Top ten Boarding Schools in India

The sector of schooling and education is reaching new heights. There are a lot of schools that have many things they claim to be teaching their students. It often becomes very difficult to arrive at a decision with so many choices. When we think of boarding schools there are certain areas of concern like the academic growth of the students, the safety norms followed by the schools, the reputation, the past results, the teaching culture, the atmosphere created for the students. While selecting an educational institute for your children or for yourself, these points need to have clear answers in your mind.

On the basis of the above-mentioned points we have a list of the top ranking Boarding Schools in India for your review:

  1. The Doon School, Uttarakhand

 



The School that hardly needs an introduction. The Doon school is a boys-only boarding school that holds a position in the top ten schools in India with boarding facility and a strong curriculum.

 

  1. Bishop Cotton School, Shimla, Himachal Pradesh

 

The Bishop Cotton School Shimla is one of the oldest and most reputed schools in the country. It has a heritage 158 years of education. The institution has a Boys only campus in Shimla and a girl’s only campus in Bangalore.

 

  1. Welham Girls School, Dehradun, Uttarakhand.

 

The Welham School for girls was established in 1957. The school has been listed in the top ranking schools with boarding facility since 2013.

 

  1. Mayo College, Ajmer, Rajasthan

 

Mayo College, Ajmer is again a heritage college known as ‘Eton of the East, since its establishment in the year 1857. A boy’s only college with a very good reputation and exclusive in-house facilities and museum for students.

 

  1. John’s International Residential School, Chennai

 

St. John’s International School, Chennai is a very well reputed school in South India. They have a tagline of ‘Educating and Educaring’. Has also won an award for Computer Education by  Late. Dr.Abdul Kalaam.

 

  1. The Scindia School, Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh

The Scindia School has been educating India since 1897.In those times; the school was open for only royal princes especially from the Maratha dynasty.  However, now the school is open to general public. The Scindia School has a strict student teacher of 1:12.

 

  1. New Era High School, Panchgani

The New Era High School is one of the first Bahá’ís education projects in India. It was founded in 1945.The school gained popularity after its presence in the movie Taare Zameen Par.

  1. Sarala Birla Academy, Bangalore

 



The Sarala Birla School, Banglore is a well reputed residential school only for boys. The school follows the IGSE and IB Diploma program, one of the most popular and competitive programs today.

 

  1. Sherwood College, Nainital

 

The Sherwood College is one of the oldest colleges in India. It dates back to 1869.The school has a very large library and, attention is given to co-curricular and extra-curricular activities.

 

  1. Joseph’s School, Darjeeling

The schools opened doors in February 1888. And has since had students coming from different geographical and cultural backgrounds. St. Joseph’s School has a very keen interest in sports along with academics.

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top 10 educational apps for students and teachers

Top 10 Educational Apps for Students

top 10 educational apps for students and teachers

Gone are the days when you needed a chalk and a slate to study. Gone are the days when you needed books and bags weighing over 10kgs. Gone are the days when you shared a PC in your school’s computer lab, and waited eagerly to lay your hands on that ‘awe-inspiring’ machine.

Move on PCs; smartphones are in! Smartphones are ubiquitous these days. From homes to classrooms; hospitals to workplaces; villages to super smart cities; they have influenced the lives of each section of the society.

They have easily replaced feature phones and the presence of a plethora of apps and mediums of connectivity between individual phones is making their presence even more widespread. A smartphone and a plethora of top educational apps, which house them are a manifold of possibilities.

Imagine, how easy it will be for school kids if they weren’t supposed to carry those heavy school bags? What if there was an app that could enable kids to share notes, topics, and work without having to pen down everything? What if there was an app which could enable you to read thousands of notes on molecular science, with just a few clicks on your smartphones? All these would have been a couple of “what ifs”, if it wasn’t for the brilliant minds who innovated a whole lot of products that have altered the magnitudes of not just the education industry, but almost all others too.

Another reason that has led to such a huge success of these top educational apps is their proximity to the customers and their inclination towards user-experience. Mobile devices, especially smartphones, are much more intimate than a pen and a paper, or a conventional book. It is not to say that suddenly the importance and role of books be neglected, but take a moment to ponder over the impact that these apps have had in our lives. Let’s talk in the context of the education industry, where these educational apps are a boon for millions of kids as well as teachers. Therefore, the time is ripe that one recognizes the importance of theses apps and acknowledges their role in shaping the education market.

Top 10 Educational Apps that are an absolute must haves for Students

1)    Dropbox

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Apps, smartphones, and tablets have stormed into classrooms around the world. The role they have played is revolutionary, to say the least. These apps, coupled with the mammoth potential of cloud computing, have led to huge windfall gains across the spectrum.

