Mumbai: An eight-member committee has been set up to implement 297 tasks finalised under the National Education Policy (NEP).The committee headed by the state education commissioner will examine various aspects of the NEP, including preparatory classes in primary schools, monitoring and tracking health status of children in the academic year 2022-23.In April last year, the Centre had released an implementation plan for school education, called “Students’ and Teachers’ Holistic Advancement through Quality Education” that listed 297 tasks to help implement NEP across states.In Maharashtra, two panels were set up in April to implement NEP in higher & technical education. TNN
Written by Alifiya Khan and Vrinda RawalNearly 10 days have passed since the online admission process for undergraduate admissions started at Fergusson College in Pune where Class XII student Sai Matekar hopes to take admission to a BA English programme.However, despite scanning the website daily and even speaking to college counsellors, the student of St Mary’s Junior College where she appeared for her Class XII ISC examinations wasn’t allowed to even fill online admission forms, since Matekar is yet to get her final results.Matekar is running short of time, as the deadline for filling forms at FC college will end in three days.The online applications for undergraduate courses opened on June 15, right after the state board declared results of Class XII, HSC exams.This isn’t an isolated case. Most colleges in the city have started taking applications for undergraduate courses as soon as the HSC results were declared and the deadline has either passed or will soon get over at several colleges. As the CBSE and ICSE boards are yet to declare their results, the students have been left in a limbo as they are unable to fill application forms.Riddhima Pande, a student in Hutchings High School and Junior College who took her ISC exams this year, said, “It is definitely unfair because a majority of the seats will be filled by the HSC board students and there would be only a few seats for students belonging to ISC and CBSE boards. The seats should be proportionately allocated to HSC, CBSE and ISC board students so that everyone gets a fair chance at securing admission to the college of their preference.Matekar said she visited the college website but it required her 12th-grade result and there was no option for choosing ISC. “I asked the college administration about this, and they said that unless our results arrive, there is no way I can fill the form. They also added that they had no idea about ISC or CBSE results and currently have no provisions for it. The higher education authorities make decisions that are totally out of touch with reality and have no consideration of the hardships that students face,” she said.However, some college principals justified the action saying CBSE or ISC students can apply later too.“Yes it’s true that we have gone ahead with the admission process because in the last two years we have seen too many delays and would like things to come back to regular schedule. Generally in our college, not more than 10 per cent seats are taken up by non-state board students and the university anyway allows colleges to ask for extra 10 per cent seats. So if any student misses the admission deadline, they can apply to the college office and we can consider them,” said Rajendra Zunjarrao, principal, Modern College of Arts, Science and Commerce, Shivaji Nagar.Even admissions to Class 11th are being done via the centralised online admissions process, controlled by the deputy director of education, Pune.The same problem is being faced for Class XI admissions as well by non-state board students.A large section of students belonging to boards other than Maharashtra state board is unable to participate in the admissions process, not even being allowed to fill Part 1 of the form where candidates have to fill in the basic details.Non-state board students are only allowed to register their names but online admission forms are not accessible to them.“After completing the online registration process on the portal created for the centralised Class 11 admissions, the next step is to select colleges of our preference. We are unable to do that since it requires Class 10 results, on which the merit list is prepared. While we understand that this is happening due to the delay caused by the pandemic, and may not happen next year, something needs to be done for the challenges we are currently facing,” said Anil Karmankar, a parent whose sons have taken the CBSE Class 10 exams this year.
After the publication of results of the Secondary School Certificate (SSC) examination, lakhs of students across Maharashtra are waiting for the First Year Junior College (FYJC) admissions. However, even as the registration process for admission is underway, students are yet to get their information booklets.Every year, information booklets are issued for students seeking admission to FYJC. The idea is to simplify the process. Additionally, the portal for admission also provides information on cut-off scores of merit lists of colleges from the previous academic year. In the second part of the form, students have to list their preferences of colleges for admission. The cut-off scores from previous years are also mentioned. In absence of both, students seeking admission FYJC and their parents are getting anxious.“Students and parents have started reaching out to us, asking for the information booklet, especially since the SSC result,” said the principal of a school at Andheri. The FYJC admission booklets are provided to students through their respective schools which also hold training sessions for their students on how to apply for FYJC admission through the centralised online system.“Generally, the FYJC admission process starts after the SSC result is out. But this year, the admissions will have to wait as the CBSE and ICSE class 10 results are still awaited. However students, who have cleared the SSC, can start listing their preference for colleges in the second part of the form,” said a senior teacher from a Dahisar school.The Director of Education (Secondary) conducts the centralised online admission system for FYJC in cities — Mumbai, Pune, Nagpur, Nashik and Amravati. Each city has a separate online admission portal catering to students applying for junior colleges located there. This year, the FYJC admission process has already drawn criticism after its mock round was delayed in May. Since the registration process began on May 30, over 1 lakh candidates have already registered themselves for admission.Director of Education (Secondary), Mahesh Palkar said, “The process will soon allow candidates to fill the second part of the form. We are currently working with the data from Maharashtra State board.”The FYJC online admissions system sources SSC students’ data from the state board following which their marks are automatically entered into the system.
Indore/Bhopal: Madhya Pradesh Public Service Commission (MPPSC) has again landed in trouble over a controversial question, this time on the Kashmir issue. Home minister Narottam Mishra on Tuesday ordered action against the paper setters even as Congress demanded sedition charges against the paper-setters and the resignation of the MPPSC chairman.Question No. 8 in a prelims paper in the June 19 test asked candidates if India should hand over Kashmir to Pakistan. Two arguments were given: 1. ‘Yes, it will save India a lot of money’, 2. ‘No, it will lead to more such demands.’ There were four options to choose from.When images of the question went viral, the government decided to take action. “MPPSC has debarred the paper-setters, two from MP and one from Maharashtra. Information is being shared with other states, too, about debarring them” said home minister Mishra, adding that the higher education department is also being informed to take action against the paper-setters. Congress, meanwhile, held a press meet to protest the Kashmir question and another in the ‘unseen passage’ section where an option showed Mahatma Gandhi’s acceptance of mill owners killing a stray dog.Congress spokesperson KK Mishra demanded resignation of the MPPSC chairman and NSA charges against those responsible, including the examination controller. The commission issued a statement that the Kashmir question has been “deleted through suo motu cognizance”. MPPSC OSD and spokesperson R Panchbhai told TOI, “It will not be considered for evaluation. The merit (list) is being prepared on the basis of the remaining questions.”The state Congress on Tuesday demanded a case of sedition against the paper-setters for the “anti-national questions”. “The Congress party wants to know if MPPSC had consulted the Union government and the state government before setting such a question on Kashmir. Congress wants to ask chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan how such an anti-national question even occurred to MPPSC. If BJP governments have no involvement in setting this question paper, then the government should immediately register a case of sedition against the culprits and take the strictest punitive action.” “Instead of asking questions on Mahatma Gandhi's great personality and work, a question related to the killing and sterilization of dogs has been asked. And in that, objectionable remarks were made about Gandhi,” Mishra added.State Congress media vice-president Bhupendra Gupta alleged that it exposes BJP’s “anti-Mahatma Gandhi thinking”. “Wherever BJP is in government, it leaves no opportunity to insult the Father of the Nation,” Gupta said.KK Mishra accused BJP of trying to “paint the entire education system in a communal color” and trying to erase the contributions of Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and Bhimrao Ambedkar in India's independence.This isn’t the first time MPPSC has been in controversy over a question. In 2020, in an ‘unseen passage’ section, a certain tribe was described as “criminal-minded and alcoholic”. The Congress government then had registered an FIR against some officials over it. tnn
Ahead of two crucial Lok Sabha by-elections in Uttar Pradesh on Thursday, the BJP has thrown its weight behind capturing the constituency of Rampur that is the stronghold of veteran Samajwadi Party (SP) leader Azam Khan. The bypoll became necessary after Azam vacated the seat following his victory from the Rampur Assembly constituency in the state polls earlier this year.Calculating that it has a bigger possibility of causing an upset in Rampur than in Azamgarh, which SP chief Akhilesh Yadav’s cousin Dharmendra Yadav is attempting to retain for the Yadav family, the ruling party has deployed at least 16 state ministers to canvass among voters from their castes and those they can easily reach out to because of their portfolios. Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya addressed public meetings on Sunday while Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath is scheduled to address two public meetings on Tuesday, the last date of campaigning, in support of Ghanshyam Singh Lodhi. The BJP candidate, who is a former SP MLC, is up against Azam’s long-time associate Asim Raja.Among the senior ministers touring Rampur frequently is Finance Minister Suresh Khanna who has so far met local traders’ associations, chartered accountants, and tax bar association lawyers. Minister for Social Welfare, Scheduled Caste and Tribal Welfare Asim Arun, a former IPS officer, has addressed meetings of Jatav Dalits in various localities. The BJP has also deployed Minister for Secondary Education Gulab Devi and Minister of State for Revenue Anup Pradhan to reach out to Dalits.To consolidate voters from the Lodh community, which is categorised as an Other Backward Class (OBC), the BJP has sent Basic Education Minister Sandeep Singh, Union Minister of State for Cooperation B L Verma and UP Minister for Irrigation Dharampal Singh to the constituency. Public Works Department (PWD) Minister Jitin Prasada has addressed meetings of the Prabuddha Varg (intellectuals) and Brahmins.While UP Panchayati Raj Minister Bhupendra Singh Chaudhary has been camping in the area, Kapil Dev Agrawal, Dharamvir Prajapati, Jaswant Saini, and Rakesh Sachan are some of the other ministers to have toured the constituency.Meanwhile, in Azamgarh, the party’s election efforts are being overseen by Minister of State Girish Chandra Yadav and local leaders have been playing a more prominent role in the campaign. In the last few days, a few high-profile leaders such as minister and state BJP president Swatantra Dev Singh, Power Minister A K Sharma, Transport Minister Dayashankar Singh, Deputy CM Maurya, and Cabinet ministers Anil Rajbhar and Surya Pratap Shahi have campaigned in the constituency. Ministers Ashish Patel and Sanjay Nishad who belong to parties allied to the BJP were seen on the stage when Adityanath addressed a rally there on Sunday.“We are focusing more on Rampur because chances of winning that seat are more strong there compared to Azamgarh,” a senior BJP leader told The Indian Express. “BJP had won this seat in the past. There is a bipolar contest due to a majority of Muslims. We have to avoid the division of Hindu votes. We have deployed ministers and leaders according to caste equations to attract voters. We are giving special attention to Dalits because the BSP (Bahujan Samaj Party) is not contesting and that is an opportunity to win them over.”A BJP leader said that in Azamgarh the party was involved in a three-way fight with the SP and the BSP and Muslim voters were likely to be a deciding factor there.In Rampur, the SP is banking on the Azam Khan factor to sail through and so far no prominent party leader has visited the constituency. Teams of Azam’s supporters and MLAs from the constituency and adjoining areas have taken the responsibility of canvassing for Raja. “Yahan Azam Khan ke alawah zarurat nahi padhti kisi ki. Azam Khan apne aap mein kaafi hain (No one else is required here. Azam Khan himself is sufficient),” SP’s Rampur district president Virendra Goyal told The Indian Express.Goyal said teams of workers were going door to door with Azam, his son Abdullah Azam and Raja. He added that former minister Swami Prasad Maurya had also campaigned for the candidate.In comparison, the Opposition party has been focussing more on Azamgarh. There, Rajya Sabha MP Ramgopal Yadav, veteran leader Ram Govind Chaudhary, Swami Prasad Maurya and former minister Dara Singh Chauhan, and allies Om Prakash Rajbhar (Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party, or SBSP president) and Sanjay Chauhan (Janvadi Party president) have already campaigned. Azam himself canvassed for Dharmendra Yadav last week. The party’s Maharashtra unit president Abu Asim Azmi and the SBSP’s Mau MLA Abbas Ansari, the son of jailed politician Mukhtar Ansari, have also hit the roads to seek votes for Akhilesh’s cousin.
