EDUCATION TRIBUNE

Maths unscrambled, opinion divided
Peeyush Agnihotri
W
HILE mighty maths was defanged by the Central Board of Secondary Education a week ago, whether the move was right or not remains as undecided as a non-terminating continued fraction. The teaching fraternity is divided, parents’ woes have multiplied, jubilant students are making sub-sets of their choice of subjects, and above all, a new breed of equipment suppliers have popped up to add more money to their business kitty.

AICTE, INDEST join hands
V. P. Prabhakar
T
HE Ministry of Human Resource Development has set up the ‘Indian National Digital Library in Engineering Sciences and Technology Consortium’ on the suggestion of an expert group appointed by the ministry. The ministry provides funds required for providing differential access to 15 full-text electronic resources and eight bibliographic databases to 38 centrally funded government institutions.

Campus Notes

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Maths unscrambled, opinion divided
Peeyush Agnihotri

WHILE mighty maths was defanged by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) a week ago, whether the move was right or not remains as undecided as a non-terminating continued fraction.

The teaching fraternity is divided, parents’ woes have multiplied, jubilant students are making sub-sets of their choice of subjects, and above all, a new breed of equipment suppliers have popped up to add more money to their business kitty.

According to a major CBSE decision that came in just a few days before the onset of 2007, mathematics has been given a temperate touch. From the next school year onwards, practical examination in maths laboratories will make up for 20 per cent of the final marks. Further, a total of five compartment chances will be given to a student instead of the existing three. The final blow to maths-must rule paradigm is that if a student fails in second compartment, he or she can drop mathematics and opt for a more “mellow” subject like computer, music or art.

Shiv Das, a US-based maths teacher currently on a Christmas break in India, shakes his head in disgust. “This is terrible. The Indian education system is respected worldwide and fiddling with it will mean lowering of standards. This CBSE decision means denigrating the whole system and this may, in future, have global ramifications. Mathematics teachers are much in demand abroad and gradually, those from other countries, will be given preference as evaluation agencies will under rate Indian studies,” he says.

The foreign-based teacher’s (over) reaction may sound hyperbolic but parents, too, are reacting on similar lines, though in a toned down manner. “Children will have an escape route. Who would want to waste hours on mathematics? Earlier, a do-or-die approach saw many students through the finals. Now just the more serious ones would be bothered. For the rest, it may mean shuffling through a stack of choices for a smooth ride through the boards…and a jerky one on life ahead,” says Renu Suri, whose daughter studies in a prestigious school at Sector 26, Chandigarh.

However, psychologists say that this decision would ease the pressure off the students. “Suicides, on account of botched-up marksheets and nervous breakdowns due to heavy studies, are a norm every year. The curve peaks between March and June. Just wish the ‘graph’ goes down from next year onwards,” hopes Minnie Malhotra, a Delhi-based psychologist.

Educationists like Principal Vijay Kumar of Hansraj Public School, Panchkula, endorse the move. “The talk of falling standards is all wrong. The CBSE’s decision will reduce the dropout rate and ease the burden off many students. Students will now have a more practical focus, rather than learning by rote. Students who are weak-in-maths can also hope to be matriculates, the base for all higher education. It is all about aptitude. Even otherwise, borderline cases are not the ones who reach the engineering level. So where does the question of falling standards arise?” he asks.

While the debate rages, the enterprising school laboratory equipment suppliers have smelt the opportunity. A lot of them have started making rounds of various schools to refurbish mathematics lab and supply more components. “Yes, we are aware about the CBSE decision on maths lab. We have been into equipment supplying profession since last 20 years and know what all would be required,” says an Ambala-based supplier, not wishing to be quoted. He hailed the decision for obvious reasons.

Assistant Secretary Council for Indian School Certificate Examinations (CISCE) P.J. George says that ICSE had already proposed matric-sans-maths system in 2003. “Mathematics is not compulsory, though we encourage mathematics at Class X level. Till now, we have had no complaints and standards have not fallen, since those desirous can always take up mathematics at matriculation level,” he says.

Echoing similar views, George S. Shear, Principal, St Xavier’s, an ICSE-affiliated school, says that a parallel has now been drawn between the CBSE and ICSE systems to some extent. “Projects and practical works was assessed both internally as well as externally in mathematics. Good that CBSE has introduced a without mathematics matric option,” he sums up.

Almost all students, who were contacted, were happy with the decision. And, why shouldn’t they be? It is they who have scored one-up on mathematics, while the scary subject lies with a docked up sting.

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AICTE, INDEST join hands
V. P. Prabhakar

THE Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) has set up the ‘Indian National Digital Library in Engineering Sciences and Technology (INDEST) Consortium’ on the suggestion of an expert group appointed by the ministry.

The ministry provides funds required for providing differential access to 15 full-text electronic resources and eight bibliographic databases to 38 centrally funded government institutions. The INDEST Consortium is the most ambitious initiative taken so far in the country. The benefit of consortia-based subscription to electronic resources is not confined to 38 major technological institutions in the country but is also extended to all educational institutions under its open-ended proposition. The All-India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) government/government-aided engineering colleges are getting access to selected electronic resources with support from the AICTE. Many other engineering colleges and institutions have already joined the consortium on their own.

A new initiative has been taken by forming a consortium of AICTE and INDEST by having chairman of AICTE as co-chairman of the steering committee of the INDEST Consortium. The reconstituted steering committee would result in the number of total membership of the consortium from 173 to 350 members, which would considerably lower the rate of subscription, according to the annual report of the ministry.