Features: – Dropbox is one such app, which enables students and teachers to store their data on the cloud. It saves the students from the burden of carrying bag and books. All they need is internet connectivity and an account on Dropbox, and they are good to go. For instance, a student can make changes to their documents on one device and those changes will be magically implemented across all the connected devices.

Also, this allows students to store their digital documents, certificates, and classroom notes securely in the cloud. In short Dropbox is a unique combination of many things – a multifaceted tool that’s so powerful, especially for students, that it will just blow them away with its potential. That’s the power of cloud computing, that’s the power of Dropbox! A boon for the students.

2)    Khan Academy

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Features: – This app aims to offer free, world-class education for anyone across the strata. Khan Academy boasts of more than 4200 instructional videos, and a whole lot of content from chemistry and mathematics to molecular physics. The instructional videos are available FREE online or via apps for iOS and Windows 8. Also, this educational app covers math topics from kindergarten to university level.

Imagine its potential, if you aren’t fortunate enough to study in some high profile schools or lack access to quality teachers and educational resources. The app is a boon for you as it empowers the students to think beyond the boundaries and limitations and access the world of information at their fingertips.

3)    RescueTime

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RescueTime is an educational app that is a boon for the students who suffer from time-management issues. Yes, you read it right! TIME-MANAGEMENT ISSUES!

Features: – Available for desktops, once downloaded, the app runs in the background and calculates how you spend your time and prepares an inimitable database that can empower you to manage your time more efficiently and effectively. The app is available both as a FREE download or as a paid subscription, however, we assure you that you won’t regret spending money on it.

Besides that, this app is a must have for the parents, who want to track and monitor their child’s time spend on the Internet.

4)    myHomework

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Hey, that note planner that you are hauling around? That’s so 1995. Move over to the new millennium with a digital version of your day planner – myHomework.

Features: – Available both for desktop and as an app for Android, iOS, Windows OS, and Chrome, myHomework allows you to track assignments, class schedules, projects, test performance, and much more. For instance, if you want to track an assignment deadline or progress, just enter its name and the app will give you the complete details, including each day’s progress.

This educational app is a must have for all those seeking to bring some continuity and consistency in their homework. Especially for those, who have a knack of finishing their work at the last moment. It is one of the best educational apps out there.

5)    CliffsNotes

Cliffsnotes

Students love them, teachers hate them, and now they are available in an app.

Features: – The app is available for FREE for iOS devices and consists of a plethora of notes on various educational and informative topics. In short, this educational app saves you the trouble of making notes. It allows you to concentrate on classroom modules, rather than scribbling down points.

More often than not, students sometimes want to study in detail about the topics that interest them. For such students, CliffsNotes is a godsend. It allows you to read about the topics that interest you without having to stop by your teacher.

6)    EverNote

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EverNote, for students, is an invaluable tool that supports them in their research.

Features: – Whether you are studying for your test/exam or jotting down your notes, chances are that you are spending more time congregating the notes than actually studying. Here comes an educational app – EverNote – that gets all your notes together across your devices – Android, iOS, Windows 8, PC, Mac, and Chrome books. For students, it is an ultimate research tool that allows them to organize their research and restructure the collaboration process.

Also, its cloud computing abilities add more value to a ground-breaking product.

7)    Timetable

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Timetable is one of the most prevalent student planner apps. It finds multiple utilities not just for the high school students, but also for the college goers.

Features: – For students, who are jostling to get their timings and schedules right, the organisation is a key requisite for proactive and healthy lifestyle. This educational app not only helps to save on the paper, but their presence on smartphones helps the students to keep their schedules updated. The ‘Timetable’ is particularly famous for its clean and beautiful interface – designed specifically for the young seminal minds.

This app allows students to map their timetables and class schedules. Also, it is yet another cloud computing app, therefore changes made on one device are magically implemented across all the devices.

8)    EasyBib

EasyBib

For all those who have spent countless hours penning down hefty bibliography, you must be aware of the amount of hard work and effort such accomplishments utilize.

Features: – Easybib is an extremely useful and efficient app, designed for students, that allows them to create various academic references. Users just have to click pictures of their books into their devices and, voila, they are good to go.

Has there ever been a better utility tool for the researchers?

9)    ExamTime

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Features: – ExamTime is primarily a revision app that is used by the students to create revision charts, mind maps, flash cards, notes, and quizzes. Also, it enables students to focus on revising the important components of their notes. However, presently, the app is only available on the desktops, but soon it can be expected on the mobile ecosystem.

The biggest advantage of using this app is that its FREE and aims to help students better their academic results and scores. Apart from the students, this educational app is a must have for teachers as well as it allows them to gauge the class involvement.

10) Edmodo

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Features: – Edmodo has been yet another app that allows the students to discuss their notes and share their work privately. Furthermore, the app enables the teachers to work closely with the students and help them perform to their potential.

