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Even though India boasts of universalisation of primary education, with almost 100 per cent Gross Enrolment Rate (2014-15), quality of education in the last decade has gone down. While ASER 2008 revealed that 50.6 per cent grade 3 children in India could read a grade 1 text, this number reduced to 42.5 per cent by 2016. With India committed to the Sustainable Development Goal of achieving equitable quality education and lifelong learning opportunities for all by 2030, this backward trend is a cause of concern.
Padhe Bharat Badhe Bharat scheme launched in 2014 under the aegis of SSA aims to improve the reading and writing skills of children in grades 1 and 2. The recently released draft New Education Policy 2019 also talks of foundational literacy and age appropriate pedagogical practices. It not only talks of revamping the current educational structure, but also promotes massive teacher education and professional development reforms. The draft NEP also talks about remedial education, primarily for those who have been left behind and struggle with the daily challenges of curriculum in class.
Despite the new era of reforms that might soon be pushed, one question that largely remains ignored in this discussion is: are we ready for change? The concept of literacy is expanding and is not confined to development of basic reading writing abilities alone. Literacy today talks of the ability to access information from multiple sources, deal with multiple perspectives and layered meaning in a text and form an informed opinion. The objective today is to ensure the development of independent learning skills in children and this can only be achieved on a strong foundation of early grade literacy.
Unfortunately, stakeholders at various levels today seem to be ill-prepared or ill-equipped on multiple fronts. Firstly, there is a general lack of understanding about ‘science of reading’, among teachers, both public and private. This is not to pass on the blame to the teachers in any way. On the contrary, the attempt is to provide a sympathetic view. Most of the pre-service teacher education courses use obsolete content with minimal focus on reading pedagogy. The result is often an unprepared teacher having to deal with children speaking multiple home languages and coming with minimum or no quality preschool experience. Add to it the fact that they are pressured to teach multi-level, multi-grade classrooms with ill-designed curriculum, poorly designed textbooks and still show results. The in-service teacher training does little to help alleviate the problem.
Secondly, the state government also provides a cadre of academic officials known as Block Resource Persons (BRPs) or Cluster Academic Coordinators (CACs) to monitor and support the teachers in delivery of effective classroom instruction. However, owing to less than adequate academic capabilities and conceptual knowledge, they seem to be unable to do justice to their defined role. Also, in most of the states they are largely seen to be involved in administrative tasks that provides them with no challenge and zeal to focus on quality education. Lack of understanding of early grade literacy exists even at the highest level of government machinery, with senior officials ‘demanding’ results; rather than working to improve systemic inefficiencies and capabilities.
Thirdly, parents from humble backgrounds, proud of being the first ones to send their kids to school, more often than not are satisfied with their children just ‘attending school’ and do not ‘demand’ quality. These first generation learners themselves come completely unprepared for the school and are lost amidst the textbooks and rote learning of the script.
Lastly, most of the government schools have inadequate infrastructure and non-functional libraries stacked with low quality inappropriate reading material for early graders, if any. The missing culture of reading both in our schools and our communities does not help either.
There is an urgent need today to ensure quality education in primary grades, or else our demographic advantage may very soon turn to ‘demographic burden’. Language experts must be involved in the development of a broad literacy framework based on scientific pedagogical principles that provides scalable sustainable inputs with in-built flexibility for state specific contexts. Based on the framework, early grade curriculum needs to be reworked on and textbooks revised. Teacher education courses and in-service training need to be made more relevant and closely linked to ground realities. There should be creation of government recognised MOOC courses focusing on pedagogy, in teachers’ own language. The structure and content of in-service teacher training needs to be changed. These should be followed by regular long-term mentoring and support on the ground, which is not possible unless there is a cadre of trained academic coordinators. Hence, focused training for BRPs/CACs on pedagogy and mentoring skills remains a non-negotiable. Schools need to be filled with relevant and appropriate reading material for primary grades, either through school libraries or classroom libraries.
Lastly, all of this can only be done if sufficient awareness and sensitivity about early grade literacy is brought about not only at the level of the community, but also at the highest bureaucratic and political level. The draft New Education Policy 2019 needs to ponder over these issues and provide appropriate solutions. One can only hope that the new era of reforms would help India provide quality learning opportunities to those we fail most often, our children. (IANS)
Probiotics may significantly improve the symptoms of pregnancy-related nausea, vomiting and constipation, finds a new study.
