September 14, 2010

Things U.S. Students Can Learn from Students in India

While there are certainly many ways the education system can be improved in India, there are still a great many things Western countries can learn from Indian students' zeal for learning. The Wall Street Journal features a running series of articles called India Realtime, which is described as "the daily pulse of the world's largest democracy." A contributor to this series recently wrote an article that praised Indian students' passion and drive for learning and outlined a few ways that the United States and other Western countries could learn from India when it comes to education.

The writer emphasizes that the three primary ways that the U.S. education system can learn from the Indian education system are: putting students' free time to better use, nurturing mentorship and collective decision-making when it comes to their students' future, and setting up stricter guidelines for college admissions.

  1. In the U.S., it is very common for high school students to procrastinate their homework until the last minute and show little interest in core classes in high school. Instead, U.S. students tend to focus on the social aspects of school. Parents could combat this attitude in their children, but because many U.S. parents spend long hours at work and are tired at the end of the day, they have a tendency to allow their children to spend their time playing video games, text messaging their friends, instant messaging on their computer or watching television. In India, parents have a tendency to direct their children to prioritize their studies, rather than emphasizing leisure time.

  2. In school, U.S. students who apply themselves to do well in school in math and science are called nerds and are often socially ostracized; students who do well in sports, however, are often considered the most popular. However, in India, the educational culture praises students for succeeding in the more challenging subjects of math, science and technology.

  3. U.S. students could also benefit from more parental involvement in their children's future. In the U.S. there is a tendency for parents to allow their child to go their own way and figure out what they want to do with their life on their own. In India, parents play a much bigger role in helping their children map out a plan for their life and will go the extra mile to help their child achieve everything that they can academically so that they have a greater chance at entering a successful career.
Finally, the U.S. has an abundance of colleges and universities and some of them do not take a whole lot of effort on the student's part to get into. A student could get by making unimpressive grades and still get into several different colleges. In India, the number of universities available is small compared to the large number of students trying to get into them, and students must work very, very hard to get into one of them. This drives Indian students to work much harder to succeed in school than American students.

While the U.S. education system has many strengths, there is still a lot it can learn from India.

This guest post is contributed by Alisa Gilbert, who writes on the topics of bachelors degree. She welcomes your comments at her email Id:  

September 13, 2010

School parents' forum files PIL demanding fee regulation

PUNE: The Forum for Fairness in Education, a non-governmental organisation formed by parents of school-going children has filed a public interest litigation (PIL) on September 2 in the Bombay high court seeking a fee regulatory system in state schools. The forum has demanded an act that could regulate school fees and has also requested all the state MLAs to intervene in the matter.

Jayant Jain, president, Forum for Fairness in Education, said, "We are against the tuition and capitation fees charged by schools. There are a few schools who call themselves international' schools. We want the government to define what really is international' as some schools use the term irrespective of whether they have any international affiliation or not. We have mentioned these two points prominently in our PIL."

According to Jain, some schools charge capitation fees to the tune of Rs 2 lakh, which is exorbitant. "It is even more than the tuition fees. A school in Mumbai charges yearly fee as high as Rs 6.90 lakh, which explains how desperate the need for fee regulation in the state is."

The forum is of the opinion that school managements will exploit parents if there is no restriction on fees charged by them. The forum has also opposed the school managements that collect money from parents under the title building fund' as schools cannot take money from parents for development of school infrastructure.

The forum conducted a meeting of parents and non-governmental organisations in the state regarding the PIL and decided that no parent will pay the hiked amount in fees for the current year.

"We decided that whatever percentage of fees is increased by schools will not be paid by parents across the state. According to the Right to Education Act, the school management cannot expel the students if he or she fails to pay fees. We will make use of this provision and inform every parent to refrain from paying any hike if effected by school," Sandeep Chavan, vice-president of the forum and joint secretary of the D Y Patil Public School parents association said.

The forum has started approaching MLAs and is asking them to take up the matter in the Assembly so that quick steps are taken to introduce an act for fee regulation. The forum has also demanded that a special assembly session be conducted to address the issue.

Government resolutions issued on school fees
MAY 8, 2009: The state school education department issues a government resolution (GR) on May 8, proposing a fee-fixation committee. The GR restrains schools from hiking fees for the new academic year and states that those schools which have already upped their fees will have to seek the approval of a proposed committee
JUNE 2009: A few unaided schools file a petition in court against the GR
JULY 8, 2009: A division bench of the HC allows schools to hike the fees till further orders
MAY 21, 2010: The education department releases two GRs stating that the government will set up a committee to review balancesheets of schools and only then allow fee hikes
JULY 15, 2010: A new GR is released asking schools to follow the fee regulation norms. It is implemented a month later
JULY 20: An association of private unaided schools informs the HC that it wishes to file a fresh petition challenging the July 15 GR
AUGUST 17, 2010: Two days after the Maharashtra government's new school fee policy came into effect, a division bench of the HC asks the state not to take any penal action against school management for hiking fees until further orders
SEPTEMBER 1, 2010: The HC quashes the latest GR on fee regulation

The Court's decision
On September 1, the Bombay high court set aside the government's decision to restrict and regulate fee hikes in private unaided schools. The court set aside two government resolutions (GR), including the one issued on July 15, 2010 that required a committee headed by the divisional deputy director of education to scrutinise the fee structure of private unaided schools. A bench of Justices D K Deshmukh and N D Deshpande held that the "the state did not have the power to issue the GR". The reasoned text of the judgement will be available later, but the judges significantly observed that: "In view of the 2002 TMA Pai judgement of the Supreme Court, the government cannot restrict or regulate fees of private unaided schools."

CBSE asks schools to cut homework

CHENNAI: Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has asked affiliated schools to reduce homework and the number of tests being given to children as part of formative assessment. The board was responding to feedback from parents and students on the implementation of Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) scheme introduced in schools as an educational reform last year.

"Parents, students, teachers and principals had said that too many tests, assignments, projects, homework and review tests (in some schools as many as seven tests a week) are being held. Many a time projects given to students to be done at home lead to no real learning as they are either done by siblings or parents or conveniently outsourced to entrepreneurs," said a recent circular by CBSE chairman Vineet Joshi. He said testing or examining students in a formal manner everyday was not CCE. "Assessing students on a continuous basis in a cyclic manner is formative assessment. It needs to be taken up with discrimination and in consultation with all teachers so that projects are not given at the same time," the circular clarified.

The circular also said excessive homework or assignments or projects was not CCE, but collaborating of project and research work in groups, and balancing projects and assignments amounted to CCE.

You may get the reffered circular of CBSE from :