Monthly Archives: May 2013

Is It Tough To Be A Young Entrepreneur?

As an 18-year-old, Ritesh dropped out of college to focus on his startup. Amongst many challenges he faced, from deciding to drop out, to living away from his parents in a city nearly 12,000 kms away from his, he had to make tough choices early on. His courage and determination to start up and become a successful entrepreneur were unshaken, and I remember, every time I would meet him, he would be budding with some new idea to scale up his hospitality startup super fast. Soon after realising that he needed more funding, he also realised that investors doubted him for his age. They doubted him for the challenging decision he took of dropping out, and was made to face hardships in proving himself.

I remember going through a similar journey myself, starting out when I was 17. Walking into plush corporate offices and institutions, and being told that I was just a kid who they did not want to entertain or could not trust was not an end to my turbulent start. I was made fun of and told that my business idea was too naive. I remember a CEO of a reputed mobile company questioning my intentions as he believed that at 18, all that an Indian teenager with a business idea like mine wanted was to get rich quick.

India’s demography puts us in a brilliant spot. With over 60 per cent population falling in the bracket of youth, it gives us immense opportunity to follow our dreams and quite literally, reform the democracy with our ideas and passion. But ironically, this is the very demography that does not have a support systems in place to allow them to follow their entrepreneurial dreams. The lack of will to invest in young people, and being constantly told to follow safe career options, cripple the desire of young people to become enterprise leaders. As a young entrepreneur, you will hardly find people ready to invest in your idea or your vision, or give you any credibility for your work and efforts. Constructive criticism is one thing, discouraging is another, and many a times, discouragement was what I had to go through for the first four years of my journey as a young entrepreneur.

While Silicon Valley has a support system, and respect for entrepreneurs who follow their passion, the Indian enterprise ecosystem leaves very little or no space for a young person to pursue their entrepreneurial venture full time with support. There is immense family pressure to take up conventional careers and stay in the safer circle.

The need of the hour is to create better ecosystem for young people in India, allow more government backing and create stronger, more innovative incubation centers, which help the entrepreneur scale up, sustain and create great businesses that power our economy. Moreover, there is an immediate need for the society to embrace failure and treat it like an experience that was enriching in many ways. We need to be told to take risks, fail, learn, get ourselves back up and try again.

Ritesh had to struggle for a few years but his courage sailed him through. His startup is now a funded company, and he just became the first Indian to win the Thiel Fellowship of $1,00,000. We need better systems in place to make the journey as beautiful for every teenage entrepreneur.

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Myths about Quality Education in India

Myth 1: A change in teacher-student ratio will increase quality education 

Right to Education Act (RTE) aims for an ideal pupil-teacher ratio of 30:1 for primary level and 35:1 for upper-primary level. But, the current ratio of 49:1 for primary level and 59:1 for upper-primary level statistically shames us and remains a severe problem in Uttar Pradesh schools. The ratio in Chandigarh reaches to a whooping 80:1.

Interestingly, studies show no correlation between teacher-student ratio and quality education. Also, teaching is not regarded as a preferred career option. So, a simple way of generate interest in teaching is to raise the income of teachers to create meaningful economic opportunities.

To improve learning inputs for qualitative education, here are a few cost-efficient strategies:

Increasing teacher’s incentives: 

This remains a government versus teacher propaganda. Consider a system that equates a teacher’s pay to his or her student’s attendance. The method remains fair to both the parties as teachers individually attempt to address each pupil and understand their ability. There isn’t a necessary track-down over individual teaching skills as it remains evident in pupil’s attendance.

Teaching according to a child’s ability:

Grouping students according to their ability and not by class or age have experimentally proven that a student’s learning improves impressively. This implementation needs patience, understanding and tolerance.

Volunteering for educational programs:

Volunteering during non-teaching hours for educational initiatives like field trips, research on curriculum been taught and summer camps are pure sources of effective increase in quality education. Recognition over participation and volunteerism is in abundance within local societies.

Myth 2: Physical structure increases quality education

Recent statistics provided by the Voice of People, an organisation working on RTE which conducted a survey on 255 schools covering 18 districts, shows that:

  • only 9 per cent of the upper primary schools have proper furniture
  • merely 8 per cent schools have a separate room for library
  • more than 50 per cent of the schools have no proper usable toilets. 9 per cent have no toilet facilities.
  • 38 per cent of schools have no boundary fencing while 9 per cent of them have damaged boundary walls.

