Friday, October 26, 2012

Higher Education and Society

Institutions of education, and the system of which they are a part, face a host of unprecedented challenges from forces in society that affect and are influenced by these very institutions and their communities of learners and educators. Among these forces are sweeping demographic changes, shrinking provincial budgets, revolutionary advances in information and telecommunication technologies, globalization, competition from new educational providers, market pressures to shape educational and scholarly practices toward profit-driven ends, and increasing demands and pressures for fundamental changes in public policy and public accountability relative to the role of higher education in addressing pressing issues of communities and the society at large. Anyone of these challenges would be significant on their own, but collectively they increase the complexity and difficulty for education to sustain or advance the fundamental work of serving the public good.
Through a forum on education, we can agree to: Strengthening the relationship between higher education and society will require a broad-based effort that encompasses all of education, not just individual institutions, departments and associations.
Piecemeal solutions can only go so far; strategies for change must be informed by a shared vision and a set of common objectives. A "movement" approach for change holds greater promise for transforming academic culture than the prevailing "organizational" approach.
Mobilizing change will require strategic alliances, networks, and partnerships with a broad range of stakeholders within and beyond education.
The Common Agenda is specifically designed to support a "movement" approach to change by encouraging the emergence of strategic alliances among individuals and organizations who care about the role of higher education in advancing the ideals of a diverse democratic system through education practices, relationships and service to society.
A Common Agenda
The Common Agenda is intended to be a "living" document and an open process that guides collective action and learning among committed partners within and outside of higher education. As a living document, the Common Agenda is a collection of focused activity aimed at advancing civic, social, and cultural roles in society. This collaboratively created, implemented, and focused Common Agenda respects the diversity of activity and programmatic foci of individuals, institutions, and networks, as well as recognizes the common interests of the whole. As an open process, the Common Agenda is a structure for connecting work and relationships around common interests focusing on the academic role in serving society. Various modes of aliening and amplifying the common work within and beyond education will be provided within the Common Agenda process.
This approach is understandably ambitious and unique in its purpose and application. Ultimately, the Common Agenda challenges the system of higher education, and those who view education as vital to addressing society's pressing issues, to act deliberately, collectively, and clearly on an evolving and significant set of commitments to society. Currently, four broad issue areas are shaping the focus of the Common Agenda: 1) Building public understanding and support for our civic mission and actions; 2) Cultivating networks and partnerships; 3) Infusing and reinforcing the value of civic responsibility into the culture of higher education institutions; and 4) Embedding civic engagement and social responsibility in the structure of the education system
VISION We have a vision of higher education that nurtures individual prosperity, institutional responsiveness and inclusivity, and societal health by promoting and practicing learning, scholarship, and engagement that respects public needs. Our universities are proactive and responsive to pressing social, ethical, and economic problems facing our communities and greater society. Our students are people of integrity who embrace diversity and are socially responsible and civilly engaged throughout their lives.
MISSION The purpose of the Common Agenda is to provide a framework for organizing, guiding and communicating the values and practices of education relative to its civic, social and economic commitments to a diverse democratic system.
I believe social justice, ethics, educational equity, and societal change for positive effects are fundamental to the work of higher education. We consider the relationship between communities and education institutions to be based on the values of equally, respect and reciprocity, and the work in education to be interdependent with the other institutions and individuals in society.
We will seek and rely on extensive partnerships with all types of institutions and devoted individuals inside and outside of higher education.
We realize the interconnection of politics, power and privilege. The Common Agenda is not for higher education to self-serve, but to "walk the talk" relative to espoused public goals. We understand the Common Agenda as a dynamic living document, and expect the activities it encompasses to change over time.
THE COMMON AGENDA FRAMEWORK The general framework for the common agenda is represented in the following diagram. It is clear that while goals and action items are organized and aliened within certain issues areas, there is considerable overlap and complimentarity among the issues, goals and action items. Also, following each action item are names of individuals who committed to serve as "point persons" for that particular item. A list of "point persons," with their organizational affiliation(s) is included with the common agenda.
Public understanding more and more equates higher education benefits with acquiring a "good job" and receiving "higher salaries." To understand and support the full benefits of higher education the public and higher education leaders need to engage in critical and honest discussions about the role of higher education in society. Goal: Develop a common language that resonates both inside and outside the institution. Action Items: Develop a common language and themes about our academic role and responsibility to the public good, through discussions with a broader public.
