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Draft Education Policy: Government Revises Policy after Outrage, Hindi Not Mandatory

The modifications have been made to the section 4.5.9 of the draft policy

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The revised draft does not mandate the languages. Pixabay

Following the outrage from the southern Indian states, the HRD Ministry on Monday omitted the mandatory teaching of Hindi from the draft of National Education Policy (NEP). The revised draft does not mandate the languages that students may opt to study at mid-school level.

The modifications have been made to the section 4.5.9 of the draft policy, which was earlier titled “flexibility in the choice of languages”.

While advocating for the study of three languages, the revised version is now titled “flexibility in the three-language formula” and it does not pin-point the languages students would be studying. It simply states that the students would have the choice to study three languages with one language at the literature level.

“In keeping with the principle of flexibility, students who wish to change one or more of the three languages they are studying may do so in Grade 6 or Grade 7, so long as they are able to still demonstrate proficiency in three languages (one language at the literature level) in their modular Board Examinations some time during secondary school,” the tweaked version uploaded on the Ministry’s website stated.

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The HRD Ministry on Monday omitted the mandatory teaching of Hindi. Pixabay

It is pertinent to note that the recommendations of the earlier version stated that the students could make a choice of the third language they wish to study in Class 6, as long as the other two languages included Hindi and English for non-Hindi speaking states.

“In keeping with the principle of flexibility, students who wish to change one of the three languages they are studying may do so in Grade 6, so long as the study of three languages by students in the Hindi-speaking states would continue to include Hindi and English and one of the modern Indian languages from other parts of India, while the study of languages by students in the non-Hindi-speaking states would include the regional language, Hindi and English,” the earlier version stated.

This mandatory clause was met with uproar from the politicians and citizens of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, who slammed the draft policy for imposition of Hindi allegedly in order to homogenise the nation’s diverse linguistic fabric.

The NEP draft was uploaded on the Ministry’s website on Friday to seek recommendations from the public as well as the other states. It sparked a row ever since, with all the opposition parties in Tamil Nadu, including DMK, MDMK, Congress and Kamal Haasan-led Makkkal Needhi Maiyyam slamming the recommendations.

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NDA ally and ruling AIADMK too, said that it wouldn’t discontinue the two-language formula followed by the state, which does not mandate teaching Hindi.

Former Chief Minister of Karnataka, Siddaramaiah on Monday joined the slugfest on mandatory Hindi teaching terming it a “brutal assault” on the non-Hindi speaking states.

“Ours is a land that exhibits Unity in Diversity. Peaceful coexistence is the need to establish harmony and any force shall work against the laws of society. For us Kannada is an identity, and learning any other language should be by choice and not by imposition,” Siddaramaiah tweeted.

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Recommendations of the earlier version stated that the students could make a choice of the third language they wish to study in Class 6. Pixabay

Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) also joined the ranks. “Hindi is not our mother tongue, do not enforce it on us and incite us,” the official twitter handle of MNS said.

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On Sunday, the Centre deputed senior cabinet ministers Nirmala Sitharaman and S. Jaishankar to calm the flaring tempers across the country. The newly sworn-in Ministers tweeted in Tamil as well as English reassuring the people that no language will be imposed and the policy will not be effected without consultations with the other states. (IANS)

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US Preschoolers on Government Food Aid Grown Less Pudgy: Study

Obesity rates dropped steadily to about 14% in 2016

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A photo shows a closeup of a beam scale in a Federal building in Washington, D.C., June 18, 2019. (Photo: Diaa Bekheet). Preschoolers on government food aid have grown a little less pudgy, a U.S. study found. A photo shows a closeup of a beam scale in a Federal building in Washington, D.C., June 18, 2019. (Photo: Diaa Bekheet). VOA

Preschoolers on government food aid have grown a little less pudgy, a U.S. study found, offering fresh evidence that previous signs of declining obesity rates weren’t a fluke.

Obesity rates dropped steadily to about 14% in 2016 — the latest data available — from 16% in 2010, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.

“It gives us more hope that this is a real change,” said Heidi Blanck, who heads obesity prevention at the CDC.

The results were published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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Preschoolers on government food aid have grown a little less pudgy. VOA

The improvement affected youngsters ages 2 through 4 who receive food vouchers and other services in the federal Women, Infants and Children nutrition program. About 1 in 5 U.S. kids that age were enrolled in 2016.

An earlier report involving program participants the same age found at least small declines in obesity in 18 states between 2008 and 2011. That was the first decline after years of increases that later plateaued, and researchers weren’t sure if it was just a blip.

Improvements in food options in that program including adding more fruits, vegetables and whole grains may have contributed to the back-to-back obesity declines, researchers said. Other data show obesity rates in 2016 were stable but similar, about 14 percent, for children aged 2 to 5 who were not enrolled in the program, Blanck noted.

While too many U.S. children are still too heavy, the findings should be celebrated, said Dr. William Dietz, a former CDC obesity expert. “The changes are meaningful and substantial.”

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Dietz said program changes that cut the amount of juice allowed and switched from high-fat to low-fat milk likely had the biggest impact. He estimated that amounted to an average of 9,000 fewer monthly calories per child.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends low-fat milk for children. It also suggests kids should limit juice intake and choose fresh fruits instead.

Further reducing U.S. childhood obesity will require broader changes — such as encouraging families and day care centers to routinely serve fruits, vegetables and whole grains; and employers to extend parental leave to make breastfeeding easier for new mothers, said Maureen Black, a child development and nutrition specialist at the University of Maryland.

Studies have shown breastfed infants are less likely than others to become obese later on. (VOA)