Monday, May 21, 2018
THE HANS INDIA | May 18,2018 , 06:09 AM IST
Education is preparation for life and it should nurture personal excellence among learners who in turn contribute to social and national progress.
But this qualitative vision is missing altogether in our education system. The recent remarks of the Union HRD Minister at an event in Madhya Pradesh confirm this fact. He expressed that there was a need to reform our education system. He said that our curriculum was devoid of values, creativity, life skills and physical education.
Educationists, teachers, parents and thinkers are much worried about the painful outcomes of today's education. Many of today's social ills are the results of our ineffective system of education.
A trainee Assistant Superintendent of Police was caught red-handed in Chennai, six months ago, while cheating in a UPSC examination using concealed electronic devices. A 17-year old Intermediate student went missing from her junior college in Hyderabad in October last year.
She left a letter behind in which she alleged that the management of the college was killing students to read all the time and asked her parents to help the other students by closing the college.
A student studying in class 12 in Haryana gunned down his school's principal inside her office with a revolver in January this year because the principal warned him for his low attendance. A third-year student of Ph.D. committed suicide in the IIT Kanpur a month ago owing to severe stress. In February this year a student studying in class seven in Gurgaon, putting a post in Facebook, threatened to rape one of his teachers and her minor daughter.
These are just a few examples that reflect the poor face value of our present education. Lack of vision and basic amenities, inapt information, verbose teaching, marks-oriented evaluation, and rules without humane concern have made our teaching-learning process a dry activity. The Ministry of HRD, on its invitation, received 34,000 suggestions from citizens to overhaul our education.
The citizens' response represents the people's eagerness for immediate result-oriented interventions in the system. Since the hurdles are deep rooted in different dimensions, the required reformation is possible only with true commitment and the Himalayan patience of all the concerned.
The central government conducted a national survey last year to assess the learning efficiency and general awareness of students studying in the 3rd, 5th and 8th grades. 1200 observers assessed 2.5 million students.
The observers were aghast at the findings. Many students failed to show even the minimum awareness in mother tongue, Mathematics, Social Studies, Science and Environmental Studies. They did not know the 1857 battle. They couldn't recognize time in clocks. They could not answer the questions pertaining to relations and their names. More surprisingly they had no awareness about the number of players in games like volleyball and chess!
Than being need-based, our curriculum is rather information-oriented. The HRD Minister himselfagreed that the NCERT school syllabus was more than that of B.A. and B.Com courses and there was a need to reduce it to half. Factors like interest, home environment, health, learning ambience, practical orientation, motivation that influence students' learning are not given adequate importance in the designing of the curriculum.
Difference in syllabi and publications is not paving a way for uniformity and integrity in students' learning. Languages are taught only as a part of the syllabus. The fact that language is a tool of personal excellence, cultural progress and influential leadership is totally being ignored. In the southern States, for example, Hindi, at the school level, is taught for the sake of marks and certification.
That is why students just ignore it after class 10 and they face many hurdles once they enter into their career leaving their State. English is another episode of nation-wide pain. Finally our students are branded as poor communicators. Our curriculum has little life. It is producing strife!
The learning ambience is terribly gloomy in many institutions. Students have no classrooms and desks to sit. Majority of the schools are lacking in basic amenities. They have no boundary walls and play grounds. Toilets also are greedy expectations in them.
No nation develops beyond wisdom of its teachers. The teaching profession, which was accorded a lofty place in the past, is considered today as the last option of those who have lost all other career opportunities.
Many teachers are working with de-motivated mood on account of several factors like contractual recruitment, deployment for non-academic activities, poor career prospects and so on. Technology is little made use of in classrooms. The outdated teaching methodology is not able to breathe life into teachers' explanations. Teachers are not empowered with qualitative training.
The wisdom of apex research organizations like NCERT is confined just to their premises and their fragrance is nowhere seen outside. In this context teachers' performance in their professional tasks is feeble. In the recent times certain unethical practices of some teachers all over the country are posing a threat to the dignity of the profession.
Our examinations are nightmares to students. They have become synonymous with terrorizing enemies. Certain of our examination rules are so inhuman that students are doubted as criminals. Girls are being asked to remove their innerwear in public at the venues of examination.
The examination authorities are following paper rules without reasoning. They are aggressive and dominant towards innocent students and the real culprits are out of their sight! In some States, students are not allowed, during board examinations, to write the test if they arrive late at the Centre even by one minute!