Many other shocking statistical data denotes poor physical infrastructure of the common patshaala in India. But an improvement in such physical structure too has shown no correlation to the betterment of education output. Here is one strategic method with regard to improvement in physical structure which surely increases not only quality education but is also an efficient way to manage physical infrastructure.

The minimum required classroom area is about 300 square feet but in case of smaller classrooms which still exist in India, here is a technical formula:

PTR (Pupil Tutor Ratio) = (Area of the classroom in square feet-60/8)

This also highlights the futile emphasis on decreasing the PTR, and proves a relative relation between the size of a classroom and PTR. Such an initiative has been adapted by the Gujarat RTE and has done wonders. Technical methods such as these which attack the crucial core of the problem and not the external physical significance are cost-efficient as well as very simple to implement.

Myth 3: How about implementing some more initiatives?

The Midday Meal Scheme is currently implemented in almost 85.6 per cent schools but the scheme remains one of the most corrupt malpractices in India. A simple solution is that the quality of food under the MDM scheme must be checked on the spot and a detailed report regarding the lack of content must be submitted at the earliest.

The MDM scheme is an impressive initiative to widen the educational structure and surely has significant benefits in acting as a ‘supplementary nutrition’ for children. However, another problem within this scheme is that, most of the school activities exist before lunch time. So, MDM may not really feature itself to be ‘nutrition’ for learning students.

Solution:

  • Provide beneficial nutrition in the morning before students engage in their school activities for the day.

IIT Madras on monitoring this scheme has provided a notable quote, “one fruit and one glass of milk for every child every day.”

Implementations of initiatives aren’t necessary, but improvising the existing ones using low-cost and effective methodology will provide a better path towards quality education. Being one of the largest providers for elementary education, RTE fails to deliver quality education. Once the improvements are made, we can move ahead and implement extra-curriculum, ‘going beyond the usual textbook’ debate, vocational training and guidance.

Education is the stem that reaches every part of the nation’s output, be it societal changes or economic growth. As the saying goes, Padega India, tabhi toh badega India! 

 

 

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SOWR Writing Competition 2013

SOWR Writing Competition 2013

It is with great pleasure that we announce the winners of our 2013 Speak Out Write Right writing competition

beth 8 m

In 1st place:
Natasha Gupta
(Neenaz and Chetna’s 11:30am class)

Poem on ‘My Favourite Family Member’ – Affable Aunt

Oh, she’s whimsical, smart and gregarious,
Extremely kind, all but nefarious.
We greet each other with hugs and a kiss,
Well, she’s fun like a kid, she’s utter bliss!
Cracking up at silly jokes and teasing other people,
poking fun at everyone, she’s anything but feeble!
Everyone goes green when we’re together,
She’s sophisticated and cool and light as a feather.
Cooks delicious food & thinks out of the box,
her house is beautiful, she collects antique clocks!
Eyes sparkling with mischief, even though she’s of age,
She gives great advice, oh she’s such a sage.
But, she lives far way, not in this city,
I don’t meet her very often, oh, what a pity!
My aunt, I think, is one in a million.
I’ve described her all, in short- she’s brilliant!

In 2nd place:
Nischay Malhotra
(Steven’s 14:30pm class)

Article on ‘My Favourite Television Show’

All TV stations are displaying different forms of commercial and political shows with different messages. These messages are usually trying to attack our minds to summarize those ideas to the viewers. In my opinion with basis of my psychographic profile, the most appealing TV programme is National Geographic. This programme is very remarkable as it tries to invite viewers to live curious.

The programme is bounded with questions of what we know, how we view the world, and what drives us forward. These questions are realizations that we exist together with questions that need to be answered.

The television (TV) is part and parcel of many households. Therefore, watching television is a culture of today’s modern society. I must admit that I too enjoy “sitting glued” to the TV as mum often grieves. Since I watch TV whole day long, I don’t blame mum. However, whenever I watch my favourite TV programme, she doesn’t complain. In fact, she often sits together to watch it, the ‘National Geographic’.
Whole world is brought before me, for me to taste its beauty and wonders. Personally, I am often awed and amazed with them.

