Friday October 20, 2017

Literacy Programmes for Mothers can Improve their own Learning Skills, also impact their Children’s Education

Maternal education could lead to fundamental cultural changes in the household which could have long-term effects on the child enrolment in school and/or learning

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A mother and her child. Upi.com

May 29, 2017: -Literacy programs for mothers can not only improve their own learning skills but also impact their children’s education, a recent study has found.

During the one-year study, conducted in 480 villages of Rajasthan and Bihar–states with the lowest female literacy levels in India–mothers with children between ages five and eight were exposed to three kinds of interventions: Home learning, participation programmes in their children’s education, and a combination of both.

The results showed an increase of 11 percentage points in mothers who could recognise one-digit numbers for one of the interventions, and mothers were more likely to be involved in their children’s education. As for the children, their math scores improved marginally as well.

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The study was led by Pratham, an education NGO, Cornell University and the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Parental education is correlated with higher participation in formal schooling and better decisions to improve child learning.

Source: The Impact of Maternal Literacy and Participation Programs: Evidence from a Randomized Evaluation in India
Note: ‘No Impact’ refers to no statistically significant impact.

About 30% of Indian adults above the age of 15 years were illiterate, according to Census 2011, the latest available data on nationwide literacy. Illiteracy is higher for females (40.7%), and for those from the scheduled castes (39.6%) and scheduled tribes (48%).

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“Even if kids went to school 100% of the time, we are looking at only a couple of hours (of education a day). Several awake hours of children are spent at home, especially of younger children, often with their mother,” said Marc Shotland, co-author of the study and associate director at J-PAL.

Children from richer households–and with better-educated parents–have a learning advantage even if what they learn at school is not factored in. It is, therefore, necessary to look to the household to reduce inequities in children’s education, Shotland explained.

60% mothers learn basic math, so do 60% children

The study found that 58% of mothers exposed to both kinds of interventions could recognise one-digit numbers. In the control group, where mothers had no such exposure, 47% showed similar math skills.

As for children, 60% of those whose mothers had the benefit of both interventions were able to recognise one-digit numbers, as compared to the control group (56%), the study found.

For improvements in child test scores, the authors cautioned that some of the impact of the programme could also be because some children attended classes along with their mothers and participated in the home activities.

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How the literacy capsules worked

In the study, villages were randomly assigned to one of four groups between September 2011 and February 2012–one was a control group of mothers that received no intervention, the second group was exposed to a maternal literacy programme with daily language and math classes, the third group received home learning to become involved in their child’s education, and the fourth group had the benefit of both.

The maternal literacy classes were taught by local volunteers trained by Pratham. For the home learning and participation programme, trainers were paid Pratham staff.

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The average mother attended 25 and 27 classes in the maternal literacy programme and combined intervention, respectively, with an average attendance between three and five days a month out of the 12.5 classes held.

Households were successfully visited about 16 times, on average, for the home learning and participation programmes, and mothers were present during 81% of these visits, as measured during the second half of the intervention.

Maternal intervention not cost-effective in short term

An intervention targeting mothers might not be as cost effective to improve child learning outcomes in the short term as one directly aimed at the child, the authors wrote. The programme cost Rs 500 per mother. What these programmes do achieve is simultaneous targeting of maternal and child learning levels, they added.

The potential larger and long-term effects of the intervention could not be measured as the study did not have enough funds to continue, Shotland said.

For instance, maternal education could lead to fundamental cultural changes in the household which could have long-term effects on the child enrolment in school and/or learning. Some of these changes could be seen in the changing role of mothers in their children’s education.

Mothers in learning groups feel more responsible for child’s education

Most mothers in the intervention and control group believed they had a role to play in their child’s education. But mothers in the maternal learning, home participation, and combined intervention groups were 4.1, 3, and 4 percentage points, respectively, more likely to report being responsible for their child’s education, the study found.