To summarize, Edmodo is an easy way to get students connected so they can safely collaborate, get and stay organized, and access assignments, grades, and school performance report across the echelons of devices. Students can create multiple groups in various categories and can easily cooperate with their peers.


These are just a few of the thousands of educational apps, which are out in the domain. That said, it’s not easy to find the one app that is widely used, but rest assured there some, which are used more than the others. For example, Edmodo, Khan Academy, and Dropbox are widely used across schools, colleges, or other educational institutes. Ultimately, whichever app you choose may also depend upon factors like your preference, usability, and ease of use. Yet one thing is for certain, the smartphone and app ecosystem is here to stay, and the time is now ripe that you include them in your lifestyle to boost your academic potential and performance.

The question that haunts us is “how sustainable is this development, and where does it lead? In summary, our analysis shows that apps will eventually be as important, if not more, for students as pen and paper”.

The unorganized Indian Education System

Recommended: Changes to Indian Education System

Indian Education system needs improvement

As an education reformer, American philosopher and psychologist John Dewey was one of the 20th Century’s leading intellectuals preaching democracy and advocating its inclusion in education, in which both education and learning being socially inclusive developments. His ideas, if implemented, can reap huge benefits for Indian education system. A fully formed public opinion needed to exist in schools as well that enabled students to make decisions regarding both their own lives and their learning. Dewey argued that if emphasis was placed on children and their ability to both experience and interact with the curriculum, then the subject matter is not the only determining factor in the learning quality and quantity. Among his other influences, “Problem-based learning”, a commonly used concept, stems from learning through investigation. Moreover, he was a firm believer that the purpose of education should not be to provide students with a limited skill set for a particular job in the future. It should rather be concerned with equipping students with the abilities to be “reflective, autonomous, and ethical beings capable of … critical … discourse” (Dewey, 1902).

Additionally, considering teachers as highly regarded and trusted professionals who serve a public function was essential in a good-quality education system, although this has not yet caught on in the Indian education system. Essentially, Dewey promoted teaching as a profession and the direct impact it has upon moulding the mental, moral, and spiritual lives of children in their seminal years.

Modifications in Indian Education System

Cooperative Learning

Rarely seen in Indian education system, this pedagogical approach arranges classroom activities into academic and social learning experiences. Here, students work collectively to complete academic tasks and the pedagogy encourages children to utilise the collective knowledge and resources, this includes requesting fellow students for information, evaluating each other’s ideas, monitoring the work of others, and so on. Ross & Smyth (1995) suggest five elements central to thriving cooperation within classrooms: positive interdependence, individual and group accountability, personal interaction, teaching of interpersonal and small group interactive skills, and group processing. Highly qualified teachers have included several of these elements, which require higher-order thinking skills.

Multiple Intelligences

This focuses on the development of the whole child. Howard Gardener’s theory that the child is talented in more than one way has led to the rethinking of curricula in the schools of most countries. To balance the curriculum, emphasis is placed on blending the traditional academic subjects with arts, crafts, music, and physical education. The majority of children can succeed in environment where they feel that they have an opportunity to evolve holistically. Click here to read more about multiple intelligences theory and its impact on Indian education system.

Alternative Assessments for Classrooms

Ridding schools of their obsessions with standardised testing is an enormous challenge, one to which bureaucrats would never agree; standardised testing marginalises those who think differently and encourages a herd mentality. Alternative assessment formats, however, cannot function without a high level of trust placed on teachers. Local school and teacher monitoring of the pupils’ progress, as well as the teacher’s own assessments are needed for a child-centric approach that seeks to enrich the learning experience through interaction. Examples of these include portfolio, performance, self-assessment, and self-reflection evaluations. An understanding of these methods is fundamental during teacher training and the explanation to the children of the methods equally so. The correct implementation of the policy can lead to a strong Indian education system.

Colleague teaching

The notion of one colleague collaborating or exchanging ideas of the best teaching practices based upon experience seems reasonable but not possible in all academic environments because of the workload placed on teachers. This idea is essentially a private process where teachers collaborate in critically evaluating current practices, as well as develop and study new skills. The free exchange of ideas to resolve teaching issues is precisely what fosters overall development of teachers, just as cooperative learning improves the children.

Ultimately, the key is to implement the policies in an effective manner and the goal is the strengthening of the Indian education system.

CBSE CLASS 12 Results

Poor Class 12 Results, What Next?

Dont get depressed by class 12 results

In an exam that witnessed crowds of over 10 Lakh, there are bound to be students scoring marks on the lower end of the table in their class 12 results. The official figures released – after the announcement of class 12 results – by the CBSE point that almost 85% students managed to pass the annual exam. Out of that, only 10% managed to score 90% or above in the class 12 results. And if you belong to the category of the underachieving students, then this article is tailor made for you. The first thing that flashes across my mind after reading the detailed analysis of the exam is how negative students get after facing a bout of poor scores. That said, getting good marks is a great thing, yet, it is certainly not the only thing in a learner’s life. It is worthy if you get great marks, but what if you don’t? What should you do? What options are you left with? This blog provides comprehensions into the career options available for those students who did not score well in the class 12 results.