I like this programme because it is very educational. It is a ‘window to the world’. By watching it, I can ‘travel’, ‘explore’ and ‘discover’ the four corners of the world. I have walked up the highest peak and captured Mt. Everest. I have dived down the deepest trenches. I have walked through the wilderness and have been amongst the wild beasts, big and small. Thus, this programme has helped to expand my horizon and improve my knowledge and experience. Before watching this programme, I can proudly say I was no more a ‘frog in the well’.

I also enjoy watching the National Geographic because it is entertaining, interesting and stimulating. I never imagined that such an educational programme can be very enjoyable.

In 3rd place:
Ravin Bindra
(Yasir’s 16:45pm class)

Article on ‘The Place where I live’

The place where I live is a little scary. In the past it was all jungle but now everything has changed. I live in Gurgaon which was full of greenery once upon a time. Before this I used to live in Delhi where I was pretty happy but if I go back there then I wont be. Due to globalisation everything has changed. Backward places where land is present, organisation are buying that land to create houses and trying to change the life of the people out there but I think thats helping. When my dad told me that we are shifting to Gurgaon I thought it would be like a village as it has village in its own name but when I came here it was not like that.

It was very different than I thought. It actually had people who were more educated and smart in every way like in dressing to living. The skyline of Gurgaon was covered with high rises than huts. I had never ever seen something like this in India in my life ever. Now I am just happy that I decided to move here than staying in Delhi. I love Gurgaon now and also my life out here is so much better than before. This place has shops of all most every brand on Earth, dinning cafes which are offering various types of food from Mexican to Spanish food. Now I have learnt a lesson that we should never judge a book by its cover like I did in choosing about the place where I should or I do live.

Congratulations to all of our winners and thank you to everyone who submitted an entry this year. We really enjoyed reading through your work. Keep writing!

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Need for Better Educational Services and Policies

“But Where Is The Education?” [Part 1]

In today’s India, ‘education delivered’’ continues to remain a national crisis. The curriculum of education is still more theoretical than knowledgeable, thus failing to increase qualitative technical skills for the industrial sector. This inversely proves to be a reason for the lack of investment on human capital in India. Cost-effective methods for student learning have never come into thought and we continue to face extremely poor policies, increased rate in the number of drop outs and leniency in enforcement of Right to Education Act, 2009. The question which arises is, Where have we really gone wrong?”

Quality Education: According to the 2011 census, we may have almost reached the threshold literacy rate of 74.04 per cent due to the implementation of free and compulsory education, but yet, institutes across the nation fail to obey some of the many norms prescribed by the Right to Education Act. Moreover, questions have been raised about implementing ‘Right to Learn’ over ‘Right to Education’ since the RTE norms fail to mention a single point regarding ‘learning’ which is the crux of the entire issue.

A prophecy regarding the so-called ‘quality education’ in India, is that statistically it does no good. Quality education is a socio-economic boon, a justified postulate. Lack of quality education leads to deficiency of skilled labour in the industrial sector and eventually diminishes the economic output. This is purely evident in India as 83 per cent of the total working population for the construction industry remains unskilled. But at the same time, labour in India is low in both quality and capital.

Let us question “What are we really learning?” rather than “How many are we educating?”

At the Indian level, 52 per cent of Class V students are unable to read a Class II textbook whereas 72 per cent of them are unable to do basic arithmetic division. Also, a teacher’s duty today revolves more around ‘punctuality’ and ‘attendance’ of a student rather than his or her achievements. Mere aim to complete the syllabus has now turned into a priority.

With the rise in number of private schools and institutes, education has turned into a thriving business. Students of the elite and middle class families successfully avail seats, leaving behind students from poor sections of the society who fail to meet the needs for quality education at local schools. Now the myth revolving around quality education is that it is only to be found in private institutions. This continues to remain a hoax since private institutions deliver a mere gain with respect to quality. The truth enlightens us when studies reveal that on comparison of test scores between public and private institutes; only a marginal difference exists.

Yet, lack of quality education has raised another deeper subject. Parents today enforce children to join coaching institutes and private tuition’s which eventually turn to be ‘supplements’ for quality education. However, educationalists fear that private tutoring has turned into an alternative to institutional schools. This was clearly evident in Bengal recently where nearly 73 per cent of the students took recourse to tuitions instead of schools. The RTE Act prohibits teachers from conducting private tuitions but no initiatives have been undertaken to track down these teachers who abide against the law. RTE also fails to meet the norms required for minimum’ quality education for any school. The need for norms over such a grave issue which serves as the main source for entire educational output is a must.