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Researchers found that the interventions did not have a significant impact on the time mothers spent directly helping children with lessons at home. But they had statistically significant impacts in other respects–on the mother examining notebooks, talking to their children about school, and talking to others about their children’s studies. Home participation and combined intervention showed more mothers helping children with their homework.

Govt. certified 22.7 million literate through Saakshar Bharat

In 1998, the government of India launched the National Literacy Mission (NLM), with the aim of making 75% of India’s population literate by 2007, but fell short of its aims. Still, as many as 127.45 million more Indians became literate by 2009. Of them, 60% were females, 23% belonged to scheduled castes and 12% to scheduled tribes, according to government data.

In 2009, India launched Saakshar Bharat (literate India) to” further promote and strengthen adult education, specially of women, by extending educational options to those adults who having lost the opportunity of access to formal education and crossed the standard age for receiving such education”. The aim was to provide functional literacy to 70 million adults in the age group of 15 years and beyond, primarily focusing on women, and rural areas.

Initially scheduled to end by 2012, the scheme was extended until 2017, covering 410 districts. The goal of the program was to raise the literacy to 80% and reduce the gender gap in literacy to less than 10%, according to a government document.

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Between August 2014 and March 2016, the government certified 22.7 million adults as literate, out of the 30.5 million registered for the programme, according to a year-end review from the ministry of human resource development in December 2016. There are no recent estimates of nationwide literacy, or independent evaluations, which could be used to verify this claim.

For the financial year 2017-18, the central government allocated Rs 320 crore for Saakshar Bharat, according to a budget document–an increase of 31.1% from the revised 2016-17 budget of Rs 244 crore.


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Mahalaya: Beginning of “Devipaksha” in Bengali Celebration of ‘Durga Puja’

“Mahalaya” is the auspicious occasion that marks the beginning of “Devipaksha” and the ending of “Pitripaksha” and heralds the celebration of Durga Puja

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Mahalaya morning in Kolkata. Flickr
  • Mahalaya 2017 Date: 19th september.
  • On Mahalaya, people throng to the holy river Ganges in order to pay homage to their ancestors and forefathers; which is called ‘Torpon’
  • Mahalaya remains incomplete without the magical chanting of the scriptural verses from the ‘Chandi Kavya’ that is broadcasted in All India Radio
  • The magic is induced by the popular Birendra Krishna Bhadra whose voice makes the recitation of the “Chandi Kavya” even more magnificent

Sept 19, 2017: Autumn is the season of the year that sees the Hindus, all geared up to celebrate some of the biggest festivals of India. The festive spirit in the Bengalis all enthused to prepare for the greatest of the festivals, the ‘Durga Puja’.

About Mahalaya:

Mahalaya is the auspicious occasion that marks the beginning of “Devipaksha” and the ending of “Pitripaksha,” and this year it is celebrated on September 19.

Observed exactly a week before the ‘Durga Puja’, Mahalaya is the harbinger of the arrival of Goddess Durga. It is celebrated to invoke the goddess possessing supreme power! The goddess is invited to descend on earth and she is welcomed with devotional songs and holy chants of mantras. On this day, the eye is drawn in the idols of the Goddess by the artisans marking the initiation of “Devipaksha”. Mahalaya arrives and the countdown to the Durga Puja begins!

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The day of Mahalaya bears supreme significance to the Bengalis. The day is immensely important because on this day people throng to the holy river Ganges in order to pay homage to their ancestors and forefathers. Clad in white dhotis, people offer prayers and take dips in the river while praying for their demised dear ones. The ritual is popular as “Torpon”.

Mahalaya
An idol-maker in progress of drawing the eye in the idol of the Goddess. Wikipedia

As per Hindu myth, on “Devipaksha”, the Gods and the Goddesses began their preparations to celebrate “Mahamaya” or Goddess Durga, who was brought upon by the trinity- Brahma, Vishnu, and Maheshwara; to annihilate the fierce demon king named Mahishasura. The captivating story of the Goddess defeating the demon got popularized with the goddess being revered as “Durgatinashini” or the one who banishes all the evils and miseries of the world. The victory of the Goddess is celebrated as ‘Durga Puja’.

