Wednesday October 18, 2017
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Opt for vernacular education to see original ideas

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By Harshmeet Singh

When the British first learnt about the humongous linguistic diversity in India, they refused to accept India as a nation. For them, one single language for the public was a major prerequisite for a nation, like French for France and German for Germany. Yet, against all the odds, India managed to preserve its linguistic diversity right through the monstrous British rule that lasted close to 300 years.

But slowly enough, India is losing its proud linguistic diversity. The new generation is being forced to take up education in English, thereby shrinking the population of regional language speakers across the country. The significance of regional languages in education is a much debated issue among scholars. Higher education in vernacular language is seen as the very foundation of a learned society.

The decreasing population of vernacular medium schools in India is a major cause for concern. Much before the kid enters the school system; he is exposed to his or her mother tongue. The kid’s first interaction with his surroundings is in his mother tongue. The basis of kid’s first thoughts is his mother tongue.

What does the history say?

Today’s model of our schools was shaped by the European Christian missionaries who replaced the gurukul system in our country. Subjects like English and European history overtook Sanskrit and Indian thoughts. The better employment opportunities for ‘western educated’ Indians in British administration saw a number of parents admitting their kids into the new English medium schools. Till the revolt of 1857, the British gave decent importance to the teaching of Sanskrit, Persian and Arabic languages in school. But post the revolt, primary education was neglected by the British.

In 1882, the Indian Education Commission was set up under Wilson Hunter to propose changes in the education system. While it supported vernacular medium of instruction in primary education, English still continued to be the medium of instruction at secondary and higher level. To counter this, Bal Gangadhar Tilak established the Fergusson College at Pune in 1870 while the Arya Samaj opened Dayanand Anglo Vedic College in Lahore in 1886. In 1898, Mrs. Annie Besant opened the Central Hindu College in Kashi (now Varanasi). All these were meant to give a push to education in vernacular language in the country. The next major boost to vernacular language education came during the non-cooperation movement. Institutes such as Kashi Vidyapeeth, Jamia Millia Islamia and Gujarat University also came into being to give a further push to education in vernacular language.

Importance of vernacular education

According to a UNESCO report, vernacular education greatly enhances the overall learning of the students. Yet, according to the data furnished by National University of Education, Planning and Administration (NUEPA), over 2 crore children were enrolled in English-medium schools from Classes I to VIII in 2010-11; this is a 274% hike from the numbers recorded in 2003-04!

Forcing a kid to change his thought process and think in English, rather than in his mother tongue is a grave injustice to the kid. It is akin to restricting the kid’s ability and taking away his liberty at the very beginning of his learning age. For coming up with ‘original ideas’, the kids need the freedom of thought that can only come with their mother tongue.

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Ex-French Culture Minister Audrey Azoulay Elected to Head UNESCO

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Audrey Azoulay, a French-Jewish woman
Audrey Azoulay, a French-Jewish woman of Moroccan descent, as its next Director-General. Wikimedia

United Nations, October 14: A day after the US and Israel announced they were withdrawing from the Unesco alleging anti-Israel bias in the organization, it elected Audrey Azoulay, a French-Jewish woman of Moroccan descent, as its next Director-General.

In the final round of voting by Unesco’s Executive Board on Friday at its headquarters in Paris, Azoulay defeated Hamad bin Abdulaziz Al-Kawari of Qatar, winning 30 votes to his 28.

Audrey Azoulay will succeed Irina Bokova, a Bulgarian who ran unsuccessfully for Secretary-General of the UN last year.

In her vision statement or manifesto, while campaigning for the post, Azoulay wrote, “Unesco must assert itself with ambition as the conscience of the United Nations.”

Through “the defense of humanist values” the Unesco can bring new life to the UN’s “universalist project of peace and democracy,” she said.

Unesco is the science, education and culture arm of the UN family.

Audrey Azoulay has had a long career in arts and culture administration before becoming Culture Minister last year and leaving the job after the national elections last May.

She has been the deputy Director-General of the French National Centre of Cinematography and a legal expert on culture and communication for the European Commission.

When she takes over the helm of Unesco she must grapple with the fallout of the US leaving the organization.

US membership in the Unesco will formally end in 2018 but already in 2013 Washington had lost its voting rights because Congress stopped paying the dues to the organization starting in 2011 because it had admitted Palestine as a full member.