MIT World Peace University (Formerly MIT Pune), one of India’s leading private universities with a four-decade-long legacy in education is offering B.Sc. in Financial Mathematics and B.Sc. Applied Statistics and Data Analytics programs under the aegis of the School of Mathematics. Both the programs follow an integrated approach concentrating on core elements of financial mathematics and applied statistics through an emphasis on problem-based learning, training and relevant trends in the industry. The pedagogy followed at MIT-WPU is in line with the requirements of the financial sector and nurtures industry leaders to pursue a career in this emerging field. Prof. Dr. Milind Pande, Pro Vice Chancellor, MIT WPU said, “At MIT-WPU, we always strive to provide high-quality education along with a supportive learning environment for the students to reach their full potential. Nowadays, the understanding of Financial Mathematics along with Applied Statistics and Data analytics has become one of the most crucial parts of almost any industry. Through our constantly evolving curriculum and a host of innovative teaching initiatives, our students are well equipped to pave an upward trajectory for themselves.” The B.Sc. in Financial Mathematics offered at MIT-WPU is a full-time, 3-year program focused on imparting knowledge of applied and applicable mathematics to build a solid foundation to explore the fields of finance and economics. Students pursuing the program acquire a working knowledge of models, procedures and modern financial mathematics that enable them to excel in various career avenues such as banks, brokerage firms, insurance companies, and financial departments of local and multinational companies. Furthermore, mastery of sophisticated mathematical techniques and a deep understanding of financial securities through the course empowers students with the confidence to face challenges at the managerial level. Students pursuing the B.Sc. Applied Statistics and Data Analytics program are nurtured and prepared for a wide range of career and educational opportunities. Further, the pedagogy aims to inculcate the spirit of hard work and research aptitude to enable students to make more informed business decisions. Expertise in applied statistics and data analytics helps improve a company’s operational efficiency and customer satisfaction, thereby offering it a competitive edge and an opportunity to increase revenue tools. Post completion of the program, students can pursue a career as a Software Analyst, Market Analyst and Risk Assessment Officer, Developer, Mathematical Modeling Expert, Insurance Underwriters, and many more. The four-year, full-time B.Sc. Computational Mathematics and Statistics is an interdisciplinary blend of vital subjects comprising Pure and Applied Mathematics Statistics, and Computer Science. The curriculum aims to develop students’ knowledge and expertise by exploring key topics such as — rigorous argument, formal proof, and power of abstract formulation of problems; combined with cutting edge programming and software engineering topics. Post completion of the program, graduates can explore career opportunities including Mathematical Modeling, Software Analyst, Application-Oriented Research, Analyst Insurance Underwriters, Actuarial Evaluation, and Risk Analysts to name a few. Students interested in pursuing programs under the School of Mathematics are required to have completed HSC (10+2) or its equivalent examination with Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics and English as passing subjects with a minimum of 50% marks in aggregate (45% for Maharashtra reserved category and PH); or the completion of a 3 years diploma course after SSC from the Board of Technical Education or its equivalent. MIT World Peace University (MIT-WPU, formerly known as MIT Pune) has a legacy of 4 decades of educating India’s youth. Ranked as India’s 3rd Best Private University, MIT-WPU boasts an acclaimed faculty and a network of over 1,00,000 global alumni. The university offers over 100 undergraduate, postgraduate, diploma and PhD programs. It is also known for its prolific placements and career support provided to the students. Spread over 1000 acres, the MIT Group now encircles 10+ campuses across India, all equipped with state-of-the-art infrastructure and convenience. Over 50,000 students enrol every year for different courses, across the 65+ institutes of MIT World Peace University.To know more, visit – https://bit.ly/3HBRpxM
As graduate and post-graduate students of colleges affiliated to the Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU) enter classrooms on Monday – after a break of two years – to appear for examinations, they will be under the watchful eyes of the university administration which will monitor absentees daily.While demands were raised from several quarters, including student organisations and political outfits, to conduct the examinations online, the university has stuck to its decision to conduct the exams in the pen-paper mode after holding online exams for nearly two and a half years due to the Covid-19 pandemic.Though the smooth conduct of examinations is of top priority, it is the possible absenteeism of students that the university is worried about. In fact, the exam department of the university recently made changes in its processes to monitor the same.Mahesh Kakade, director, board of examinations and evaluations at SPPU said: “In the earlier system, the junior supervisor report would be sent manually, now it will be done online and on the same day which will enable us to tally reports. One of the things we have asked colleges to monitor is students who register for the exams but do not turn up. There can be several reasons for it; like many students were expecting online exams which are easier to crack but when actual offline exams are announced, many registered candidates may have backed out.”“It usually is not the case with final-year students, since these are final semester exams so they are more serious about it. But we need to observe first and second-year students, especially the former. These students did not have board exams last year as well, so it is important to monitor them,” Kakade explained.He said that barring wilful defaulters in exams, colleges have been asked to keep a check on students who miss exams for medical reasons, due to any difficulties at home or other genuine reasons for which they can be offered help.In fact, absenteeism in offline exams post-pandemic has become one of the biggest concerns for education departments and universities. In Odisha and Tamil Nadu, where thousands of students skipped board exams for Class XII and X, the state governments have launched investigations to determine the reasons. In Maharashtra too, 15,000 students who registered for Class X exams did not appear for it, prompting an internal inquiry.Sharad Gosavi, chairman of Maharashtra State Board of Education, too said that many students register hoping for internal assessments or online exams, but do not turn up after offline exams are announced.Meanwhile, as examinations are underway for 38 subjects in engineering, architecture and pharmacy departments from Monday at colleges affiliated to SPPU, the university administration has written to the police department seeking protection at its 900 exam centres until August 28, when the examinations would end, in anticipation of trouble from student and political organisations.
