JNU to get campus-wide Wi-Fi network soon

JNU to get campus-wide Wi-Fi network soon

NEW DELHI: The Wi-Fi service, currently restricted to the Jawaharlal Nehru University’s academic complex, will soon be available throughout the campus, including the hostels and residences.

The varsity had mooted the idea of a campus-wide Wi-Fi network way back in 2008 when it was decided to roll out the project in three phases.

While the first phase was scheduled to cover the academic block, the 16 university hostels were supposed to be next and the residential area, university health centre and student activity centre were proposed to be included in phase III.

However, after much delay due to security concerns, the Wi-Fi project for the academic centre was rolled out in 2010 and any further progress could not been made since then.

“Now we have got some funds from the University Grants Commission (UGC) we had been waiting for quite a while. It is not the entire funding, but some grants have been received,” JNU Vice Chancellor S K Sopory said.

“The academic centre is already a Wi-Fi zone but the plan is to provide a network throughout the campus. The project is likely to be executed by year end,” he added.

A senior varsity official handling the project said, “The testing process is on under phase I and is expected to get over in four months. We are testing the authentication for network access to make the network secure and be available to only authorized users.”

Point to multi-point wireless connectivity has been proposed between the hostels and cluster of residences (Uttarakhand, Dakshinapuram and Poorvanchal among others) and the existing campus-wide network to ensure at least 108 Mbps backbone bandwidth.

At present the university has a network connecting 26 buildings of the academic complex. These are connected through a strong network running on a fibre optic backbone with an intranet bandwidth of 1 Gbps and Internet bandwidth of 16 Mbps.

In an endeavour to provide an exclusive, affordable and dedicated telecommunication network to the students, the Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL) had in 2010 signed an MoU with JNU.

To ensure seamless connectivity with good coverage and quality of service, MTNL had also set-up four additional 3G towers (BTS) to cover the sprawling JNU Campus.

NIT-K Surathkal students to secure unmanned level crossings

SURATHKAL: To reduce death tolls at unmanned level crossings, NIT-K, Surathkal faculty and students are working on a system to provide advance warning at unmanned level crossings.

The Indian Railways network has a large number of unmanned level crossings spread all over the country, especially in sparsely populated areas. Therefore, there is an urgent need to devise a simple system that can detect the presence of the train when it is at a fair distance – approximately 5 kilometres from the location of the level crossing and provide an audio-visual warning so that people, vehicles, people and livestock can move away from the location of the level crossing, said Prof U Sripati Acharya and Laxminidhi T, faculty members, ECE department, NITK, Surathkal.

The department has signed a memorandum of understanding with Palakkad division – Southern Railway. Explaining the technology approach, Acharya said a lot vibration is generated when a train is in motion.

“We planned to install a sensitive vibration sensor/ acoustic sensor on the track/ sleeper near the level-crossing and constantly monitor its output. This will give us an understanding of the average signal amplitudes produced by different categories of traffic at the reference distance from the level crossing. Further, the output of the vibration sensor will be monitored by the microcontroller device which will process the readings and infer the presence of the train, its type and velocity.

“After sensing the unambiguous presence of the train, it will trigger the audio-visual warning system placed close to the level crossing. After the train crosses the level crossing, the system will reset itself and wait for the arrival of the next train,” he added.

However, developing a device and checking it is a Herculean task. Acharya said these sensors must be highly sensitive, be rugged and environment proof, be capable of being mounted on the track/ sleeper and must be able to exchange signals with the microcontroller. “We will identify the broad and vibration signatures of different type of trains and store them in memory. The vibration produced by a vehicle moving in the track will be acquired and compared with the patterns stored in memory,” he said.

