Saturday November 25, 2017
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Plight of the students: Modi govt needs to drastically reform education sector

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A_Class_in_Progress_in_Bansidi_Primary_School_A_small_Village_in_Bankura

By Gaurav Sharma

Education is a multi-faceted process that encompasses a wide array of disciplines such as transfer of knowledge, learning values, ideas and other life enhancing skills. While these life-enhancing skills involve an inextricable element of survival, viz-a-viz creation of employable assets, this is not the only purpose that they should serve.

In this regard, Albert Einstein, the Nobel-prize winning physicist known for his intelligence acumen, realized something very profound: imagination is more powerful than knowledge.

Talking about India

Yet, the current education system in India is completely anti-imaginative, thoroughly infused with knowledge prioritizing rote-learning. It rewards memorizing of hard and bulky facts with little or no emphasis on critical analysis of the information that is given to students. The inadequacy of such a short-sighted education system, however, does not take much time to reveal its ugly face.

As the student cum prospective employee steps into the professional arena, he soon realizes how amateur he is and has to undergo the tedious process of ‘job-training’.

So, what is wrong with the Indian education system and the way it is run presently?

First and foremost, the education structure is highly rigid, both in terms of the curriculum and the manner of teaching.

Those possessing an independent, questioning and free-thinking mind are castigated as ‘out-of-touch-with-reality’ lunatics. Such presumptions inhibit the sprouting up of the natural artistic talent that might be embedded deep inside the heart of a sparkling child.

Critical inquiry, which is a crucial fulcrum of education in any field, is also looked down upon. This essentially means that logical and analytical thinking, which are essential aspects in the formation of a well-rounded personality, are entirely missing from the purview of our school set-up.

The consequence of such a warped system of educational ideals is reflected in the high dropout rates at the school level and low attendance record at the undergraduate plank.

Higher education in India

While institutes of higher education, such as IITs, IIMs, JNU etc routinely figure among the top places to study in the world, only a few manage to earn their place in such prestigious universities.

Six decades after gaining independence, barely 6-7 per cent of the Indian citizenry goes to centers for higher education or universities at the right age. The United States, on the other hand, boasts more than 60 per cent participation in the tertiary education segment.

To add to the educational woes, the abysmal shortage of higher education institutes is hardly given its due importance by the government. The lax attitude of our ministers is quite apparent when a miserly 3 per cent of the total budget is allocated towards education by the department under their wing.

School system in India

At the primary and secondary level, the government is the major provider of education with more than 70 per cent of the schools being run under its direction.

The facilities in the state run schools are in a dismal condition; lack of safe drinking water and unhygienic lavatory systems being the defining features of their infrastructural structure.

The shoddy state of affairs in the public schools is not just limited to infrastructure facilities. The teacher-pupil ratio stands at an awful ratio of 1:37. The general practice of citing health concerns to mark their leave of absence further amplifies the apathy with which the school children in public schools are treated.

Of Modi government and education

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with an eye towards capturing a higher growth rate, is working on taking forward the UPA government’s plan of establishing 8 IITs, 7 IIMs and 30 Central Universities.

While such an ambitious target is certainly awe-inspiring, one wonders if such a strategy is an appropriate anodyne for lifting more than a billion poor people from the vicious circle of illiteracy and unemployment.

At a deeper level, the growth measure by Prime Minister Modi involves a basic yet serious flaw.

Advocating more Central Universities and making dramatic changes in the higher echelons of education by overlooking the quality of education at the school level is like building a grand castle on shifting sand. It is only a matter of time before the castle collapses.

First precipitate, now solution

A serious revamp of any system, including educational setup, should start with the foundation. If Modi honestly intends to overhaul the education system in India, he should first and foremost lay down a firm footing for the child, to smoothly and gradually traverse the rungs of higher education.

Equally important is the need to allocate a higher budget for establishing more schools, training teachers, introducing better facilities such as libraries and laboratories, along with the propagation of the benefits of education.