It has been 10 years since a massive fire broke out at the Mantralaya, on June 21, 2012, and gutted nearly four floors of the state secretariat. Several crucial departments damaged by the fire — Public Health, Medical Education, Rural Development and Water Supply — still operate from other buildings. Plans to shift these departments back to Mantralaya seem to have been shelved for the time being.The fire started in a small cabin on the fourth floor and slowly engulfed the fifth, sixth and the illegally built seventh floor of the building. It took nearly three years to repair the damage caused by the fire and renovate the affected parts.Jayant Banthia, the then state chief secretary, said, “When the fire broke out in Mantralaya, I was with our divisional commissioners. My office was on the fifth floor and we smelt something burning. I sent my colleague, Praveen Pardeshi, who told me that there was a huge fire and we would have to leave.’’The fire, which started on the fourth floor, spread fast due to the many files and documents kept in the secretariat’s rooms, and soon engulfed vast swathes of other floors. It claimed five lives and left 16 seriously injured. As many as 64,000 files were damaged in the blaze.Soon after the incident, NCP chief Sharad Pawar had suggested that the existing Mantralaya structure, constructed in 1955, must be demolished and a new building must be built. But according to sources, the Congress, which was NCP’s coalition partner in the then state government, refused to listen.“Following a check of structural stability, we found that the building was still standing strong, and decided to refurbish it. Mantralaya is the seat of the state government. We vacated some important departments and shifted Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and Deputy CM Ajit Pawar to the first floor,’’ said Banthia.Permission was also sought from the Bombay High Court to shift some departments to the GT Hospital complex, and important departments like Health and Medical Education were moved there. Two other crucial departments, Home and Revenue, were temporarily shifted to the World Trade Centre.To renovate the damaged parts of Mantralaya, the Public Works Department (PWD) hired an architect called Raja Aederi, said Banthia.“The top bosses proposed a system followed in western countries, where visitors are not allowed in departments, but this was opposed by MLAs. In the plan made by designers, joint secretaries, deputy secretaries and under secretaries were not supposed to have cabins. But they insisted on having cabins and Banthia faced tough opposition. Finally, the bureaucracy agreed to give cabins to all. As a result, offices of Public Health, Medical Education and Water Supply remained in the GT Hospital complex. The Rural Development department, which coordinates with all zilla parishads, operates from the Bandhkam Bhavan of Public Works Department,’’ said a top PWD officer.Banthia said while there was also a plan to extend and redevelop the Mantralaya’s annexe wing, it was shelved later. He pointed out that offices of the Election Commission, Lok Ayukta, Chief Information Commissioner and Right to Information Chief Commissioner, which function from the New Administrative building, can be shifted out and four state departments can take over their place. “But these offices are controlled by retired senior officers who refuse to leave the Mantralaya complex. If the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission can function from the World Trade Centre, why can’t these departments move,” asked Banthia.“As of now, there is no plan to bring the four departments to Mantralaya,’’ said Additional Chief Decretary, PWD, Manoj Saunik.But logistical issues often crop up as state department offices are spread across different buildings. “Our toughest moments were during the first and second waves of Covid-19, when officers of both Health and Medical Education departments, who had no office of their own in Mantralaya, had to camp there to attend meetings with the state chief secretary. The GT Hospital complex is located a km away from Mantralaya and each round trip takes 30 to 40 minutes,’’ said a senior officer of the Health Department.However, the refurbished Mantralaya has its own advantages, said Banthia. There is a fire fighting system in place and the cafeteria has changed. There are also fewer rodents.Senior Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan, who was the chief minister in 2012, said, “This incident was tragic and unfortunate. It was one of the darkest times of my career.’’When asked about why a new building complex was not constructed, as suggested by Pawar, Chavan said, “We thought it was impractical.’’Former chief fire officer of Mumbai, Prabhat Rahangdale, was the divisional fire officer in 2012. “That day, I was in High Court for a case and saw smoke. We responded immediately. But our turn-table ladder had great difficulty because of parked vehicles and some other impediments. The passages were also blocked.’’Rahangdale, who retired as deputy commissioner of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation in April this year, said haphazard planning inside Mantralaya was a challenge even now.The nearly 64,000 files that were destroyed in the fire included records of several officers and cases. Since then, the state government has started keeping scanned copies of all files.
THE ENFORCEMENT Directorate (ED) on Friday arrested the former treasurer of Chhatrapati Shivaji Education Society in a money laundering case. The agency revealed that the arrested accused along with his brother and other people connived and duped several students under the pretext of facilitating admission to an MBBS course at a college that did not have permission to offer the respective course.The ED on Saturday tweeted, “ED has arrested Appasaheb Ramachandra Deshmukh, treasurer of Shri Chhatrapati Shivaji Education Society on 17.06.2022 in a case of money laundering.”The arrested accused was produced before a PMLA court and was remanded to ED custody till June 24. Deshmukh was working as a treasurer of the charitable educational society between 2011 and 2016. His brother Mahadev was president of the same educational society.
Candidates from city night school have managed to hold their own in the SSC exams, results of which were declared Friday. They found the perfect platform in Poona Night High School and Junior College, situated at Bajirao Road. The school hours are from 6 pm – 9:30 pm every day of the week.One such student, Komal Raju Kirve, who got back to studies after a gap of nine years, scored 86.40 per cent.“I suffered from depression for long but my aunt has been my pillar of support. She gave me the strength to become independent after my mother’s death, and to get back to education. During the pandemic, I worked as a Zomato rider, using my cycle and delivering parcels before 6, only to rush to school and study till 9:30. Our teachers have supported us in every way possible, working alongside studying has been possible due to the courage they gave us and the hours they put in by giving extra classes. I will be pursuing commerce now, and aspire to become a CA,” she said.Another CA aspirant, Karan Kisan Sawalkar obtained 81 per cent marks. Sawalkar said, “My brother informed me about the night school during the pandemic. When all schools were going online, and I did not have the means to do so, I turned to Poona Night High School. In the daytime, I work as a part-time gardener along with my friend and then cycled to the school for classes in the evening. The school provided me with the cycle, to save me time.”Pratham Boob, a guitar enthusiast who is a helping hand in a house of four, shared, “I work at the New Poona Bakery during the daytime, and study here at night. My father lost his job during the pandemic, and my mom got paralysed. I had to pitch in, I started working but decided to study alongside too. They are happy with my 68 per cent, as I decided to complete education after a gap of four years.” He hopes to learn French, and study hotel management.Sangita Shinde, a housemaker and a mother of three, got back to studies after 25 years and scored 68 per cent marks.“I wake up at 5 am to go work at a doctor’s clinic from 9 to 5. Then, I come to the school. My kids have pushed me to continue my education, and help me with my home business as well. I make handicrafts and sweets during festivals and sell them,” Sangita said.Another such inspiration is, Naina Vasant Vahankade from Abasaheb Atre Prashala, who obtained 78 per cent.“I am a mother of two girls. I got back to studies after 10 year because of the strength I get from my girls. I want them to look at me with pride, and learn to balance housework along with what they want out of their life,” Vahankade said.
NASHIK: Maharashtra higher and technical education minister, Uday Samant, on Friday announced that the state government has decided to provide accommodation to 100 UPSC aspirants from the state who travel to Delhi to prepare for the civil services examination. Samant was in Nashik for the groundbreaking ceremony (bhoomi pujan) for the construction of Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU) sub-centre at the Shivnai village in Dindori taluka of Nashik district. Samant said a delegation will visit Maharashtra Sadan in Delhi for studying the arrangement. Earlier, chief minister Uddhav Thackeray, who joined the programme virtually, said the government will help increase the number of sub-centres and provide education to every student. Union minister of health and family welfare Dr Bharati Pawar in her address said that through the Nashik sub-centre of the SPPU, students will have the opportunity to get training in winery and Paithani making under skill development. Nashik district guardian minister Chhagan Bhujbal stressed on the need for decentralisation through sub-centres and promised that the district planning committee would provide Rs 5 crore for the sub-centre.
MUMBAI: Even as traditional medicines get a fillip from the Centre, demand for some AYUSH courses are on the rise. In Maharashtra alone, Ayurveda seats have gone up by almost 30% in four years and only a handful of them have gone vacant, admission data shows. Homeopathy (BHMS) too has seen a rise in demand, with the number of vacancies dropping from 844 in 2019-20 to 60 this year. While MBBS remains the top choice of every aspirant appearing for NEET-UG, the bachelor of Ayurvedic medicine (BAMS) degree has moved to No.2 slot in recent years. In 2018-19, there were over 4,300 Ayurveda seats in the state, and the number has gone up to almost 5,600 in 2021-22. Medical education counsellor Muzaffar Khan says earlier students used to opt for dental seats if they failed to get admission to MBBS, but now they prefer BAMS. “Opportunities have increased as students can practice Ayurveda and at the same time they have knowledge of modern medicine too. These students also get clinical exposure right from their second year. AYUSH doctors were also in the forefront during the Covid-19 pandemic. They are employed in rural health centres, where there is a shortage,” said Govind Khati, director, Directorate of AYUSH, Maharashtra, and the dean of R A Podar Ayurveda Medical College. “People are also getting drawn towards Ayurveda as they have realised that there are minimal side effects and there are many lifestyle diseases which do not have a cure in modern medicine,” he said. Also, students are pursuing PG in Ayurveda, he added. Moreover, parents are willing to pay more to get management seats in private Ayurveda colleges, said former director, Directorate of Medical Education and Research, Dr Pravin Shingare. “Since the last four years, the state government has allowed homeopathy doctors to pursue a bridge course in modern pharmacology in medical colleges. Except for ailments that require specialty, such as cancer, these doctors are trained to provide medicines for diseases,” Shingare said. The one-year bridge course was started only in government medical colleges but the demand has pushed the state to permit it in a few private colleges too. However, whether AYUSH doctors can legally practice modern medicine is under debate as medical practitioners strongly oppose it, a doctor said.