The systems will be deployed in remote locations which do not have electricity supply and power battery charged by a solar panel. The biggest problem is that the equipment will have to be housed in weather-proof and vandal proof housing. Moreover, due to a heavy train movement, the vibration/ acceleration sensor will have to mounted securely on the track and be hermetically sealed against the moisture ingress. Laxminidhi said the department is expected to install five prototypes at various level crossings that have been identified by Southern Railway. After extensive field testing under controlled conditions, they will be deployed in unmanned level crossings.

Girls in government schools in UP to get free sanitary pads

Girls in government schools in UP to get free sanitary pads

LUCKNOW: In a laudable move, the Uttar Pradesh government will soon provide free sanitary napkins to reduce the absenteeism of girls in schools during their periods, an official said, adding the move follows growing concerns over personal hygiene of girls attaining puberty.

Nodal teachers will be appointed by the education department to distribute sanitary napkins and give related information in the presence of Accredited social health activist (ASHA) workers, chief secretary Alok Ranjan said.

“To break the wrong opinions and myths in the girls concerning menses, it is a must initiative,” Ranjan told IANS.

The distribution of sanitary napkins would be part of the ‘Kishori Suraksha Yojana’ initiated by the state and all district magistrates (DMs) would be held responsible for its successful implementation.

Basic Shiksha Adhikari (BSA) and the district inspector of schools (DIOS) have been tasked to provide sanitary pads at block-level schools.

The scheme will cover students from classes 6 to 12.

Government officials pointed out that over 40 per cent girls drop out of schools owing to the hormonal changes in the body, the physical and mental effect, and due to the hesitation and lack of information.

A circular signed by the chief secretary has already been issued to all DMs and the health, primary and higher secondary education, Panchayati Raj and Information and Public Relations departments have been asked to coordinate the scheme.

Officials said a major publicity campaign for girls to use sanitary napkins to enable them to understand their importance and use after purchasing would also be launched soon.

The Primary and Higher Secondary Education Department would provide sanitary napkins on the basis of the number of registered girls in government and basic schools (Class VI to XII) to the BRC (Block Resource Centre) so that nodal teachers of primary education department could easily receive them and provide them to the schools.

The napkins would be provided by Chief Medical Officers up to the Block level Community Health Centres (CHCs) and Primary Health Centres (PHCs) for eligible schools coming under the higher secondary education department so that principals of schools could distribute them easily.

Instructions have also been issued for schools to arrange dustbins at clean and dry places in schools for the disposal of sanitary napkins.

Other than this, education officials and teachers would have to compulsorily undergo menstrual hygiene (menses management) training workshops in all districts, so that girls get the maximum information related to cleanliness.

Many view this as a major initiative that would go a long way in ensuring personal hygiene among growing girls and also making sure that they don’t miss school during their periods.

School boards’ meeting on October 28 to discuss high exam scores

School boards' meeting on October 28 to discuss high exam scores

NEW DELHI: With the admission cut-offs in universities scaling new peaks every year, the HRD ministry has called a meeting of 42 all-India and state school education boards to discuss how to check the trend of excessively high board exam scores.

The meeting scheduled to be held on October 28 will also focus on the need for boards to be strict in awarding marks and reconsider the practice of grace marking.

“Around 8,917 of the 12 lakh students who took CBSE’s Class XII board exams this year had secured more than 95 per cent. The first cut-off for admission to leading Delhi University colleges has for years been set above 95 per cent,” an official in the HRD Ministry said.

“It will be discussed whether we need grace marking at all. Also in moderation – the board decides that certain questions in a particular paper were too difficult and awards full marks to everybody against them thus leading to inflation of marks,” the official added.

Other issues on the agenda for the meeting include the existing system of setting question papers, marking pattern, evaluation, rechecking, re-totalling and revaluation, and laying down guidelines to prevent cheating in examination.

The meeting will also discuss the need for JEE (Advanced) examination as merit list of IITs can be prepared on the basis of JEE (Main), linking the syllabus and examination pattern for classes 10 and 12 and entrance examinations for admission to medical and engineering colleges, a relook at the teaching-learning process in classrooms, and the implementation of continuous comprehensive evaluation.

