SPPU comes to Mumbai University’s rescue, dedicates 50 teachers for paper assessments

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As the University of Mumbai (MU) struggles with paper assessments, Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU) has come to its rescue by dedicating a team of 50 professors to conduct assessments. Of the 477 examinations, the results of 340 courses were pending till July 30. In a desperate attempt to meet the deadline, MU officials had sent an appeal to the neighbouring universities. In case of SPPU, they had requested that at least 300 professors be put on the job. However, looking at the varsity’s own work pressure and admissions, about 50-60 teachers have been identified and nearly 40 computers have been dedicated solely for this job. The teachers are said to be from different departments under the Science and Management faculty.

However, despite their best intentions, the faculty at SPPU hasn’t been able to help much in terms of paper assessments. And the main reason behind this is the complicated software adopted by MU. “They have adopted some new software from this year and instead of manual assessments, the assessment has gone online. But it is not Internet-based. They have some new system which requires the answer sheets to be scanned and put into a software. This software then reads the answer sheet and displays it to the assessing teacher on a screen and that person then has to assess it and put the marks separately into a common system. It’s quite a complicated one and our teachers are taking time to adapt to it,” said one of the varsity officials. SPPU Vice-Chancellor N R Karmalkar agreed that the new software was one of the main reasons for the “slow work” on paper assessments.

“Initially, we had hoped to correct at least 1,000 answersheets in a day. However, owing to the complicated software, we are unable to do so and work is much slower than expected. I had dedicated at least 35-40 computers and 50 teachers for this job. But the data is heavy and it’s taking time to download the papers. Even this on-screen assessment system is new and is going very slow. Also, another hindrance for us is the significant difference in the syllabus and the paper patterns,” said Karmalkar.

Parliament passes bill to allow 11 lakh RTE teachers time till 2019 to acquire required qualification

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Eleven lakh teachers appointed till March 2015 under the Right to Education (RTE) Act will now get time till 2019 to acquire the prescribed minimum qualifications for firming up their appointments as Parliament today passed a bill in this regard. The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (Amendment) Bill, 2017 was passed by the Rajya Sabha by voice vote. The Lok Sabha had passed it on July 22.

According to the existing Act which came into effect from April 1, 2010, these teachers were to acquire minimum qualifications within five years by March 31, 2015.

According to the amendment bill, every teacher appointed or in position as on March 2015 is now required to acquire the minimum qualifications by 2019. The amendment will help teachers save their jobs.

When the RTE Act was implemented in 2010, new schools were set up but qualified teachers were not available and unqualified teachers, including those with graduation degrees, were recruited, according to the government.

Human Resources Development Minister Prakash Javadekar said when the government sought information regarding private schools, it was found that 7 lakh teachers lacked basic qualification.

“Then there are 1.5 lakh (teachers) who have completed one year of training. Besides, there are around 2.5 lakh
teachers still in government stream. So, there are around 11 lakh teachers in total who are without proper qualification,” Javadekar said.

The government has brought this bill in order to let these teachers complete Bachelor of Education (B.Ed.) and other professsional degrees, he added.

The government would provide free education to these teachers through ‘Swayam platform’ beginning October 2, Javadekar said, adding registration of the teachers will take place from August 15 to September 15.

“With everyone’s support, we will train 11 lakh teachers within two years. …A foolproof system has been created to train teachers. We have taken support of all states,” he said while replying to a debate on the bill.

Under a scheme ‘Swayam Prabha’, teachers will not only be trained offline but also online and even through direct-to-home (DTH) television channels, he said.

There will be a moderate registration fee and course material will also be given in hard copy as well as in CD, while 12 days’ face-to-face training in a year has also been planned, he said. That apart, Javadekar said that a four-year integrated teachers training course is on the anvil, which will be launched soon. “22 members participated in the debate and supported. This proves that education is not a political agenda, it is a national agenda,” the minister observed.

On members’ concern about the poor quality of teachers and government schools, he said the government has thought of five initiatives to address the problem.

Firstly, the learning outcome for school children has been codified and defined, and a handbook been given to schools and a poster will be put in schools by month-end. Also, parents will be given the same so that they are aware and there is accountability on this aspect, he said and urged members to visit schools in their constituencies and see if there see any change.

In the absence of systematic evaluation of children of Class 5-8, many schools have become midday schools. So, exams are to be held now, he added. Barring census and election duty, no other non-acadamic work is assigned to teachers, Javadekar said. About the five-day week in schools, he said it is an issue to be decided by the states, not the Centre.