It is apt here to see how negligent our evaluation system is. National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) is a top organization that runs with the slogan of quality and holistic education.
A parent with great trust in the distance learning admitted his child to the Senior Secondary programme in NIOS. The student, out of her personal interest, opted for 2 extra subjects besides the prescribed ones. Appearing at the 2016 examinations she received the memo with fail marks in one subject.
Considering the daughter's confidence and following the officially permitted procedures the father got photocopy of her evaluated answer sheets and was shocked after seeing the evaluator's injustice. He found negligent cross lines even against the correct answers.
A one-mark question asked for the famous temple in Puri. The evaluator put a cross against the answer and awarded no mark at all though the student wrote 'Jagannath Temple'. The father applied for re-evaluation and took the issue to the NIOS Headquarters at Delhi.
The student one day received a letter saying that there was 'no change in marks'. Surprisingly, just after two days, the student received another letter that said 'change in marks'. The student was given just pass marks in the subject. How faithful is our evaluation system? This tendency is suppressing creativity of young minds. Burdensome studies and faulty examination methods are causing seasonal deaths of students every year!
With 27% of illiteracy and 55% of the population being dependent on agriculture in our country, we hardly find awareness among parents about significance of education. Fun and Entertainment oriented technology and freedom beyond control are making our students lazy slaves deprived of self-control and vigilant behaviour.
We need commitment of the governments in the very first place for reformation. Allocation of adequate funds and provision of basic necessities in all institutions must be the next initiative. We need common curriculum all over the country to ensure integrity in learning. It must be translated into the respective regional languages also. Let the syllabus include mother tongue, Hindi and English up to graduation.
Health care, gender equality, human rights, constitutional and legal provisions must be incorporated in the syllabus. Permanent Guidance and Counselling service in every institution, with facilities of aptitude assessment right from upper primary level, is the need of the hour. Since Internet has come into access educational technology must be brought into practice to enrich the teaching-learning process.
Teachers' proficiency should be strengthened with periodical training inputs. There need not be any written examinations during the primary education level. But there must be activity-based projects for assessment. From the high school level not only written tests there must also be social awareness projects and personality tests in the evaluation process.
All this will lead to confidence in the system without thoughts of self-destruction. Teachers' voice should represent our collective developmental choice. Students are our precious property. Let us save them. Institutions are sacred abodes. Education is our lighthouse. Let us breathe life into them with attention!
By Vangeepuram Srinivasa Chary (The writer is the CEO of AARAA Poll Strategies Pvt. Ltd., Hyderabad.)
20 IIT Students and Alumni File Petition, Move SC to Decriminalise Section 377
Challenging the constitutionality of Section 377 of the IPC on several grounds, members of an informal pan-IIT LGBT group describe how the archaic law has resulted in a sense of "shame, loss of self-worth and stigma".
New Delhi: A group of 20 students and alumni of the Indian Institutes of Technology have filed a petition before the Supreme Court against Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which criminalises homosexuality and any form of “unnatural” sex.
The petitioners are all members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community and are a part of Pravritti, an informal pan-IIT LGBT group with more than 350 members. In a release, the group has said that in its petition, it has asked the SC “for a declaration that Section 377 of the IPC violates Articles 14, 15, 16, 19 and 21 of the constitution” and to ensure the right to equality before the law so that there is no discrimination against anyone for their sexual orientation.
In the release, the 20 petitioners, which includes one 19-year-old, a trans woman and two women, also thank all parties that have been fighting to have Section 377 struck out of the IPC, including the Naz Foundation, Voices against 377, Navtej Singh Johar and others, Akkai Padmasali, Keshav Suri, Arif Jafar and Ashok Row Kavi.
You can read the full text here:
This petition is being filed by 20 of us – current and past students of the Indian Institutes of Technology on behalf of 350+ LGBT alumni, students, staff and faculty from the IITs who are a part of an informal pan-IIT LGBT group – Pravritti, which has been a safe space for us to interact, connect and network. We are ordinary citizens of this country, and most of us have never been involved in activism. We come together today to file this writ petition in front of the Supreme Court of India challenging the constitutionality of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code on several grounds. We are extremely proud of all our petitioners who have come out to take this stand and tell our country and the court – how this regressive law has violated their fundamental rights, prevented them from living a life of dignity and how it has had first, second and nth order effects in the lives of LGBT individuals. In all humility, despite having worked and studied with the best minds of this country and studying in arguably the best scientific institutions of this country the law has had a very deep impact in our lives; one can only imagine the amount of suffering and pain that S377 has caused and continues to cause in the lives of LGBT individuals across the country.