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Mahalaya remains incomplete without the magical chanting of the scriptural verses from the ‘Chandi Kavya’ that is broadcasted at dawn in All India Radio in the form of a marvelous audio montage enthralling the souls of the Bengalis. Presented with wonderful devotional music, acoustic drama, and classical songs- the program is also translated to Hindi and played for the whole pan-Indian listeners.

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Mahalaya
Birendra Krishna Bhadra (1905-1991). Wikipedia

The program is inseparable from Mahalaya and has been going on for over six decades till date. The magic is induced by the popular Birendra Krishna Bhadra whose voice makes the recitation of the “Chandi Kavya” even more magnificent! He has been a legend and the dawn of Mahalaya turns insipid without the reverberating and enchanting voice of the legendary man.

Mahalaya will keep spreading the magic and setting the vigor of the greatest festival of the Bengalis- the Durga Puja, to worship the supreme Goddess, eternally.

                 “Yaa Devi Sarbabhuteshu, Shakti Rupena Sanhsthita,

                     Namastaswai Namastaswai Namastaswai Namo Namaha.”

– by Antara Kumar of NewsGram. Twitter: @ElaanaC

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Raja Chari: Indian American Astronaut chosen by NASA

Raja Chari, an American of Indian descent, has been chosen by NASA as one of the 12 astronauts for a new space mission.

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Raja Chari. Twitter.
  • Raja Chari is an American of Indian descent chosen by NASA for the new batch of astronauts
  • Currently, he is a Lieutenant Colonel in the US Air Force
  • Chari will have to go through two years of astronaut training which begins in August

June 06, 2017: NASA has chosen 12 astronauts out of a record-breaking 18,300 applications for upcoming space missions. An American of Indian descent, Raja Chari, has successfully earned his spot in the top 12.

The astronauts were selected on the basis of expertise, education, and physical tests. This batch of 12 astronauts is the largest group selected by NASA since two decades. The group consisting of 7 men and 5 women surpassed the minimum requirements of NASA.

Born in Waterloo, Iowa, Chari graduated from Air Force Academy in 1999 with a bachelor’s degree in Astronautical Engineering and Engineering Science. He went on to complete his master’s in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The astronaut is also a graduate of US Naval Test Pilot School.

Currently, Raja Chari is a Lieutenant Colonel in the US Air Force. He is the commander of 461st Flight Test Squadron and director of the F-35 Integrated Test Force at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

After Late Kalpana Chawla, Lt. Col. Raja Chari is the second Indian American astronaut chosen by NASA.

The 12 astronauts will have to go through two years of training. Upon completion, they will be assigned their missions ranging from research at the International Space Station, launching from American soil on spacecraft by private companies, to flying on deep space missions on NASA’s Orion Spacecraft.

The US Vice-President Mike Pence visited the Johnson Space Centre in Houston to announce and congratulate the new batch. Pence also said that President Trump is “fully committed” to NASA’s missions in space.

by Saksham Narula of NewsGram. Twitter: @Saksham2393

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Over 5,000 Plant Varieties in Last 3 Years sent in by Tribal Farmers to protect the species : Minister

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Tribal Farmers
tribal farmers submitted more than 5,000 plant varieties in last three years (representational Image). Wikimedia

New Delhi, June 8, 2017: Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh on Wednesday said tribal farmers submitted more than 5,000 plant varieties in last three years through Krishi Vigyan Kendras for registration at the Protection of Plant Variety and Farmers Rights Authority.

It will play an important role in the development of climate resilient and sustainable varieties in future, he said at the National Workshop on Empowerment of Farmers of Tribal Areas here.

“New technological innovations in agriculture must reach to the fields of tribal areas but before taking such steps we must keep in mind the unique conditions of these areas, which are the gift of nature and therefore, we should promote natural farming in those areas,” he said, as per an official release. (IANS)

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