He also made it clear that budget allocation for various schemes has not declined and in fact it is being better targeted. Earlier, Congress member Jairam Ramesh targeted the BJP, saying it should be rechristened as ‘Bharatiya Jumla Party’ as its leaders had termed as a ‘jumla’ (slogan) the election “promise” that Rs 15 lakh would be deposited in each Indian’s bank account if all the black money stashed abroad was brought back.

Shamsher Singh Dullo of Congress, while participating in the debate, said the disparity between government schools and private schools is increasing day-by-day. He said people are losing faith in government education with even daily wagers trying to send their children to private schools. Vinay P Sahasrabuddhe of BJP said the previous UPA
government did not bring the Right to Education Bill properly.

Javed Ali Khan of SP asked the government to look at the pitiable condition of over 1.72 lakh Shiksha Mitr (elemantry teachers) who have been shunted out jobs following a Supreme Court order. Tiruchi Siva (DMK) urged the government to focus on improving the quality of education and fill up the vacancies of 9 lakh teachers across the country. Viplove Thakur (Cong) wanted english to be made compulsory in government schools to make children more competitive. Kahkashan Perween (JD-U) wanted curbs on private schools.

Anil Desai (SS) sought to know the fate of teachers who are left out while expressing concern about contract teachers.

Rajeev Shukla (Cong) suggested the government to divert unused funds of other education schemes to Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan and introduce English in government primary schools. Derek O’Brien (Trinamool Cong) wanted the deadline for such teachers to get degrees to be extended to March 2021.

“We have collectively failed….there should be no politics with education,” he said and cited example of West Bengal, saying it trained 80,000 teachers in six years.

Jharna Das Baidya (CPI-M) too reiterated the demand to make the deadline March 2021 instead of March, 2019. Anubhav Mohanty (BJD) questioned as to why the government did not take proper steps in March, 2015. He demanded that the government make education below the age of 16 compulsory.

Vijaysai Reddy (YSR Cong) demanded that the teachers should not be deputed on duties other than teaching. D Raja (CPI) said Parliament enacted it in 2009 but it was collective failure that its stipulations could not be met.

He said 92 per cent teachers were in the private sector and 10 per cent shoucls were run by single teacher. He also demanded free and compulsory education for children up to secondary level.

K Rahman Khan (Cong) said seven years is quite a long time and it is the responsibility of the state to provide free, compulsory and quality education to children.

He said there were no surveys of neighbourhood despite clear cult provisions. Also, he said private management were offering 25 per cent of the seats and said unfortunately there were no surveys of households.

There is huge dropout in government schools and he also quoted CAG report that the schools were lacking even basic
infrastructure.

CBSE UGC NET 2017: Students oppose suspension of entrance test for college teachers

Students have opposed the Central Board of Scondary Education’s (CBSE’s) decision to skip University Grants Commission National Eligibility Test (UGC-NET) for the first half of the year.

Students have opposed the Central Board of Scondary Education’s (CBSE’s) decision to skip University Grants Commission National Eligibility Test (UGC-NET) for the first half of the year.

The Students Islamic Organisation of India (SIO) has filed a petition in the Supreme Court (SC) asking CBSE to take back its decision to suspend the tests. It also wants the government to conduct one more session in 2017 for students who are crossing the age limit.

Those who aspire to be assistant professor or work as junior research fellow (JRF) in colleges and universities across the country are required to clear UGC-NET. The test is usually held twice every year – around months of June and December.

In a July 11 notification, CBSE announced that the next UGC-NET exam will be held on November 5. The announcement came as a shock to teaching and research aspirants across the country who were anxiously waiting for the summer session of the test.

SIO said that suspension will further accentuate shortage of qualified teachers in degree colleges. “Shortage of faculty has been a big hurdle in ensuring quality education. Thousands of teaching positions are vacant in the universities across the country. In such a circumstance, suspending UGC NET may lead to annoyance among student community, and a loss to the intellectual community of India,” said Syed Azharuddin, national secretary, SIO.

The CBSE had approached the ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD),expressing its inability to conduct the UGC NET exam due to capacity crunch as it was overburdened with other tests such as the JEE (for admission to undergraduate engineering courses) and the NEET (for admission to under-graduate medical courses).