Collect scholarship on public good, examine themes and identify remaining questions. Develop a national awareness of the importance of higher education for the public good through the development of marketing efforts.
Goal: Promote effective and broader discourse. Action Items: Raise public awareness about the institutional diversity within and between higher education institutions.
Identify strategies for engaging alumni associations for articulating public good and building bridges between higher education and the various private and public sector companies. Develop guidelines of discourse to improve the quality of dialogue on every level of society. Organize a series of civil dialogues with various public sectors about higher education and the public good.
Approaching complex issues such as the role of higher education in society that requires a broad mix of partners to create strategies and actions that encompass multiple valued perspectives and experiences.
Broad partnerships to strengthen the relationship between higher education and society involves working strategically with those within and outside of higher education to achieve mutual goals on behalf of the public good.
Goal: Create broad and dispersed communication systems and processes.
Action Items:
Create an information and resource network across higher education associations Create information processes that announce relevant conferences, recruit presenters and encourage presentations in appropriate national conferences Develop opportunities for information sharing and learning within and between various types of postsecondary institutions (e.g. research-centered communities).
Goal: Create and support strategic alliances and diverse collaborations.
Action Items: Establish and support on-going partnerships and collaborations between higher education associations and the external community (e.g. civic organizations, legislators, community members) Explore with the public how to employ the role of arts in advancing higher education for the public good Promote collaboration between higher education and to address access, retention, and graduation concerns
Education should attend to the implicit and explicit consequences of its work, and reexamine "what counts" to integrate research, teaching and service for the public good to the core working of the institution.
Goal: Emphasize civic skills and leadership development in the curriculum and co-curriculum.
Action Items: Develop and implement a curriculum in colleges and universities that promote civic engagement of students Create co-curricular student and community programs for leadership and civic engagement development Develop learning opportunities, inside and outside of the classroom, that promote liberty, democratic responsibility, social justice and knowledge of the economic system Develop student leadership and service opportunities that focus on ethical behavior Teach graduate students organizing and networking skills, and encourage student leadership and Diversity education
Goal: Foster a deeper commitment to the public good.
Action Items: Work with faculty on communication skills and languages to describe their engagement with the public, and educate faculty for the common good Identify models for promotion and tenure standards Identify models for faculty development
Goal: Identify, recognize, and support engaged scholarship.
Action Items: Identify and disseminate models and exemplars of scholarship on the public good Encourage the participation in community research Help institutions call attention to exemplary outreach. Establish a capacity building effort for institutions
Goal: Bring graduate education into alignment with the civic mission.
Action Items: Work with disciplinary associations to hold dialogues on ways graduate student training can incorporate public engagement, involvement and service Promote "civic engagement" within academic and professional disciplines according to the disciplines' definition of "civic engagement" Incorporate the concept of higher education for the public good into current graduate education reform efforts
Promoting the public benefits of higher education requires system efforts beyond institutions to intentionally embed values of civic engagement and social responsibility in governance practices, policy decisions, and educational processes.
Goal: Align governing structures and administrative strategies.
Action Items: Develop ways to improve student and the community involvement in the governance and decision making process of educational institutions. Identify and promote ways for institutions to improve involvement with the public and the practice of democracy within their own institution. Establish public good/civic engagement units that orchestrate this work throughout institutions.
Goal: Publicly recognize and support valuable engagement work.
Action Items: Offer public awards that reward institutions with demonstrable track record in serving the public good in order to encourage institutionalization of performance around the public good and civic engagement.
Develop a comprehensive inventory of funding sources, association activities, initiatives, and exemplary practices that advance the public good. Identify, recognize, and support early career scholars who choose to do research on higher education and its public role in society.
Goal: Ensure that assessment and accreditation processes include civic engagement and social responsibility.
Action Items: Identify service for the public good as a key component in provincial and federal educational plans (e.g. Master Plans, provincial budgets, and professional associations).
Bring higher education associations and legislators together to broaden current definition of student outcomes and achievement, and develop a plan for assessment.
Develop strategies and processes to refocus system-wide planning, accreditation and evaluation agendas to consider criteria assessing the social, public benefits of education.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Online Education Background Checks