Another problem that needs to be nipped in the bud is the seething number of private unaccredited institutions offering dubious degrees that have arisen due to the slack regulatory environment prevailing within the country. This can be arrested by ensuring transparency through the introduction of strict data disclosure policies for the institutions to adhere to.

It is high time that the HRD ministry under the aegis of the Modi government takes a long, hard look at the pathetic state of affairs in the education sector and initiates concrete and long-lasting steps to reverse the awry trend.

 

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Planning to move Abroad for Higher Education? Here is a list of 5 Most Affordable Destinations to Study Abroad

Here is a list of some of the most affordable destinations to study abroad!

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affordable destinations to study abroad
Choosing to study abroad can be a tough call, and you must consider all factors before you make a decision. Pixabay

Planning to move abroad for higher education?

Access to education is one of the most basic rights of people across the world. However, when it comes to pursuing higher education from international universities, it seems like there are only a few who can afford to study at a destination of your choice.

While the thought of moving abroad and living in a new place with people from different faiths and nationalities can be extremely exciting, there are a few things you must responsibly think about before you take a final decision. The cost of tuition fees, food bills, rent are some of the important aspects to think about and plan before making a call.

Still, living abroad doesn’t come cheap. Wondering about affordable destinations to study abroad? We have got you covered!

 1. GERMANY

With more than 350 universities and institutions offering over 800 courses to make a choice from, Germany makes one of the better and affordable destinations to study abroad. As an emerging education destination, Germany has witnessed an increasing trend of international students with as much as a 14 per cent increase between 2013 and 2015.

Germany is believed to have some of the best academic infrastructures in the world that focus not only on education, but holistic development of the student. The country is also considered to be the one of the top countries to attain specialization in disciplines relating to engineering and technology.

affordable destinations to study abroad
Flag of Germany. Pixabay

While knowing a new language is always a benefit, students need not know German for courses opted in English.

Despite being a nation in central-Europe, the cost of living in Germany is surprisingly low when compared to other European countries. According to data available on the internet, Germany has a lower cost of living than Denmark, Luxembourg and Switzerland.

As per information by the German Academic Exchange Service, international students are believed to spend about 725 Euros as part of their daily expenses while local students spend about 864 for their expenses.

Apart from low sustenance costs, German universities have little to no tuition fees which make them an attractive choice as one of the affordable destinations to study abroad.

 2. FINLAND

The Finnish education system has been ranked as one of the best in the world. The country offers a wide variety of courses to choose from and a student can go to Finland as a student for a complete academic degree, an exchange student or as a trainee.

affordable destinations to study abroad
Flag of Finland. Pixabay

Regardless of your nationality, students are exempted from paying tuition fees at Finnish Universities which makes the country a good choice for one of the most affordable destinations to study abroad. However, there are some exceptions in case of a few master’s degrees and programmes.

Since all education costs are born by the Finnish government, students going to the country for Bachelor’s or Master’s degrees do not have any scholarship. However, students joining Finnish universities for doctoral studies and research can avail certain scholarships.

The country has a reputation for a high cost of living in comparison to other countries but Helsinki is suggested as the most affordable city in the region.

 3. NEW ZEALAND

New Zealand has a lot to offer to international students. With cheaper cost of living than nearby places like Australia and reasonable tuition fees, New Zealand has emerged as one of the most affordable destinations to study abroad.

There are 8 universities in New Zealand that comprise a safe and welcoming community and offer high quality of education.

affordable destinations to study abroad
Flag of New Zealand. Pixabay

The country has an extremely flexible education system that can comfortably match the budget of students and offers great value for money. International students can further avail several scholarships that are provided by the New Zealand government, foreign governments, educational institutions, and private sources.

There is no stipulated figure for the annual living expenses incurred by international students as that can vary depending upon the university chosen by every individual student. However, the New Zealand government suggests having up to 15,000 dollars to comfortably cover expenses during the first year of study.

 4. SOUTH AFRICA

South Africa is next on our list of most affordable destinations to study abroad.