The US contribution was 22 percent of Unesco’s budget and the organization had to cut its programmes with US arrears in excess of 600 million.

The breaking point for the US came in July when Unesco called the Old City of Hebron and a sanctuary considered holy by both Jews and Muslims in the West Bank a part of Palestinian territory while designating them World Heritage Site.

The area is under Israeli control and Israel claims the area. Palestinians call Hebron Al-Khalil and the sanctuary is called the Tomb of the Patriarchs by Jews and Ibrahim Mosque by Muslims.

The campaign for Unesco’s top job started with 10 candidates and the list was whittled down to three this week.

Egyptian Moushira Khattab was the third candidate in Thursday’s fourth round ballot where Azoulay and Al-Kawari led and moved on to the final round.(IANS)

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National Book Trust (NBT) Chairman: Nurturing Creativity and Innovation in Children at an Early Age are Much Needed

How should current school curriculum be modified for an overall development of Children?

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Nurturing creativity and innovation in children
Nurturing creativity and innovation in children. Pixabay
  • Education should work in the direction of expanding the horizon of knowledge children
  • There is a need to shift educational learning for school goers from content mastery to competency mastery
  • To compete with the children worldwide, they need to have an understanding that is beyond books

New Delhi, August 21, 2017: There is a need to look beyond the world of text books and inculcate in children qualities like empathy towards society, humanity, sensitivity towards other human beings and nature.

Baldeo Bhai Sharma, Chairman of National Book Trust (NBT), talked about nurturing creativity, innovation in young minds for nation’s economic and spiritual development.

He was speaking at the FICCI’s first-ever Children’s Publishing Conclave called ‘Scrapbook’. Mr. Sharma said that it is crucial to observe and spot the creativity in children. To not just bound them to the school curriculum. The Supplementary books in school should teach them about the life lessons, that they should be good human beings. Such books will help them in the developing a good and positive personality; it will also strengthen their thinking and imaginative skills.

ALSO READ: 11 Facts about Education System Around the World: Do they prove to be Beneficial for Children?

In the conclave, he talked about how brave soldiers can inspire kids to be like that when they grow up and fight for their country someday. If not, even then such books will inculcate a feeling of patriotism in them. According to ANI reports, Mr. Sharma (pointing towards NBT’s efforts) said, “‘The Veergatha’ series had been introduced by NBT, which talks of the great acts of bravery by Indian soldiers.” The first series has a set of 5 books in English and Hindi, they are written so as to inspire the young minds and evoke feelings of patriotism in children from an early age.

Children are sometimes overburdened with books.  UNESCO encourages learning in mother tongue, especially at the early stage.  Sharma said that education should work in the direction of expanding the horizon of knowledge in a child and he agrees with UNESCO that teaching a child in mother tongue should be encouraged to retain cultural values.

Dr. Hrushikesh Senapaty, Director of NCERT, said: “There is a need to shift educational learning for school goers from content mastery to competency mastery, where competencies should be classified into character, intellectual and social.” He stressed upon the need to make the classroom environment vibrant where teachers would play the role of a facilitator- will provide them with an opportunity where they can develop and strengthen their competencies as well as communication ability. He added, “The Indian education system is moving from knowledge construction to knowledge processing with the help of technology, enabling children to explore, innovate and create.”

ALSO READ: Ragas for Preschool Children: Combining Classical Music with Fun Exercises

Appreciating FICCI’s initiative, Dr. Senapaty said that the goal of this publishing conclave is to produce content which is rich in quality and is innovative. It will enable them to learn in a collaborative environment. He added, “Indian children have performed well when they follow a prescribed school curriculum but to compete with the children worldwide, they need to have an understanding that is beyond books and focus on skills like building their applied knowledge.”

Children should explore, innovate and create
Children should explore, innovate and create. Pixabay

Ms. Urvashi Butalia, Chairperson, FICCI Publishing Committee and Director, Zubaan, said that the conclave focused on:

  • promoting book reading amongst young minds
  • government and children’s publishers- enhance learning outcome in educational space
  • policy advocacy- nurture collaboration between schools
  • addressed- gender misrepresentation in children’s books
  • concerns- children’s content in school books
  • implementing theory of multiple intelligence on children’s content- enhance learning outcome
  • changing role of technology in children’s content and its impact on K-12 (kindergarten (K) and the 1st -12th grade) education

Dr. A. Didar Singh, Secretary-General, FICCI, said that this platform will help to explore possible collaboration between children, content creators, offline and online service providers, publishers, technology disruptors, schools, teachers, parents, and policymakers. The conclave focused on the important aspects like learning requirements of an individual child, crucial role publishers can play to address it.