The study, published in the journal Nutrients, showed that nausea hours (the number of hours participants felt nauseous) were reduced by 16 per cent, and the number of times they vomited was reduced by 33 per cent.
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Probiotic intake also significantly improved symptoms related to the quality of life, such as fatigue, poor appetite and difficulty maintaining normal social activities, as scored by questionnaires.
"The cause of nausea and vomiting during pregnancy is unknown to this date. Various theories have been proposed, but none of them is conclusive," said lead author Albert T. Liu from the University of California, Davis.
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"Nausea, vomiting and constipation during pregnancy can significantly diminish the quality of patients' lives. Once nausea and vomiting during pregnancy progress, they can become difficult to control, and sometimes the patient even needs to be hospitalized," Liu added.
For the study, the team involved a small yet significant number of participants who took a probiotic capsule twice a day for six days and then took two days off. They then repeated the cycle.
The team found that probiotics were also found to reduce constipation significantly.Unsplash
The probiotics were available over-the-counter and mainly contained Lactobacillus., a type of good bacteria. Each capsule contained approximately 10 billion live cultures at the time of manufacture.
Participants kept 17 daily observations of their symptoms during the duration of the study, for a total of 535 observations for the researchers to statistically assess.
The team found that probiotics were also found to reduce constipation significantly.
Another finding was that vitamin E levels increased after taking probiotics. Higher levels of vitamin E were associated with low vomiting scores. (IANS/SP)
(Keywords : probiotics, pregnancy, nausea, vomiting, nutrients, symptoms, fatigue, appetite, constipation, vitamin.)
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By Olivia Sarkar
If the year 2020 appeared bleak for the world, the year 2021 served as a frightening reminder that it wasn't so much about the year as it was about the times we've come to live in. Every domain and industry has experienced seismic shifts, both for the better and for the bad. However, just a few fields have seen such a huge paradigm shift as online dating throughout the course of 2021.
It becomes critical to document and analyse the important observations in the year 2021's dating trends in order to determine where online dating stands and where it is headed. This is where a poll conducted by one of India's popular dating apps, QuackQuack, comes in handy. "The pandemic has undoubtedly thrown a few curveballs towards folks wanting to date," remarked Mr. Ravi Mittal, Founder and CEO of QuackQuack, in response to the survey report. Males and females, in my opinion, are fast coming to terms with a new universe of online dating every day, adopting more self-paced and healthier forms of dating, a growing process that will soon become the standard."
The key takeaways from the survey can be best summarized as below:
- Vaccination is a must: An overwhelming 8 out of 10 persons in the survey's sample size expressed support for mandatory vaccination as a prerequisite to a date. A considerable 65 per cent and 75 per cent of people in the 18-20 and 21-30 age categories, respectively, agreed on the same thing. The need of a double jab was consistently emphasized across the country's top cities and tier 2 cities, with 75 per cent and 70 per cent of the sample size in each believing that the first step toward a safe date would have to be complete immunization of the other.
An overwhelming 8 out of 10 persons in the survey's sample size expressed support for mandatory vaccination as a prerequisite to a date. | Photo by CDC on Unsplash
- Dating with a purpose: The poll revealed that, because of the Covid procedures in place, people have had little motivation to walk outside, leading them to think on the nature of the dates they've discovered on the dating app rather than searching for matches in a desperate manner. The survey found that 47 per cent of women and 35 per cent of men agreed with this behavioral change, and that the act of reflection and introspection allowed them to have healthier relationships than before.
The difference in deliberate dating trends between people who live in cities and those who live in rural or semi-urban settings was quite similar. While roughly 37 per cent of urban teenagers believed their dating experience had taken an intentional turn, 39 per cent of rural or semi-urban teenagers felt the same way.