The student body also argued that suspension of UGC-NET stands in contrast to UGC’s intention to make NET or State Eligibility Test (SET) mandatory for pursuing PhD. It also said that the decision undermines union HRD minister Prakash Javadekar, who in a recently concluded parliamentary session, had announced that majority of vacancies in Universities would be filled up this year.

Assam to appoint 877 teachers in colleges, schools in August

Assam government on Monday said it will appoint 877 teachers in schools and colleges across the state within next one week.

Assam government on Monday said it will appoint 877 teachers in schools and colleges across the state within next one week.

“We are going to appoint the teachers by August 7. Out of them, 105 teachers of five new colleges will receive appointment letters from the Chief Minister on August 4,” Assam Education Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said at a press conference in Guwahati.

The new five government-run colleges has been set up in Behali, Dalgaon, Karimganj, Bongaigaon and Goalpara, he added.

Assam currently had only four government colleges — Cotton College, Diphu College, Haflong College and Kokrajhar College, of which Cotton has been transformed into an university.

“These will be model colleges and named after Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya. The classes will begin immediately in these.

“Construction work for another seven model colleges are going on. As per the new education policy, government will set up all future educational institutes wherever there is a necessity,” Sarma said.

In next year, three more colleges will be set up in Karbi Anglong, Cachar and Nagaon, he added.

Sarma further said government will hand over appointment letters to 626 Headmasters and 146 Assistant Headmasters in high schools across the state on August 7.

“This will address a long pending issue of running high schools without any permanent headmaster,” he added.

The minister informed that 124 retired teachers have been appointed as special inspectors in as many schools, where pass percentage in latest metric examination was below 10%.

 

Assam to appoint 877 teachers in colleges, schools in August

Assam government on Monday said it will appoint 877 teachers in schools and colleges across the state within next one week.

Assam government on Monday said it will appoint 877 teachers in schools and colleges across the state within next one week.

“We are going to appoint the teachers by August 7. Out of them, 105 teachers of five new colleges will receive appointment letters from the Chief Minister on August 4,” Assam Education Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said at a press conference in Guwahati.

The new five government-run colleges has been set up in Behali, Dalgaon, Karimganj, Bongaigaon and Goalpara, he added.

Assam currently had only four government colleges — Cotton College, Diphu College, Haflong College and Kokrajhar College, of which Cotton has been transformed into an university.

“These will be model colleges and named after Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya. The classes will begin immediately in these.

“Construction work for another seven model colleges are going on. As per the new education policy, government will set up all future educational institutes wherever there is a necessity,” Sarma said.

In next year, three more colleges will be set up in Karbi Anglong, Cachar and Nagaon, he added.

Sarma further said government will hand over appointment letters to 626 Headmasters and 146 Assistant Headmasters in high schools across the state on August 7.

“This will address a long pending issue of running high schools without any permanent headmaster,” he added.

The minister informed that 124 retired teachers have been appointed as special inspectors in as many schools, where pass percentage in latest metric examination was below 10%.

A fresh coat of paint, better plumbing and drinking water: How 5 teachers gave a Rajasthan school, and its students, a new life

When she joined the Girls’ Upper Primary School (GUPS) in Alwar’s Shivaji Park in December 2016, Hemlata Sharma, 47, had been teaching for 27 years. This was her first posting as head teacher and never before had she been so appalled by the condition of the school.

Classrooms leaked in the rain, plaster peeled off the wall. The entire building was in a state of disrepair and housed just 100 students from classes 1 to 8.

Sharma took up a challenge to bring the school back to life before the next academic session in July and roped in four other teachers for support.

Pleasing seating areas, space for interaction: The old school now is all bright and cheerful (HT Photo)

Within four months, things changed – the walls were painted in bright colours, the classrooms spruced up and a lawn laid out in front. An underground rainwater recharge tank, an RO plant for drinking water, and new furniture in all classrooms were also added. Leakages were plugged.

Just 15 days after schools opened, enrolment went up to 202. Some admissions were pending clearance for lack of Aadhaar and birth certificates.

Sharma was also determined to do something about Rajasthan’s high school dropout rate. The 2016 Annual Status of Education Report survey of schooling and learning levels in rural India ranks the state among the top three with the highest dropout rates in children aged 11 to 14 (5% among all-India average of 3.5%). To get more children to her school, she turned to her family for donation to start repairs.