NAGPUR: The Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) schools have taken a big leap in the results of the SSC examination which was announced on June 17 by the Maharashtra state board of secondary and higher secondary education (MSBSHSE). With a passing percentage of 99.31, students of NMC schools have shown their resilience. Dilip Dive, education committee chairman, said, “We tried for 100% results, and almost achieved it. From the last six months, with the help of an NGO, we went to each and every school to help students with whatever difficulties they might be facing.” Moreover, the Marathi medium schools of NMC have shown that they are not trailing behind by achieving a passing percentage of 100. Furthermore, NMC schools have been fractionalized into four mediums whose results were also quite astounding, with Hindi medium at 98.45 percent and Urdu and English at 99.77 and 99.31 percent respectively. Talking to TOI, NMC education officer Preeti Mishrikotkar said, “During the pandemic period, special attention was paid to the physical and mental health as well as offline and online study of students. Tablets and internet facilities were provided to the students by NMC.” Expressing gratitude, Subhash Upase, assistant education officer, said, “The reason we were able to achieve success was due to the efforts of NMC teachers. They took online classes from the first day of school. Whereas during offline classes, teachers also took extra classes on holidays.” Pragati Dhurendra Meshram came first in all the four mediums with 92.60 percent. On the other hand, Barkha Sunil Sahu achieved 89.20 percent and took first place in Hindi medium. Nevertheless, Mahek Khan Kayyum Khan secured first position with 90.80 percent marks in Urdu medium followed by Afrin Sadaf Irshad with 90.60 percent in English medium.
PUNE: The high success rate in the SSC exam will make it difficult for aspirants to find a seat in the Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) or in government polytechnic colleges, said heads of educational institutes. The state Directorate of Vocational Education and Training (DVET) has released the admission schedule and seats available in various institutes in Maharashtra. The DVET started the online application process for ITIs in the state on June 17 through its website. Institute heads said that the high success rate in the SSC exam would lead to stiff competition during seat allotment among students seeking vocational education. Yogesh Patil, admission coordinator, state DVET, said, "Students mainly opt for diploma, technical courses, skill-based courses or vocational education after SSC. Demand for ITI graduates is very high in the market. The students are also inclined towards these courses because of their short duration and the assurance of a job as soon as they pass out of the institute." The application process will be conducted online till June 22 when students will have to pay the registration fees and select their institute preference. In total, there are 1,49,268 seats in private and government ITIs in Maharashtra. Last year, 1,18,775 students took admission in the ITIs in Maharashtra. Manish Rathee, a Std X student who scored 83.5% in SSC, said that he wanted to take admission in Industrial Training Institute in electrician course. "I had decided on this course from the beginning and, with this score, I think I will get into one of the Industrial Training Institutes. I plan to pursue a degree course in electrical engineering through the lateral entry scheme."
Aurangabad: The state will soon have a command control centre (CCC) and will develop e-content for students of Classes I to XII if all goes as per the plans charted out by the school education departmentThe plans are part of the key result areas (KRAs) framed by the department for the 2022-23 academic year. Anil Sable, the Aurangabad division deputy director of education, said a command control centre set up by Gujarat acts as a centralized monitoring mechanism in that state to keep a tab on the activities of field-level staff and implementation of different projects and initiatives, besides serving as the help desk for grievance redressal mechanism for stakeholders.“A command centre proposed for Maharashtra — on the line of the Gujarat model — is expected to offer multiple benefits towards further improving the quality of education and ensuring student-centric delivery of different projects,” he said.The State Council of Educational Research and Training(SCERT) has been given the responsibility of developing e-content for students up to Class XII.“Everyone realised the importance of e-content during the Covid outbreak when the schools were not working physically and online teaching was practised. Though in-classroom teaching has resumed, the educational resource in the form of e-content is of vital importance for as it can easily be accessed and it offers effective presentation in the form of audio-visual mechanism,” Sable said. Some of the other major KRAs framed by the department include a 10% increase in the learning outcomes of primary students; development of online mechanism for the salary disbursement process for teaching and non-teaching staff; and online training of selected 94,000 teachers, the authorities said. Maharashtra education commissioner Suraj Mandhare is scheduled to hold a second meeting on the KRAs framed for the academic year 2022-23, and the time-bound achievement of the same.
NAGPUR: Vidarbha schools starting two weeks after those in rest of Maharashtra due to weather conditions is an annual feature. But this year, academics feel that this squeeze the academic calendar too tight. As schools reopen in June for the first time since 2019, the learning gap created during the pandemic may take time to cover up, say teachers. “In short, we may have to cut into Diwali vacations to make up for this,” said a school principal on condition anonymity. A meeting between school principals (state board) and district education officer Ravindra Katolkar is scheduled on June 20. Though cutting into vacation time is not on the official agenda, it is expected that some principals will talk about the challenges in completion of course. Another reason for this issue to come up is the change of date for this year’s school reopening. Ashnarayan Tiwari, principal of Adarsh Vidya Mandir (Gandhibagh), said, “It was initially to start on June 27 (Monday), but then it was shifted to June 29 for students. So, two days are gone anyway here. Students of Std X and XII just don’t have enough time to complete course. But the impact on students will depend on how schools plan their schedule.” Ashok Gavhankar, principal of Raosaheb Thaore School, said teachers will have to make extra efforts. “For students at the higher level, from IX-XII, there will be some catching up to do. I believe if we do not shut down for Covid-related emergencies, then our teachers can pull this off. But of course, this depends completely on how well teachers implement the lesson plans,” said Gavhankar. Education officer Katolkar feels that if schools plan properly, then there won’t be any need to shorten vacations. “The true talent of a teacher comes out in such challenging situation. Hence, I always ask them to put on paper the factual position of students’ academic status. If their students are lagging, if there is a visible learning gap, then accept the fact and plan accordingly. But if schools continue to say that all is good, then every step will result in failure,” said Katolkar. For Std X and XII at least, there is something going in their favour. Gavhankar said, “Last year, the government had slashed their curriculum by 25%. So far, we have not received any notification whether the same will continue or we have to revert to 100% curriculum. If the slashed curriculum policy continues, then teachers won’t face any problem.”
LIKE most modern Armies in the world, the basic military training period for Agniveer recruits under the Agnipath scheme will be six months and advanced tools like simulators will be used, said Lieutenant General Arvind Walia, Chief of Staff, Headquarters Southern Command, in Pune on Wednesday.Lt Gen Walia was interacting with the media in the backdrop of the Union government’s latest defence recruitment initiative, Agnipath.The Ministry of Defence on Tuesday announced its new ‘Agnipath’ initiative for recruitment of soldiers across the three services. Under this defence recruitment reform, which was cleared by the Cabinet Committee on Security, close to 50,000 soldiers will be recruited annually. Of the total annual recruits, around 25 per cent of each batch of Agniveers will be enrolled in the regular cadre of the Armed Forces and would be required to serve an engagement period of 15 years.When asked about the sufficiency of six months of training for Agniveers under the scheme, as against the present training durations which are longer, Lt Gen Walia said, “If we look at the world’s best Armies, their basic military training period varies anywhere between 14 to 24 weeks. Once they get absorbed further, then advanced military training is conducted. We too are adopting this model, keeping in mind the higher educational level, technical capabilities, and wider understanding of the world view of the youth today. We want to harness all these qualities of the youth today. Therefore, our training methodology will be tailor-made for this. We are going to use advanced tools of training like simulators.”Speaking about the scheme, the General said, “Among the notable benefits of the scheme is that the profile of the Army will be more youthful. From the average age of 32 years, we will go to 26 years in the next four to five years. The technical threshold of the incoming strength will increase, because the aim is to recruit skilled youth from ITI background, among others. There will be an optimal balance between young and experienced strength. Because it will be an allIndia process from now on, the base of the recruitment will increase.”The Defence Ministry has said that enrollment under the scheme will be based on ‘All India All Class’ basis and the eligible age will be from 17.5 to 21 years. Speaking about the operational advantage of the scheme, General Walia said, “Our forces are deployed on two live borders on our Western and Eastern flank. And within the country, our forces have been conducting counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism operation from decades. This scheme will certainly not affect our operation preparedness but on the contrary, because of the reduced age profile, it will prove to be advantageous to us on the cutting edge. The younger the soldier, the more are the risk-taking abilities. Operational preparedness is a factor of morale, motivation, training and junior leadership in the Army.”The Union government has said that recruitment under the Agnipath scheme will be undertaken through an online centralised system for all three services, with specialised rallies and campus interviews from recognised technical institutes such as Industrial Training Institutes and National Skills Qualifications Framework, among others.Answering a question on recruitment of ITI-trained youth, General Walia said, “The Army conducts its own specialised training for the trades which are not available in civil domain. But there are trades like driver, welder, carpenter, radio operator etc, which are common to both military and civil domain. So, we can reduce our training period by picking up recruits straight from the ITIs. Also, there is already a proposal for 10th pass recruits, for facilitating their 12th pass certificates under the National Education Policy. Skill-based certificates will be issued when they exit from the Army. Additional credit points will be issued if they want to pursue higher education or look for other work opportunities.” Upon the completion of four years of service, based on organisational requirement, Agniveers will be offered an opportunity to apply for permanent enrollment in the Armed Forces. These applications will be considered in a centralised manner based on objective criteria including performance during their four-year engagement period. Nearly 25 per cent of each batch will be enrolled for further service.“We are given to understand that the system of monitoring performance during the four years will be centrally controlled. It will be an objective and fair system. It will start from the first year onwards. And because of the pan-India process, the influence of local units will be nullified. All those recruited in a batch will be assessed on a common platform.” said General Walia.
