Tuesday, September 10, 2013

A special feature on literacy//Dr. H. R. Keshavamurthy*

09-September-2013 17:44 IST
Literacy can Eradicate Poverty, Curb Population Growth 
It can Achieve Gender Equality and Ensure Sustainable Development
Literacy is a human right, a road towards empowerment and a means for social and human development. Educational opportunities depend on literacy. Literacy is essential for eradicating poverty, reducing child mortality, curbing population growth, achieving gender equality and ensuring sustainable development, peace and democracy.

September 8 is observed as the International Literacy Day by UNESCO  since 1966. Its aim is to highlight the importance of literacy to individuals, communities and societies. This year’s International Literacy Day was dedicated to “literacies for the 21st century” to highlight the need to realize “basic literacy skills for all” as well as equip everyone with more advanced literacy skills as part of lifelong learning.

      The essence and role of education articulated in our National Policy on Education (NPE), continues to be relevant even today. It states that education is essential for all and is fundamental to our all-round development. Education develops manpower for different levels of the economy and is also the platform on which research and development flourish to take nation towards self-reliance. In sum, education is a unique investment in the present and the future.

The Literacy rate in India has improved a lot over the last one decade. Especially after the implementation of free education in the villages the literacy rate has gone up tremendously in states like Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan . In a country like India, literacy is the main foundation for social and economic growth. When the British rule ended in India in the year 1947 the literacy rate was just 12%. Over the years, India has changed socially, economically, and globally. After the 2011 census, literacy rate India 2011 was found to be 74.04%. Though this seems like a very great accomplishment, it is still a matter of concern that still so many people in India cannot even read and write. The numbers of children who do not get education especially in the rural areas are still high. Though the government has made a law that every child under the age of 14 should get free education, the problem of illiteracy is still at large. 

           Now, if we consider female literacy rate in India, then it is lower than the male literacy rate as many parents do not allow their female children to go to schools. They get married off at a young age instead. Though child marriage has been lowered to very low levels, it still happens. Today, the female literacy levels according to the Literacy Rate 2011 census are 65.46% where the male literacy rate is over 80%. The literacy rate in India has always been a matter of concern but many NGO initiatives and government ads, campaigns and programs are being held to spread awareness amongst people about the importance of literacy. Also the government has made strict rules for female equality rights.

The literacy rate in India has shown significant rise in the past 10 years.  
Kerala is the only state in India to have 100% literacy rate. It is followed by Goa, Tripura, Mizoram, Himachal Pradesh, and Maharashtra, Sikkim. The lowest literacy rate in India is seen in the state of Bihar. Realising the importance of literacy, Government of India (Department of School Education & Literacy) endeavours to: Provide free and compulsory education to all children at elementary level; Become a partner with the States and Union Territories to reinforce the national and integrative character of education; Build a society committed to Constitutional values with the help of quality school education and literacy; Universalize opportunities for quality secondary education and  Establish a fully literate society.

In the year 2010, the country achieved a historic milestone when the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009 became operative .The enforcement of the RTE Act represented a momentous step forward in our country’s struggle for universalising elementary education. Its objectives are intended to be accomplished through the following major programmes of the Central Government:

·                     Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and Mid Day Meal at primary level.

·                     Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan ,Model Schools  at Secondary level. 

·                      Vocational Education, Girls’ Hostel, Inclusive Education of the Disabled. 

·                     Saakshar Bharat for Adult Education.  

·                     Mahila Samakhya for Women’s education. 

·                     Infrastructure Development of Minority Institutions; Scheme for Providing Quality Education in Madarsas for Minority Education.

A good quality basic education equips pupils with literacy skills for life and further learning; literate parents are more likely to send their children to school; literate people are better able to access continuing educational opportunities; and literate societies are better geared to face challenges.
(PIB Features)
*Director (M&C), Press Information Bureau, Kolkata.


