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Children taught in mother tongue perform better: Study

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New Delhi: Studies show that children learn the best in their mother tongue. For instance, according to a recent survey Telugu medium students surpassed their English medium counterparts and performed much better at the primary level in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.

Children studying in mother tongues face a lot of difficulties when it comes to higher studies and employment opportunities. Therefore, in a bid to analyze the potential link between medium of instruction and student performance at the primary level, the study used Math scores as a proxy for student achievement while taking into account various socioeconomic factors, The Hindu reported.

915 children from 233 schools from Telangana and Andhra Pradesh (coastal districts and Rayalasema) were surveyed for the study which was conducted by Sree Kumar Nair, an analyst at the Bharati Institute of Public Policy, Indian School of Business.

“The objective was to understand whether the medium of instruction affected the learning outcomes at primary level. It was found that it impacted the achievement levels of students,” Nair was quoted as saying by the newspaper, adding that Math score was a good indicator as a proxy for cognitive development. The analysis was done using Young Lives longitudinal data of primary school children.

Despite the fact that English medium students came from a wealthier background and their parents were better educated, the Telugu students fared better even though they faced odds such as lack of proper infrastructure, lesser nutritional intake and teacher participation.

The findings of the study were important in view of government schemes like mid-day meal programme.

“Improving the infrastructure, ensuring better teacher participation and taking care of the nutritional deficit would benefit the disadvantaged students by ensuring higher learning outcomes,” Nair added.

Sankrant Sanu – an entrepreneur, writer and researcher based in Seattle and Gurgaon – tells NewsGram that a foreign language like English is the biggest hurdle in India’s development and that his own experience suggests that children would be much better learning in their mother-tongues not only at the primary education level but also in higher studies.

ALSO READ: ‘India can’t progress without promoting Indian languages’

While travelling through Indian villages, Sanu took some IQ test papers with him. His intent and assumptions were that he would find bright children in Indian villages and the results thereof surprised him. In his sample of over 100 students, both in rural and urban schools, he found that rural children surpassed the urban ones by a good margin. However, the fact of the matter was that a large number of these students would usually drop out after class 8, as most of the competitive exams were in English.

“Learning English is no duck soup, as it’s a very tough language and takes years of painful labour and patience to become proficient. Therefore, a student could be a math genius but just because of his poor English, he would be deprived of all the opportunities he deserves. Nothing could be more atrocious than this,” Sanu opines.

Moreover, English is the medium of instruction in IITs and IIMs which further hampers a person’s growth.

“It is a pity that while a child in South Korea can become a doctor after studying in Korean, a boy in a Tamil Nadu hamlet cannot become one after studying in Tamil. Studies show that children learn the best in their mother tongue. Original creative thinking cannot happen in a foreign language. The education system has become so divorced from reality… BPO is not innovation, it’s coolie work,” Sanu laments.

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Debate over Tibet’s freedom lands Young Tibetans in dilemma

Parents in Dharamsala worry that their Hindi-speaking children are too Indian, while new arrivals from Tibet to Dharamsala struggle to fit in

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Dalai Lama. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
– by Ranjuaery Dhadwal 

August 24, 2016:
If Tibet gets independence today, will the new English speaking generation prefer to go to their own country? The question that haunts the older generation.
Especially the generation which came to India with or after Dalai Lama. The generation, which was born in Tibet and fled to India or other parts of the world are worried that the  Tibetan language is only left in few phrases in younger generation’s memory. Now the trend is that more and more Tibetans want their children to remain in India because it has more cultural proximity with Tibet.
Indian Government has opened up Central schools in almost all the Tibetan settlements in India, where Tibetan Language is taught. It’s been more than 60 years since the first wave of Tibetans fled Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh following a failed uprising against Chinese Communist Party rule and the subsequent brutal military crackdown.
Representational Image: Tibetan Teachings Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
Representational Image: Tibetan Teachings. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
Roughly 85,000 people who first fled Tibet mainly clustered around a central core, built around Dharamsala and the Dalai Lama; in the mountains of India, Nepal, and Bhutan- next to their homeland. Now after three decades, new chapter for Tibetans living outside has emerged. As the prospects of returning to Tibet is diminishing, more and more Tibetans are adopting refugee life in South Asia for the West. Tibetan Government in Exile’s lobbying has arranged for large-scale resettlement programs that bring in hundreds of immigrants every day.

