the Bal Sansad to have gender champions who will spread the message of parity between men and women, and also programmes like Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao,” a senior official said.

Bal Sansad also chalks out plans for children, be it cultural or social. From essay competitions to annual sports, a Bal Sansad has the final word while teachers help them with inputs. The opposition will raise the problems in the school, be it teaching or facilities. It will meet once a month. A new Bal Sansad will be in place each year so that most children get a chance to be a part of it.

In Jharkhand, Bal Sansads are run with the help of Rashtriya Jharkhand Seva Sansthan in 24 schools of Koderma, while in the rest of the state other NGOs help government schools with their inputs. Manoj Dangi, secretary of Rashtriya Jharkhand Seva Sansthan says, “Not only does it make them aware of their rights but it also provides them a platform where national issues are discussed.”

Highlight awareness among students about negative impact of tobacco use: CBSE

In the backdrop of the approaching ‘World No Tobacco Day’, Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has instructed all the schools affiliated to it to highlight and raise awareness among their students, staff and community about the negative impact of tobacco use. In continuation of the awareness programmes, the schools have been instructed to conduct poster making, essay writing and powerpoint presentation making competitions.

“On World No Tobacco Day, May 31, 2016, WHO and the Secretariat of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control are calling countries to get ready for plain (standardized) packaging of tobacco products. The CBSE is committed to supporting all initiatives by schools, which have the major responsibility to highlight and raise awareness among their students, staff and the community, about the negative impact of tobacco use,” read the order issued by Sugandh Sharma, additional director (research and innovation), CBSE.
The circular also directed all schools to ensure that Section 6 of Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA) 2003, which prohibits the sale of tobacco products in an area within radius of 100 yards of any educational institution, is effectively enforced through a display board put up outside the institution.

“Effective awareness-raising is possible through the conduct of various competitions, where students apply their knowledge, observation and creativity, through a variety of media, on the spot. These will go a long way in eradicating the menace of tobacco use among students, staff and the communities,” read the circular issued by Sharma.

For the events like poster making, powerpoint presentation, essay writing the theme been selected is the negative impact of tobacco.

Certificate course on introduction to languages of South Asia

The Department of Linguistics at the Deccan College Postgraduate and Research Institute will run a certificate course on introduction to languages of South Asia, in June-July this year.

A statement issued by the college said that, South Asian languages share many characteristics such as grammatical structure and vocabulary, but they are also distinctly different. Most of the nations of South Asia have linguistic minorities. The focus of the course will be on developing awareness about Languages and the Linguistic heritage available in India and subcontinent.
The major language families in South Asia are Indo-Aryan, Dravidian, Austroasiatic (Munda) and Tibeto-Burman. We are having several languages belonging to these language families and additionally we have some of the unclassified languages and language isolates as well. We have a very rich linguistic heritage in India as well. Assamese, Bengali, Bodo, Dogri, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Maithili, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Odia, Panjabi, Sanskrit, Santhali, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu are some of the major languages spoken in India.

English and Hindi are widely spoken in India. We have some of the language isolates, which are not related to any known language family, include Burushaski, Kusunda, Nahali etc. Languages such as Urdu, Bangla, Nepalese, Sinhala, Dhivehi, English etc. are spoken in nearby countries to India.

The course would be conducted between June 27 and July 9 between 11.30am to 1.30pm and session II between 2pm to 4pm. For details contact Sambhaji Jadhav on 8805694802.

IIT-B to offer fast-track B Tech programmes

Students at IIT-Bombay can complete their BTech programme in just three-and-a-half years instead of four from the coming academic year.

The radical move to offer a fast-track B Tech degree as an option to students across courses was taken in a recent senate meeting of the institute. Students who are keen on completing the course faster, can choose to take up additional credits and complete their course in just three and a half years.

As of now, none of the older IITs have started offering the fast-track BTech, but, IIT-Kharagpur is moving towards it and plans to implement it from the 2017 batch.

“In the final semester, students are free to opt for internships, start work on their entrepreneurial venture or spend a semester abroad at any institute as an exchange student. They will be free to opt for anything. The finer details of the plan are yet to be worked out. The provision is applicable to students from the current batch itself, so they can start accumulating credits from the next academic year,” said the director of IIT-Bombay, Devang Khakhar.

He added that these students, who complete their coursework in three-and-a-half-year, will be eligible to sit for the placements in December and start working immediately too once they are placed.

