President to host conference of educationists

President to host conference of educationists
NEW DELHI: President Pranab Mukherjee will host Visitor’s Conference at Rashtrapati Bhavan here from November 4 to 6, which will be attended by educationists from across the country, an official said on Monday.

The conference will be attended by vice chancellors, directors, and directors general of institutions of higher learning. The President is the Visitor of 114 central institutes.

“This is the first time such a conference, bringing together at one forum all heads of higher education institutions, is being convened by President Mukherjee,” said an official statement issued here.

Earlier, separate conferences were held of vice chancellors of central universities, directors of National Institutes of Technology (NITs), Indian Institutes of Information Technology (IIITs), Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) and Indian Institute of Science (IISc).

The agenda for the Visitor’s Conference includes improving the quality of higher education in institutions to bring them at par with the top institutions of the world, capacity development of faculty, engagement of institutes of higher learning with community and society for sustainable and inclusive development and promotion of gender equity and cultural inclusion through higher education, the statement said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, union ministers and other prominent people are expected to attend the event.

London MP backs grammar annexe in non-selective borough

Sixth formers at WCGS
Image captionWallington only admits girls in the sixth form

A London MP says he will help a grammar school develop plans to expand into a neighbouring borough.

Wallington County Grammar School in Sutton, south London, has expressed an interest in opening a site in non-selective Croydon.

Chris Philp, Conservative MP for Croydon South, says he plans to write to Nicky Morgan to explore the process.

Croydon Council said it already had a clear strategy to meet rising demand for school places.

‘Encouraged’

Mr Philp confirmed that he had been talking to Wallington, a boys’ school, about setting up a satellite in Croydon for some time and they had been encouraged by last week’s go-ahead for a similar plan in Kent.

The education secretary allowed Weald of Kent school in Tonbridge to open an annexe in Sevenoaks, sidestepping a ban on new grammar schools in England.

Mrs Morgan said the ban would remain and her decision would not “open the floodgates” to more selective schools, describing it as a “genuine expansion” of an existing school.

However, councillors in both Berkshire and Bedfordshire have, in the past week, begun exploring the possibilities of creating new grammar schools.

Mr Philp said he was keen to help Wallington investigate the feasibility of a selective annexe in Croydon.

“It will give children from all backgrounds the opportunity to fulfil their potential.”

artists' impression of new schoolImage 
Image captionArtists’ impression of the grammar school to open in Sevenoaks in September 2017

Currently, Labour-controlled Croydon operates a comprehensive education system, but Bromley to the east and Sutton to the west both run selective secondary schools.

Wallington’s headmaster, Jonathan Wilden, confirmed the school would be interested in opening a Croydon annexe, should the opportunity arise.

Plans for the school to open a separate, non-selective free school in the borough in 2018 have already been given the go-ahead.

Croydon had already identified potential sites for new schools to meet rising pupil numbers and one of these could be earmarked for a grammar school, Mr Wilden suggested.

However, he said the school currently had no plans to submit a formal application for an annexe.

A spokesman for Croydon Council said the borough currently had no plans for grammar schools and would meet increased demand for school places by expanding existing schools and opening new comprehensives.

“The Department for Education has offered Wallington County the possibility of opening a secondary-age free school in 2018 with a comprehensive intake.

“The council has had no formal approach regarding a grammar school and there are no plans to develop grammar schools or grammar school extensions in Croydon,” said the spokesman.

Judicial review?

Last week, Comprehensive Future, which campaigns for equality of opportunity in education, said the group was taking advice on the feasibility of a judicial review of the Weald of Kent decision in the High Court.

Shadow education secretary Lucy Powell said: “We are now seeing moves in many selective areas to open new grammar schools.

“Nicky Morgan will rue the day she allowed the new grammar school in Kent.”

Third gender: MPhil students to study Laxmi’s autobiography

AHMEDABAD: This year’s master of philosophy (MPhil) students of department of sociology will study ‘Me Hijra, Me Laxmi,’ autobiography of transgender Laxmi Narayan Tri pathi, face of India’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community, as one of the two mandatory research readings for the course. Gujarat University is perhaps the first institution to have included the topic related to LGBT in mainstream curriculum.

