EDUCATION TRIBUNE

Learning not one-way process
Inderdeep Thapar
O
ur education system focuses too much on preparing students for their career goals and not enough emphasis is laid on building the character of students, on teaching them that means are more important than ends. President Dr APJ Abdul Kalam has rightly asked students to take a pledge that makes them reaffirm their fundamental value system.

Dose of religion for UK students
A
theism and minority faiths such as Baha'i and Zoroastrianism should be taught alongside Christianity in schools, according to the first British government guidelines on religious education.

Indians treated badly in NZ
CHENNAI:
Students aspiring to pursue higher studies in universities in New Zealand, have to think twice before they make up their minds, as the Association of Accredited Advisors on Overseas Education (AAAOE) has come out with ''stories of shabby treatment'' meted out to Indian students.

Campus scene 
Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar 
Heritage project on backburner
Varinder Walia

H
eritage was sought to be recreated for posterity through a proposal for a pre-partition heritage village to be set up on the campus of Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar. However, nothing has happened since Baisakhi, when it was inaugurated with a deadline of six months announced by the university.

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Learning not one-way process
Inderdeep Thapar

Our education system focuses too much on preparing students for their career goals and not enough emphasis is laid on building the character of students, on teaching them that means are more important than ends. President Dr APJ Abdul Kalam has rightly asked students to take a pledge that makes them reaffirm their fundamental value system. Let us review the pledge these children undertake.

1. "I will love whatever profession I take up and excel in it."

The above talks about a lot about the now infamous work culture that has become a part of Indian psyche. Children sweat out for countless days to reach a goal, let us say to be a doctor or teacher. But soon after they get the job, they become lax. It is as if their dream was simply of getting settled and earning a decent pay packet. The part of excelling at the job gets lost in the maze of confused ambitions. That is where we differ from countries abroad where citizens carry on with their efforts to excel even after they have landed a prestigious job. The reason behind it is that they love and enjoy what they are doing. The fact is that the Indian society demands a decent, well paying job but not excellence in it

2 "I will teach at least 10 illiterate people."

The concept of "giving back" to the society, which is nurturing the individual, is no stranger to the Indian thought. But as said before, it has become hazy with the onset of new currents like consumerism and globalisation. This thought of sharing or charity has come to be confined, maybe just to finance but extend it a little further to the present circumstances of India and the above pledge is just an extension of what has been preached by our reverend seers. Preachers talk of "daswand" or "zakat", that is giving of one tenth of one's income for social benefit, by the same logic educate 10 persons to make them literate.

3. "I will plant ten trees and ensure their growth."

I am reminded of the days when in teaching I and few others of my fraternity were asked to take environment classes, as there was no qualified teacher for these classes commissioned by the university. While my head went in a whirl trying to first memorise and then spell the names of various bacteria, I pitied the students for whom it was an additional burden. What was required was not the various names of clouds be taught but the concept of preserving their immediate environment. How simply he has put it. Plant 10 trees and then make sure that they survive and purify environment. It is heartening to note that some schools educate their children about the harmful effects of bursting crackers during the festive season, but they can go further and similarly teach about the damage done to ecology by the immersion of deities figures made of such material that cause oxygen depletion, leading to the death of water life. Simple truths like the above are what the children of today require rather than environmental jargon.

4. "I will go to rural and urban areas to reform at least five per cent from addiction and gambling"

How can a child's education be complete if he is unaware or insensitive to the problems of society? One is bringing up a selfish individual if he is immune to the sorrow of others. To this day, NSS camps in colleges are restricted to clearing the grass on the camus and having a nice holiday. Why do the above programmes or even that of adult education do not become a part of our educational curriculum? Gandhi's favourite bhajan, "Peer parai jaano rey", know the pain of the other is sung but not put into practice.

5. "I will lead an honest life free from corruption and set an example for others."

Honesty, the much-wanted quality is missing. For this it crosses one's mind that why is moral education taught in a few schools only and others, especially government schools, do not have any such book or a class for it? The inculcation of principles is to be done only in tender years. Here the parents too have a responsibility. All parents want their children to be rich, having good houses, in good locales and our society gages the success of a person from the above parameters, but aren't means just as important as ends? Life is not about collecting wealth but doing justice to what one really enjoys and loves doing, fully and with full dedication.

