Altaf Hussain Haji
For the sustainability of social justice and equality, learning for all is a global agenda. Thus, education is the single important tool for achieving social justice and equality. The education system aims to benefit children so that no child loses any opportunity to learn and excel because of circumstances of birth or background.
As we know that the Indian education system and government policies have made steady progress towards bridging gender and social category gaps in all levels of school education, disparities still remain, especially at the secondary level. It is particularly true for Socio Educationally Disadvantaged Groups (SEDGs) that have been historically underrepresented in education. ,
There have been various successful policies and schemes, such as targeted scholarships, conditional cash transfers to incentivize parents for sending their children to school, etc. Also, providing bicycles for transport and other such incentives have significantly increased participation of Socio Educationally Disadvantaged Groups in the schooling system in certain areas. These successful policies and schemes need enhancement across the country as per the data available.
The new policy on education reaffirms that bridging the social category gaps in access, participation, and learning outcomes in school education may continue to be one of the main goals of all education sector development programmes for equitable and inclusive education.
In view of the New Education Policy (NEP) 2020, the various critical problems and recommendations made for equitable and inclusive education by the government for foundational literacy and numeracy, access, enrolment, and attendance are particularly relevant and necessary for underrepresented and disadvantaged groups.
The official and administrative data show that some geographical areas contain significantly larger proportions of Socio Educationally Disadvantaged Groups (SEDGs). These areas have been identified as aspirational districts and require special interventions for promoting their educational development. Hence, it is recommended that regions of the country with a large population from educationally disadvantaged groups should be declared Special Education Zones (SEZs), where all the schemes and policies are implemented to the maximum through additional concerted efforts, to truly change their educational landscape keeping in mind gender-based quality education.
In addition, the Government of India will constitute a ‘Gender-Inclusion Fund’ to build the nation’s capacity to provide equitable quality education for all girls and transgender students. The fund will be available to States to implement priorities determined by the Central government critical for assisting female and transgender children in gaining access to education. These funds will also enable states to support and scale effective community-based interventions that address local context-specific barriers to female and transgender children access to and participation in education. Similarly, inclusive fund schemes should be developed to address access issues for other SEDGs. In essence, this policy aims to eliminate any remaining disparity in access to education (including vocational education) for children from any gender or other socio-economically disadvantaged group.
Education for Children with Disabilities
Ensuring the inclusion and equal participation of children with disabilities in early childhood care and education (ECCE) and the schooling system will also be accorded the highest priority. Children with disabilities will be enabled to fully participate in the regular schooling process from the Foundational Stage to higher education.
According to NEP 2020, schools or school complexes will be provided resources for integrating children with disabilities, recruiting special educators with cross-disability training, and establishing resource centres, wherever needed, especially for children with severe or multiple disabilities.
It is to mention here that different categories of children with disabilities have different needs that the barrier-free access for all children with disabilities to enable as per the RPWD Act 2016. The children with benchmark disabilities shall have the choice of regular or special schooling. Resource centres in conjunction with special educators will support the rehabilitation and educational needs of learners with severe or multiple disabilities and assist parents or guardians in achieving high-quality homeschooling and skilling of such students. Home-based education will continue to be a choice available for children with severe and profound disabilities who are unable to go to school. The children under home-based education must be treated as equal to any other child in the general system. There shall be an audit of home-based education for its efficiency and effectiveness using the principle of equity and equality of opportunity. Guidelines for home-based schooling shall be developed based on this audit in line with the RPWD Act 2016. While it is clear that the education of all children with disabilities is the responsibility of the state, technology-based solutions are to be used for the orientation of parents/caregivers along with wide-scale dissemination of learning materials to enable parents or caregivers to actively support their child’s learning needs will be accorded on priority.
Schools and school complexes will work for providing all children with disabilities accommodations and support mechanisms tailored to suit their needs and to ensure their full participation and inclusion in the classroom. In particular, assistive devices and appropriate technology-based tools, as well as adequate and language-appropriate teaching-learning materials, will be made available to help children with disabilities integrate more easily into classrooms and engage with teachers and their peers. Most classrooms have children with specific learning disabilities who need continuous support.
It is the duty of teachers to help identify such learning disabilities early and plan specifically for their mitigation. Specific actions will include the use of appropriate technology, allowing and enabling children to work at their own pace with flexible curricula to advantage each child’s strengths, and creating an ecosystem for appropriate assessment and certification. Assessment and certification agencies, including the proposed new National Assessment Centre, ensure equitable access and opportunities for all students with learning disabilities. This will also apply to all school activities, including arts, sports, and vocational education.
In the NEP, it is also recommended that all scholarships and other opportunities and schemes available to students under SEDGs will be coordinated and announced by a single agency to ensure that all students are aware of, and can apply in a simplified manner through a ‘single window system’ as per the eligibility.