Besides, the ministry will try to persuade the all-India and state boards to declare their class XII results within an agreed deadline so that IIT and NIT admissions are not delayed.

Delhi: 50-day plan to hone in kids’ Hindi, math skills

NEW DELHI: The 54 schools in Delhi government’s model school programme have been asked to put their regular mathematics and Hindi instruction on hold and teach a programme designed by education NGO Pratham in primary school. Senior secondary schools, at least, have been asked to free 50 minutes for each of the two subjects every day for classes till VIII. The plan is to raise the level of learning to a basic minimum.

While teachers say it’s still too early to judge whether the programme will strengthen foundations, it has led to considerable disruption in the schools’ general functioning.

A report in the Hindi press on the subject angered education minister Manish Sisodia whose sneering tweet, accompanied by a photo of the story, said, “I think the reporter has no understanding of what’s being done. It’s a worst story on the issue (sic).”

However, as that report pointed out, there are indeed concerns about what 50 days of the regular curriculum being replaced means for kids who’ll have to ultimately write the same set of exams. “How will you rate these kids against all the others in the common system of education?” asks a teacher.

According to sources, “what’s being done” is this: for 50 days, starting mid-October, kids till Class VIII will be taught maths and Hindi from Pratham books; two 50-minute slots have been carved out of every school day for these. “Pratham conducted a test to assess the students’ achievement levels. According to these, they’ve been divided into groups to bring them up to a minimum level,” says a teacher. Each section will be divided into two-higher level and lower-and the content will be different. The books have been procured by the government.

‘It’s not as easy as it sounds,” observes a teacher whose school had to redo the entire timetable because of this programme. “We have very large numbers and likely no school has fewer than four sections per class. Now, there are eight but the groups are still large with wide variations in abilities. We’ve had to put teachers in place.”

There are more problems with such segregation. As a teacher points out, a kid weak in Hindi (and, therefore, in the relevant group) need not be weak in mathematics. “But to get kids to move from, say, a lower Hindi class to higher mathematics will waste a lot of time given the number of students involved. So a kid weak in Hindi is getting stuck studying lower mathematics too. We’re facing a lot of difficulty in segregating even on the basis of achievement.”

‘We plan to ease closure process to curb number of seats going vacant’

CHENNAI: Avinash S Pant discusses with Adarsh Jain, the regulatory body’s plan to improve quality in technical education. Here are excerpts from the interview in Coimbatore.Over a spread of South Indian delicacies served on the traditional plantain leaf, the All India Council for Technical Education vice-chairman Avinash S Pant discusses with Adarsh Jain, the regulatory body’s plan to improve quality in technical education. Here are excerpts from the interview in Coimbatore.

It has been three months since the new chairman has taken over. How are things going with a new person at the helm?

Things have been going very smoothly. Decision making, implementation of schemes and enforcement of policies have become easier. The government has also been very supportive. We look forward to improving the technical education system in the country under the leadership of the Union minister Smriti Irani.

Recently, the AICTE chairman, Anil D Sahasrabudhe, had spoken about reducing the intake in engineering institutions. How is the AICTE planning to go about this?

Actually, the chairman’s statement on this issue was misinterpreted. While I do not want to say much, I will make it clear that the AICTE is not going to ask colleges to shut down courses. We are aware that close to 6 lakh seats are going vacant every year. This has been the trend for the past few years now. Over a period of time, the AICTE hopes to reduce the number of seats going vacant. To achieve this, we have decided to ease the closure process for institutions.

With the launch of the National Institutional Ranking Framework, what is the status for technical, management and architecture institutions?

We have already introduced a system for engineering and polytechnic institutes. It will take some time to come out with a comprehensive ranking system for institutions, as there are around 3,500 engineering colleges across the country. Simultaneously, we are working on framing a ranking system for pharmaceutical and architecture colleges too.