We must thank the President for stressing that education is not a one-way process of receiving but also of giving. It is a commitment. This pledge should be taken not only by the students, but also by every citizen of India.
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Dose of religion for UK students

Atheism and minority faiths such as Baha'i and Zoroastrianism should be taught alongside Christianity in schools, according to the first British government guidelines on religious education.

Charles Clarke, the British Secretary of State for Education, launched the proposals acknowledging that the views of religious and non-religious pupils should be treated with equal respect.

The guidelines attempt to counter fears that Christianity has been sidelined in religious education to become merely another faith taught alongside the other major religions. The new framework calls for children to study Christianity during every stage of their school careers.

The other five major religions ó Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Sikhism ó should all be studied by pupils by the age of 14.

But children should also study "other religious traditions" such as the Baha'i faith, Jainism and Zoroastrianism, as well as "secular philosophies such as humanism". David Kelly, the government weapons expert who committed suicide during the row over intelligence relating to the Iraq war, was a member of the Baha'i faith.

Mr Clarke said that religious education had a vital role in promoting tolerance and that the new framework would be important in ensuring that children learned about different beliefs.

"Children have a right, and indeed, should expect to be told about what is important to their friends who may hold different beliefs to their own," he said.

"Religious education can transform pupils' assessment of themselves and others, and their understanding of the wider world. I see it as vital in widening inclusion, understanding diversity and promoting tolerance." The guidelines recommend that children as young as three should learn about religion in order to develop their "understanding of the world", social and communication skills.

The Government-backed guidance is not compulsory but is certain to influence the way religion education is taught in schools. Children have to study RE up to the age of 16, unless their parents opt to withdraw them from the subject. Although pupils do not have to take exams in the subject, RE has become an increasingly popular GCSE option.

The National Secular Society condemned the document as a "charter for indoctrination" and said it would urge non-religious parents to withdraw their children from RE lessons as the new framework concentrated on religion as "a truth to be embraced" rather than "something to be vigorously questioned".

"Non-believing children are to have their philosophy challenged at every turn in RE, but there is little in this framework to allow religion to be challenged," said Keith Porteous Wood of the National Secular Society "Many parents who do not want their children to be taught that superstition is a good basis for a rational life will be horrified by this new framework."

However, the British Humanist Association welcomed the inclusion of humanism in the framework, arguing that it was vital to respect the views of the 65 per cent of young people who consider themselves to be "not religious".

Marilyn Mason, the association's education officer, said: "I'm delighted that Humanism is explicitly included in the guidance, which I hope will be well received and widely adopted. Humanism can, like religions, be taught about in an impartial and balanced way that enables better mutual understanding without compromising pupils' personal beliefs. This could be a significant step forward for religious education in England."

The Church of England welcomed the "predominant place" of Christianity but expressed disappointment that the framework was not compulsory.

Canon John Hall, the Church of England's chief education officer, said, "The new framework recognises the predominant place of Christianity, which is to be taught throughout each stage of the curriculum, but will also enable every pupil to understand and respect the other great faith traditions found in England. Above all it will help pupils with their personal religious development."

By arrangement with The Independent, London

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Indians treated badly in NZ

CHENNAI: Students aspiring to pursue higher studies in universities in New Zealand, have to think twice before they make up their minds, as the Association of Accredited Advisors on Overseas Education (AAAOE) has come out with ''stories of shabby treatment'' meted out to Indian students.

Association President Paul C B Chellakumar said, in a statement, here that the Indians were virtually taken for a ride by the seven universities in New Zealand, which admitted students after making ''lot of false promises and tall claims.'' The association which helped the Indians to choose their choice of education in foreign universities and constituted a credible base for foreign education promoters all over the country, would not recommend students to take up studies in New Zealand, Mr Chellakumar said.

The e-mails sent by the students who had joined these universities would speak volumes for the shabby treatment, he said.