LIKE most modern Armies in the world, the basic military training period for Agniveer recruits under the Agnipath scheme will be six months and advanced tools like simulators will be used, said Lieutenant General Arvind Walia, Chief of Staff, Headquarters Southern Command, in Pune on Wednesday.Lt Gen Walia was interacting with the media in the backdrop of the Union government’s latest defence recruitment initiative, Agnipath.The Ministry of Defence on Tuesday announced its new ‘Agnipath’ initiative for recruitment of soldiers across the three services. Under this defence recruitment reform, which was cleared by the Cabinet Committee on Security, close to 50,000 soldiers will be recruited annually. Of the total annual recruits, around 25 per cent of each batch of Agniveers will be enrolled in the regular cadre of the Armed Forces and would be required to serve an engagement period of 15 years.Asked about the sufficiency of six months of training for Agniveers, as against the present training durations which are longer, Lt Gen Walia said, “If we look at the world’s best Armies, their basic military training period varies anywhere between 14 to 24 weeks. Once they get absorbed further, then advanced military training is conducted. We too are adopting this model, keeping in mind the higher educational level, technical capabilities, and wider understanding of the world view of the youth today. We want to harness all these qualities of the youth today. Therefore, our training methodology will be tailor-made for this. We are going to use advanced tools of training like simulators.”Speaking about the scheme, the General said, “Among the notable benefits of the scheme is that the profile of the Army will be more youthful. From the average age of 32 years, we will go to 26 years in the next four to five years. The technical threshold of the incoming strength will increase, because the aim is to recruit skilled youth from ITI background, among others. There will be an optimal balance between young and experienced strength. Because it will be an all India process from now on, the base of the recruitment will increase.”
Pune: Kusumlata Malik, president, National Federation of the Blind of India (NFBI), emphasised the need for a separate education model in the National Education Policy (NEP) to address academic requirements of the visually impaired.“Unless we bring in changes in the education policy, the visually impaired will not be able to pursue education like normal people,” Malik, also a professor at Delhi University, said at an international youth conference organised recently by the Maharashtra unit of the NFBI and the World Blind Union at Alandi. Experts who attended the event deliberated on various issues and policies related to the visually impaired and highlighted solutions relating to technological content, new education policy and entrepreneurship for the blind.Sakina Bedi of NFBI, Maharashtra unit, said, “Covid has been a disaster for everyone and there is an urgent need to bridge the gap in terms of experience of experts in various fields and the visually-impaired looking for opportunities in various sectors.” Srinivasu Chakravarthula, a member of the International Association of Accessibility Professionals (IAAP), said that accessibility of technology is a crucial need for the disabled. Almost every blind person has at least one story of getting lost or disoriented. However, this situation can be tackled if they have upgraded technological solutions, he said.
Amid rising Covid-19 cases, children across the state returned to schools on Wednesday with great excitement and a bit of trepidation. Schools say their priority is to help children ease into the traditional school process after two years of on and off schooling during the pandemic.Apart from Covid-related guidelines to ensure there is no spread of infection on school premises, schools are taking extra steps to ensure the mental wellbeing of their wards.“It is important to focus on the socioemotional development of children. Teachers have been instructed to focus on the child and not the curriculum in the initial days,” said Swati Popat Vats, director of Podar Institutes of Education who is also president of the Early Childhood Association.Children who are not speaking much in class or are having trouble mingling with classmates will be identified at all Podar schools to help them ease into new social settings.Prajodh Rajan, co-founder and CEO, Lighthouse Learning, which runs schools across India, said, “We have strengthened our Centre of Well Being – a team of counsellors who are trained to help students make a smooth transition from online to offline school. We have also trained our teachers, caregivers, housekeeping staff, security sta? and attendants prior to the opening of the schools about the safety procedures.”After reopening on Monday, schools across Maharashtra welcomed students in the classes on Wednesday. The first day back in school was celebrated as a festival at most schools as instructed by the state school education department. In Mumbai, teachers in several schools greeted parents at the gates as they came to drop their wards. While in some schools, flowers were given to children, in others, activities were held to celebrate the return to school. There is no face mask mandate yet. However, many children and teachers were seen wearing face-masks on the day.“Even though schools opened earlier, there were several restrictions and many children whose parents had migrated were still not in the city. Now, all are back in school,” said Jitendra Mahajan, a teacher and house master at Hansraj Morarji Public School in Andheri.
Amid rising Covid-19 cases in Maharashtra, children across the state returned to schools on Wednesday, with great excitement and a bit of trepidation.“I have asked my daughter to wear a face mask at all times and use sanitiser whenever possible. The school has assured us that it will take care of precautions but it is important that children also act responsibly,” said Madhuri Gadwe, after dropping her child off at Suvidya School in Borivali.In Mumbai, in several schools, teachers greeted parents at the gates as they came to drop their wards. While in some schools, flowers were given to children, in others, activities were held to celebrate the students’ return to school after a long summer break.“As we get back to school, let us continue to learn with fun but also take care to be safe. Here’s wishing all of you a great academic year ahead,” Maharashtra School Education Minister Varsha Gaikwad tweeted on Wednesday.Last week, the Maharashtra education department had issued guidelines asking schools to ensure that teaching and non-teaching staff were fully vaccinated, including the precaution dose, and to encourage vaccination among children above 12 years of age. There is no face mask mandate yet.“The excitement among students was expected as this is full-fledged reopening of schools after two-years of school closure due to the pandemic. Even though schools opened earlier, there were several restrictions and many children whose parents had migrated were still away from the city. Now, all are back to school,” said Jitendra Mahajan, a teacher and house master at Hansraj Morarji Public School in Andheri.While teachers are hoping that the excitement and morale continues to remain high, many expressed the fear that it would be difficult to ensure any form of social distancing on campus. “There are no pandemic-related restrictions this time. Earlier, the education minister had shared that there will be a new set of SOPs (standard operating procedures) issued for schools. But there is no announcement yet. Some parents were already worried on day one that school started amid the rising number of Covid cases,” a teacher said, requesting anonymity. Though schools opened on Monday, classes were scheduled to start from Wednesday as per the guidelines issued by the school education department last week. Schools were asked to use the first two days of the week to complete preparation for welcoming children back.
MUMBAI: Two years after the Covid-19 pandemic, the new academic year 2022-23 moved offline across the state from today. Despite a rapid rise in infections, schools are expecting full-fledged physical classes. Schools had briefly returned to 100% offline towards the end of the academic year 2021-22 in March. State school education minister Varsha Gaikwad last night tweeted. "The joy of covering books with brown paper, polishing the canvas shoes, shopping for the latest style raincoat, sharing stories of summer vacation on the first day--all this was lost for two years. It is time to do all this again as we go #BacktoSchool. " Schools in Vidarbha start from June 27 due to the intense heat wave conditions. Last year, the academic year began online before switching to the hybrid mode in October. The minister will be visiting schools in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR). In Mumbai, secondary and higher secondary students made their way to schools in the morning and were welcomed with music and flowers. Majority of students were in their uniforms and most of them had donned masks. At the Hansraj Morarji Public School and Junior College in Andheri, parents walked their students to the school. School buses, back on the roads, were filled with happy children. Last year, Mumbai schools had to teach online for a longer period due to a rise in infections. Schools began with the morning assembly, singing of the school song and playing the national anthem. Principals said the day will be spent in allowing students to get a feel of their classrooms and playground. As learning begins, the initial 30 days will be devoted to bridge courses. On June 17-18 students will take pre-tests to understand their learning outcome in their previous standard. A post-test will be conducted for students on June 25-26 to understand the students grasping ability. A few non-state board schools that reopened from June 1 have begun switching higher classes online due to poor attendance owing to Covid infections to students or their family members. An ICSE school in south Mumbai has moved classes online for its middle and senior secondary students from June 16 to 22. Students will return to physical classes from June 23 after getting negative RT-PCR reports. Students of other classes will continue to attend offline school. The state Covid-19 protocol allows schools to move some classes online in case students of a particular class or standard test positive. Schools have been asked to share their #Best1stDay experiences on Twitter @thxteacher.
As lakhs of school-going children across the state begin their classes on Wednesday, the school Education Department will be focused on bringing out-of-school children back into the education system.State School Education Minister Varsha Gaikwad issued a statement on Tuesday evening instructing schools to continue searching for such children in the age group of 6-14 years in a bid to bring them back to schools. “As classes restart on Wednesday, this will be the first step in schools for many. Hence, the responsibility lies with schools to ensure that their days at school are happy, exciting and full of activities,” said Gaikwad suggesting that the school should celebrate the first day of the school for children.Reiterating the data that the State Council for Educational Research and Training (SCERT) had gathered last year; the statement issued by the minister’s office stated that a total of 25,204 children are out of school. Of these, a total of 7,806 (4076 boys and 3730 girls) children never went to a school.Whereas, 17,397 (9008 boys and 8389 girls) children were significantly irregular with their school attendance during the pandemic.“All these children, even though found to have been out of the education system last year; will begin learning now with the full-fledged restart of schools from Wednesday. They are being given age-appropriate school admission. Subject-wise visual content is also being prepared to help these out-of-school children who are coming back into the education system,” said an officer from the state school education department, adding that a specially designed bridge course has been readied to help all such children cope with their learning. Teachers, too, can avail the facility of remedial teaching modules made available for them by the SCERT.