Gaurang Jani, associate professor of department of sociology , said that there were several reasons for the decision. “Sociology strives to understand society – how it sees itself and how it sees various sections of it. We decide mandatory reading for a period of three years for the course requirements where it is generally monograph or important re search paper that helps students understand process of research and broaden their understanding of the topic. We found the Gujarati translation of Laxmi’s book a perfect example of documentation of a marginalized societal section’s struggle for human rights and finding its own voice,” he said. Officials see the decision in the light of apex court’s recognition of the third gender and the state government’s schemes for the transgender.

The third gender is now also recognized in the educational institutions. There are 14 MPhil stu dents registered with the department at the mo ment.

“As budding sociologists, the students would get to know a number of miscon ceptions surrounding LGBT community. The book has also discussed society’s approach to wards the third gender, their culture and Indian and international scenario today . Finally, the is sue is also about human rights as a whole and fight for it,” said Jani, who has advocated human rights on various platforms himself.

South Korean scholars boycott state-issued textbook project

South Korean scholars boycott state-issued textbook project
Professors from more than 20 South Korean universities said they would not contribute to the textbooks.

SEOUL: Hundreds of South Korean scholars have declared they are boycotting the writing of state-issued history textbooks out of concern that that they will teach distorted views on the country’s recent past.

Conservative President Park Geun-hye’s government plans to require middle and high schools to use textbooks edited by the government after 2017, instead of allowing schools to choose from eight private publishers, as is currently the case.

The move toward state-issued textbooks is the latest in a series of efforts by conservative leaders in South Korea and Japan to shape school history books to reflect their political views, and has sparked fierce criticism from academics and opposition parties.

Professors from more than 20 South Korean universities said they would not contribute to the textbooks because they believe the government is moving to soften descriptions of the brutal dictatorships that preceded South Korea’s bloody transition toward democracy in the 1980s. The Korean History Research Association, the country’s largest group of historians, with nearly 800 members, has declared it won’t participate in the writing process.

Opposition leader Moon Jae-in, who lost the 2002 presidential election to Park, said in a Facebook post Saturday that the directive to revert to state-issued textbooks signals an attempt at “beautifying” past dictatorships, and added that such textbooks would be “global embarrassments”.

In announcing the controversial plans on Monday, Education Minister Hwang Woo-yea argued that the current history textbooks are too left-leaning and encourage views sympathetic to North Korea, and called for school books that are “objective” and “balanced.” The plan was to recruit professional historians to help write the new textbooks.

Before leaving for her current trip to the United States, Park defended the move toward state-issued textbooks by saying history classes must inspire “pride” in students for being South Korean citizens. Park is the daughter of slain military dictator Park Chung-hee, who ruled South Korea in the 1960s and ’70s, and whose legacy as a successful economic strategist is marred by brutal records of civilian oppression.

Lee Shincheol, a historian at Seoul’s Sungkyunkwan University and a contributing author of one of the current textbooks, said that the government’s criticism makes little sense because private publishers had been required to follow editorial guidelines set by the Education Ministry and have their content reviewed by a state-run history institution. For the government to insist on full control over textbooks would eliminate academic freedom and result in politicized historical narratives, Lee said.

“Even Korea’s feudal monarchs had granted autonomy to royal chroniclers, but Park’s concept of history is more outdated than that of old kings,” he said.

The government of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also in recent years has been criticized for trying to influence textbooks for political purposes.

Japan’s Education Ministry last year introduced a textbook screening policy that required private publishers reflect the government’s official position on contentious issues in modern history to “balance out” references to Japan’s wartime aggression. However, Japan hasn’t been using state-issued textbooks since the end of World War II, Lee said.

It was Park’s father who introduced state-issued history textbooks in 1974, two years after he declared martial law amid widening student protests and rammed through a new constitution that effectively made him president for life. It was not until the early 2000s when South Korea began liberalizing the production of history textbooks, and since 2011, all history books used in middle and high schools have been written by private publishers.