In the upcoming articles of this series, we will discuss the myths revolving around quality education in India.

Post By :

Achilles Rasquinha

 

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Crying Out For Help: Need For Education Reforms At The Local Level

They say the future of a country is in the hands of the youth and it stands true as it is their skills, thinking and motivation which eventually decide a nation’s fate. But how well have we been ensuring that they get the best opportunities? Looking around us, can we say that the education system we are so comfortable with has resulted in pure growth and innovative leaders?

Let the statistics speak.

Even though India has invested a lot in the education sector, 25  per cent of the masses are still illiterate. Only 15 per cent of students reach high school, whilst only 7 per cent graduate. Such abysmal figures show a high dropout rate. One wonders why it is so. Do they realise that education is not their need? Or are the reasons financial? One needs to dive deep into the issues which plague our education sector.

Since times immemorial teaching has been considered a revered profession. One could cite the example of Dronacharya, a knowledgeable guru who was deeply respected by kings and Gods. However, shifting focus to the present, circumstances have highly deteriorated. Quality and quantity of teachers is on an all-time low. Nationwide, 36 per cent of teaching positions are vacant. Student-teacher ratios are above (1:46 in primary schools and 1:59 in upper primary schools) the ideal ratio (1:30 and 1:35 respectively). Difficulties arise in students getting proper individual attention. Out of the positions that are actually filled, 13 per cent choose to stay absent. The obvious solution is strict rules to be maintained by the institutions. But sadly, hardly any of them ever dismiss a teacher for such unprofessionalism.  Also, many of our private schools have untrained, incompetent teachers and some with false certificates too. At the college level, 57 per cent of college professors lack either a master’s or a PhD. The situation is definitely getting worse as 99 per cent aspirants failed to clear TET (Teacher Eligibility Test) in 2012, compared to 90 per cent in 2010. This is even below the “chalta hai” attitude we are so dearly attached to.

The quality of education doesn’t stand far from teaching on the rating scale. 80 per cent of our schools are government funded, making the government a major provider of our education. Even so, the poorest of families prefer their children to attend (relatively) expensive public schools rather than go to government schools where education is for free.

The centre of our education has always been rote learning. We teach our students to be moral, ideal, but that doesn’t necessarily reflect in our education methods. Students hardly develop a deep understanding of what they are studying. Any attempts to clarify doubts or raise questions are met with prompt rejections. Encouraging free thinking is not focused upon and stands reflected in our culture as well. The curriculum is outdated. Students are shown two roads: engineering and doctor, none of which might be the passion for many. They end up getting frustrated with the rat race, but that’s another topic altogether.

Students cram terms and lessons, to be forgotten as soon as the exams end. What’s the point of wasting money, just to rote learn without understanding them? Doesn’t this squash the critical thinking in due course? To get a job- which is enough, some might say. And this statement just proves how much reform our schooling system is in a dire need of. Studies showed that over half of 10-year-old rural children could not read at a basic level; over 60 per cent were unable to do division, and 50 per cent dropped out by the age of 14.

On a positive note, the numbers of educational institutions are on an increasing slope, but still 95 per cent of them don’t compete with RTE standards for infrastructure. To spend 8 hours or more in a certain place, proper facilities are required such as a separate toilet for girls and boys, a playground, a library with enough reading material, electricity, ramp access for disabled children and computers.

One can only progress when one properly utilises resources available to him/her. But what do you do when they don’t exist? India however doesn’t face a lack of resources (have a look at the staggering population statistics). If only we could render them useful. Educational policies can’t be effective if the base they are building it up on is weak. RTE has been a huge relief but no substantial benefits have resulted yet.

Our two primary challenges are to revise our outdated curriculum and sync it with the industry’s needs; to train our faculty, so that they have knowledge to teach skills and are continuously motivated to innovate. Schools need to stop being so reticent and start taking initiatives. Parents (especially in rural areas) need to be motivated to send their children to school, which can be done if government schools give positive results. Guidelines should be strictly followed, ensuring stringent punishment for those who don’t. Well-read adults could work part time in NGOs providing schooling. Unqualified teachers shouldn’t be hired just to fill vacant seats.