Further, under the aegis of the Ministry of Defence, opening NCC wings in their secondary and higher secondary schools, including those located in tribal-dominated areas of different states, will be encouraged. This will enable harnessing of the natural talent and unique potential of students, which in turn would help them to aspire to a successful career in the defence forces.
For all the above policy points, special attention is to be given to reduce the disparities in the educational development of Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe students. As a part of the efforts to enhance participation in school education, hostels in dedicated regions, bridge courses, and financial assistance through fee waivers and scholarships be offered to talented and meritorious students from all SEDGs on a larger scale, especially at the secondary stage of education, to facilitate their entry into higher education.
All the above policies and measures are critical to attaining full inclusion and equity for all SEDGs, but they are not sufficient. What is also required is a change in school culture. All participants in the school education system, including teachers, principals, administrators, counsellors, and students, will be sensitized to the requirements of all students, the notions of inclusion and equity, and the respect, dignity, and privacy of all persons. Such an educational culture will provide the best pathway to help students become empowered individuals who, in turn, will enable society to transform into one that is responsible towards its most vulnerable citizens. Inclusion and equity will become key aspects of teacher education, including training for leadership, administrative, and other positions in schools. Efforts are needed to recruit more high-quality teachers and leaders from SEDGs to bring in excellent role models for all students.
In the end, according to NEP 2020, students are to be sensitized through this new school culture, brought in by teachers, trained social workers and counsellors. As well as through corresponding changes to bring in an inclusive school curriculum. The school curriculum will include, early on, the material on human values such as respect for all persons, empathy, tolerance, human rights, gender equality, nonviolence, global citizenship, inclusion, and equity. It would also include more detailed knowledge of various cultures, religions, languages, gender identities and more to sensitize and develop respect for diversity. Any biases and stereotypes in the school curriculum will be removed, and more material will be included that is relevant and relatable to all communities. The above important mentions will also help to achieve success in process of quality education of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which is the main thrust for development and wellbeing at this stage of each UN member country for their nations.
Altaf Hussain Haji, ISS, is Deputy Director General National Statistical Office, Shimla. He can be contacted at [email protected]
SKUAST-K to hold 2-day international conference on impact of viral infections
Srinagar, Nov 1: Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology of Kashmir is going to hold a two-day international conference on the impact of viral infections at the Shalimar campus on November 5&6 (Saturday and Sunday), 2022.
The international conference ‘Emerging and Re-emerging Viral Infections Impacting Humans, Animals, Plants, Fish and Environment’ will be part of XXX Annual Convention of the Indian Virological Society to be held at SKUAST-K this year.
Renowned virologists and scientists including, Dr RK Ratho, PGI Chandigarh; Prof Parvaiz A Koul, SKIMS, Soura; Dr Pragya Yadav, NIV, Pune; Prof NN Barman; AAU, Assam; Dr Anirban Roy, IARI, New Delhi; Dr Amit Pandey, Bhimtal; and Dr Manoj Kumar, Hester Biosciences Limited will be keynote speakers at the conference.
The conference on viral infections is being held against the backdrop of the emergence and re-emergence of viral outbreaks like Covid-19, severe liver inflammation in kids, monkeypox, polio, and “tomato flu” etc.
The recent outbreak of the LSD virus has killed over 1 lakh cattle and is still unabated. Each viral disease appears to be the result of unusual manifestations and proliferation of viruses previously known.
The conference on viral infections will bring scientists from different disciplines at National and International levels to discuss preemptive measures for anticipating such outbreaks, control measures to be taken, and readily available diagnostic and therapeutic measures. The keynote speakers will talk about research going on emerging and re-emerging viral diseases and the policies surrounding them.
Dr Rayees bags young scientist award
Srinagar: SKUAST-K faculty, Dr Mohammad Rayees Dar, has been awarded the young scientist award for outstanding contribution in the field of veterinary physiology at an event held at Gandhi Bhawan, University of Kashmir.
The award was presented at the valedictory function of a three-day international conference titled “Advances in Agricultural, Veterinary, and Allied Sciences for Improving Livelihood and Environment Security” (AAVASILES-2022), at Gandhi Bhawan, University of Kashmir.
The conference was co-hosted by the National Agriculture Development Cooperative Ltd (NADC) Baramulla, J&K, and the ICAR-Indian Grassland and Fodder Research Institute, Regional Research Station, Srinagar, J&K, and ICAR-NAHEP, BAU, Ranchi, Jharkhand.
Dr Rayees, a contractual faculty at SKUAST-K’s Division of Veterinary Physiology, Faculty of Veterinary Sciences, Shuhama, has PhD in Veterinary Physiology from ICAR-National Dairy Research Institute, Karnal.