William Faulkner, once famously said, “You cannot swim for new horizons until you have courage to lose sight of the shore.” Yes, I know it is quite easy to quote famous personalities, however, it is literally impossible for a student, who is stuffed with a baggage of negativity and peer pressure.

Don’t let your chips down, even if you have scored less in the class 12 results, there are plenty of career options available, however, all you need is a positive attitude and a zeal to succeed. To further assist you in finding the perfect college, I have listed a few options that you can follow.

Careers after class 12 results

  • Fashion Designing: For those of you, who are always on the lookout for the most colourful of dresses and attired in a most modern piece of clothing, fashion industry is a stream which you may prosper. The ever evolving field of fashion industry has brought about a lot of challenges and opportunities in equal measure. Also, the nominal tuition fee is another attraction towards the course.
  • Photography: Your knack of picking out the beauty of the most serene surroundings, inclination towards technology, and a fine sense of ‘colours’, point towards a career in photography. Institutes like the FTII, Pune, offer you the perfect opportunity to pursue a career in photography. Don’t let your poor class 12 results hinder your growth and curtail your future avenues. If you think you have it in you, don’t look back and start pursuing your dreams.
  • Aviation & Hospitality Management: To join a flight crew course, all you need is a pleasing personality, good communication skills, and a positive attitude. Yes, it is that simple! Furthermore, the career offers you an option of pursuing your graduation through correspondence, to enhance your qualification. The average fee for a one-year diploma programme in Aviation & Hospitality Management is around ₨ 80,000.
  • Writing: Passionate about penning your thoughts down or love crunching words and phrases? The career in Mass Communication and Journalism awaits you! Don’t get too bogged down by your poor class 12 results. The course will offer you a great opportunity of getting into a reputed media house as a journalist or into the advertising industry.
  • Sports: Join a professional academy, if you like a certain sport and pursue your graduation side-by-side through correspondence. Also, you can apply in various universities under the sports quota. It is a well-known fact – your mind is as healthy as your body, and a strong foundation is paramount to achieving a perfect career.
  • Animation: Slowly, the world is getting apprehended by the world of animation and artificial intelligence, and future prospect for an animation student are both bright as well as promising, therefore a career in this field is advisable. Also, the latitude of animation industry is enormous. If the tuition fee is not a concern for you, then it is advisable to seek a career in animation and cinematography. Click here to check out the top three animation colleges in India
  • Sales and marketing: So, you think you can sell eggs to a hen? A diploma course in sales and marketing may be your cup of tea and the perfect recipe of success after facing the dejections of your class 12 results. Moreover, if you can take the trouble of learning a foreign language, your chances of getting recruited by a multinational corporation increase significantly. Join a similar course at graduation to up your skills.

The world can accommodate only so many engineers and medical practitioners, therefore the time is ripe that you look beyond these fields and look towards the path less travelled.

Online vs Offline Teaching

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Education and teaching are two words, which are highly co-related to each other in implication and essence. Their role is to make an individual not only literate, but add reasoning, knowledge ability, and independence. Teaching revolves around ensuring the effectiveness of educational tools and that all students receive quality education. Alongside imitation, teaching is a key mechanism through which humans pass attained information, skills, and technology between generations. Prevalent in humans since ancient times, teaching plays a key role in shaping the human psychological adaptation. As the best education systems have shown, without the guidance of trained and dedicated teachers, and implementation of proper teaching methods, education is incomplete. The biggest trait of great teachers is – they are great learners.  Teachers, in colonial times,  were considered dreadful creatures; controlling classrooms by using intimidation and punishment. Today, teachers have become friendlier and stress on the importance of engaging children to make the teaching process more effective.

Teaching, as with any other field,  has gone through evolutions: from usual teaching methods like: “chalk and talk”, to more modern tools like: use of smart boards, multimedia projectors, and 3D displays.

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Traditional Teaching Methods VS Multimedia Tools

Though, individuals can learn new concepts by hit-trial and error method, however the role of the tutor is of primary importance and cannot be compared with others. Conventional teaching methods like – chalk and board have been prevalent from thousands of years and even today it used effectively. This method is most effective in providing structure required by highly teacher-centered methods. Such tools provide an instructor, ample opportunity to expose the students to readily available materials. The biggest drawback of the conventional teaching method is the monotonous “one-way approach” of the teachers, putting back children in more passive role, without active participation. This method is biased towards only those who can utilize their communication skills effectively.