KOLHAPUR: Most schools in the Kolhapur district opened on Monday, however, very few students attended the classes. The state education department had asked the schools to open from Monday but to call the students from Wednesday. The department has asked the school authorities to carry out cleaning and other work before calling the students. Students of some private schools were called on Monday along with their parents for orientation. These students belonged to classes above four. The students their parents were oriented about the requirements for the next academic session. Through text messages, the students and parents were conveyed about the books, notebooks etc needed to attend the class, said a class teacher of a private school. Dwarkanath Bhosale, a teacher of a public school from Shiroli, said, “We checked all the arrangements for the students to be welcomed for the new academic year. The students will return to school on Wednesday.” The schools have appealed to the parents to ensure their children have raincoats so that the rain does not hinder them from commuting to school and returning home. The market places such as retail malls witnessed a rush of children and their parents out for school shopping.
PUNE: With schools run by the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) schools looking clearly ill-equipped for fire safety, doubts have been raised over reopening for the new academic year this Wednesday. Of the 138 civic schools in the city, only 60 are equipped with firefighting equipment, according to a survey conducted by Maharashtra Navnirman Vidyarthi Sena (MNVS). Even the equipment at these 60 schools is non-functional. The outfit has now urged the PMC education board to restart offline schooling only after conducting fire audits to be prepared for emergency situations. The board has in turn ordered an audit of existing systems right away and also decided to equip all its schools with firefighting equipment immediately. The deputy director of education (DyDE) has asked private schools to also conduct fire audits on priority. MNVS leader Prashant Kanojia said the lives of students are at risk as schools are dangerously ill-equipped to fight any kind of fire emergency. "When we visited the schools that claimed to have fire safety in place, we saw that it was defunct. Maybe the two years of the pandemic have left campuses unattended, but with schools reopening in just two days, the authorities have failed to give any attention to this serious issue," he said. Around 1lakh students are enrolled in civic schools in thge city, from nursery to standard VIII. As per a state government notification, they are set to reopen for academic year 2022-23 from June 15. "PMC has spent over Rs1 crore on buying fire safety equipment as per its records. But the reality is different. The majority of civic schools don't even have such equipment," added Kanojia. When contacted, PMC officials claimed that total funds required to strengthen every civic school are much more than the allocation they have received. PMC building department executive engineer Harshada Shinde said, "We are floating a tender to procure fire safety equipment for schools. We get around Rs30 lakh per zone, which is far too less. However, for now, we will cover as many schools as possible in the available funds. We are also drawing up an estimate of how much more funding is required to cover all schools and will proceed accordingly." Shinde added that the tendering process will take a month or so, followed by actual procurement and then deployment of equipment in schools - which will take another three months. Education commissioner Suraj Mandhare said all deputy directors in the state have been asked to categorically review fire safety preparedness in schools across Maharashtra. Mandhare told TOI, "We have even given permission to deputy directors to procure equipment for schools from the 5% DPC reserve funds. All the deputy directors will examine the readiness of schools with respect to fire safety and plug the gaps if any."
MUMBAI: With more than 17,000 children dropping out of formal education last year during the pandemic, schools have been asked to keep tabs on students who are unlikely to return to their classrooms this year. Schools across the state reopen for the academic year 2022-23 on Wednesday. The ‘Bal Rakshak’ app developed by the State Council of Educational Research and Training (SCERT) in partnership with Tata Trust in September last year found 7,806 more children in the 6-14 age group who have never gone to school. Of these, the majority—4,076—are boys and mostly children of casual labourers at construction sites. The app that is linked to the student database portal SARAL (Simple, All Inclusive, Real Time, Action Oriented, Long Lasting) found that 17,397 children, including 8,389 girls, dropped out of school after attending online or offline classes briefly last year. Schools have been asked to continue looking for them. Teachers are already armed with information about their missing students. They have been told to track down missing students and ensure they either get back to school or are enrolled in their current place of residence. “I have one student who has not reported to class (standard 3) since last year. The child is in Haryana with his single mother. We are asking her to get her son admitted to a school there,” said a teacher of a Malad school. On enrolment in a school, the child’s details, including Aadhar card, are uploaded on the SARAL portal. Last year, some schools could not upload details due to delay in obtaining Aadhar (from centres) due to the pandemic. Issues like duplication of Aadhar and correction of students’ details were addressed last year. Education officers across districts have been directed to visit areas where casual workers are employed, to get children enrolled in schools. A state education officer said a student remains on the enrollment list till September 30 when the SARAL portal is updated for the academic year. Principals said under Right to Education (RTE) Act, schools cannot simply strike off a student from the rolls. “The school has to either bring the child back or ensure the child is admitted to another after taking the leaving certificate from the current school.” Meanwhile, as schools reopen, 5.4 crore textbooks have been distributed among class 1-8 students of aided schools in the state.
The West Bengal Assembly on Monday (June 13) passed a Bill paving the way for making the Chief Minister the Chancellor of universities run by the state government, replacing the Governor from the position.The move by the Mamata Banerjee government has once again brought to the fore similar disputes playing out in Opposition-ruled states such as Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra, which too have curtailed the authority enjoyed by Governors as Chancellors.What is the latest development in West Bengal about?On Monday, the state Legislative Assembly passed the West Bengal University Laws (Amendment) Bill, which seeks to replace the Governor, Jagdeep Dhankhar, with the CM as the Chancellor of state-run universities. Ironically, the Bill will become law only after it receives Dhankar’s assent.The government has indicated that even if Dhankhar — who has had a rocky relationship with the Chief Minister — sits on the Bill, an ordinance might be brought to implement the proposal. But that again would be a stop-gap arrangement as ordinances, which can only be brought when the legislature is not in session, cease to operate on the expiry of six weeks from the reassembly of the state legislature.What options does Dhankhar have?Dhankhar may give his assent to the Bill, or withhold assent, or send it back to the Assembly for reconsideration. But if the Assembly passes the Bill again, with or without amendments, and sends it back, the Governor will be left with no option but to give his assent.There is a fourth alternative too available to the Governor. He may reserve the Bill for the consideration of the President of India. Instead of giving his assent, the President has the option to direct the Governor to send it back to the Assembly for reconsideration. The Assembly may reconsider and send it back with or without changes. But even in that case, the President may choose to withhold his assent, as the Constitution does not impose any time limit on him to take decisions in such cases.What powers do Governors enjoy as Chancellors?The appointment of Vice-Chancellors in state government-run universities is among the responsibilities of Governors as Chancellors. Chancellors in most states have the power to annul decisions of the decision-making bodies of universities such as the Executive Council, and to make appointments to these bodies.They also enjoy the power to preside over the convocation of universities.In some states, however, Governors have little or no say in appointing VCs despite holding the post of Chancellor. In Telangana and Gujarat, Governors have no option but to appoint VCs from among the names approved by the state governments.The Gujarat University Act, 1949 states that “the Vice-Chancellor shall be appointed by the State Government from amongst three persons recommended by a (search-cum-selection) committee”.The Telangana Universities Act, 1991 states that the search committee shall “submit a panel of three persons to the Government in alphabetical order and the Government shall appoint the Vice-Chancellor from out of the said panel”.How are similar disputes playing out in other states?While no attempt has been made to officially designate the CM as Chancellor in any other state, Tamil Nadu in April passed two Bills that seek to transfer the power of the Governor to appoint VCs of 13 state universities to the state government, which is currently run by the DMK.The Bills seeking to amend the process of appointment of VCs in the state universities underline that “every appointment of the Vice-Chancellor shall be made by the Government from out of a panel of three names” recommended by a search-cum-selection committee.🚨 Limited Time Offer | Express Premium with ad-lite for just Rs 2/ day 👉🏽 Click here to subscribe 🚨What about Maharashtra and Kerala, two other states ruled by the Opposition?Last December, the Maharashtra Assembly had cleared a Bill that seeks to amend the Maharashtra Public Universities Act, 2016 by slicing the Governor’s role in appointing VCs. Under the unamended Act, the state government has no say in the appointment of VCs. But if the changes cleared by the Assembly take effect, the Governor will be given two names to choose from by the state government, which is currently run by the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress coalition, following the suggestions of a panel.In Left-ruled Kerala, the appointment of the VC of Kannur University became a flashpoint with the Governor alleging that it was done against his wishes. The BJD government in Odisha has also tried to bring appointments to state universities under its control. But it has been challenged by the University Grants Commission (UGC).What do UGC norms suggest?Firstly, education comes under the Concurrent List, which contains subjects on which both the Centre and the states can legislate. However, Entry 66 of the Union List — “coordination and determination of standards in institutions for higher education or research and scientific and technical institutions” — gives the Centre substantial authority over higher education.The UGC plays that standard-setting role, even in the case of appointments, in the case of universities and colleges. According to the UGC (Minimum Qualifications for Appointment of Teachers and other Academic Staff in Universities and Colleges and other Measures for the Maintenance of Standards in Higher Education) Regulations, 2018, the “visitor/chancellor”, which is mostly the Governor in states, shall appoint the VC out of the panel of names recommended by the search-cum-selection committees.Higher educational institutions, particularly those which receive funds from the UGC, are mandated to follow its regulations. These are followed without any hitch in the case of central universities. However, in the case of state universities, such a top down approach by central government bodies is resisted by the states, especially where non-BJP or non-NDA allies are in power.What about central universities?While passing the Bill, the West Bengal government cited the example of Visva-Bharati University where the Prime Minister plays the role of the Chancellor. But Visva-Bharati, which is a central university, is an exception. The Central Universities Act, 2009, lays down that the President of India shall be the Visitor of a Central University.With their role limited to presiding over convocations, Chancellors in central universities are titular heads, who are appointed by the President in his capacity as Visitor. The VCs are also appointed by the Visitor from panels of names picked by search and selection committees formed by the Union government.The Act adds that the President, as Visitor, shall have the right to authorise inspections of academic and non-academic aspects of the universities and also to institute inquiries.Newsletter | Click to get the day’s best explainers in your inboxHas the judiciary made any observations on such disputes in the past?The Supreme Court had in March made some pertinent — though unrelated to the current dispute — observations while setting aside the appointment of the VC of Gujarat’s SP University by the state government.A Bench of Justices M R Shah and B V Nagarathna said that “any appointment as a Vice Chancellor contrary to the provisions of the UGC Regulations can be said to be in violation of the statutory provisions, warranting a writ of quo warranto.”It said that every subordinate legislation of the UGC, in this case the one on minimum standards on appointments, flows from the parent UGC Act, 1956. “Therefore, being a subordinate legislation, UGC Regulations become part of the Act. In case of any conflict between State legislation and Central legislation, Central legislation shall prevail by applying the rule/principle of repugnancy as enunciated in Article 254 of the Constitution as the subject ‘education’ is in the Concurrent List of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution,” the top court had ruled.