More than anything else, the citizens need to stop acting blind to this chaos of an education and participate actively in ensuring that our young stars get a chance to truly shine.

Post By : Riya Rana

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Skill Development Initiatives

India is a remarkably young country with an average age of 28 years. 65% of the population is below 35yrs of age. We have a demographic advantage of having 540 million young people which in turn implies that we need dynamic and productive workforce for the next 40 years when the other nations including China are aging”- Pax Indica by Shashi Tharoor

The biggest concern of our leaders since the past two five year plans has been ‘inclusive growth’ and ‘sustainable development’. With less that 1000 days left for the 2015 Millennium Development Goals target in attaining ‘poverty alleviation’ merely providing incentives and subsidies will not help; providing training of green skills and employment opportunities in different sectors will. The wide gap between the rich and poor can be well attended by bridging the urban-rural gap.  The urban biased education shall be well countered with equal effort in upgrading the skills of labour market from the grass-root level. Demand for skilled workforce in the market is increasing whereas many labourers at rural level are unable to compete due to low and outdated skills. Also the current education system is incapable of meeting the demand requirements of the Industry. The government has announced the invitations of Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) into the country which promise at least 10 million jobs. A skill labour force is required to fill the titanic vacuum.

Keeping in mind the demographic trend of our country, i.e. a working population between the age of 15 and 59 years, the government had launched a National Skill Development Mission. A National Skill Development Corporation Board (NSDCB) and Prime Minister’s National Skill Development Council was established. A special budget was allocated in the financial years 2011-12 and 2012-13 setting up a target to shape 500 million labour force by 2022. On 9 May 2013, the government had approved the setting up of an autonomous body called National Skill Development Agency. The National Skill Development Council (NSDC) has recognised around 21 departments to impart training in both organised and unorganised sectors. These include automobiles, electronic hardware, textiles and garments, leather and leather goods, building and construction, food processing, handlooms and handicrafts, media, banking and financial sector etc. The candidates acquiring skills and Industrial Training Institute (ITI) graduates are given certification which is internationally recognised.

The government has invested in bringing in the required machinery and infrastructure for training. In order to implement the mission, the centre has entered into a first ever Public-Private-Private partnership. The funds for training purpose shall be complemented by private funding. Government promotes training and various companies have come forward as an initiative of Corporate Social Responsibility. Examples of private sector companies contributing skill development initiative are Tata Motors, who helped in upgrading technical training institutes, IL&FS education in a joint venture with NSDC to build and manage 100 multi skill schools across India, Bharati-Walmart had launched a training centre in Karnataka which trains 100 candidates every month and make them eligible for employment in retail sector.

The most inclusive form of skill development training is proving a Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) at every level. The targets group for this program would be school dropouts at village level. By 2012, it was estimated that there are 57 millions school dropouts or illiterates. SC/STs constitute to about 28 per cent of the learners. There are about 68 per cent women learners and male contribute to about 53 per cent of school dropouts.

There are hundreds of vocational training centres per state across the nation each with their set of methods and policies. Gujarat- The Gujarat Skill Development Mission (GSDM) has introduced the procedure of vouchers. Anybody can purchase these vouchers and join training in any sector. After the course ends they will be assessed. In case the candidate fails the test the cost of training shall be refunded. Rajasthan- Gujarat launched a scheme in 2007 to expand the TVET system in lagging areas- Lagging districts, lagging sub-divisions and lagging blocks, Under this scheme the state government provides incentives for private companies to setup technical institutes.

The international associations of vocational and technical training are with International labour organisation, World Bank and European Union which give important advice to the government and provide necessary funds. The World Bank had planned to fund the skill development initiative of India with an initial amount of 480 million dollar.

Investing in skill development helps in attaining socio-economic empowerment of rural women. There is always a limited scope for women and girls in rural areas to develop their skills in a male-dominated industry due to social, economic and cultural constraints and with lower wage payments. Offering women extension services, technical training, stimulating basic education and gender sensitive approaches and support by NGOs and Self help groups can improve their condition.