Tuition fees in South Africa depend upon your choice of university and the education programme.

affordable destinations to study abroad
Flag of South Africa. Pixabay

Nearly all higher education institutes in South Africa comprise of student support offices that help student find and settle into their chosen programmes and accommodations which are available both, on campus and within close proximity to the university campus.

The cost of living in South Africa is relatively low. As per data on the internet, students can estimate an expense of about 980 USD per month, which will include student’s accommodation, food expenses, bills and travel.

These lower costs mean students need not spend exorbitant prices during their student years, in comparison to expenses in other developed countries.

 5. CANADA

Canada has long been one of the preferred countries by people from all parts of the world, courtesy its warm and welcoming society. The country has fast emerged as a preferred location for international students too.

affordable destinations to study abroad
Flag of Canada. Pixabay

Apart from being extremely peaceful, safe and welcoming, Canada is known worldwide for its high standard of living and low cost of living for students.

Canada is known to have some of the cheapest tuition fees for international students when compared to other English-speaking universities. As per data available on the internet, international students bear an annual expense within the bracket of 20,000 to 30,000 Canadian dollars, which includes their tuition and living expenses.

Students enrolled in any Canadian university and aged between 18 and 25 can avail discounts when purchasing their monthly transport pass. Students need not spend much on food bills, either.

All these factors when combined together make Canada one of the most sought after and affordable destinations to study abroad.

Choosing to study abroad can be a tough call, and you must consider all factors before you make a decision. We wish you all the best!

– prepared by Soha Kala of NewsGram. Twitter @SohaKala

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Crossfire between Rohingya Insurgents and Myanmar Military leaves Hindu Refugees In a Deadlock

Hindus form a small but an established minority in Myanmar and Bangladesh

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Rohingya Hindu refugees
A Rohingya refugee distributes wheat, donated by locals, among other refugees at a camp for the refugees in New Delhi, India.
  • The Hindu refugees, who fled to Bangladesh, have placed their hopes on the Modi  government 
  • The Hindu refugees are scared of moving back to the Buddhist majority Myanmar’s Rakhine state
  • The Indian government was waiting for the Supreme Court to hear an appeal against the home ministry’s plans of deporting Rohingya Muslims from the country 

New Delhi, September 21, 2017: The crossfire between Rohingya insurgents and Myanmar’s military has left hundreds of Hindus, who fled to Bangladesh, placing their hopes on the Indian government.

Around 500 Hindus have taken shelter in a cleared-out chicken farm, in a Hindu hamlet in the southeast of Bangladesh. The place is situated at a distance of a couple of miles, where most of the 421,000 Rohingya Muslims, who also fled violence in Myanmar since August 25, have taken abode, mentions the Reuters report.

The Hindu refugees are scared of moving back to their villages in the Buddhist majority Myanmar’s restless Rakhine state. Modi government, meanwhile, is working to make things easier for Hindus, christians, Buddhists, and other minorities from Pakistan and Bangladesh to gain access to Indian citizenship.

“India is also known as Hindustan, the land of the Hindus,” said a Hindu refugee, Niranjan Rudra, “We just want a peaceful life in India, not much. We may not get that in Myanmar or here.”

The fellow refugees agreed and shared their desire of getting this message received by the Indian government through media.

The Indian government, however, has declined to comment on hopes of Hindu refugees. it was waiting for the Supreme Court to hear an appeal against the home ministry’s plans of deporting around 40,000 Rohingya Muslims from India.

Achintya Biswas, a senior member of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) also called the World Hindu Council, on the other hand, stated India as the natural destination for the Hindus fleeing Myanmar.

Also readStop Lecturing And Demonizing India over its Plan to Deport 40,000 Stateless Rohingya Muslims: Minister

“Hindu families must be allowed to enter India by the government,” Biswas said, according to a report by Reuters, “Where else will they go? This is their place of origin.”

Biswas said the VHP and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, would be submitting a report to the home ministry demanding a new policy that would be allowing Hindu refugees from Myanmar and Bangladesh to seek asylum in India.