We, the petitioners, come from diverse backgrounds in terms of religion, age, sex, gender identity. We belong to different parts of India – from Kakinada in Andhra Pradesh to Sambalpur in Odisha to Korba in Chhattisgarh and across the metropolitan cities of Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore to name a few. We are scientists, entrepreneurs, teachers, researchers, business owners and employees in companies. We are children of farmers, teachers, homemakers and government servants. Our youngest petitioner is 19 years old, 90% of us petitioners are below the age group of 30; most of us are recent alumni from various IITs. There are 2 female petitioners and one trans woman.
Section 377 legitimizes the stigma associated to the sexual orientation and its expression – something which is essential, fundamental, intrinsic and innate to an individual. The existence of this law which relegates some of us to second-class citizenship has subjected many of us to mental trauma and illnesses such as clinical depression and anxiety to name a few. The stigma, silence and violence that S377 brings in its wake has led to some of us dealing with suicidal tendencies and some others have attempted suicide in the past. The silence of our legislative wing and its ineffectiveness to even consider debating the need for the existence of this law is shameful to say the least. S377 has also further contributed to the brain drain of several LGBT individuals including some of the petitioners from the IITs across industries. Within India, LGBT alumni including some amongst the petitioners have chosen sectors or companies with progressive policies over those that might have provided better career trajectories or in STEM fields which are instrumental in building a modern and strong India. One of the petitioners was very keen on becoming an IAS officer and never pursued it due to the fear of being discriminated against as a civil servant and the fear of losing the job due to the criminalization of a core part of their identity.
The petitioners have approached this Hon’ble Court by way of this writ petition under Article 32 of the Constitution, inter alia seeking:
– a declaration of their right to equality before the law and non-discrimination on account of their sexual orientation,
– and for a declaration that Section 377 of the IPC violates Articles 14, 15, 16, 19 and 21 of the Constitution of India.
The Petitioners’ life experiences have demonstrated the impact of Section 377 on their lives, and the infringement of their fundamental rights, as follows:
– The criminalisation of sexual orientation and the very identity of Petitioners have resulted in a sense of shame, loss of self-esteem and self-worth, and stigma. As a result, several of the petitioners have had to grapple with depression, self-harm, and other mental health issues, including even suicidal thoughts and attempts, all of which have had a very deleterious effect on their academic and career prospects.
– Lack of access to information on various sexual identities in their formative years and the culture of taboo and shame built around discussions of LGBT identities, in large part because of Section 377, have deprived several of the Petitioners of timely knowledge resulting in a lack of awareness, questioning of their own self-worth and rejection of their innate identity.
– Unlike heterosexual persons, the petitioners have been deprived of opportunities to freely seek love and companionship with partners of their choice, thereby denying them an essential and immutable aspect of their right to life.
– The petitioners have also been denied equal access to the state machinery in instances where they have been victims of crime.
– Several of the petitioners have had to forego better paying employment prospects, including employment under the State and instead choose employers who would be more accepting and accommodating of their identities.
– Many of the petitioners are contemplating settling abroad or have done so, leaving behind their residence of choice at home, only because of the sense of vulnerability and inability to lead a free existence, solely on account of their identity as LGBT.
We are extremely thankful to Naz Foundation, Voices against 377, Navtej Singh Johar & ors., Akkai Padmasali, Keshav Suri, Arif Jafar, Ashok Row Kavi & ors., and all the other NGOs and individuals who have come forward and have been fighting for the repeal of 377. We, by the way of this petition, would like to submit that this is our humble contribution to the community and building of a progressive, strong and tolerant India. We are hopeful that the court would consider the unbearable wrongness of Koushal (2013 judgement) and thereby reaffirm all the rights conferred to every individual of our country.
LGBT Rights: Students From IITs Are Protesting Section 377 Of IPC; File Petition In SC - India Times
Shweta Sengar Updated: May 15, 2018
A group of 20 students and alumni of the Indian Institutes of Technology have filed a petition before the Supreme Court against section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which criminalises homosexuality and any form of “unnatural sex”.
The students representing a 350+ alumni, students, staff and faculty who identify themselves as gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender have filed a writ petition challenging criminalisation of homosexuality. The group is a part of an informal pan-IIT LGBT group - Pravritti, which has been a safe space for the community to interact, connect and network.
The petition challenges the section on grounds that it violates Articles 14, 15, 16, 19, and 21 of the Constitution.