Despite various investments in shaping a huge labour force there are grave drawbacks the system. Shifting of labour from farm to non-farm sector is a major concern, the number of entrants in the non-farm sector is only increasing every year. Farm based jobs have remained stagnant and there is an uneven growth in skill training provided in sectors such as retail, customer services etc. Meeting the training requirement of such large workforce has remained a challenge. The PPP model adopted by the government only led to delays in decision-making regarding staffing and course fee. The ITIs dominate vocational training centres. There are only 11 ITI centres in the country for women. The government is investing a lot in training costs and infrastructure, but unfortunately this is not yielding in creation of robust workforce for the industry. The under quality of training programme offered and lack of interest by the private partners is a major disadvantage. The local government plays an important role in finding the rightful and needy youth to train. The power of the community in the local government should be integrated to achieve this.

Our education system requires a renovation and restructuring. The curriculum for professional courses such as Engineering and MBA shall be prescribed in a way such that it makes students industry ready. The youth today hold mere degrees but lack the expertise to compete and fit in the industry as per the demand. Vocational training shall be provided right from high school. The CSR initiative companies shall be offered high incentives so that they show enthusiasm in upgrading the skills of the candidates. The best solution is to entirely privatise the skill development program and upgrade the quality of training. Technical skills alone will not fetch opportunities, soft skills training shall also be offered in parallel. Upon addressing these issues India will be ready to produce 500 million skilled labourers at par with global standards eventually helping us realise sustainable growth and development in the economy.

Post by: Mahitha Kasireddi

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Misplaced Priorities of Our Society

I have a bleak memory of what happened with a friend of mine seven years back. It was 2006 when we gave our 10th boards. Being in a city like Patna we did not enjoy the liberty of choosing streams in 11th. We do as we are told.I had a friend who was excellent in calligraphy and painting and was interested in arts and aesthetics. I took Commerce, but he was ‘advised’ to opt for Science. Two years later, before our 12th boards results were out, my friend bought the entrance form of NIFT (National Institute of Fashion Technology) with his savings. Although I was sure that he would crack the entrance, but his father was totally appalled by the very idea. His final verdict for my friend was that he must become an ‘engineer’.

In Bihar, if you fail an exam, the world ends for you and at a time when one needs family the most, it discards you. Fortunately for me, based on my result, I got through the Delhi University and opted for Literature, but my friend had flunked in his Physics exam.I quite remember that a year later the same friend appeared for AIEEE and IIT entrance exams but could not crack either, and his father called me and asked about the best private engineering colleges.”  Now even though my friend got through one of the colleges in Jaipur, he is still trying to clear his last semester exams. A talent wasted.

The bigger question: Why is our society obsessed with dictating a teenager’s career choice? At an age when you are eligible to choose the leader of your country, you are not allowed to choose your own career. Dual standards, surely.

I have immense respect for my friend’s father and also know that he wanted the best for his son, but what I don’t understand is the obsession with ‘engineering’? This is a complex question and cannot have a simple answer. They belonged to a middle class family and we live in an era where financial pulls are so strong that they decide everything. The obsession with financial security increases competition and our society produces a generation of young people who are part of a rat race throughout their productive years.

I see myself in contrast to my friend. I was never questioned by my family about my choices. I chose commerce at intermediate level, Literature during graduation, Journalism and International Politics for my Post Graduation, and finally landed up doing theatre. I belonged to the same society, same middle class family. However, today I may not have achieved what I wanted to achieve in the long run, but I am responsible for my own decisions and blunders. My family supported every decision of mine. As a result I have my share of learnings and a broader perspective. This experience has enabled me to accept failures and encourages me to remain optimistic, whatever the turn of events.

The act of deciding for ‘your children’ is not new and is a distinct feature of middle class families in almost all the developing nations and also in a few developed societies. It is high time we realise that this results not only in creating a disoriented lot of people that has no understanding what direction they are moving in, but in the process also creates a dissatisfied society with unsatiated desires.

People may debate my take on the issue. But I think of my friend who still paints beautifully, but has lost the touch of innocence in his brush. His soul is wandering to fight the forces which stopped his dreams from being realised, but alas, he cannot see his enemy. It will be wrong to consider his father an enemy because he was also a product of the same society- a society with misplaced priorities.

Post by : Nihal Parashar 

 

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Neenaz & Yasir’s Ace Teens, Class of 2013

What I love about these biopoems is that they allow us to get to know each other though our likes and fears, ambitions, achievements and dreams. I hope you enjoy the biopoems of the Ace Teens class of Summer School 2013 as much as we did. They are wonderful reflections of the spirit of these really very interesting young people!