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Dalai Lama says that intermarriage for Tibetans was inevitable but Tibetan language and culture is important and needs to be preserved. Some of them have married Western and Indian women and are having half-Tibetan children. Most of the young Tibetan women too prefer to marry western or Indian people for a settled life.

In an interview Dalai Lama said that had he adopted the path of violence for Tibet’s independence, the Tibetan race would have extinct, rather he is approaching the middle way path for Tibet. Within the community, Tibetan Youth Congress is demanding total independence from China.

The present scenario is that Children born in India or in west are not aware of their culture or traditions. They are basically Americanized or Indianized. Most of them are into higher studies instead of joining the freedom struggle. One of the youngsters in Dharmashala has got his MBA from the University of Oregon, in entrepreneurship. He will decide whether or not to go back to Tibet once it gets independence. At present, he wants to start his own venture. He said, even if they go back to Tibet, they have to start from scratch. Though they show their love for Tibet but there is a disconnect between knowing what you are and actively feeling that way.

Mixed-race Tibetans that came or are coming to India or going to other parts of the world are grappling with issues that how they will fit into the Tibetan cause- how to preserve a sense of connection to a far-flung homeland and how to handle the perception that they are contributing to the community that still feels like it must fight to preserve itself. There is clearly an existencial crisis among these people. They are living in a era when a community, which was recognized for its cultural preservation (even though Beijing has destroyed many of the hallmarks of its culture) these people are struggling to know what exactly constitutes authentic Tibetan-ness.

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Parents in Dharamsala worry that their Hindi-speaking children are too Indian, while new arrivals from Tibet to Dharamsala struggle to fit in. Most of them only say that they have come to learn English. Some of mixed-race Tibetans has struggled to find their footing as well.

Tibetan welfare officer says, Young Tibetans would grow too concerned with money and they would give up on the goal of e returning to the Tibet. The Tibetan government continues to lobby Western governments to take in more of those currently living in South Asian settlements. Tashi  Phuntsok, says that he has been urging Tibetan families to keep up the language with their children and make sure they remember where they came from.

Ex Tibetan Youth Congress President Tseten Norbu says, that it should be the main object of the Youth Congress. This is the only organization which has proximity with young Tibetans. He further mentions that, since the Himchal Government has given voting rights to the Tibetans born here or are half Tibetan, hope of returning to Tibet of this generation is diminishing.

– Ranjuaery is a freelance contributer and can be contacted at ranjuaery@gmail.com

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Shot in an Afghan firefight, 6 year-old Ameera is saved by American troops

U.S officials has confirmed that the girl’s family has ties with Taliban, hence it is dangerous to reveal her identity or her uncle’s who accompanied her to the base hospital. Media is calling her Ameera.

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Toys and gifts for Ameera fill her hospital room. Image Source: npr.org

The hospital on the sprawling Bagram Airfield does not many trauma cases these days expect one. In a firefight between American and Afghan soldiers and Taliban insurgents, a 6 year-old was shot. The gun battle resulted in death of her father, a Taliban fighter along with her mother and some siblings.

U.S officials has confirmed that the girl’s family has ties with Taliban, hence it is dangerous to reveal her identity or her uncle’s who accompanied her to the base hospital. Media is calling her Ameera.

It can be easily said that she represents the way Afghan war continues to play out since many U.S. troops have limited their role to just “advising and assisting” indigenous troops. Violence continues in Afghanistan and it has killed more children last year than any since record keeping began. The UN said many people were killed or got wounded in the 2015.

Nurses have Ameera draw henna patterns to distract her from the pain. Image sourve: npr.org
Nurses have Ameera draw henna patterns to distract her from the pain. Image sourve: npr.org

Dr. Chance Henderson, a a Texas-born orthopedic surgeon who has been treating her said if Ameera had gone to Afghan clinic “she’d definitely have had an amputation- and rightly so. That is the best way to save her life if you don’t have the means available to do what we have done in 12 or 20 surgeries.”