The conclave also had some interesting workshops for school children. The workshops had activities like creative writing, story-telling and received appreciation from the young minds.


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Ancient Caves, Ice Age Art and Bauhaus buildings in Germany to be considered for World Heritage Site by UNESCO

UNESCO has to decide on the addition of ancient caves and Bauhaus buildings to the World Heritage Sites

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This, Tuesday, June 27, 2017 photo shows the Bauhaus main building in Dessau.The Bauhaus World Heritage is to be extended to include the Houses with Balcony Access on the Dessau-Toerten housing estate and the ADGB Trade Union School, (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
  • Caves in Baden-Wuerttemberg, the oldest piece of art by humans
  • Archaeologists discovered ancient musical instruments, flutes made from mammoth-ivory, water bird figure
  • Bauhaus Building revolutionized the design and aesthetic concepts of architecture
  • These cultural treasures fulfill the universal heritage values and could be considered as one of the World Heritage Site by UNESCO

Ancient site dating back to Ice age

The ancient limestone caves with art dating to the ice age and buildings designed by a Bauhaus master less than 100 years ago are Germany’s cultural treasures.

Separated by more than 40,000 years they are the oldest piece of art ever produced by humans and highlight Germany’s submissions for the prestigious ‘World Heritage Site’ title by the United Nation’s, cultural agency- UNESCO. A World Heritage designation helps sites in their protection from pollution, development and other threats. This also helps raise the profile of a region and attract more tourists.

Also Read: ONGC and Unesco Join Hands to get India’s Largest Coastal Lagoon ‘Chilika Lake’ the World Heritage Site Tag

In the southwestern part of Baden-Wuerttemberg, there are six caves where archaeologists have discovered hundreds of personal ornaments, ancient instruments, carvings and 40 small flutes made from mammoth ivory. According to archaeology professor Nicholas Conard, whose team found a 40,000-year-old mammoth ivory figure known as the Venus of Hohle Fels said that these ancient caves fulfill the universal cultural value that UNESCO is looking for.

The executive director of the Blaubeuren’s Museum of Prehistory, Stefanie Koelbl said the Venus of Hohle Fels is the oldest known image of a human. “This figure has a very special charisma also carved from ivory – she has this typical pattern for artworks from the younger Paleolithic Age here in southern Germany, these notch lines, and cross lines,” Koelbl said. “She has no head but a loop to carry her and probably was carried as an amulet. It belonged to one special person.”

Conard said, “It was an exceptional area where each year we find new examples of Paleolithic artworks that can be up to 40,000 years old or even a little bit older. And they are typically beautifully formed objects cut with stone tools and made from mammoth ivory.”

“They have produced the most abundant, richest and oldest record of early art works and also musical instruments, along with a whole range of other innovations, that are part of the cultural development at the time when modern humans spread across Europe and the Neanderthals went extinct,” said the University of Tuebingen professor.

Some other findings in the caves include approx. 32,000 years old 8-inch phallus carved from siltstone, a water bird figure, unique in early Ice Age art, and a broken art piece of a half man-half lion carved from mammoth ivory.

Archaeological site of the 20th century

The Bauhaus building which is in the northeastern part of Germany was designed by Hannes Meyer- the school’s second director. The architecture of Bauhaus school revolutionized design and aesthetic concepts between 1919 and 1933 while some Bauhaus buildings were already included in the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1996.

Buildings designed by Meyer was known as Laubenganghaeuser – literally “housing with balcony access” – in the housing estate in Dessau, southwest of Berlin, as well as a trade union school he designed in Bernau, north of Berlin, are under consideration for the world heritage site this year.

UNESCO World Heritage Committee Meet

UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee meeting is set to take place in Poland this month. The nominations for World Heritage sites 2017 include 27 cultural sites, 7 natural sites and one both natural and cultural site. Some other cultural sites like the Valongo Wharf in Rio, the Sambor Prei Kuk archaeological sites in Cambodia, the Kujataa subarctic farming landscape in Greenland, and the landscapes of Dauria in Mongolia are also being considered.

– by Shabnam Mangla of NewsGram. Twitter @Sabnam_mangla