Neenaz Ichaporia, Teacher, British Council India

B for biopoem

HARPREET
Tall, kind and honest
Son of Gurvinder Singh and Kawaljeet Kaur
Loves to work on computers and do creative work
Scared of failure and less marks in tests
Has got a scholar badge for two years
Who hopes to be a software engineer from IIT
And wants to make the worlds most useful software.
SINGH

Rawan
Kind happy lucky
Friend sister cousin
watching T.V playing Mother
Dogs Sneaks Dark
Won a baskekball match
Running 1 mile in 1hour
Visitng usa, meeting 1d,jb, snow in Sudan
Khartoum, Sudan
Ahmed

Mohika
tall, friendly, talkative
sister of Abhimanyu
loves to shop, cook and chat
who sometimes feels excited, childish and emotional
sometimes who is afraid of water and heights
who got her first scholarship in school
she hopes to be a fashion designer or a doctor
resident of East Delhi
Bhatia

Sahil
Friendly, funny, helpful, responsible.
Friend of Udit, Brother of Vaibhav.
Loves to sleep on the lap of nature, playing guitar, making friends.
Who feels lazy all the time and sometime exited too.
Who’s afraid of spiders, crackers, standing at a height.
Who won a swimming competition at 9.
Who wants to experience life as a pilot as well as a guitarist.
Resident of Anand Vihar.
Verma

PRACHI
Friendly, short, enthusiastic
Daughter of Sumit Chugh and Shalini Chugh
Loves shopping, reading books & playing
Who feels excited on her birthdays and on weekends
Who is afraid of staying alone at home
Who won a tennis match in her school
Who wishes to become a doctor, resident of East Delhi
CHUGH

Shruti
Optimistic, energetic and friendly
Is a friend, a sister and a daughter
Loves doodling, chocolates and travelling
Who feels suprised on birthdays and lazy on weekdays,
Who fears lizards, exams and the sea,
Who’s been to Germany alone, who plays the violin beautifully
Who hopes to own a chocolate factory,
Delhi, india
Mittal

Vardaan
Friend of Dhruv and Manan
Loves music, sports and friends
Memory of being a champ
Scared of deep waters and heights
Who won a gold and learned piano
Who hopes to play the guitar and to always be with friends
Resident of Model Town
Bhatia

NISHANT
Kind, helpful, friendly, ambitious
Friend of Om, Shamit, Sagar
Who loves friends, kids, aircraft,
Who feels shy going to new places & meeting new people.
Who is scared of heights & ghosts,
Who performed a play on stage when he was 4 years old
Who wants to go into space,
Resident of New Delhi, CHOUDHARY.

Rajat
Friendly,Funny,responsible,Honest,Tall
Besties are Kartik,Mridul and Arpit
Loves to sing and explore new things
Afraid of Depth,darkness and exams
Received siver medal in singing
Wants to become CEO of an big MNC
Wants to buy the ASTON MARTIN 177
Wants to help poor people to gey out of poverty.
Resident of Janak Puri.
Chawla

Anshul
Clumsy, optimistic, helpful, friendly
Son of Jai and Hemanti Kukreti
Loves to play badminton, listen to music, read novels
Who feels excited on weekends and loves to eat street food
Who is scared of loosing friends and relationship
Who learned cooking at 11
Who wants to visit the Bahamas and hopes to represent the nation in badminton
Resident of Vasundhara
Kukreti

Vibhor
Shy, enthusiastic, cheerful
Friend of Varun, Vikram, Vishesh
Love to play piano, volleyball and draw
Who feels over excited when he reaches a place
Who is afraid of dogs and cats
Who has performed at a concert
Who hopes to become a great pianist
Who lives in New Delhi
Grover

Mukund
Athletic, tall, musician, strong
Loves Basketball, football and Xbox
Who feels happy while helping others
Who won his first tournament at the age of 10
Who wishes to watch a live basketball game
Lives in Gurgaon, Sector-57
Yadav

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Unfinished Lessons:How the Lack of Practical Exposure Weakens our Education System

I understand why you’d think the pen is mightier than the sword, but not when you’re out on the battlefield. There you can’t toss scriptures of fighting tactics into the enemy’s face. You wouldn’t be able to do without a certain amount of dexterity with the sword. Extending the same thought on to knowledge, it is important to understand that knowledge doesn’t guarantee or beget skill, practice does. Practical application is often just as important, if not more, than the written word. Books need to be revered, and we all know that, but cognizant as we all are of changing realities, we should realise that education also needs to equip students with practical exposure as much as theoretical knowledge.