A mechanism is in place, wherein this consortium takes advantage of collective bargaining and passes on the benefit of e-journals to subscribing members. The consortium is concentrating on engineering and technology to start with. Other programmes under AICTE will also be covered shortly.

The INDEST-AICTE Consortium now announces availability of online journals of various products and of institutions to AICTE-approved institutions. This will improve the quality of technical education and research.

The Scientific Advisory Council to the Prime Minister had recommended creation of two new institutions devoted to science education and research to be named ‘National Institute for Scientific Education and Research (NISER)’ to be located at Pune and Kolkata.

The vision of these institutes encompasses creating of research universities of the highest calibre in which teaching and education in basic sciences will be totally integrated with the state-of-the-art research. These universities will be devoted to undergraduate and postgraduate teaching in sciences in an intellectually vibrant atmosphere of research. These universities will make education and career in basic sciences more attractive by providing opportunities in integrative teaching and learning of sciences and break the barriers of traditional disciplines. The goals of these institutes, inter alia, envisage as follows: To create quality education and research in basic sciences. To attract and nurture high-quality academic faculty. To create integrated master’s programmes in sciences, following plus two curricula, in order to provide entry into research at a younger age. In addition, the institutes will have integrated programmes leading to masters and PhDs to those who hold a bachelor’s degree in science. To make possible a flexible borderless curriculum in sciences. To actively forge strong relationship with existing universities and colleges and network with laboratories and institutions. To establish advanced research laboratories and central facilities.

The Expenditure Finance Committee, in its meeting on October 17, 2005, under the chairmanship of secretary (expenditure), recommended the project for setting up of the two Indian Institutes of Science for Education and Research (IISERs) at Pune and Kolkata with an expenditure of Rs 500 crore spread over a period of seven years. Therefore, the Cabinet in its meeting held on October 27, 2005, approved the proposal. The MHRD is taking necessary follow-up action for setting up these institutes.

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Campus Notes

Haryana Agricultural University, Hisar
Training programme for farm scientists

A three-week-long advanced training programme on the recent trends in biology and management of polyphagous pests in agriculture is being organised on the university premises. Nearly 20 agricultural scientists from 10 states of the country are participating in the training programme organised by the Centre of Advanced Studies of the university.

Addressing the participants at the inaugural ceremony, the HAU Vice-Chancellor, Dr J. C. Katyal, stressed the significance of developing low-cost farming techniques, apart from the use of effective insect-pest control measures to benefit the farmers. The Director of Research, Dr B. S. Chhillar, also expressed concern over the huge crop losses caused by insects.

Award for scientist

Dr Joginder Singh Malik, Joint Director (Extension), Haryana Agricultural University, has been presented with an appreciation award of the Indian Society of Extension Education. The award was conferred on him at a national seminar on extension system organised by the society at Navasari Agricultural University in Gujarat recently.

Dr Malik is also a recipient of the Young Scientist Award, which he got for his notable contribution to the field of transfer of technology. He has got nearly 110 research papers and articles in journals published, besides having written a book, Technology Transfer Model: An Analysis of Linkages.

Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar
Short-term courses for women

Guru Nanak Dev University is going to introduce ten-day short-term courses in computer basics, communication skill, food preservation and oil painting for providing working knowledge to women in these areas. A university release said the course in communication skills will start from February 12, while the courses in food preservation and oil painting will commence from February 19. Interested candidates are required to deposit a fee of Rs 200 by February 5.

— Contributed by Sunit Dhawan and Sanjay Bumbroo

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Indian Navy, PO Box No 04, R K Puram PO (Main), New Delhi 110066
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Territorial Army, Commander, TA Group HQ Western Command, Building No 750, Sector-8B, Chandigarh 160018
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Age: 18-42 years (on 15 March ‘07).

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Art & Design

National Institute of Jewellery Design & Technology, HTVTC Building, Shrima Anandmayee Marg, Okhla Phase II, New Delhi 110020 (promoted by Delhi State Industrial Development Corporation Ltd)
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Forest Research Institute University (FRI), PO IPE, Kaulagarh, Dehradun 248195 (Utt) (Indian Council of Forestry Research & Education)
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MSc (Forestry / Wood Science & Technology / Environment Mgmt)
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Selection: Test: 27 May ’07

Application Form: Send Rs 500 by DD favouring "Registrar, FRI, PO IPO, Dehradun 248195" to the above address by 30 March 2007 / download from website.

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Engineering

Vellore Institute of Technology (VIT University), Vellore 632014 (TN)
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VIT Engineering Entrance Exam (VITEEE) – 2007
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Eligibility: 10+2 (For Biotechnology & Bioinformatics: PCB, 60% For Rest: PCM; 60%).

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IT

University of Pune, D/o Computer Science, Pune 411007 (Mah)
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MSc, MTech, MCA - 2007

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Exam: 3 March 2007.

Application Form: Send Rs. 575- by DD favouring "Registrar, University of Pune," payable at Pune to the HoD at the above address with 2 self-addressed slips (10 cm x 6 cm) by 7 February 2007. Write your name, address and payment details on plain paper and on reverse of DD.

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Indian Institute of Technology, School of Information Technology, Kharagpur 721302 (WB)
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PG Diploma in IT (FT)
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NMIMS University, School of Pharmacy & Technology Management, VL Mehta Road, Vile Parle (W), Mumbai 400056 (Mah)
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(Courses at Mumbai & Shirpur campus)

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— Pervin Malhotra
www.careerguidanceindia.com

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