Park’s decision to revert to the old textbook system seems to be an effort to rally her conservative supporters in a country deeply split along ideological and generational lines, according to an official at Moon’s party, who didn’t want to be named, citing office rules. South Korea holds its next parliamentary elections in April next year.

Danish anthropologist documenting Karam

KOLKATA: For the past 33 years, this scholar from Denmark, has been scouring the rugged and difficult landscapes of Jharkhand and Jangalmahal, in search of ancient Santhali traditions. Now when the Anthropological Survey of India has decided to document the Karam festival, one of the most primeval traditions of the Santhal tribe, they are depending heavily on Peter Anderson, one of the world’s best known scholars on tribal India, who has once again come down from Copenhagen to document the change that Karam has undergone.

Anderson has worked among the Santhals at Jharkhand around Dumka and then all over West Midnapur. There are variations in the Karam that is celebrated in the two regions, but the basic tenets and the spirit of the celebration remain the same as is evident in famous publications by Anderson like, Santhals – Glimpses of Culture and Identity and Revival from a native point of view: Proselytization in the Indian home mission and the Kherwar movement among the Santals. The Karam is a favourite subject of research among sociologists in the country not only because it showcases the tribal oral tradition so well but also because it showcases the inherent fears, beliefs and social conditions of one of the most ancient indigenous tribes of the country.

With time a large number of interpolations have worked their way into the Karam, which the Santhals still consider to be their most sacred tradition. So the Anthropological Survey of India decided to document the indigenity of the tradition both audio-visually and in the form of a book. “Karam has changed very rapidly. The world around the Santhals has been fast changing so it is natural that their lives too would get influenced by it. Right from the language of the songs, to the punctuation of the texts with modern intonations, the Karam is going through a metamorphosis. So we decided to document it with the help of Peter Anderson, the best known scholar in the field,” said Kanchan Mukhopadhyay, a senior official of the Survey.

The Karam festival centres around the Karam Tree, whose sapling is brought from the designated tree in the forest by members of the community under the guidance of the spiritual head. Karam which is akin to karma of Hindu religious belief, is a god appeasing puja that is supposed to ward off all evils. “Earlier, Santhals were extremely god-fearing and did not question rituals. They just kept handing down songs and beliefs from one generation to the next. But today they have started using logic that modern education has instilled in them and this is showing in their Karam also!” Anderson, who is now in the city said.

While Santhals have generated a lot of interest among scholars abroad, the country’s sociologists have always looked up to Anderson because he belongs to a minority that did not depend on Christian missionaries to reach the tribals. There are a large number of Danish support missions working among Santhals across the country especially in Bengal and Jharkhand, but Anderson did not deliberately take that route. “I wanted to study Santhals in their indigenous setting, unalloyed by the Christian touch because I wanted to experience their belief system in their primitive state untouched by the caste system that riddles the Hindu system,” explained Anderson.

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

Rajasthan to cut chapter on Mandela in school textbooks

Rajasthan to cut chapter on Mandela in school textbooks

JAIPUR: One of the many changes in textbooks of the Rajasthan secondary education board will be the removal of a chapter on iconic statesman Nelson Mandela, which will be replaced with a long chapter called ‘Tribals in Rajasthan.’

“It is strange and unfortunate that Rajasthan students have been reading chapters on Africa and poems by foreign authors while they are ignorant about our own tribals and poets. These textbooks giving undue importance to foreign authors and chapters are meaningless. The committee is thoroughly examining the books to bring forth the work of Indian authors which is closer to our motherland,” a senior committee member told TOI.

Starting the next academic session, the Rajasthan Board of Secondary Education (RBSE) is all set to overhaul English textbooks for Class I to XII by focusing more on local and national leaders and by replacing chapters and poems written by foreign authors with ones by Indian writers.

British author Rudyard Kipling is among the few lucky foreigners whose work will find a place in the revised textbooks. William Wordsworth’s poems though will be omitted.
Sources said the new guidelines form part of Rajasthan education minister Vasudev Devnani’s concept of ‘local to global’, which has been conveyed to the textbook re-writing committee formed by him. Sources said the committee has been instructed to leave out chapters which are not compatible with ‘local culture and value system’. For instance, chapters on agricultural practices which are not prevalent will be replaced with exhaustive chapters on traditional agricultural norms in the state.