It is often said that management, architecture and pharmacy colleges should be under separate governing bodies. What’s your take on this?

As far as architecture and pharmacy colleges are concerned, they have separate councils for them. But, they fall under the AICTE which has been doing a great job in governing all technical institutions.

The AICTE review committee submitted its report in April. What are the policy decisions that are going to be taken?

We recently organized the stakeholder’s workshop where we had invited experts from across the country. We have asked them for their suggestions and expectations. Simultaneously, the government is studying the AICTE review committee report. It will take a while to arrive at the measures that need to be taken to improve the governance system.

Universities in Chhattisgarh to go paperless soon

Universities in Chhattisgarh to go paperless soon

RAIPUR: In yet another step towards making a Digital India, Chhattisgarh government is all set to introduce Student Lifecycle Management System (SLCM) by computerising admission and examination process in all the 210 colleges affiliated with the four universities in state.

The programme, scheduled to be implemented from December this year, would make the process of registration of first year students of different undergraduate and post-graduate courses online. Students would not only be able to fill in their application online but also pay their fees and other charges.

Talking to TOI, Chhattisgarh Infotech & Biotech Promotion Society (CHiPS) CEO Saurabh Kumar said SLCM, being developed by CHiPS in association with the higher education department, would link all the colleges under the four universities of Ambikapur, Bilaspur, Raipur and Jagdalpur. “Till all the processes are made online, manual registration and other related work would continue,” he said adding that they hope to complete the digitalisation of all student records by June 2016.

He said all admission processes, including short-listing of students by university/colleges for entrance examination, issuance of admit cards, generation of merit lists and subsequent processes of admission would be done through computer. “Students who are enrolled would then be issued individual login ids and passwords, through SMS, and then they would be able to pay their fees online and all records would be made paperless,” he said.

Kumar said the programme also entails computerising the processes related to examinations by making date sheets and admission cards available online. Students will be able to submit examination forms with their respective faculties in person before generating the exam hall ticket online.

Later, even employees would be issued login ids and all official communication would be made online. Records of leave, appraisals and promotions and other routine work would be digitized to make administration transparent.

All admission processes, including short-listing of students by university/colleges for entrance examination, issuance of admit cards, generation of merit lists would be done through computer.

Inaugural Oxford Masters to begin from Tuesday

PUNE: The inaugural Western India Oxford Masters will feature some of the top Indian professionals such as Chiragh Kumar at the Oxford Golf Resort here from Tuesday.

2011 Rolex Player of the Year Chiragh finished tied second along with Anirban Lahiri at the Venetian Macau Open on Sunday and thus secured his card for the 2016 Asian Tour season.

It was the Delhi golfer’s best finish on the Asian Tour since his second place at the Indian Open 2011. With Chiragh getting back to form, he is likely to be one of the top contenders this week.

Seasoned professionals Mukesh Kumar of Mhow and Delhi’s Shamim Khan will bring all their experience to the fore in order to conquer the challenging layout of the Oxford Golf Resort. Mukesh (2008 Rolex Rankings champion) and Shamim (2012 Rolex Rankings champion), both winners in the 2015 season, are currently ranked second and third in the Rolex Rankings.

They are the highest ranked players in the field this week and strong contenders for the title. Interestingly, both players have registered wins in Pune in the past.

Bangaloreans Khalin Joshi and Udayan Mane and Gurgaon’s Shubhankar Sharma, all tournament winners on the PGTI, are some of the promising youngsters playing this week.

The international challenge will be led by the likes of Sri Lankans Anura Rohana, N Thangaraja and K Prabagaran, Australian Kunal Bhasin and Bangladeshi Md Zamal Hossain Mollah.

Vocational training for undergrads too in Hyderbad

HYDERABAD: While the Centre is pushing for vocational education with separate skill development service cadre, the focus on vocational skills is declining among students in Telangana. To rectify this, the Telangana State Council of Higher Education (TSCHE) is mulling introduction of vocational skills at undergraduate level from the next academic year.