He has qualified for prestigious national-level scholarship tests in India conducted by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, New Delhi, India. Previously, he was also selected for an advanced research workshop for “Frontiers in Stem Cells & Regeneration” at Marine Biological Laboratory, USA, where he was supported by a grant from the National Institutes of Health, USA. He has also received honours and awards including the JN. Pandey Memorial Award by Society of Animal Physiologists, India (2014), Best Paper Award by Indian Farmer (2015); Best Poster Presentation Award by NAARRI, India (2016), Bharat Jyoti Award (2018), Best Citizens of India Award (2018), Outstanding/Best PhD Thesis Award by RARI, Jaipur, India (2019) and Best Paper (Oral Presentation) Award by NADCL, Srinagar, India (2019).
At the conference, prizes for oral and poster presentations as well as awards for distinguished and young scientists, best PG/PhD thesis, and best farmers in a variety of specific sectors like mushroom farming, horticulture, organic farming, seed production, and fodder development were given to the scientists and research scholars.
DDG ICAR on SKUAST-K visit to reviews World Bank-funded NAHEP
Srinagar, June 9: Deputy Director General (DDG) of Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), New Delhi, Dr Rakesh Chandra Agrawal reviewed the institutional development plan (IDP) of Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural University of Sciences and Technology of Kashmir under the World Bank-ICAR funded National Agricultural Higher Education Project (NAHEP) and presided over a series of functions here at Shalimar campus on Thursday.
Dr Agrawal, who is also the National Director of NAHEP, is on a three-day visit to SKUAST-K to assess the progress of the prestigious Rs 30-crore project awarded to the farm university in July 2019.
The DDG, while addressing the review meeting on early Thursday morning, complimented SKUAST-K for being one of the top performers under the NAHEP. He said among 64 farm universities and institutes, SKUAST-K is doing remarkably well under the project, and both ICAR and World Bank monitoring and evaluation teams have given excellent reviews and have rated the SKUAST-K performance as outstanding.
While talking about the implementation of NEP-2020 in agricultural universities, Dr Agrawal said now the focus should be on own revenue generation so that these institutions can become self-reliant by 2035 as required by the policy. He said SKUAST-K has a lot of opportunities to create its revenue model from various entrepreneurial ventures and services it can provide.
While appreciating SKUAST-K’s proactive role in sending its faculty and students for overseas trainings and exposure trips, Dr Agrawal said, to become a global university, SKUAST-K must now work on bringing international students to the university and organise international programmes. During the meeting, he also interacted with the SKUAST-K students, who are on a visit to Kansas State University, USA. He said this kind of exposure helps making students future leaders and provides them with the confidence to overcome various challenges while building their careers.
The DDG stressed providing an eco-system to students so that after leaving the university they won’t be dependent on government jobs rather open their own entrepreneurial ventures.
Vice Chancellor, SKUAST-K, Prof Nazir Ahmad Ganai, while briefing the DDG about the progress of SKUAST-K under NAHEP said that the place the university has made for itself among the top farm institutions of the country is only because of the ICAR support and NAHEP. The changes that have happened in the university and the milestones achieved are because of the NAHEP. He said the university is conducting every day an event, training or workshop under the NAHEP.
Prof Ganai said earlier that students in the university would attend classes, complete the degree and go home to wait for a job but due to exposure and skills they got because of the project have changed their mindset. Now they are thinking of themselves as the solution providers. He said that SKUAST-K has to become the agent of change to work for making the J&K farm led bio-economy of the country. He said the project has also inspired us to set the goal of becoming the first innovation-led farm university in the country.
Director Education, Prof MN Khan presented a vote of thanks. OSD to Vice Chancellor, Prof Azmat Alam Khan gave a detailed overview of the NAHEP activities carried out in the university and the impact of these activities in terms of output and outcomes. He said that the university has already four private limited companies and a number of startups are in the process of registration. All the deans, directors HODs, faculty members and students attended the meeting.
On the occasion, the IDP newsletter ‘Agrucation’ and some other publications of the university were also released by the DDG ICAR.
After the review meeting, Dr Agrawal visited the startup exhibition and interacted with the startup founders about their ventures. The startup founders, innovators and faculty members, who went for overseas fellowships under NAHEP, presented their ideas and outcomes. outcomes and ideas
Later, Dr Agrawal inaugurated Vice Chancellor’s Sports Festival. A cultural programme by the students under Dean Students Welfare was also presented.
For the next two days, Dr Agrawal will be visiting the Faculty of Veterinary Sciences and Faculty of Forestry, where he will visit NAHEP created facilities, attend various functions and interact with students.
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