Monday, September 9, 2013

The workshop was to empower the parents

Each and every issue discussed in the seminar
Ludhiana: 8th September 2013: (Punjab Screen Bureau):“Be the parent you always wanted to be"; this was the tag line for the Parenting Seminar held at Mother’s Pride, Ludhiana.

We all aspire for great relationship and great results for your children and to achieve that we are ready to go to any extent. Answering such queries & resolving any and every issue regarding parenting. The Parenting Seminar received a huge response from the parents of Mother’s Pride, Ludhiana.

The workshop was to empower the parents to inculcate the values they always wanted to have in their children like:
  • Awareness - Differentiating between what do you want for your children and what you are currently doing
  • Inculcating life skills
  • Dealing with Boredom - Enjoy doing stuff that you think is boring but essential
  • Have NO Fear of Failure – they are able to give themselves fully to every activity
  • High level of self esteem
  • Self reliance
  • Living a life free from stress
  • Fuel their creativity
And Dealing with Issues like;
  • How do get your children to enjoy studies and fare well at school
  • How do impart sex education to children
  • How do leverage the technology to the advantage of child
  • How to find time for your children in the current scenario of work pressure
  • How to improve the eating habits of children
  • How do develop truthful communication and trust with your children
 Being an interactive session, all the parents discussed their queries to the fullest & went back contended & resolved.

Director of Mother’s Pride, Mr. Shobhan Soi also addressed the parents regarding the importance of such parenting sessions & acknowledged all for their valuable time.
Parenting Seminar held at Mother's Pride

Friday, September 6, 2013

Educating to Empower:Post-Matric Scholarship Scheme

05-September-2013 17:44 IST
For Scheduled Castes Students-A special feature by Amit Guin*
Education is the glue that makes the society cohesive and helps in the formation of its paradigms. Never before has education acquired such dominant a role in shaping of the Indian society as in today’s era. Education has very well played the role of a Great Liberator. It has become an instrument of empowerment. The urge for higher education among students from Scheduled Castes (SC) have let them cement their positions in the society, thereby helping them in looking out for newer avenues of social mobility. Unless education brings home the bacon for them, they would not succeed in dampening or completely demolishing the social barriers put up in their path of upward social mobility. Keeping this in the back of the mind, the Government of India played the part of the single largest intervener for the educational development of SC students.

Serving as the biggest leveler of the society since 1944, the Post-Matric Scholarship Scheme for Scheduled Castes Students presently eases the path of education for about 50 lakh students. It is a national level Scheme furnishing financial assistance to SC students at post-matriculation level in the country. The Scheme provides valuable support for the SC students to raise their educational status, enabling them to become a part of the mainstream society. The Scheme provides for 100 per cent central assistance to the state governments and Union Territory administrations over and above their committed liability. The North-Eastern states are exempted from the committed liability.  

A flagship Scheme of the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment, the scholarships are given to students belonging to SC for the study of all recognised post-matriculation or post-secondary courses pursued in recognised institutions except for courses like Maintenance Engineer’s Courses and Private Pilot License Courses; and courses of training at the Military College, and courses at Pre-examination Training Centres of all India and State levels. It is to be mentioned that those students who pursue their studies through correspondence courses are also eligible for the scholarships. Employed students whose income combined with the income of their parents/guardians do not exceed the maximum prescribed income ceiling are also made entitled to post-matric scholarships to the extent of reimbursement of all compulsorily payable non-refundable fees.

The financial aid under the Scheme to the SC students includes maintenance allowance, reimbursement of non-refundable compulsory fee charged by the educational institutions, book bank facility, among other allowances. Since April 1, 2013, scholarships will be paid to the students whose parents/guardians’ income from all sources does not exceed Rs. 2,50,000 per annum. Additional allowance for disabled students for the complete duration of the course is also a part of the Scheme. Apart from Reader Allowance for blind students which varies on the level of the course, there is a provision of transport allowance, escort allowance and allowance for extra coaching to mentally retarded and mentally ill students too. The disabled students belonging to Scheduled Castes covered under the Scheme can also get such additional benefits from other Schemes, which are not covered under the Scheme. The Scholarship Scheme also includes annual book allowance. For this book banks have been set up in various educational institutions, where books are supplied to SC students in installments, depending on the course, semester structure etc.