With advancement of science and technology, innovations have been made in the field of teaching; with acceptance of ‘classroom-friendly’ tools. The modern methodology is more student friendly, making teacher’s role even highly significant in making learning stress-free. Modern teaching methodology involves use of better tools, more participation of the students, and makes classrooms livelier. “Hands-on activity” is another method used often, involving – talking, listening, and movement to understand new concepts efficiently. It has been scientifically proven that children respond better to livelier scientific tools which improve better understanding of concepts and better cognitive functions, hence improving the overall domain.

Z to A Teaching approach

Lately, the (Z to A) teaching approach has become ubiquitous in classrooms around the world. This approach attempts to explain the application part of a problem before stressing on actual definition; making for better understanding by generating more interest and helping creating long lasting memory. For instance, in management, team work can be explained by providing successful examples of team work in various organizations; thus generating more interest of the students to understand the actual definition and domain of team work.


Across the globe, Information Technology is altering the work ethics of students, faculty, and staff; with tablets, smartphones, and other forms of hand-held devices making information more accessible. It can be easily interpreted that classroom experience has been altered by use of technology, making concepts more understandable. Innovations in the field of teaching have made a drastic change in the overall learning experience, shifting from the archetypical platform of teaching and learning. In the new model of learning, the role of student is more important than teachers. The notion of paperless and pen less classroom is emerging as an alternative to the conventional teaching methods. The change is inevitable and with introduction of multimedia technology, teaching has become a more interactive process, facilitating teachers in helping make concepts more learner friendly.

What is International Baccalaureate

Founded in 1968 by the International Baccalaureate Organization – a not for profit organization based out of Geneva, Switzerland. Although, the organization is based in Switzerland, however, it is an international governing body and isn’t associated to any particular country. IB is the short form for International Baccalaureate – an internationally recognized school system which is home to three educational programmes:

  • Primary Years Programme (KG to Class 5)
  • Middle Years Programme (Class 6 to Class 10)
  • Diploma Programme (Class 11 and Class 12).

Difference between International Baccalaureate and CBSE

When compared to the CBSE’s curriculum, the one adopted by the International Baccalaureate is more application oriented and practical. Also, the programme includes a wider continuum of subjects to warrant the holistic development of a child. The main aim of an International Baccalaureate examination system is to test a student’s knowledge and not their speed or mugging potential. The primary focus of the International Baccalaureate pedagogy is not on ‘what to learn’, rather on ‘how to learn’, therefore, till the time a student reaches Class X, they don’t have to appear in any examinations. Also, students are free to choose their own textbooks to study, a stark contrast from the policy adopted by the CBSE, where schools have monetized this practise. It is fair to conclude that the purpose of the International Baccalaureate is to produce global citizens. However, the biggest disadvantage attributed to an International Baccalaureate system is that the programme doesn’t use the local curriculum as a base. For instance, Hindi can only be offered as a second language in the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme; which makes the curriculum more perplex than educational boards like CBSE and ICSE.

Why International Baccalaureate?

Over the years, the International Baccalaureate programme has earned universal status for severe valuation, which ultimately leads to students getting access to the top colleges and universities not only in India but around the world. In a very short span of time, International Baccalaureate has become the programme of choice for students in India who wish to continue their higher studies abroad. The curriculum trains students with tools like organisational skills, preparedness, self-confidence, research skills, and self-discipline. These skills help students build a strong character, which ultimately leads to success in higher education. Certain universities have even started specific scholarships for International Baccalaureate diploma holders. The ever increasing cut throat competition has made the university admissions around the world fiercely competitive by the day. Universities are progressively looking for other substantiation that a prospective student will succeed their university. Qualities like international outlook, quality curriculum, research abilities, and social service have become prerequisite and International Baccalaureate has played a substantial role in improving the student outlook.

The Programmes
1.      Primary Years Programme

Subjects taught in the PYP are:

  • Language
  • Social Studies
  • Mathematics
  • Science and Technology
  • Arts
  • Personal, Social and Physical education
2.      Middle Years Programme

Subjects taught in MYP are:

  • 1st Language
  • 2nd Language
  • History and Geography
  • Biology, Chemistry, and Physics
  • Mathematics
  • Arts
  • Physical Education
  • Computers

International Baccalaureate World Schools in India

The International Baccalaureate World Schools are the schools which are recognized by the International Baccalaureate Organization and follow the International Baccalaureate curriculum. In India, there are 18 International Baccalaureate World Schools in India located in over 11 cities.

Although the programmes offered at the International Baccalaureate Schools form an incessant sequence, however, each can be offered individually too. A student studying in a CBSE affiliated school can join the International Baccalaureate Programme for 10+2 level qualifications instead of the Class 12 CBSE, ICSE, or State Board exams. The meticulousness and exemplary standards of International Baccalaureate safeguard the fact that International Baccalaureate Diploma is recognized in colleges and universities around the world. Moreover, it is considered a strong university entry credential. The fact that over 70,000 students appeared for the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme in May 2015, is testimony to International Baccalaureate’s mounting popularity in India.