A cursory glance of the e-mails would reveal the plight of the students, who had gone there to pursue higher education in the hope of a lucurative career, he said.

''It is very clear that the universities just mint money and offered no privileges to the students. The students have to pay for everything from scratch and part-time jobs never helped to meet the expenses,'' he said.

All well with Edusat

BANGALORE: All the 12 transponders on board the dedicated education satellite Edusat have been validated and the stage is now set for India's first theme-based satellite to become operational, ISRO Chairman G Madhavan Nair said.

''All the transponders are validated; they are okay. We will start transferring the load now. Before the end of the year it (Edusat) will be fully operational,'' Mr Nair told reporters on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Meet on Science Education here.

Edusat was launched on September 20.

Edusat has five Ku-band transponders with regional beams covering the Northern, Eastern, Western, Southern and North-Eastern regions, one Ku-band transponder with a national footprint and six C-band transponders for all-India coverage.

Edusat is meant to enable virtual classrooms to facility primary, secondary and higher education and also non-formal schooling and adult education. óPTI

China ahead of US

BEIJING: China has overtaken the United States in the scale of higher education to become the world's leading country in the field, state media reported today.

The gross university entrance rate of China touched 19 per cent in 2004, indicating that its rate of higher education has surpassed that of the US, claimed 'People's Daily', quoting latest statistics from China's Ministry of Education. Gross university entrance rate is the proportion of gross number of students in university to the population in the corresponding age group of 18 to 22.

The rate projects a country's capacity to provide opportunity for higher education. This rate in China has been increasing by two per cent every year since 2000, and it touched 17 per cent in 2003. Statistics show universities of regular higher education in China recruited 4.2 million students in 2004, an increase of 400,000 as against 2003.

There are more than 20 million students studying in schools of higher education in China, the report said. óPTI

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Campus scene 
Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar 
Heritage project on backburner
Varinder Walia

Heritage was sought to be recreated for posterity through a proposal for a pre-partition heritage village to be set up on the campus of Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar. However, nothing has happened since Baisakhi, when it was inaugurated with a deadline of six months announced by the university.

A brainchild of the Vice-Chancellor, Dr S. P. Singh, the village would be an attempt to preserve the heritage of Punjab. The project work is going on at a snailís pace due to procedural hitches.

The Vice-Chancellor says the work is slow as experts for making the halt (a traditional well) and its material is not easily available. From its slow pace, one can conclude that the ambitious project is unlikely to be completed during the term of the present Vice-Chancellor, which ends in July next year.

Favoured for engineering

Guru Nanak Dev University has become a hot favourite among students for engineering. This year, students of Punjab had given their first preference to the university at the time of admission to various engineering and professional courses. Also, all the NRI seats had been filled. On the other hand, more than 3,000 seats in various streams of BTech are still lying vacant in engineering colleges of the state.

Luring voters

The free distribution of liquor and opium during the just completed annual election of the non-teaching employees association of Guru Nanak Dev University has brought a bad name to the university. The elections were fought on the pattern of Assembly elections, with both the groups taking all measures to lure the voters.

Punjabi Week postponed

The proposed Punjabi Week that marks the formation of Punjabi Suba has been delayed by few days due to a clash of date with the youth festival. Now the "Week", which was earlier scheduled for November 1, is likely to be of four days only. The celebrations will start from November 5 and end on November 8.

Careless examiners

The re-evaluation of papers has highlighted the "carelessness" on the part of examiners. It is learnt that many students who get their marks increased after re-evaluation are reimbursed 75 per cent of the fee that hardly compensate the mental agony they undergo due to careless marking. No action is initiated against examiners whose lack of diligence causes trauma to these students. The plight of those students who donít apply for re-evaluation could be well imagined.

ĎA-plusí grade colleges

Out of total 38 colleges accredited with the A-plus grade in the country by the National Accredited Assessment Council (NAAC), as many as 2 colleges are affiliated to Guru Nanak Dev University. Lyallpur Khalsa College, Jalandhar, and HMV College, Jalandhar, have been adjudged first and second, respectively, among the colleges of India by the NAAC.


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