New NCERT manual on transgender students silent on caste, patriarchy

The Indian Express | 2 weeks ago | 17-01-2023 | 05:45 am

New NCERT manual on transgender students silent on caste, patriarchy

OVER TWO years after it removed a document on inclusion of transgender children in schools, following an objection by National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) to suggestions on gender-neutral toilets and puberty blockers, the NCERT has released a fresh manual, which avoids the usage of not just those terms but also references to caste system and patriarchy that were highlighted in the previous one.The draft manual titled “Integrating Transgender Concerns in Schooling Processes”, prepared by a new 16-member committee convened by NCERT’s Department of Gender Studies head Jyotsna Tiwari, recommends the introduction of gender-neutral uniforms.“Some of the students, specially from Grade VI onward, have preference for clothes, particularly school uniform. They do not feel comfortable in a particular dress. Schools can introduce gender neutral uniforms which are comfortable, climate appropriate, fit and do not conform to a particular gender,” states the manual.The previous project was coordinated by former head of NCERT Department of Gender Studies, Poonam Agrawal, who was transferred, along with Prof Mona Yadav of the same department, after the NCPCR raised concerns in November 2020. Tiwari was heading NCERT’s Department of Education in Arts and Aesthetics then.The two manuals, prepared by two different committees, are starkly different in nature despite dealing with the same subject. For instance, the previous manual, which was titled “Inclusion of Transgender Children in School Education: Concerns and Roadmap”, categorically stated that while there is evidence of diverse genders and gender expression being socially accepted in the subcontinent since the Vedic age, “the dominant social system of caste patriarchy in India had relegated transgender persons to occupations that are stigmatised”.“Disparities like socio-economic status, religion, caste, gender, and colour, many of which are typical to the Indian context, have a distinct role in breeding an imbalance of power. This imbalance of power has been suggested to aid bullying,” it said. Textbooks, it added, should enable transgender learners to relate knowledge to their own lived experiences and also equip all students “with a critical lens to explore a variety of issues that continue to confront us, namely caste, class and gender, gender and power relations, patriarchy and dominance, diverse sexual identities and marginalisation, etc”.The new report underlines that diverse gender expressions have a long history of visibility and acceptance in India, where it was documented in various art forms and multiple texts of ancient period, including epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata, but it steers clear of any engagement with the role of caste system or patriarchy in perpetuating stigmas.While the previous report dealt extensively with the needs of all categories of gender non-conforming children, the latest one states that though there is a recognition of people with diverse sexualities and sexual orientations, including LGBTQIA+communities, “the present module is specifically focusing upon transgender persons by birth”.As a result, it contains no information for teachers on dealing with children who may not be transgender but show signs of “Gender Dysphoria”, which indicates psychological distress resulting from a conflict between a person’s physical or assigned gender at birth and the gender with which they identify, or the “agender” category, which the previous report used to describe as those “identifying themselves as neither man nor woman”.On the issue of toilets, it suggests that a toilet may be assigned exclusively to transgender students. “In case there is a toilet for Children With Special Needs (CWSN) that can also be shared by transgender students,” it adds. The previous report had recommended that toilets for CWSN “may be earmarked ‘gender neutral’ toilets which both can use”.

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Times of India | 1 day ago | 31-01-2023 | 08:10 am
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PUNE: Involvement of parents in teaching their wards, providing uniforms and study material on time and to every student and mock tests were among suggestions from experts and educators in the draft policy to improve academic excellence in government schools prepared jointly by Samagra Shiksha Abhiyaan project and the Maharashtra State Council of Education Research and Training. The draft has been submitted to the state government for approval and once it gets a nod the policy will be implemented from next year onwards.Project director of SSA Kailas Pagare and other education department officials conducted a meeting recently to take suggestions and discuss ways to improve the quality of education in schools. Pagare said, "We took the opinions of ideal teachers, education experts, SCERT officials, and researchers among others."The campaign 'Nipun Maharashtra' is being implemented in the state for the past few months in order to improve the quality of school education."Against the same background, the quality of school education in the state should be enhanced more rapidly in the next academic year," added Pagare.Zilla parishad teacher Somnath Valke said, "We need to understand how to become self-sufficient in an effort to improve the quality in classrooms. One of my suggestions was that it was necessary to add classes from V to VIII to zilla parishad schools. This will help in increasing participation in scholarships and other examinations."Ashwini Sonawane, block development officer of Bhor taluka, said that the experiment of 'Mothers' Club' they had conducted in government schools has been effective. Parental involvement and environment are very important for the development of schools. "Innovation and experimentation lead to an increase in the quality of students," Sonawane added.