A garden has been laid out for the children to play in. (HT Photo)

“I asked my sisters, brother and father for money and collected Rs 40,000 from them. After that I went to my teachers,” said Sharma, who added Rs 11,000 from her savings into the school renovation kitty.

Manju Rani Sharma, who retired on May 31, donated Rs 21,000 as a parting gift to the school. Three other teachers – Sanika Sharma, Sashi Singhal and Kavita Sharma – also donated to take the teachers’ contribution Rs 51,000.

After collecting about Rs 1 lakh, the teachers began work. For changing the infrastructure, Sharma met district Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan officials, who, impressed by her efforts, sanctioned Rs 2 lakh more.

Sanika Sharma, who will retire in June next year, said they approached philanthropists in town for furniture in classrooms and free uniforms for students.

On June 8 this year, the teachers distributed among 170 students a new uniform set and a pair of shoes and socks.

Clean water, waste disposal – the school has now got new, upgraded facilities. (HT Photo)

“It was on that day that I proposed to my colleagues that teachers should wear uniform to school to enforce discipline – and the teachers agreed,” said Sharma.

Now the students wear brown trousers and skirts and light brown shirts, and the teachers wear off-white salwar and dupatta and maroon kurta.

Two teenagers who passed Class 12 recently come in regularly to teach junior school students to make up for shortage of teachers. “Parul and Priyanka, twin daughters of school management committee president Kusum Rohilla, are coming to school since June 22 after two of the five teachers got transferred out,” the head teacher said.

The two girls are in the first year of college.

Recently, Imran Khan from Alwar, who was lauded by PM Narendra Modi at London’s Wembley Stadium in 2015 for creating apps for the benefit of students, got the school four computers and a printer.

No students in this school: Sanskrit institute with four teachers in dire straits

From a distance, this government-run Sanskrit school in Sikar district of Rajasthan appears like any other run-down school with the building in need of paint. But once you enter the premises, it becomes clear that something else is amiss. The school is erringly quiet – there are no children on the small playground or, for that matter, in the classrooms.

The Government Upper Primary Sanskrit School in Pratappura village has six classrooms, four teachers — but not a single student. The teachers report for work at about 8am, water the plants, read newspaper, chat among themselves and leave after 2pm. They get their salary on time, but are not happy about the state of affairs.

“We feel ashamed to be sitting idle the whole day. It was once a thriving school with more than 50 students, but things changed a few years ago,” Sanwarmal, the school’s head teacher, told HT.

The school, which was established in 1998 attracted children from the neighbouring villages. In 2005, the student strength peaked to 55 and then gradually began to decline. In 2015-16 academic session, only four students were left and their parents also withdrew them last year.

(From left) Sanwarmal, Krishna Verma and Prabhudayal Sharma- teachers of Upper Primary Sanskrit School in Pratappura.

“A few years ago, the neighbouring villages did not have schools so the children used to come to Pratappura. Now, there are three middle schools within 1-2 km range, and so this school has been deserted,” village sarpanch, Balram Verma, said.

Pratappura has a population of about 300, and in most households the head of the family are employed in other towns and only the elders have stayed back to look after the ancestral home.

“The village has only six to seven students from class 1-8 who now study in other schools in the neighbouring villages,” Sanwarmal said.

All the teachers are now sick with boredom. “There is nothing to do here. We even encourage the village elders to come and chat with us so that we are able to pass the time,” Krishna Verma, who is the sole female teacher, said.

A retired army man, Kashiram and a farmer, Ghanshyam Singh, are regular visitors.

The teachers have approached the education department in Jaipur to shift them on deputation to other nearby schools where there is vacancy for Sanskrit teachers. “We gave a written request many months ago, but no action has been taken in this regard. We were told that deputations have been stopped for now,” Sanwarmal said.

The school has a glorious past, said Prabhudayal Sharma, who joined as a teacher in 2003.

“Some of the students have become doctors and engineers and one of them is a senior police official. But now there is little hope. The chances of the school’s revival are very slim,” he said.

As if to emphasise his point, a stray dog wanders inside the premises to be quickly shooed away by one of the teachers.

Feeling blue: Your children can ‘catch’ stress from friends and teachers in school

Are you feeling stress out? Blame it on your fellow batch mates or colleagues. New research suggests that if students and teachers of a school appear to be stressed, the chances of the same feeling percolating to a new colleague are quite high. The study, published in the journal Teaching and Teacher Education, found a significant link between burnout among early-career teachers and exposure to both a school-wide culture of burnout and burnout among the young teachers’ closest circle of colleagues.