As per a report by the ministry of human resource development, there were over 7,510 boys and 5,103 girls enrolled in vocational courses at higher secondary level in 2014-15 across the state. As of now, vocational skills are given only till the intermediate level and the council’s plan to extend it aims to make students employable at any stage.

“Focus on vocational skills is declining with students pursuing higher education without knowing where their real interest lies. This state of dilemma also adds to rate of unemployment among youth,” said T Papi Reddy, chairman of TSCHE. He pointed out various studies that have revealed how a meagre 18-20% engineering students are employable.

The TSCHE will soon hold consultation meetings with all stakeholders to discuss the subjects to be introduced at the UG level. “The guidelines will be framed soon after discussing it with college principals and teachers among others,” said Venkata Chalam, vice-chairman of TSCHE.

“The skills will be subject to the students and the courses that they are enrolled in,” said Reddy.

According to sources, subjects such retail management, information technology, hospitality etc. are expected to be introduced. The skill-based programmes will be credit based and won’t have any exams. Students at the UG level can pursue the programme along with their regular course. At present, only environment studies are introduced as a skill-based programmed at UG level.

Incidentally, the University Grants Commission (UGC) had granted nearly 11 community colleges in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana early this year to boost vocation education in the state. According to UGC guidelines, any college equipped with facilities to accommodate students in vocational and employment-based courses are eligible to function as community colleges. Aim of these colleges is to provide both vocational and skill development along with conventional courses.

100-day adult literacy scheme awaits CM K Chandrasekhar Rao’s nod

HYDERABAD: The Telangana state directorate of adult education has charted out a 100-day action plan to educate over 50 lakh illiterates in the state through a training programme.

The state has the second-largest number of illiterates in the age group of 15-60 years in the southern region. Mahbubnagar has the most number of illiterates among the districts, followed by Medak and Nizamabad. Mahbubnagar has the least literacy rates on all fronts, be it male, female, SCs and STs.

The 66.46 per cent literacy rate in the state is much lower than the national average of 72.99 per cent. In female literacy, Mahbubnagar finished last followed by Adilabad and Nizamabad. In the SCs category also, Mahbubnagar has the highest number of illiterates, followed by Nizamabad and Medak while in STs, Mahbubnagar has the lowest literacy rates, followed by Medak and Nizamabad.

To reach out to these districts, local scholars with knowledge of linguistic and dialects spoken in Telangana districts have been enrolled to prepare the teaching material.

“It is a matter of concern that literacy rate is lower than in some of the lower income states like Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh. The literacy rate in the state varies from 55.04 per cent in Mahbubnagar (lowest) to 83.25 per cent (highest) in Hyderabad. There are also huge differences in literacy rates between males and females and that of SCs and STs. Improving the literacy rate in general and that of the SCs and STs in particular is a major challenge before the state government,” the action plan document says.

The 100-day literacy programme includes teaching words, alphabets, government projects, welfare schemes and festivals like Bathukamma. “The 100-day action plan has been prepared and sent to chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao for approval. Once we receive approval, we plan to complete the training programme by the end of February and send the trainees for the examination to be conducted by the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) to be held in March 2016,” said K Anand Das, director of adult education. “Currently, we are in the process of identifying 2 lakh volunteers for the massive training project,” he said.

Adult education plan:

* Telangana has the second-largest number of illiterates in the age group of 15-60 years in the southern region

* The state has 66.46% literacy rate, much lower than the national average of 72.99%

* Among the districts, Mahbubnagar has the least literacy rates on all fronts, be it male, female, SCs and STs

* Now, the directorate of adult education has charted out a 100-day action plan to educate over 50 lakh illiterates

* Local scholars with knowledge of linguistic and dialects spoken in the districts have been enrolled to prepare the teaching material