Ameera is being treated at an American hospital because she was shot in a firefight that involved their troops, so she has been receiving American care.

Dr Henderson also said, saving her would not save her from the danger posed by the wound but also from the danger of going back to live in Afghanistan without it.

“Her outlook on life as a single amputee that does not have a family is much different than it would be for us in the States,” he said. “Her future would be grim, and probably her life span would be short.”

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Chance Henderson, an orthopedic surgeon. Image source : npr.org
U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Chance Henderson, an orthopedic surgeon. Image source : npr.org

Air Force 1st Lt. Serena Matson remembered Ameera’s “nonstop crying” when she came in. Matson said, “She is little. She does not know us. We are not familiar-looking, and there are just a lot of people in and out of the room. She was just scared. ‘Who are these strange people? They don’t look like me. Where is my family?’ “

After many days of treatment, the staff member made her feel more comfortable. She got many toys, crayons and movies starring Mickey Mouse.

Even the staff member’s became fond of her, now Matson in her free time does Ameera’s hair, learning few Pashto words and teaching her little English.

Even though Ameera came through from the biggest challenge of her life , the doctor said that chances of saving her leg is still bleak and everything depends upon how the leg heals over the time.

“My daughter- that’s the first thing she asks me,” Henderson said. “‘How’s the leg doing, Dad?’ I do not want to give her bad news.”

-by Bhaskar Raghavendran

Bhaskar is a graduate in Journalism and mass communication from Amity school of communication, Noida. Contact the author at Twitter: bhaskar_ragha

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Ruskin Bond: Children’s Author celebrates his 82nd B’day

Ruskin Bond has been writing since 40 years and has written more than three hundred short stories, essays, novels, over thirty books of children and two volumes of autobiographies.

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Ruskin Bond. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Ruskin Bond, a wonderful Indian author, who has won the hearts of many with his intriguing words. He is best known as a children’s’ story writer and is considered as one of the greatest Indian authors of the English language.

Few things about the author that will give you a glimpse of his life:

  • Ruskin Bond was born on May 19, 1934, in Kasauli, Himachal Pradesh.
  • He spent his childhood in Jamnagar (Gujarat), Dehradun, and Shimla.
  • In 1950, he wrote his first short story titled “Untouchables” when he was just 16.
  • After completing his schooling, he moved to England for further education. It was there that he completed his first novel “The Room On The Roof” when he was seventeen and it got published when he was 21. This novel received the John Llewellyn Rhys Memorial prize in 1957.
  • Initially, many of his stories were also published in newspapers and magazines.

Related Article: Writing for children not easy: Ruskin Bond

  • His stories have also been adapted by many film makers. The Hindi movie Junoon was based on his novel “A Flight of Pigeons” which was produced by Shashi Kapoor and directed by Shyam Benegal.
Books by Ruskin Bond. Image source: Wikipedia
Books by Ruskin Bond. Image source: Wikipedia
  • Saath Khoon Maaf (based on Susanna’s Seven Husbands) and The Blue Umbrella (based on a book with the same title) both directed by Vishal Bhardwaj. Ruskin Bond, in fact collaborated with Bhardwaj in the making of The Blue Umbrella which won the National Award for Best Children’s film.
  • He has been writing since 40 years and within this span of his writing career, he has written more than three hundred short stories, essays, novels, over thirty books of children and two volumes of autobiographies.
  • His writing career has brought him a number of awards. He received the Sahitya Academy Award (1992) for English writing in India for Our Trees Still Grow In Dehra. Other awards include Padma Shri (1991) and Padma Bhushan (2014).

Here is a short poem by Ruskin Bond:

 

RAINDROP

This leaf, so complete in itself,

Is only part of the tree.

And this tree, so complete in itself,

Is only part of the forest.

And the forest runs down from the hill to the sea,

And the sea, so complete in itself,

Rests like a raindrop

In the hand of God.

-By Pashchiema Bhatia