“If you are surrounded by people who are downcast or walking around under a pall of burnout, then it has a high chance of spilling over, even if you don’t have direct contact with these folks,” said Kenneth Frank, Professor at Michigan State University in the US.

If you’re surrounded by people who are stressed out, you are likely to be affected too.

“This study is one of the first to provide evidence that the organisational culture in schools can make a notable difference for early-career teachers’ burnout levels,” Frank added.

The researchers analysed the survey data on burnout of 171 teachers who were in their first four years in the profession and 289 experienced teachers who served as the young teachers’ mentors or close colleagues. Frank said teacher burnout is also tied to the current education policy environment.

Controversial policies such as evaluating teachers based primarily on student test scores, merit pay for teachers and lack of voice in assignment of students to teachers can bring added pressure.

HC notice to CBSE rule saying teachers not to accompany kids in school buses

New Delhi The Delhi High Court on Monday issued a notice to the city government and Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) on a plea challenging the board’s amended rule that teachers will not accompany students in school buses and not be allotted non-academic work.

A division bench of acting chief justice Gita Mittal and justice C Hari Shankar sought a response from the CBSE and Delhi’s Directorate of Education (DoE) by November 6.

The plea filed by NGO Angika Development Society through advocate Arjun Harkauli challenged the CBSE’s October 2016 circular and sought its quashing.

Schools

The CBSE, the country’s biggest school board, had asked private schools affiliated to it to ensure that their teachers are not saddled with non-teaching duties such as travelling with children in buses and managing canteens.

Harkauli argued that pursuant to the Supreme Court directives, the Delhi government had already formulated detailed directives that “teachers and bus monitors should accompany students in school buses and hence it is not the domain of the CBSE to issue any directives on this subject as it merely an examination board”.

The plea said that the administration of school and terms of service of teachers does not fall within the domain of the CBSE but under the authority of the administrator under the Delhi School Education Act.

“Similarly in the respective state the relevant state school education Act applies. The impugned circular suffers from the vice of ‘excessive legislation’ beyond the scope of its authority,” the plea added.

“In any event, even the government resolution that created the CBSE does not grant it powers to frame rules regarding administrative running of school, service conditions of teachers and safety of children.”

It added that teachers are the qualified persons to travel in buses for the safety of the students as children have inherent confidence and trust in a teachers.

“Parents feel confident when there is teacher in charge of a school bus, who can handle child psychology and well equipped to deal with emergencies and capable of effectively communicating with parents, school, local authorities, bus staff in case of an emergency,” the plea stated.

Corruption in education: Teachers education council asks staff to declare income and assets

To curb corruption and bring in greater transparency, the National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE) has asked all its employees to furnish details of their income and assets including property that will be put up on its website.

According to sources, the council has over a period of time received a number of complaints regarding corruption and the move is aimed at checking that.

“All the employees have been asked to provide details of their incomes, vehicles, property and its present market price. Data for three years has been sought from them so that it can be compared with the previous years,” said a senior NCTE official.

The council is responsible for providing recognition to B.Ed colleges and teacher training institutes. There are 11474 such institutes in the country. In the past, NCTE has been accused to processing applications for recognition out of turn. At the same time, a number of inspecting teams had members of questionable credibility and in some cases affiliation was granted even to non-existent colleges.

National Council for Teacher Education

Once the data of assets is complete it will be put on the NCTE’s website and the figures provided by the employees will also be monitored and compared to their income levels, sources further said.

“Generally too they are supposed to furnish such data but many people don’t do it despite reminders. But this time we have decided to put it on the website so that it is in public view,” added the official.

In case there are cases that look suspicious they will be put on a watch list and will be monitored closely. Employees at all levels including deputy secretary, under secretary, section officers among others have been asked to provide information.

The issue of corruption in NCTE has been raised in the Parliament too, in the past. In 2015, the then HRD minister Smriti Irani had informed the Lok Sabha that after reconstitution of the NCTE in May 2013, a vigilance wing was established in NCTE headed by Chief Vigilance Officer to look after the vigilance cases against the officers/officials of NCTE and in its Regional Offices.

“The Vigilance branch takes necessary measures in the cases of irregularities that come to their notice. In order to ensure transparency in the functioning of the NCTE, several steps have been initiated such as the online submission of applications for grant of recognition, on-line payment of fees and processing of applications in chronological order, etc”.