International Baccalaureate is rated at par with Class 12 CBSE, ICSE, NIOS, or State Boards by the Association of Indian Universities (AIU).


There is a pre-conceived connotation that the International Baccalaureate is only for the elite. The high programme fee of around ₨ 250,000 doesn’t do any good to the programme’s fate. The International Baccalaureate Organization, however, robustly maintains that the International Baccalaureate programme is not only for the elite. Mahatma Gandhi International School, an International Baccalaureate World School based in Ahmedabad, is a 200-student municipal school where slum children study together with expatriate children.

Memory vs Gadgets

If I were to ask you to spill out the phone numbers of your family or friends off the top of your head? In an increasingly “Mobile-dependent” world, we all rely heavily on our electronic devices to remember such ‘mundane’ information for us. However, every time the higher bodies mull over the idea of calculators in examination halls, straight comes the reply – dumbing down. How conventionally hypocritical of us!

For the young ones, who spend more than 3/4th of their day mugging up mathematics tables, the prominence is on mental arithmetic. Calculators are not yet ‘legalized’.

Also, their use is limited to the annual university exams, where good sense prevailed few years back, and students were allowed to carry calculators, though, not yet in the mathematics exam.

No dictionaries

In foreign language exams, dictionaries have had an equally plaid track record. Their useage in exams was banned 20 years ago, until the early 2000 when a research consecutively proved that dictionaries gave the perkiest students a superior advantage. Though, there are still a few subjects where a student isn’t allowed any form of dictionary. Recently a consultation paper was released by the government as part of its recent discussion on the exam, and they responses received pointed towards a divided opinion. In a unique way, these are all quandaries about the boundary between retrieving information and manipulating it, amid information and understanding. And search engines, are still a digital mystery.

For a moment, imagine allowing students to roam through a vast digital library – the pre-digital equivalent. Students won’t find the references they needed and ultimately would return to their desk to complete the exam. Now unimaginable amounts of information lie at our fingertips. But does the act of memorising and then recalling information mould our brains in a different way? Scientists are showing increasing interest in the life-long plasticity of the human brain and how its physical structure is altered by how we use it. Learning that requires effort, and the use of that knowledge, might subtly alter mental development. Some of the best known studies involve London’s licensed black cab drivers, who have to memorise 25,000 city streets.

The process takes applicants between two and four years and many fail the final test, known as The Knowledge, because of its difficulty.

But after four years, they found the taxi drivers’ brain structure had altered, showing more grey matter in part of the hippocampus.

‘No brainer’

The digital age is also raising broader philosophical questions about memory. How much do we need to remember when it can be effortlessly recalled for us by a machine? If the use of search engines for retrieving facts is allowed at some point in the future, exams themselves might have to change. Examiners would need to find ways of distinguishing between those students regurgitating information and those who could show how much they truly understood.


Exams have to be much more than a memory test. Scientists believe exams should assess ability to interpret and analyse information and that allowing the use of search engines is “a no brainer”. This may mean, for example, seeing how well students cope with being asked to research new subjects in exams – testing whether they select appropriate resource materials and how they apply what they find to what they already know. Sceptics see a devaluing of traditional exam demands and question how effective such tests would be. With tablet and smartphone use steadily rising, it is a debate that will continue to grow.

Getting Bullied in College?

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Journey from school to college is one worth looking forward to. At the end of school, one thing which excites a youngster most is the beginning of college. Many of us look forward to college with great aspirations and high optimism. But for some, the journey becomes scary and undeserved. There is a misapprehension that bullying is a phenomenon of middle school, where children are young and passing through their adolescence. Though bullying in colleges has been noticeable, however, in recent years, with advent of technology and social tools, the level of bullying has suddenly multiplied. Easy and unimpeded access to online resources, new attained freedom of living away from home, and less direct authority are some of the many reasons which have led to a sudden surge in the number of bullying cases in colleges. A recent study provides more detailed report – 15% of college students are bullied every year and of those 22% reported cyberbullying through social networks and other forms of online communication[i]. Moreover, psychiatrists have attributed “the urge to bully” to a mental condition, where some people, highly obsessed to prove their superiority over others often end up choosing this path. Till a few years back, bullying was limited to mostly ragging in hostels or colleges. However, with more stringent anti-ragging laws and policies, students have moved to a more convenient and perhaps the easiest tool of bullying – cyberbullying.