While India’s Home Ministry spokesman, K.S. Dhatwalia declined to comment, a senior home ministry official in New Delhi, on the condition of anonymity, mentioned that no Hindu in Myanmar or Bangladesh affected by the violence had approached Indian authorities.

“At this juncture we have no SOS calls from Hindus,” the official said.

“Also, the Supreme Court is yet to decide whether India should deport Rohingya Muslims or not. The matter is sub-judice and any policy decision will be taken only after the court’s order.”

Hindus form a small but an established minority in Myanmar and Bangladesh. Rudra along with other Hindu refugees talked about how they fled soon after Rohingya insurgents attacked 30 Myanmar police posts, instigating a fierce military counterattack.

“Our village in Myanmar was surrounded by hundreds of men in black masks on the morning of Aug. 25,” said Veena Sheel, a mother-of-two whose husband works in Malaysia.

“They called some men out and asked them to fight the security forces … a few hours after we heard gunshots,” she added.

Soon after taking office in 2014, the Modi government issued orders stating that no Hindu, or refugees of other minority from Bangladesh and Pakistan would be deemed as illegal immigrants even if they had entered the country without having the required documents, on or before December 31, 2014.

India, indeed, is in a tough situation, where it can’t compromise with the principles it holds being a Secular nation that is always engaged in humanitarian activities, but will also need to keep in mind the potential security threats that might come along with such an act of acceptance.

-prepared by Samiksha Goel of NewsGram. Twitter @goel_samiksha

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Swarna Bharat Party (SBP) wants Modi Government to bring reform in Labour Laws

Modi government’s focus should be only on one thing- on the urgently needed governance reforms to provide basic rule of law, security, and justice

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Swarna Bharat Party rally in a national movement for good governance in Delhi, India
Swarna Bharat Party rally in a national movement for good governance in Delhi, India. Wikimedia
  • Mr Modi lied to Indians when he spoke about minimum government, maximum governance
  • The expansion of maternity leave to 26 weeks for women who work in any establishment with more than ten employees
  • Mr Sabhlok emphasised that Swarna Bharat Party is not against longer maternity leave
New Delhi, September 3, 2017: Mr Sanjeev Sabhlok, a professional economist and Overseas Coordinator for Swarna Bharat Party, called upon the Modi government to abolish most labour laws, including minimum wage laws, laws restricting hiring and firing of labour and laws that set employment conditions, such as the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017.
 
Mr Modi lied to Indians when he spoke about “minimum government, maximum governance”. Immediately upon coming to power, he has dramatically expanded the remit of government in every field. 
 
The expansion of maternity leave to 26 weeks (for the first two children) for women who work in any establishment with more than ten employees has been a particularly damaging intervention. In a country with chronically high unemployment, this Tughlaquesque provision is going to put many young women out of jobs, depriving them of the opportunity to gain valuable work experience.
 
Mr Sabhlok emphasised that Swarna Bharat Party is not against longer maternity leave. But this is a matter purely between employers and employees. Indeed, across the world, many companies voluntarily choose to implement strong maternity leave policies in order to attract and retain top female talent. 
 
On the other hand, most jobs only require low-level skills. For such jobs, no employer can afford to pay half a year’s wages without any work. They will necessarily reject young women and hire male labour, instead. Or they will pay all women employees less. Moreover, we know that government inspectors’ bribe demands will increase.
 
The government must get out of the way and leave the people of India free to agree to their own wage bargains and other labour conditions as grown up adults. The only function a government has in relation to private employment contracts is to ensure strong enforcement of these contracts through the judiciary. A government has no business to set the terms of these contracts. 
 
Mr Sabhlok said that the Modi government’s focus should be only on one thing: on the urgently needed governance reforms to provide basic rule of law, security and justice – as detailed in Swarna Bharat Party manifesto. He regretted that Mr Modi is even more wedded than his predecessors to the failed ideology of socialism and big government.