The eligible students will be given scholarships subject to the application of Means Test prescribed in the Scheme. Those students who belong to a particular state but are studying in other state will be awarded the scholarships by the state to which they belong after submitting their applications to the competent authorities in that state. The duration of the scholarship depends on factors like good conduct and regularity in attendance till the completion of the course subject. The scholarship is renewed on the basis of the fact that the scholar secures promotion to the next higher class irrespective of the fact whether such examinations are conducted by a University or the Institution. However, if a SC scholar pursuing certain courses (mentioned in the Scheme) fails in the examination for the first time, the award may be renewed.  This is clear that the purpose of the scheme is to be as comprehensive in its coverage as is reasonably possible. The limitation imposed by historical injustices need a scheme that is easy to avail and covers all the points of restrictions and deprivation that may befall a SC seeker of education.

In order to smoothen the way for timely payment of the scholarship amount to the students, states like Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala have fully computerised the implementation of the Scheme and have started online processing of the scholarships. Kerala has started the system of e-grantz for the timely disbursement of the scholarship amount. Furthermore, various state governments and UT administrators have also agreed to make payment of scholarship to the beneficiaries through their (beneficiary students) accounts in post offices or banks. As mentioned earlier, the Scheme receives 100 per cent central assistance from the central government for total expenditure under the Scheme, over and above their respective Committed Liability. The level of Committed Liability for a year is equivalent to the level of actual expenditure incurred by the administrators under the Scheme during the terminal year of the last Five Year Plan period and is required to be borne by them for which they are supposed to make necessitated provision in their budget.

The number of beneficiaries under the Post Matric Scholarship Scheme for SCs has been increasing over the years. During the 11th Plan, the number of students financially assisted under the Scheme went up from 31.58 lakh to 46 lakh. The total expenditure under the Scheme including the Committed Liability of the states increased from Rs. 2,158.70 crore in 2007-2008 to Rs. 3,994.96 crore in 2011-12. The national average of female beneficiaries under the Scheme for the year 2011-12 was 38.31 per cent. In this manner, active government intervention through a Scheme focused on education for students of Scheduled Castes paved the way for mainstreaming them into the society.
(PIB Features)
*The author is a freelance writer.

With inputs from the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment.

Disclaimer:  The views expressed by the author in this article are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of PIB.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

YEGN–Mainstreaming the Youth

04-September-2013 18:2 IST
A Special Feature on Defence                                      By Sarita Brara*Unemployed youth are the most vulnerable lot to be misguided, exploited or lured into unlawful activities. It was to involve the youth in constructive activities, enable them to get employment that a major initiative Youth Employment and Guidance Node (YEGN) programme was launched   a few years back in border and remote areas of Jammu and Kashmir .

The YEGN  guidance and  training to young men and women  in various skills to equip  them to either get a job or start their own  enterprise ,  prepare them for recruitment in the army and other security agencies including paramilitary forces and help them  acquire some expertise for self employment .

Thanks to the YEGN  under the Sadbhawna programme  today many  a youth  have been  recruited in army, paramilitary forces, railways, banks and  many trained to earn a livelihood on their own.    

The YEGN centres  have computer training facilities, facilities for training in different skills and competent personnel and expertees to guide the youth in getting gainful employment or seeking higher education or sitting for exams for recruitment in bank, railways  and other fields.

The youth that include a large number of students have also access to magazines and journals on general knowledge and competitive exams in various sectors besides Employment News magazine. 

Naresh Kumar from Deeng village took training as a plumber for a month at YEGN at the border village of Sainth. He was given a certificate of Diploma in Plumbing by MSME  after successful completion of the training. Today he is able to earn about 10,000 rupees a month   He says that sometime he is engaged on a daily basis or he gets payment for the particular job done.

Twenty years old Rohit Kumar who had taken training from a polytechnic college in Jammu in plumbing, is today an instructor and is paid 500 rupees on daily basis.