The difference in deliberate dating trends between people who live in cities and those who live in rural or semi-urban settings was quite similar. | Photo by René Ranisch on Unsplash
- Location is pivotal: According to the survey, a whopping 58 per cent and 56 per cent of people between the ages of 18 and 20 and 21 and 30 preferred hooking up with someone from a different place to broaden their search for a potential spouse. This trend proved to be more prevalent among women, as 58 per cent of them were comfortable dating partners from foreign countries, compared to only 50 per cent of men. Further study into a demographic analysis of the sampled data found that 46 per cent of those living in major metro cities preferred dating outside of their home location, while 57 per cent of those living in smaller cities and towns favored the same.
According to the survey, a whopping 58 per cent and 56 per cent of people between the ages of 18 and 20 and 21 and 30 preferred hooking up with someone from a different place to broaden their search for a potential spouse. | Pixabay
- Video calling versus meeting in person: Due to the ongoing Covid problem across the country, a large majority of 56 per cent of 18 to 20-year-olds preferred having their first date on a virtual medium and were risk-averse, according to the survey. On the other hand, 43 per cent of persons aged 30 and up, who adhere to a more traditional approach, decided to meet in person while taking all essential safety steps.
43 per cent of persons aged 30 and up, who adhere to a more traditional approach, decided to meet in person while taking all essential safety steps. | Photo by Matt W Newman on Unsplash
According to the survey, a vast majority of 56 per cent of 18 to 20-year-olds preferred having their first date on a virtual medium and were risk-averse due to the ongoing Covid crisis across the country. In contrast, 43 per cent of people aged 30 and up who prefer a more traditional approach preferred to meet in person while following all necessary safety precautions according to the survey. (IANS/ MBI)
(Keywords: meeting, Video calling, Location, Vaccination, dating trends, 2021, Online Dating)
Today marks the birth anniversary of Josh Malihabadi, who popularly known as ‘Shayar-e-Inquilab’ or ‘Poet of the Revolution’.
An Indian-born poet
Josh Malihabadi, born as Shabbir Hasan Khan, was born in Malihabad, a town in Lucknow district of Uttar Pradesh, British India. At first, he received his education in Arabic, Persian, Urdu, and English at his home only, and later on Malihabadi studied at St. Peter's College in Agra and passed his Senior Cambridge examination in the year 1914. Thereafter, he studied Arabic and Persian languages, and in the year 1918, Malihabadi spent six months at Tagore’s University in Shantiniketan, West Bengal.
Josh Malihabadi (centre) along with Pablo Neruda (left) and Young Ali Sardar Jafri (right). Photo by Flickr
Family of poets
Interestingly, Malihabadi’s family produced many poets; be it his great-grandfather, Nawab Faqeer Muhammad Khan ‘Goya', grandfather Nawab Muhammad Ahmad Khan, paternal uncle Ameer Ahmad Khan, and even his father Basheer Ahmad Khan. Each one of them had numerous works including poetry collections, translations, and essays published in their name. Perhaps, this was the reason why Josh Malihabadi is considered as one of the finest poets of the British India era.
Outset of writing career
Malihabadi's career in the field of writing and poetry began when in 1925, he started to supervise translation work at Osmania University in the princely state of Hyderabad. After sometime, he founded the magazine ‘Kaleem’ (meaning, "speaker" in Urdu), in which he wrote articles in favor of independence from the British rule in India. In fact, his poem ‘Hussain aur Inquilab’ won him the title of ‘Shayar-e-Inquilab’ (Poet of the Revolution). Moreover, over the passage of time, Malihabadi became more involved in the freedom struggle and even became close to Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.
Over the passage of time, Malihabadi became more involved in the freedom struggle and even became close to Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.Photo by Flickr
Migration to Pakistan
After the British rule ended in India, in the year 1956, Malihabadi migrated to Pakistan because of his concern regarding the future of himself as a poet and Urdu language. This decision of Malihabadi moving to Pakistan was highly opposed by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. After moving to Pakistan, Malihabadi was consistently involved in the process of writing poetry and holding literary conferences. In fact, a noted scholar and literary critic, Pervez Hoodbhoy, quoted once about Malihabadi’s writing. He said, "Poetry flowed from Josh's pen like water from a bubbling spring."
Today, on the 123rd birth anniversary of Josh Malihabadi, let us remember his contribution in the freedom struggle of India and in the field of poetry!
(Keywords: India, Pakistan, Josh Malihabadi, Birth Anniversary, Jawaharlal Nehru, Literature, Writing, Poetry)