The West Bengal Assembly on Monday passed a Bill that will replace the Governor with the Chief Minister as chancellor of all the state-run universities. In the 294-member Assembly, the Bill was passed by 183-40 votes, with BJP MLAs opposing it.Introducing the Bill – The West Bengal University Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2022 – in the Assembly, Education Minister Bratya Basu said there was “nothing wrong” in the chief minister taking over as the chancellor of the state-run universities. “Why can’t the chief minister be the chancellor of state universities if the Prime Minister is the chancellor of a central university like Visva-Bharati? You can go through the recommendations of the Punchhi Commission… The Governor, who is the present chancellor, has violated protocols on various occasions,” Basu said.Regarding the Punchhi Commission’s report, the Bill stated: “It is not out of place to mention that the Punchhi Commission in its report recommended that to be able to discharge the constitutional obligations fairly and impartially, the Governor should not be burdened with positions and powers which are not envisaged under the constitution and which may expose the office to controversies or public criticism.”During the two-hour long debate on the Bill, both Basu and former education minister Partha Chatterjee cited the example of states like Gujarat, Maharashtra, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu which too have taken similar steps.“Making the Governor the chancellor of the universities and thereby conferring powers on him which may have had some relevance historically has ceased to be so with the change of the circumstances. The Punchhi Commission is also of the view that the Governor should not be assigned functions casually under any statutes. His role should be confined to the Constitutional provisions only,” the Bill stated.Opposing the Bill, the BJP members alleged that appointing the chief minister as chancellor would lead to direct “political interference” in the state’s higher education system.“The government spoke about Punchhi Commission, but they did not mention that the commission was against politicisation of educational institutions. If the chief minister becomes chancellor, then the universities will come under direct political control,” BJP MLA Agnimitra Paul said.Accusing the TMC government of interfering in every sector, Paul said: “The state government wants to control everything. The decision to appoint the CM as chancellor of universities is being taken to facilitate direct interference of the ruling party in the state’s education system.”With the Bill’s passage in the Assembly, it will be sent to Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar for his assent.While some believe that Dhankhar would delay in giving his assent to the Bill, minister Basu said: “Jagdeep Dhankhar is the Governor of the whole state. He is also my Governor. If the majority members of the Assembly are for the change in the chancellor, then why would the Governor not give his assent to the Bill?”However, BJP MLA and Leader of Opposition Suvendu Adhikari claimed that the Bill would not get the Centre’s required nod. “Education is in the concurrent list in the Constitution. So, they have to take consent of the Governor and the Central Government. They will not get that. Like the Bill proposing changing the name of the state and many other Bills, this too will not get assent. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s dream to become chancellor of the state universities will remain a pipe dream,” he said.Adhikari’s remark triggered strong reactions from the ruling TMC, which claimed that it proves that Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar and the BJP are hand in glove.“Hence proved! What we have been saying all along is now in front of everyone! Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar and BJP are hand in glove to consistently hamper the development of West Bengal. Today, Suvendu Adhikari openly admitted how they influence the office of Governor,” the TMC tweeted from its official handle.On May 26, the state Cabinet gave its nod to make the Chief Minister the chancellor of all state-run universities, including all state-aided universities, replacing the Governor. The government’s move came amid a series of confrontations between Governor Dhankhar and the TMC government in the state over several issues, ranging from law and order to education. Earlier this year, Dhankhar had a public outburst after vice-chancellors of state universities skipped a meeting called by him. The Raj Bhavan and the government had also a tiff over the appointment of vice-chancellors.
As street protests erupted in towns and cities across the country amid unrest over derogatory references made to the Prophet by ex-BJP spokespersons, Nupur Sharma and Naveen Jindal, which led to violence, police action and casualties in some states, their coverage and analysis dominated the news and opinion pages of the leading Urdu dailies. The contours of the raging row and its domestic and international dimensions were dissected and examined. Their headlines and editorials also tracked a wide array of various social, political and economic issues.InquilabIn its editorial on June 12, headlined “Aisa bohraan aur aisi khamoshi (this crisis and such a silence)”, the New Delhi edition of Inquilab writes that the BJP government has to deal with inflation, unemployment and economic problems as well as the Nupur-Jindal row, as both could hurt it if they spin out of control. “On one side is the issue of these continuing problems and on the other is the anguish of Indian citizens who believe in the country’s pluralistic sarva dharma sambhava ethos besides many countries’ protests,” it says. Following the chorus of outrage from the Islamic world, especially the Gulf countries, the government activated its diplomatic missions there asking them to highlight that India is run by a secular Constitution and that it has always been a multi-cultural country where people of all faiths have co-existed for thousands of years, the daily writes, adding that the government believes the crisis would be resolved diplomatically. It says that besides suspending Nupur and expelling Jindal from the party and filing some FIRs, the saffron dispensation has not taken any action. Highlighting that “no important government or party functionary has made any statement on the row so far,” the editorial states that “their silence, albeit not unprecedented, is bewildering” as this is the time to reach out to the minorities and apply the healing touch. “In the face of such a crisis, their silence is painful and unfortunate,” it says.The daily’s editorial on June 10 focuses on the international repercussions of the row, stating that it has severely dented India’s global image, especially in Arab countries, and that the Narendra Modi government can no longer afford to remain silent on the issue. It says the Modi government must clamp down on hate speech within and outside the BJP ranks and take necessary domestic measures while taking these countries into confidence.Referring to a recent interview of former ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Oman and the UAE, Talmiz Ahmad, with Karan Thapar on The Wire, the daily writes that Ahmad has pointed out India “faces a very serious crisis” with regard to the Islamic world due to this row for three reasons. First, the veteran diplomat told Thapar, the editorial notes, that there are 80 lakh Indian workers in the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) countries, including 30 lakh in Saudi Arabia, whose annual remittances to India add up to $35 billion, which is one-third of the country’s annual oil import bill. About 4 crore people in the country depend on these remittances from the Gulf nations. The second point made by Ahmad, the daily says, is India’s energy dependency on the Gulf countries. He said 40% of India’s oil comes from them, of which Saudi Arabia accounts for 18%. Similarly, 40% of India’s gas requirement is imported from Qatar. The third reason cited by Ahmad, the edit notes, is India’s trade ties with these countries, which soared from $33 billion in 2000-01 to $121 billion in 2018-19. These countries are also dependent on imports of many items from India, but another major area of concern could be the recruitment of Indians there, done mainly by private companies, as a fallout of the row, the daily writes quoting Ahmad.“There are some other issues. For instance, six Arab countries have given their top awards to PM Modi. The UAE has also honoured the PM by clearing a temple project. Many Arabs come to India for medical treatment instead of going to Europe. All these things also cannot be ignored,” the editorial says.Roznama Rashtriya SaharaThe Kolkata edition of Roznama Rashtriya Sahara on June 11 carried a front-page report on the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB)’s move appealing to Islamic scholars and intellectuals “not to participate in TV debates whose sole intention is to mock and insult Islam and Muslims”. The report refers to a joint statement issued by AIMPLB president Maulana Syed Mohammad Rabey Hasani Nadwi and its vice-presidents, which said that by participating in such TV channel discussions, they “instead of being able to do any service to Islam and Muslims, become indirectly the reason for their own ridicule besides insult of Islam and Muslims”. The report quotes the statement as saying that “The intention of these programmes is not to reach any conclusion through constructive discourse, but to ridicule and defame Islam and Muslims. To prove their impartiality, these TV channels include some Muslim faces in their debates… If we boycott such programmes and channels, it will not only impact their TRPs adversely, but will also foil their designs”.In its editorial on June 8, the daily flags the West Bengal Cabinet’s decision to appoint Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee as the Chancellor of all state-run universities in place of Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar and even replace the Governor with the state education minister as the Visitor of private universities, highlighting the protracted tussle between the two top constitutional functionaries in Bengal. It writes that the Governor-CM face-off is severely hurting the education sector with universities facing an “administrative vacuum” and students’ studies getting hit. It says the Governor had in December last year declared the appointment of the Vice-Chancellors (VCs) in 24 state universities by the Banerjee government as “illegal” as it was done without his approval as the Chancellor. Dhankhar then sought to reverse this order. He also convened a meeting of VCs but no one showed up, following which he called for action against them. He has faced students’ protests in Calcutta University and Jadavpur University too. The daily says that in the wake of similar Governor-state government conflicts in other Opposition-ruled states, such Chancellor move has also been