The rewriting of textbooks is being done at two levels. While the RBSE is handling it for XI-XII classes, State Institute of Educational Research and Training (SIERT) is doing it for classes I to VIII. Each class will have two sets of English books, extensive and intensive. The entire curriculum is divided into four broad sections – comprehension, vocabulary, grammar and speech.

Sources said the committee is also adding new chapters to address social problems like skewed sex ratio. In this context, the books will have a dedicated chapter on ‘Save the Girl Child’ campaign. A few stories will also showcase women empowerment.

The committee is working overtime to finish the rewriting before November so that 8 crore new books are available in the market before March

Pakistan religious body wants separate women educational institutes

The religious body reiterated its recommendation that women do not need to cover their faces, hands and feet.

ISLAMABAD: Co-education is not compatible with Islamic principles, a constitutional religious body in Pakistan has said, asking the government to set up separate systems of education for men and women at the earliest.
The Council of Islamic Ideology (CII), formed as part of the 1973 constitution to help government in Islamisation of laws in the country, concluded a two-day meeting yesterday.
It said in a statement that co-education was neither a requirement of society nor compatible with Islamic principles.

 “The government must establish two women universities (in Islamabad) as announced by the former president General Zia-ul-Haq,” it added.
 Haq, the ex-military ruler, enacted several Islamic laws which are believed to have increased sectarianism and extremism in the country. The CII reiterated its recommendation that women do not need to cover their faces, hands and feet. It welcomed a recent Supreme Court judgement that ordered the government to implement Urdu as the official language.
 “While treating Urdu as the national and official language, the federal government should allow the provincial governments to adopt their languages as official languages,” it said.
 The CII also recommended that students appearing for competitive examinations should be allowed to answer questions in Urdu.

After Ruling, Paul Smith’s College Won’t Get Weills’ $20 Million Renaming Gift

Sanford I. Weill, a Wall Street billionaire, and his wife, Joan, have decided not to donate $20 million to a struggling northern New York college after a judge ruled that it could not be renamed for Mrs. Weill, college officials said on Thursday.

The donation had been offered on the condition that Paul Smith’s College change its name to Joan Weill-Paul Smith’s College. Mrs. Weill has been actively involved with the college’s development for more than two decades and served on the board of trustees.

But a state judge this month refused to allow the college to break the terms of its founder’s will, which required that the college be named Paul Smith’s in perpetuity, to accept the donation.

“It was a naming gift, so without the court allowing us to go forward there was no money,” Bob Bennett, Paul Smith’s spokesman, said. “That was the deal, right from the beginning.”

Joan Weill and Sandy Weill ttend the New York Philharmonic's Year of the Dragon gala at Avery Fisher Hall in New York, U.S., on Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2012.

Amanda Gordon | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Joan Weill and Sandy Weill ttend the New York Philharmonic’s Year of the Dragon gala at Avery Fisher Hall in New York, U.S., on Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2012.

The Weills have donated $10 million to the college and raised nearly $30 million from other donors, according to court filings. That money was used in part to build a new library and a student center, both of which are named for Mrs. Weill.

“The Weills are really wonderful people, and I know they’re disappointed. I’m disappointed,” the college’s president, Cathy S. Dove, said. “Honestly, in every conversation I’ve had with them they’ve continued to say we care about the students, and I don’t think that will ever change.”

Asked whether the Weills offered their gift without a naming condition after the judge’s ruling, Dr. Dove said, “When the court turned down our petition, that agreement was no longer valid.”

UPSC declares Indian Forest Service prelims results

UPSC declares Indian Forest Service prelims results
The detailed application form will be available on the UPSC website from October 16 to October 28 till 11.59 pm.

NEW DELHI: The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) has announced the results of the Indian Forest Service (IFS) exam (preliminary) 2015.

Candidates can now check their results on the commission’s website upsc.gov.in.

The successful applicants will have to apply again in the detailed application form for the IFoS (mains) which is to be held on November 21.

The detailed application form will be available on the UPSC website from October 16 to October 28 till 11.59 pm, the commission said in statement issued on Monday night.