Cyberbullying

Many studies have validated the fact that cyberbullying is on the rise. With more attention given to curb the menace of physical bullying, many have moved towards cyberbullying, which provides easier access to internet – a medium widely used all over the world and where audience available is wider than any physical medium. Cyberbullying can be anything from a gossip or rumor about someone to slut shaming, sexual comments, or graphic abuse. In many cases cyberbullying spreads like a fire and eventually it becomes almost impossible to find the actual source of such rumors. Though many factors contribute to such a misuse of internet, however, amongst them the prominent reason for this is the freedom given to an adult as soon as they enter college. This sudden freedom encourages and permits many to indulge in such mischievous activities. Cyberbullying prevention has become equally more important with rise in number of cases.

If looked deeper, the case of bullying has many causes from bad parenting to desire of becoming the center of attraction. Let us look at some of these in more detail:

Lack of bullying policy in schools

Though many colleges have strict anti-bullying policies, however, schools are still lagging behind in implementing such laws. Especially in India, where children are often told to deal with bullying on their own, and complaining about such conditions is considered a sign of their weakness. A misconception amongst many that bullying is just a childhood ‘fun-activity’ and not a serious mental condition is the root cause of this.

Peer Pressure

Pressure to become classroom heroes also pushes many to choose bullying tactics. Many believe that bullying weaker students will make them look cool and improve their reputation in college. Sudden unchecked behaviors may also result in urge to undertake these activities. Such students look for easy targets who can be attacked easily, therefore leading to increase in cases of bullying. Another major reason for sudden outpour of cases is the fact that students in college are under tremendous pressure to perform and many are not able to deal with this sudden spotlight.

Freedom

During middle-school or high school years, many of us live under the guidance of our parents. However, moving to a college is often a period where many move away from home, and hence find new freedom. Suddenly students feel liberated and their activities are mostly unchecked. This sudden change, for many, is hard to deal with and often leads students towards bullying. Though teachers do check discipline in their classes, however, in colleges many do not interfere in activities outside classrooms hence such activities go unchecked.

Remedy

Contacting a counselor or a student is a good start. Many choose not to report such cases out of fear of embarrassment or pressure from other students. Always remember, reporting such cases at the initial stages can go a long way in curbing the menace. College leaders can also play an important role in curbing the menace by organizing events, for instance, “Freshman Orientation” where new students can interact with their seniors and make the atmosphere friendlier.

Moreover, college students may feel more pressure than school students to respond to bullying on their own. The mind-set is “You are adults, therefore you need to learn to handle issues on your own”. Although, it is true to a point, however, bullying is a complex issue that often requires a support system. Teachers and parents can provide assistance and insight especially if the bullying they are suffering involves activities that are against the law.


[i] Report of Health Day News Study (2012)

State of Education in Rural India

SOURCE: ASER

SOURCE: ASER

With an education budget as large as $16 billion, one would expect the Indian education system to really flourish. The ground reality, however, is in stark contrast to this; especially in the rural sector, where schools even after 60 years of independence are begging for reforms. Though, pro-education laws like the right to education and Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan found their way to existence, the ground reality has not changed. Schools still lack basic amenities, students still lack trained teachers, teachers are still under-paid, and parents are still reluctant to send their children to schools. In stark contrast to this, the schools in cities are offering a plethora of add-on services like smart classes, state of the art laboratories, etc. to provide the latest education tools to the students. There have been voices emerging from all corners that the schools in the rural sector should also provide modern teaching facilities but the fact is when the schools lack amenities as basic as drinking water, how can one even contemplate about asking for more “modern tools”. Moreover, it is not that the children studying in rural schools should be taught different things but it would be wise to recognize that children in metropolitans have different skills and tools in comparison to their peers in cities.

State of education in rural areas

A study was conducted in schools in the rural areas where it was found that 32.5% of children belonging to class 5 could not read class 2 level texts; in 2010 the figure was 13.4%[i]. Although many studies have been conducted in the recent years on the plight of rural education but the recent study by the Annual Study of Education Report is dreadful to say the least. Now these are very shocking findings as the amount of money invested to improve the state of education in rural India has been considerably increased, however, at the ground level situation has become worse. Schools in rural areas have become grounds of mockery and teaching standards have never been so low. Additionally, the reasons for such a miserable performance aren’t limited to the poor teaching skills and are spread more deeply in the education system of India.

Lack of Infrastructure
SOURCE: National Planning Commission

SOURCE: National Planning Commission

In an effective ecosystem, which is paramount to the growth, infrastructure acts as the back bone of the education sector. However, in rural India – where requirements are as basic as availability of clean drinking water and separate toilets for boys and girls – the backbone of the system is found missing. Almost 35% of schools in rural India lack useable toilets for boys whereas the figure is 44% for girls. Clean Drinking water, considered a basic necessity for life is found missing in 25% of schools.[ii] For many, these will be just numbers, but in reality they should be a symbol of shame. The government talks about building smart cities, however, for some, availability of clean water is still a hope.