made by Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Telangana in the “larger interest of students”. “In this backdrop, the Bengal government’s decision may be contrary to the traditional mechanism but it cannot be called improper. However, it would have been better if the Chancellor’s job was entrusted to an expert educationist rather than the CM in order to free education from all political interferences. A politician’s appointment in the Chancellor’s post could not be in the interest of education whether it is the Centre-appointed Governor or the elected CM as they cannot be free from power politics. Only an expert educationist can be a guarantor of high educational standards,” it says.SiasatCommenting on the rollout of bulldozers in UP following street violence, the Hyderabad-based daily Siasat, in an editorial on June 12, headlined “Uttar Pradesh mein phir bulldozer ka istemal (Fresh use of bulldozers in UP)”, charges that the Yogi Adityanath government is bent on “subverting legal and constitutional rights” of citizens, especially Muslims, and resorting to “various illegal means” to intimidate them in order to curb their protests. Referring to the stir against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in the past, it says the UP government had then issued recovery notices to the protesters asking them to pay damages caused during protests. This was only halted following the courts’ intervention, it says, adding that the bulldozers are again out in UP after Muslims took to streets to protest the Nupur-Jindal row. “The authorities’ claim that the houses being bulldozed are illegal is laughable. It is just being used as an alibi to create fear among Muslims and thwart the protesters. If these houses were built illegally then action should also be taken against authorities responsible for it, who remained mute till date,” the editorial says, expressing concern that other BJP-ruled states are also following suit. “A bulldozer has been turned into a symbol of the politics of fear,” the daily says, stressing that the victims should take legal recourse and move courts and human rights panels to challenge it.Urdu TimesIn its editorial on June 10, the Mumbai-based daily Urdu Times writes that Maharashtra CM and Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray, while recently addressing his party’s rally at Aurangabad, spelt out the Sena’s views and policies clarifying that “Sena’s Hindutva is not anti-Muslim”. “Defining Hindutva, Uddhav said it does not teach hate… He also said Muslims have been sacrificing their lives for the country since Independence, but it has not been acknowledged,” the daily notes, adding that the Sena chief’s statement was however “belated” as it came three years after he took the state’s reins. “Now it is to be seen when does Congress leader Rahul Gandhi appreciate the Muslim community’s sacrifices and make a similar statement… he has not done it even though the community has always stood by the Congress party,” it says. Underlining that communal harmony is imperative for ensuring a peaceful and developed Maharashtra, it says even the BJP will realise this as there has been enough of “politics of Hindu-Muslim, temple-mosque and hate”, cautioning however that “it is a vicious cycle”. “If the Sena wishes that its tiger never becomes old… it has to take Muslims on board,” the edit says.
NASHIK: The Nashik Municipal Corporation’s (NMC) education department has issued notices to eight private schools that were operational in the city for the past few years without government permission. It is mandatory for the private schools to obtain permission from the government before starting operations, but these eight schools failed to follow the norm. Therefore, the NMC’s education department has asked these schools to stop operations. An official from NMC’s education department said, “This is a routine exercise we carry out at the beginning of the every academic year.” The NMC has also appealed to the parents to ensure that the schools where they are taking admission for their wards are authorized and have taken all the necessary permissions from the education department. The NMC official said that parents should also withdraw admission from such unauthorized schools. “In order to avoid educational loss of the students from these unauthorized schools, these students will be given admission to nearby civic schools,” the official said.
An inquiry has been initiated against the Deputy Director of Education, Mumbai, Sandeep Sangave, following multiple complaints from a parent activist. The nature of complaints vary from schools disobeying the Fee Regulation Act to no action against schools denying learning access to children during pandemic over non-payment of fees. According to the complaint, these issues were ignored by Sangave.The information came to light after the complainant, Nitin Dalvi, received a reply to his RTI application seeking a progress report on his complaints. According to that information, Deputy Director of Education Nitin Upasani, who is currently chairman of the Mumbai Division of Maharashtra State Board, will conduct the inquiry. The orders have been issued by the Director of Education (Secondary) Mahesh Palkar.When contacted, Sangave, said all actions were taken adhering to the regulations and the truth will be revealed after inquiry. Dalavi, however, plans to move court if no action is taken in a month’s time.
One of the main events to happen this week was the revelation of the QS World University Rankings. Other than that, several state board results were declared and the US embassy announced that it is on a mission to make application process easier for Indian students. Here’s a quick recap.— Gujarat The Gujarat Secondary and Higher Secondary Education Board (GSHSEB) declared the SSC (class 10) examination results on June 6, 2022. This year, Savani Hil Ishwarbhai topped the exams with 99 per cent, followed by Ladani Krishi Himanshukumar with 98.16 per cent and Hingrajiya Priyalkumar Jitubhai with 97.66 per cent.— Andhra PradeshThe Board of Secondary Education Andhra Pradesh (BSEAP) announced the SSC or class 10 results on June 6, 2022. The result was supposed to be released at 11 am of June 4, but was postponed to June 6 for unknown reasons. The passing percentage was 64.02 per cent this year. The board has recorded the lowest pass percentage as compare to the pre-pandemic years when offline exams were conducted.— RajasthanThe Rajasthan Board of Secondary Education (RBSE), Ajmer office has declared the Class 12 arts stream board results this week. Only 40.27 per cent arts stream candidates have managed to qualify the board exams. Meanwhile, 96.59 per cent regular students qualified the class 12 board exams. This year, girls outshined boys in the arts stream result with an overall pass percentage of 97.21 per cent, whereas boys lagged a little behind with an overall pass percent of 95.44 per cent. Girls had performed better than boys in all the three streams this year.Additionally, results for Class 5 and 8 board exam results were also declared on June 8, 2022. This year, class 5 pass percentage is 93.8 per cent while class 8 students scored 95.5 per cent.— MaharashtraThe Maharashtra State Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education (MSBSHSE) declared the HSC results on June 8. The overall pass percentage has gone down compared to last year’s overall pass percentage of 99.6, which was based on internal assessments and previous board exam scores.Off all the nine divisions, Konkan division has recorded the highest pass percentage 97.21 while the Mumbai division has the lowest 90.91 pass percentage. Out of a total of 153 subjects, 24 subjects had 100 percent results.— AssamThe Secondary Education Board of Assam (SEBA) has announced the HSLC or class 10 result this week. The number of candidates for the HSLC exam is 4,05,582 this year of which boys have scored a pass percentage of 58.80 per cent while girls are at 54.49 per cent. This year’s pass percentage is 56.49 per cent which is nearly 36 per cent lower than the previous year’s 93.10 per cent.— ManipurThe Council of Higher Secondary School Manipur (COHSEM) on Monday declared the class 12 results with an overall pass percentage of 90.09 per cent. This year, girls have outshone boys in arts and commerce streams securing all the top three spots except in the science stream. In the arts stream, Golmei Gaihemmei, secured the first position with a score of 459 total marks out of 500. In commerce, Abujam Anjali Devi of SDJM Higher Secondary School stood in the first position with a grand total of 424. For the science stream, the first position was bagged by Rahul Naorem, of Extra Edge School, Ghari scoring 478 marks out of 500.— UttarakhandThe Uttarakhand Education Minister announced the results for UBSE class 10, 12 board exams 2022 on June 6, 2022. As per the date released by Dhan Singh Rawat, the overall pass percentage for class 10 is 77.74 per cent whereas class 12 students performed better with an overall pass percentage of 82.63 per cent.As per the recently-revealed rankings, IISc ranked the highest in the list of Indian institutes. Rising 31 places in a year, Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bengaluru has emerged as the highest ranked Indian institute in the 2023 edition of the QS World University rankings, pushing IIT-Bombay to the second position, followed by IIT-Delhi.Apart from IISc at 155, IIT-Bombay (IIT-B) and IIT-Delhi (IIT-D), which have risen five and 11 places to rank 172 and 174 respectively, are the only other Indian institutes in the global league of top 200, in continuation of a trend since 2017. The total number of Indian institutes among the top 1,000 globally has risen to 27 from 22.The United States (US) Embassy is taking various steps to simplify the visa application process for Indian students. One of these steps is waiving the interview round for those who have previously held a US visa, said Patricia Lacina, Charge D’Affaires at the US Embassy. This announcement was made on the occasion of Student Visa Day.“We will interview more applicants for student visas this summer than we ever have before. We hope very much to exceed last year’s record of 62,000 visa issuances to Indian students. We will interview over 3000 students today across consulates in India. In New Delhi, we will interview 1300 students, 1300 in Mumbai, and the other three consulates — Hyderabad, Chennai, and Kolkata — will push us over to 3000 in total,” Don Heflin, the Minister Counselor for Consular Affairs in India said.Amid a huge jump in the enrolment of students in government schools in the second pandemic year (2021-22), an estimated 4.88 lakh children — adding up to 27 per cent of the total enrolment — were left out of the midday meal scheme in Delhi “due to shortage of foodgrains”, according to a Union government document.On March 7, the Government Middle School in Taru village, about 25 km from Leh city, opened its doors after three years to welcome 21 students. It was the first step back to life — for the school and the village.