Exactly what the science laboratories were meant for in school. We needed to get in there to know just how the chemicals changed colour. Sitting in our classrooms, we could have only struggled with the textbooks. Application not only clears doubts but makes sure lessons are learnt for life, and not just the next exam. It helps de-emphasize the unfortunate stress a lot of us tend to lay on rote learning.

Sadly, for most of us today, and that includes our institutions, education is something one needs to hastily get over with. This is why there is no planned framework for how kids could take topics from the textbook out into their lives. Especially in college, when more often than not, you’re doing what you intend to pursue all your life, you can’t rely on a five hundred page spiral notebooks (that most people sit down to read only a couple of days before the exam) to equip you with all you need to know. More concrete initiatives need to be planned and implemented. Watching a movie on rural India is not sufficient for development communication, a field trip to the nearest village is. Mugging-up theories is not important for psychology, researching with a specific subject is.

Education needs to focus more on vocations in this job oriented era. There is a need for better planning and a sea change in our ideas and definitions of knowledge. Application, exposure and experimentation will definitely prove to be akin to life support for the dwindling sheen of our education system. Not only will they annihilate fear from the minds of those who have the potential but hesitate to test it, they will definitely clear a lot of misconceptions for those who think they know it all. I was one. I thought I knew exactly how everything worked till I got to the lab.
Making mistakes will always remain important in life. Science, art, commerce or vocational studies, education should fulfil its rudimentary goal of helping students think for themselves. Important lessons will be learnt once they test themselves, falter and discover.

All of us realise that our schools and universities can’t really boast of the resources to help us spread our wings, and learn through practical exposure. But really, it’s like asking students at NIFT to sketch on paper and never get around to actually stitching. It’s that basic an issue.

Phenomenally talented people from our country go out into the world today and manage to make a name for themselves. It’s not always a choice. And we as a country, owe them the infrastructure and motivation to feel free to dream and fly right here. Brain drain doesn’t just happen, it’s rooted in the unfortunate inadequacies of our education system. The lack of stress on practical exposure goes a long way in shaping our sensibilities towards a particular subject. It’s incomplete knowledge, a lesson left unfinished, consequences of which we shall carry with us for a very long time to come.

Post by -Lata Jha

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Steven’s Impact Class: Haiku

Haiku is one of the most famous forms of traditional Japanese poetry.
It is a 17-syllable verse form consisting of three metrical units of 5, 7, and 5 syllables. Haiku is valued for its simplicity and depth.

quiz - beijing

Cinema haiku. Can you guess the film?

Alone in the dark
You should be scared and guilty
He comes for justice
ARPAN ANEJA

Basket Ball Player
Who Fell In Love With A Girl
Unique Love Story
Tejas Kumar

Untold love story
Of a king and a princess
Uniting at the last
Anupriya Jain

THREE HUNDRED FIGHTERS,
FIGHTING AGAINST THE EVIL,
TO SAVE THEIR COUNTRY.
MOHIT MUDGIL

Fun knowledge of ours
Altogether leads to it
I cry and you laugh.
Bhawna Arora

A Boy runs away
from home, realizes mistake
feels sorry, comes back.
Neha Dhawan

Four friends in vegas,
Blacked out, found the missing friend,
One hitched, other ditched.
-Skand Arora

ABOUT THE CARS TWO
BROTHER FIGHTING FOR THE CASH
AT THE END ELDER WINS
Kanika Mahna

He has the power
To blow the mighty Ten Rings
With his armor suit
Ayush

SCARED OF FAST ENGINES ?
WITH DIRECT FUEL INJECTION ?
THE BOY’S A GEARHEAD
Shray Gupta

The girl with no eyes
Wanted to see the world’s beauty
It was wish of her
KUNAL BHASIN

Passionate person
fell in love with two women
select one for eternity
sanchit singh

Shi Shi festival
Are we really going there
Meet me in the Park
Asna Akhtar

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