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Two held, six boys detained in clash of two groups in Pune
Times of India | 1 day ago | 31-01-2023 | 07:41 am
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PUNE: The Yerawada police have arrested two men and detained six boys aged between 15 and 16 on the charge of rioting, following a clash between two groups of minors at Laxminagar in Yerawada around 11pm on Friday, which left three people injured and an autorickshaw damaged.The two groups of minor boys are affiliated with two local gangs of criminals, the police said, after receiving two cross-complaints of riots and assault against the members of both the groups.The police identified the injured as Abdulla Amirulla Khan (19), Sharad Pramod Ingle (27) and 17-year-old boy of Laxminagar in Yerawada. "Ingle, and his accomplice, Vivek Prakash Gawali (20), were later arrested in one of the cases," the police said. The videos of the clash between the two groups went viral on social media sites. Confirming the development, deputy commissioner of police (Zone IV) Shrikant Borate told TOI, "A majority of the detained boys are school dropouts. We had invoked provisions of the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) against the senior members of the two gangs in 2021. They are lodged in the Yerawada jail."According to the police, Khan and his group members had picked up arguments with the other group led by Ingle during a football match about six months ago. "The minor boys and Ingle carried a grudge against Khan and his friends since then. On Friday night, the boys assaulted Khan with choppers and wooden sticks after finding him alone. The boys also vandalized the autorickshaws parked on the road, besides throwing emplty beer bottles on the road," the police said.The police summoned the parents of minor boys, followed by a counselling session.

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PhD enrolments in Maharashtra grow 109% in 5 years: Report
Times of India | 1 day ago | 31-01-2023 | 04:43 am
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1 day ago | 31-01-2023 | 04:43 am

MUMBAI: With increasing focus on research, enrolment in PhD courses in Maharashtra has more than doubled (109%)in the last five years. Nationally, the number has grown by 50% in the same period, shows data from the All-India Survey of Higher Education (AISHE) 2020-21 report, released in New Delhi on Monday.Enrolment in postgraduate courses in the state has seen a decent growth of 30%, with girls outnumbering boys significantly. More than half the students pursuing their master's programmes are girls in Maharashtra. In undergraduate courses, which involve the maximum number of students, enrolment has gone up by less than 10% in five years.The figures contradict the general perception that enrolment across courses dropped in the first pandemic year of 2020-21. Both national and state data from the report paint a completely different picture.‘Better results followed online exams, boosted enrolment’Even as the All-India Survey of Higher Education (AISHE) 2020-21 report showed more enrolment in the first year of the pandemic in 2020-21, S Mali, former vicechancellor of North Maharashtra University, said the pandemic impacted the assessment process across universities and more students may have cleared exams. “There was no significant impact on enrolments,” he said. A state government official said as more students cleared the class XII exams, enrolment may have gone up in the undergraduate courses. Online exams could have boosted scores at undergraduate level as well, leading to an increase in postgraduate enrolment at some places, said a principal. Maharashtra has the second highest enrolment numbers in higher education, after Uttar Pradesh. Compared to 2016-17, students pursuing PhD went up by 109% in the state in 2020-21. The official said PhD has become important in recruitment of faculty members, for career advancement schemes and other incentives. “Many teachers have realised it and are completing their degrees. The state government is also emphasising on having qualified teachers in colleges for sponsored schemes,” said the official. PhD enrolment went up by 31% in the pandemic year (from 2019-20 to 2020-21), showed the AISHE report; nationally, it was up less than 5%. In Maharashtra, research centres in autonomous colleges would have largely contributed to the drastic increase in numbers, said a vice-chancellor. Mumbai University has the highest numbers of autonomous colleges in the state. Over the last few years, an increasing number of girls in the state are pursuing postgraduate courses. In 2016-17, a thousand more boys were in PG courses compared to girls. Then the numbers started tilting, with over 75,000 more girls enrolled in PG programmes in 2020-21. “This increase is possible because of the rural regions in the state,” said Mali, who was also on the state’s committee to draft the statutes of the Maharashtra Public Universities Act of 2016. “In rural regions, we have seen an increase in the number of colleges, better transportation and more hostel facilities. All these could have boosted the numbers of girl students pursuing higher studies. It is a big plus for them,” he said. In Shivaji University, Kolhapur, Mali said, he has seen girls comprising 70-80% of the total admissions in some departments. More coverage of institutions under AISHE could be another reason for the rise in numbers, he added. Though the state has done better in both postgraduate and PhD education, the numbers in undergraduate education has not seen a significant growth. Nationally, enrolment rose by 15% in undergraduate programmes, as opposed to the state’s 9%. Speaking about the increase in enrolment numbers in 2020-21, an official from the Centre’s higher education department said it showed students continued with their education online despite the uncertainty. “There is a possibility the vulnerable sections of society in some states may have taken a hit, but better enrolment in other regions may have compensated. Positive initiatives in some states for better coverage of AISHE may have helped in the increase in enrolment. Government scholarships also largely covered the vulnerable section, who were financially hit in the pandemic,” said the official.

PhD enrolments in Maharashtra grow 109% in 5 years: Report