Then comes the other infrastructural needs like playground, laboratories, desks, computers, etc. As many as 68% of the government schools lack chairs and tables, compare them to the state of the art schools in cities boasting their air-conditioned classrooms. The fact is: furniture is not provided to schools in rural India as a matter of policy[iii].

Low Income of Families

Sometimes limited income/resources forbid parents from sending their children to schools. Children are forced to work at a young age to assist the family in earning. Although the constitution of India prohibits children below the age of 14 to work, however, in most areas the rule is flouted more out of necessity than as a sign of rebellion. Even teachers are not paid at par their counterparts teaching in the private schools. Low wages and humiliating infrastructural conditions impact the teaching ideology hence hampering the growth education in the rural areas.

Lack of transportation facilities

In metropolitan cities, schools in order to attract students and monetize their facilities, have started offering air-conditioned luxurious buses. In contrast, rural schools lack connectivity, for instance, in many villages of Kerala children have to travel in a boat to reach their schools; in other schools, children have to walk for miles before they can reach schools. For many girls, dreams of going to school end with the inaptness of the authorities to provide such basic facilities.

Under the constitution of India, education is a concurrent subject with sharing of equal responsibilities between the state and the central government, hence the failure to provide quality education lies with both. Although, last few years have seen the rise of the education-specific reforms, however there hasn’t been a considerable amount of change at the ground level. In schools better facilities will only come about with development of infrastructure, both within and around the schools.

[i] http://img.asercentre.org/docs/Publications/ASER%20Reports/ASER%202014/National%20PPTs/aser2014indiaenglish.pdf

[ii] http://img.asercentre.org/docs/Publications/ASER%20Reports/ASER%202014/National%20PPTs/aser2014indiaenglish.pdf

[iii] http://www.iitk.ac.in/3inetwork/html/reports/IIR2007/12-Rural%20Education.pdf

Sanitation and Hygiene in schools

sustainable_sanitation_web-1

It is imperative to stress the importance of hygiene and sanitation from a young age; though sanitation and hygiene in schools, especially in India, is not given much importance. Sanitation is considered as one of the most challenging sectors to improve upon. An effective hygiene and sanitation requires an even stringent and effective public policy where schools under various government programmes can improve the appalling condition of Indian schools.

Supporting children’s right to clean and healthy surroundings, such as toilets and safe drinking water along with information on hygiene, positively inspires a generational change in the attitudes and behavior of a society. Schools, after the families, are the best demonstration centers to bring about such positive changes on a sustained basis. Hygiene is necessary for a child’s health, safety, and development. This applies particularly to schools in rural areas since they may lack certain facilities; as an example, the media often highlights periodic instances of students being forced to defecate in open. Without access to sanitation facilities, including clean water and toilets, and without hygiene practices like hand washing with soap, children may get sick.

There is a need to include hygienic practices in the school curriculum and to teach children about the importance that hygiene plays in their lives. In educational institutes lacking such amenities, separate hand washing stations and drinking stations should be setup with proper drainage provided for safe disposal of waste water. This highlights the importance of sanitation, another area where schools need more investment. The lack of adequate water impedes hygienic behavior, allows the toilets to remain both dirty and unfit for use. Schools should celebrate Global Hand Washing Day, as events like these provide special impetus to the cause and spread more awareness.

Additionally, it is important to distinguish between the separate needs of boys and girls. Often, schools have poorly designed facilities for girls, disregarding the consideration for the disposal of menstrual wastes; in some areas, girls even drop out from schools because of lack of sanitation facilities. Government schools lack way behind private one’s in terms of sanitation facilities, an area where the Government literally has to clean up its act; additional funds need be allocated to construction of adequate urinals and lavatories in accordance with the strength of the school. Parents should choose schools that offer proper sanitation facilities for their children, along with the other, more typical factors such as distance, school reputation, and so on; this will also force those schools found lacking to provide these very important facilities. Pilot projects can also help in this, by providing schools effective areas where they can work upon to improve the condition. Such projects have been neglected from a long time, thus hampering the overall state of schools in India.

Hopefully with the initiation of programmes like the Swachh Bharat” (Clean India Initiative), our schools can also have a better fate and can look forward to improved facilities which are paramount to success. Importance must be given to improve the coordination between communities and local schools to ensure proper hygiene standards are maintained in institutes. Above all, the ability to learn is influenced not only by the quality of teaching but also the cleanliness of surroundings, accessibility to potable water, sanitation, and good hygiene practices. To learn well, children have the right to be as healthy and happy as possible. Having clean water and proper sanitation facilities significantly contribute to a happy childhood. Good co-ordination between government programs and schools can help in the improvement of these facilities. If given due attention, India can truly achieve the dream of becoming a clean and healthy place to live. The mantra, though has to be – My India, my responsibility.