The articles pertain to fundamental right to freedom of expression, equality and personal liberty.
“We, the petitioners, come from diverse backgrounds in terms of religion, age, sex, gender identity. We belong to different parts of India - from Kakinada in Andhra Pradesh to Sambalpur in Odisha to Korba in Chhattisgarh and across the metropolitan cities of Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore to name a few. We are scientists, entrepreneurs, teachers, researchers, business owners and employees in companies. We are children of farmers, teachers, homemakers and government servants,” reads the petition.
The youngest petitioner is 19 years old and 90 per cent of the petitioners are below the age group of 30. The petitioners also include 2 females and one trans woman.
Thursday, May 10, 2018
Sunday, May 6, 2018
On April 19, seventeen-year-old Kadali Shanmukha was found dead. He had hanged himself from a ceiling fan in his hostel room.
The previous day, Bheem Singh had also been found dead. He, too, had hanged himself from a ceiling fan in his hostel room.
What links the two suicides, aside from the method, is the fact that Shanmukha and Singh were both students. Shanmukha, aged just seventeen, was a senior intermediate student at the Bhashyam Junior College in Kakinada. Singh was a third-year PhD student at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Kanpur.
The two cases are one of several involving Indian students taking their own lives in recent weeks. In fact, more than one student commits suicide in the country every hour. This epidemic of mental health crises among India’s student population – projected to become the biggest in the world by 2025 – is one the country’s education system is ill-prepared to address, reports suggest.
Mental health in India
Mental illness is a significant public health challenge in India. The World Health Organization (WHO) identifies 56 million people as suffering from depression and 38 million as suffering from anxiety disorders. In 2014, India accounted for seventeen percent of the world’s suicides.
Both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Ram Nath Kovind have spoken out on the issue. “Depression can be overcome. We all can play a role in helping those suffering from depression overcome it,”Modi told the nation in a Mann Ki Bhat last year.
President Kovind, meanwhile, has drawn attention to the lack of mental healthcare As many as ninety percent of those who suffer from mental health conditions in India do not receive treatment. Kovind warned of a mental health epidemic in years to come if the situation does not improve.
Both leaders have identified the stigma surrounding mental health conditions as a major barrier to those who need treatment availing it. While awareness and attitudes are improving, those with mental health conditions in India continue to face prejudice and stigma.
An illuminating survey by the Live Love Laugh Foundation (LLLF) found many Indians hold derogatory attitudes towards those with mental health conditions. For example, sixty percent of respondents agreed with the statement ‘mentally unhealthy people should have their own groups – healthy people need not be contaminated by them.’ When asked about their feelings towards the mentally ill, 76 percent of respondents said they felt sympathetic. However, a sizeable percentage admitted to feelings of disgust, hatred and apathy.
“While there is growing awareness of mental health issues in India,”Manipal University professor Nikhil Govind told Times Higher Education last year, “there is less awareness of the issues of university students.” This, combined with the expense of mental healthcare, means “almost nowhere in India is there a serious endeavour to mitigate this.”
The issues facing students in India are diverse. They include not only mental health conditions such as depression but issues among friendship circles, within families, and with drug and alcohol addictions. Professor Govind suggests university students, many of whom are living away from home for the first time, are ill-equipped to deal with these issues alone.
This is exacerbated by the widespread unavailability of mental healthcare, particularly from qualified therapists. As Govind points out, “students need therapists with the right, non-moralistic and truly empathetic sensibility”. Instead, he says, what they often get are “complete platitudes – about ‘getting over it’, ‘it’s a phase’, ‘don’t you want your parents to be proud of you?’, ‘buck up’ etc”.
Another factor which may be pushing so many students to the brink is academic pressure. A Wired article notes many teenagers face significant pressure to gain admission to prestigious academic institutions such as IITs. Failure to do so can leave students with a sense of failure, which can prove so devastating for some they take their own lives.
The case of Kadali Shanmukha spotlights a major concern: parental pressure. The student wrote “Sorry Mom, I can’t study here”. He had reportedly been berated by his parents after failing mathematics exams. A 2015 study said about two thirds of high school students in India feel parental pressure to excel academically. It identified a positive correlation between exam-related anxiety and pressure from a student’s family.
There is rarely a single cause of suicide and no one is to blame. However, the onus is upon India’s education system to care for its students’ woes and avert further deaths. Many lack the facilities, resources and personnel to do this. Until this changes, more lives will – needlessly – be lost.