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HRD panel finds Teesta Setalvad culpable for ‘spreading hatred’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A committee set up the HRD Ministry has found activist Teesta Setalvad culpable for “hatred-filled, disharmony-spreading, ill-will generating, enmity-creating explosive writings”.The then HRD Minister Smriti Irani had in 2015 formed a three-member panel comprising Supreme Court lawyer Abhijit Bhattacharjee, Gujarat Central University Vice Chancellor S A Bari and a ministry official Gaya Prasad to look into allegations against NGO Sabrang Trust, based on a complaint. The panel has submitted its report to the current HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar.According to sources, the committee has recommended in its report that there is compelling evidence to book Teesta under sections 153-A and 153-B of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), both pertaining to hate speeches.Any person booked under the said sections can be punished with jail terms and fine.The panel is also believed to have raised questions over the manner in which the amount was allocated to the trust “Sarva Siksha Abhiyan” by the previous UPA government. It is learnt that the NCERT, which was the appraiser of the particular project, had raised some objections yet the ministry sanctioned Rs 3 crore for the project.Sources said while the committee has not found any misappropriation of the funds, it has blamed the ministry for the manner in which the amount was sanctioned in the previous dispensation and if the panel’s recommendations are accepted, the officials then involved in the process can also face action.Setalvad, when contacted, claimed the allegations of misappropriation of funds could not be proved and to counter that charges of spreading hatred have been levelled. “In typical proto fascist style allegations have covered the infamous misappropriation of funds to now spreading hatred. Creating hatred…against whom? The RSS? The charge of misappropriation obviously could not be proven and so it is now down to this,” she told PTI in an email response.While HRD ministry officials did not comment on the contents of the report, they confirmed its submission.HRD ministry had also sought an opinion from the Law Ministry over the issue and is awaiting a response following which a final decision will be taken by Javadekar in this regard.In June, the Ministry of Home Affairs had cancelled the licence of the NGO under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, 2010.The trust also faces the allegation of using Ford grant to identify and lobby with media persons to “address communalism and caste-based discrimination in India”.

NCERT advises Centre against scrapping ‘no detention’ policy, says dropout rate will rise

With changes in power structure comes changes in policies. The human resource development ministry which witnessed a major change a couple of months back with the installation of Prakash Javadekar as the head and removal of Smriti Irani has taken up the task of changing rules and policies.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

The National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) has advised the central government against scrapping the “no detention” policy, reported The Economic Times.

The report quoted the apex education advisory body’s director Hrushikesh Senapathy as saying, “The policy has been most effective in checking school dropout rate and doing away with it could lead to a spiral in the number of schoolgoers dropping out.”

The Javadekar-led ministry has been keenly pushing for doing away with the “no detention” clause under the Right to Education Act.

According to NCERT’s website, “the RTE Act prohibits any public examination up to class VIII and no detention policy has to continue.”

The RTE Act, 2009 introduced the provision of no detention under article 16. The article states, “No child admitted in a school shall be held back in any class or expelled from school till the completion of elementary education”.

According to the International Journal of Humanities and Social Science Studies, the act proposes no detention up to class VIII in order to increase retention of children in schools by way of no pass-fail system and to realise the goal of universalisation of elementary education.

The policy also states that a child cannot be detained in the same class or expelled for consecutive years. The child will be promoted to the next level automatically irrespective of its performance.

The policy has been a topic of argument and centre of controversies since it was introduced. Teachers and academicians are of the view that this policy deteriorates the level of education. The quality has been going down since it was introduced, some argue.

The HRD ministry referred the issue to the law ministry and sought its advice on whether the clause can be done away with through a non-legislative method instead of taking the longer route of amending the RTE Act.

According to a report by The Indian Express, almost 18 states want this policy to be repealed and had submitted a report to Irani in May 2016 suggesting that the government bring back the pass-fail system from standard VI.

However, it also recommended that in case a child does not pass in the first instance, he or she should be given two more chances to appear in the exam.

Senapathy counters the arguments against the policy by saying, “Scrapping it is not the real solution. You can scrap no-detention policy but once you scrap it, dropout rate will increase.”

According to him, the policy itself is not the problem, the implementation is. The policy should be retained while improving teaching simultaneously, he added.

International Yoga Day: Smriti Irani urges parents, teachers to practice yoga with kids

Parents and teachers should spend time with children practising yoga as scientific evidence shows that the ancient exercise form improves motor skills and hand-eye coordination, HRD Minister Smriti Irani said on Tuesday. “If you look at scientific evidence, yoga improves motor skills and also makes hand-eye coordination better,” Irani said as she asked teacher and parents to inculcate this habit in children. The HRD Minister was speaking at the first ‘National Yoga Olympiad’ organised by the NCERT where over 300 students from 21 states, including those who were differently-abled performed various ‘asanas’. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>AYUSH Minister Shripad Naik, who was also present at the event, said there should be an International Yoga Olympiad organised along the lines of the national event. Irani said she hoped that next year, the Olympiad will attract participants from all states of the country. Urging school children to practice yoga, she also said this year six central universities will start full-fledged Yoga Departments and offer courses in this subject. Officials said students from all communities and regions participated in the event.

Smriti Irani announces child tracking system that can monitor children’s progress in class

The HRD ministry is bringing in a child tracking system for over 200 million children across the country which will be used to monitor their progress from one class to another and also identify drop outs.”Introducing a child tracking system for over 200 million children all across the country to track movement class to class, identify drop outs,” HRD minister Smriti Irani said in a series of tweets today on the initiatives taken by her ministry in the field of school education.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In another tweet, Irani said that due to Right to Education, the concept of bridge schools was discontinued “which disabilitated entrance of out of school children into the school system (sic).”Moving to other initiatives of the HRD ministry, Irani said that rather than monitoring the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), the programme for achievement of universalisation of elementary education, annually as was done during the UPA, her ministry would track it online daily.”We did mid-term review online. This year we shall track SSA daily online. Real time data will help engage productively with states,” she said in. Sarva Siksha Abhiyaan under UPA regime was monitored once a year and was not facilitating solutions real time, she added.Irani also announced that her ministry is developing an expenditure portal that centralises various sources of school education data in India. She also mentioned a first of its kind portal for Teacher Education Institutions which will ensure transparency and grading.The HRD minister said her ministry is supporting states to help build composite schools by rationalising stand alone schools with low enrollment and one teacher. “Smaller schools are either mentored by larger schools in same geographical area or are merged in the interest of students,” she tweeted.She also announced that the National Assessment Survey (NAS) which was done once in three years by NCERT, will now be done annually. NAS, henceforth, will be competency based, she said in a tweet adding that states are to do assessment in all schools from classes 1 to 8.”Learning outcome portal being designed by NCERT which will have videos so that outcomes are easily comprehended n tests voluntarily taken,” she tweeted. In another message, Irani mentioned said the Shala Siddhi scheme of her ministry will be extended to all schools. “Under Shaala Siddhi school evaluation was undertaken since November 2015. This year we shall extend it to all schools across the country,” she said.