Inderjit Mahi  from Jhanghar village says that he took training in  repairing electrical gadgets like  irons, fans , motor  wiring and has been given certificate for the same. By repairing the electronic gadgets, he is able to earn some money. Inderjit wants to open his own repairing shop with the help of a loan at concessional rates.

Tenth pass Sanjeev Kumar also from Jhangar village underwent similar training but wants further training  in mechanics.

Balwinder Kumar from a border village in Jammu division is a small farmer and is not able to earn enough to make both ends meet. In his  30’s Balwinder  said at his age it is difficult for him to acquire some skill and get a job. He at the same time wants to supplement his income. The army under Sadbhawana Programme   is giving him training as a mason. He says that masons are getting 250 to 300 rupees a day and  he is hopeful  that once his training is over; he too would be able to earn around 15,000 rupees a month.

Many young men of Sainth Gram Panchayat and nearby villages have got training as a hair dresser and are now able to earn 200 to 250 rupees a day.

       Training is being provided in mechanics, welding, poultry farming, hairdressing, tailoring.  In order to expand the scope of self employment, training in nursing and fisheries is also being included.

            Vivek from Sainth village has passed the physical fitness as well as medical test. When we met him he was to appear for the written test for which he was well prepared. He says that youth were told about what all is required for recruitment in the army and other services and professions. They were also taken to the recruitment center  to give them an idea of the process involved. Today he is hopeful of joining the army and serving the nation like his father who too was in the army.

Vishal who has also cleared all the tests is waiting for an appointment letter from the BSF. He says the young men in border village are  passionate about joining the forces.

Another youth expressed similar sentiments. He says the youth from villages have the required physique and toughness to clear physical fitness tests. He said he has learnt discipline from the army and they are great source of inspiration for serving the nation . He too has cleared all other tests and would be appearing for a written test to join the Border Roads Organisation, BRO.

Rakesh Kumar took admission in BA this year. He has benefitted a lot, he says from magazines  and books on general knowledge and the employments news provided at the YEGN centre. He also takes computer classes provided by YEGN in the evening after college hours.  Rakesh Kumar like many youth in the area wants to join army.

Besides over sixty youth recruited in army, navy and other para military forces, many young men and women have acquired skills to enable them to start their own work. Many more have cleared the tests and are hopeful of being recruited soon.

Teachers and students too are benefitting from the YEGN initiative. Vishal Sharma from Government High school Khairi village is a teacher. Although an MSc, he had absolutely no knowledge of computers.  He underwent training by YEGN in Basics. He says the army provided the school with computers and then trained the teachers in using computers for about a month.  They were guided about how they can make use of the computers to educate students and about related software.

This is not all. In  order to instill confidence in the youth, matches in  different games including football, basketball etc, are also organized besides competitions in debates, essay writing and other academics  and holding youth festivals to tap their talent.  Adventure tours including trekking, mountaineering, and cycling are organized .

Yet another programme that the army is conducting to expose the youth to the world outside their villages is to take them on educational tours the idea is also to broaden their vision.

Rahul Kumar studying in government high school in Siddar recalls his tour to Pathankot, Chandigarh and Shimla and other places in Himachal Pradesh. He had never been out of his village.

           The Sarpanch of Sainth Gram Panchayat, Sukh Dev Singh said that YEGN has been of great help in involving the youth in constructive activities as well as diverting them away from undesirable activities. He said in one year alone 15 young men from his Panchayat  have been recruited in the army and various other professions.

Nearly 2,400 youth, including 538 girls have been registered  with YEGN in  remote and border areas in Jammu Division .

The need is to channelize  the energy  of the youth  in constructive activities  and  YEGN under Sadbhawna  has played a significant role in  mainstreaming  the youth  in  remote  border areas  to quite an extent.   (PIB Features)               

*The author is a Freelance Writer.
Disclaimer: The views expressed by the author in this article are her own and do not necessarily reflect the views of PIB.