“Once the students complete their course in three and a half years, they will be asked to leave the campus. Students will be given a provisional statement of marks, but the final degree certificate will be given to the students only during the institute’s convocation,” said Shubham Goyal, external general secretary of academic affairs (undergraduate). The provision is currently applicable only for the BTech students, whether it can be extended to dual degree students will be decided on case-to-case basis, said Goyal.

Students can start accumulating additional courses after the completion of the first year. “They can choose to do any courses that they wish to. For some courses, which will require the student to have completed a pre-requisite course, they will have to choose it after second or third year,” said Goyal.

The system will enable the students to learn at their own pace, without any stress. However, there will be a limit on the campus stay. Though students can take more than six years to complete their BTech programme too, they will not be allowed to stay on the campus beyond that, said a student.
Beyond six years, students will have to make alternative arrangements outside the campus. This will also help the institute’s administration, which is anyway facing a shortage of accommodation facilities for the ever-increasing strength.
While around 15 students from every batch are keen to complete their course and leave the campus, once the system is institutionalised, there will be more takers, said a student.
IIT-Kharagpur, is probably the only institute to have moved to a partial flexible credit system. Director Partha Chakrabarti said, “We are anyway allowing students to take up micro-credits in their final semester. We have already introduced a flexible system to allow students to learn at their own pace. The fast-track B Tech programme will be offered by 2017 as we are bringing about the changes in phases. Sixty per cent of the work is already done and implemented.”

HRD minister Smriti Irani announces child tracking, other school initiatives

The HRD ministry is bringing in a child tracking system for over 200 million children across the country which will be used to monitor their progress from one class to another and also identify drop outs.

“Introducing a child tracking system for over 200 million children all across the country to track movement class to class, identify drop outs,” HRD minister Smriti Irani said in a series of tweets today on the initiatives taken by her ministry in the field of school education.

In another tweet, Irani said that due to Right to Education, the concept of bridge schools was discontinued “which disabilitated entrance of out of school children into the school system (sic).”

Moving to other initiatives of the HRD ministry, Irani said that rather than monitoring the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), the programme for achievement of universalisation of elementary education, annually as was done during the UPA, her ministry would track it online daily.

“We did mid term review online. This year we shall track SSA daily online. Real time data will help engage productively with states,” she said in.

Sarva Siksha Abhiyaan under UPA regime was monitored once a year and was not facilitating solutions real time, she added.

Irani also annouced that her ministry is developing an expenditure portal that centralises various sources of school education data in India. She also mentioned a first of its kind portal for Teacher Education Institutions which will ensure transparency and grading.

The HRD minister said her ministry is supporting states to help build composite schools by rationalising stand alone schools with low enrollment and one teacher.

“Smaller schools are either mentored by larger schools in same geographical area or are merged in the interest of students,” she tweeted.

She also announced that the National Assessment Survey (NAS) which was done once in three years by NCERT, will now be done annually.

NAS, henceforth, will be competency based, she said in a tweet adding that states are to do assessment in all schools from classes 1 to 8.
“Learning outcome portal being designed by NCERT which will have videos so that outcomes are easily comprehended n tests voluntarily taken,” she tweeted.
In another message, Irani mentioned said the Shala Siddhi scheme of her ministry will be extended to all schools.
“Under Shaala Siddhi school evaluation was undertaken since November 2015. This year we shall extend it to all schools across the country,” she said.

School asked to remove negative remark from certificate

The Maharashtra State Commission for Protection of Child Rights asked a Chembur school to issue an appropriate school leaving certificate instead of the one issued earlier with a negative remark.

The Commission on Friday, while hearing the case of the 16-year-old child of Ryan International School, Chembur, asked the authorities to remove the remark of ‘problematic child’ which was mentioned as the reason for leaving the school. Secretary of the commission, A N Tripathi said, “It was inappropriate on the school’s part to write such a remark. The school has agreed to it and is going to issue a new school leaving certificate for the child.” The commission also gave time to the school to respond to the remaining complaints ot the parent until the next hearing. The parents have been fighting the case in the commission since a corporal punishment incident in October 2015.
The parents have requested the commission to recommend police investigation in harassment case that their son was subjected to in the school. “We will move the school tribunal and also go for a private complaint against the school after the commission’s judgement,” said the father. The boy already has secured admission in an Airoli school.