As higher education becomes more of a determining factor in one's eligibility for all sorts of jobs and the employers are keeping their consent over quality employment, many job applicants are looking for shortcuts to remain competitive in the marketplace. And since the economic halt had started and finding a job become a harsh business, people are trying to get their way out by forging their educational documents or even buying education to fake "diploma mills." They don't even know that this could not only humiliate them in front of their prospective employer but also end their career in a gutter. A total loss of time, money and mental peace.
Every single employer is now looking for the best employee and they are judging their prospective candidate on the basis of education and the legitimacy of their credentials earned during their study. Employers are keeping a close eye on every single incumbent by running comprehensive education background checks as they knows the fact that educational success reveals a great deal about an applicant's credentials and motivations; and through education background checks, an employer can get an accurate depiction of their qualifications as well their intentions of playing a role in development of the company.
Some Astounding Facts about Forged Education Credentials Caught by Education Background Checks:
  • In 2004, the US General Accounting Office revealed that nearly 200,000 federal employees had at the very least exaggerated education credentials on their resume.

  • SHRM(Society for Human Resource Management): More than 53% of job applicants falsify information on their resumes; one in four candidates misrepresents his educational attainment.

  • ADP Hiring Index: 49% of employment, education and or credential reference checks reveal discrepancies in the applicant's information.

  • Association of Certified Fraud Examiners: 41% of applicants lie about their education.
The above inclination of facts about the defined scenario indicates an increase in the likelihood that employer's who don't verify education will hire unqualified personnel. Hiring unqualified personnel, in turn, leads to higher employee turnover, forcing the organization to incur expensive recruiting and replacement costs.
The Other Cunning Problem: Online Degree Scams aka Diploma Mills:
The second biggest and most souring, surging problem for employers are fake diploma mills which are playing a role in instigating fraud among the innocent people. These online cheap diploma/degree making factories are looting people for fast track degrees.
Diploma mills and degree mills as well as various websites, advertise very realistic, physical diplomas and transcripts, which have been found to deceive many employers. Therefore, with the striking statistics of resume fraud, employers should think twice about using physical diplomas as proper evidence of a degree. Because the requirement for education qualification has become so demanding, education fraud is becoming more prevalent, as are the establishments of diploma mills.
Consequently, in order to combat education fraud, laws have recently been passed in which companies who manufacture fake degrees and diplomas are considered to have committed a Misdemeanor.
Why and How Education Background Checks Can Maintain Equilibrium Between Employers and Job Seekers?
Many employers view particular educational qualifications as a key factor in seeking new employees. Moreover, education is a prerequisite for many positions because it ensures applicable knowledge of a subject matter, or more importantly, a required license for the position.
Educational history may be the most commonly falsified information on an application or resume. Some estimates place the incidence of resumes containing erroneous education information as high as 30 percent. Clearly, employers should be extremely cautious. And they are not accepting copies of a degree from candidates as proof of their graduation given that it can simply be a clever forgery paid for by the applicant.
Education background checks or education verification is the only way to prevention not only for the employers but also for the people who are looking for education but a legitimate one.
Current System of Education Background Checks and Degree/ Diploma Verification Are Not Enough!
  1. At present, human resource departments in companies directly contact the concerned educational institution and undertake verification. This is no longer a viable solution, considering the increase in the number of recruitment's, and the time taken for verification. This is also not a fool proof method.

  2. A second method, often adopted by many of the larger corporations, is to outsource their employment verifications to background screening companies, who maintain large personnel databases.
Online Education Background Checks is the Most Modern and Guaranteed Way to Nab a Forged Educational Document with a Plus of Diploma Mill Identification:
Online education background checks is the system of online degree, diploma and education verification. The system consists of a database of fake colleges and universities and as well as the misdemeanors who faked their documents in past. It is now the best free online resource for the employers as well as for the students, who can check their institutions as well. It's a killer product for the keen employers as well as for the legitimate education seeking students.
Benefits for Employers Using Online Education Background checks:
  • Employers can be able to save themselves from a negligent hiring lawsuit.
  • Employers can be able to hire the best qualified employee for their respective positions.
  • Online education background checks are fast then conventional education verification process, enabling an employer to make quick hiring decision.
  • Online education background checks can save money and good amount of time.
Benefits for the Students Using Online Education Background checks:
  • Assurance that the institution is meeting certain educational quality standards.
  • Reasonable grounds for believing that the institute will continue to meet them.
  • Assurance that their Degrees will be widely accepted by the employers, professional associations, other colleges and universities.
  • Belief that their Degree will reap the benefits associated with sound and high-quality educational standards.
Concluding Remarks:
Falsified education credentials have become a serious issue in the workforce; it breaches the faith on employees who are involved, especially when it can directly affect other employees and the company as a whole. It is also a serious blunder on the part of the employer who should have done proper education background checks; a mistake that could essentially hinder their current position.
Education background checks for employment; verify the certification, training, or educational claims of a job applicant. The universities, colleges, vocational schools, etc. are checked to verify dates of attendance and graduation, degrees or certifications obtained, majors studied, GPA, and honors received by a potential job candidate. The verification of education process is an important part of a quality pre-employment background check.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

History of Educational Technology

There is no written evidence which can tell us exactly who has coined the phrase educational technology. Different educationists, scientists and philosophers at different time intervals have put forwarded different definitions of Educational Technology. Educational technology is a multifaceted and integrated process involving people, procedure, ideas, devices, and organization, where technology from different fields of science is borrowed as per the need and requirement of education for implementing, evaluating, and managing solutions to those problems involved in all aspects of human learning.
Educational technology, broadly speaking, has passed through five stages.
The first stage of educational technology is coupled with the use of aids like charts, maps, symbols, models, specimens and concrete materials. The term educational technology was used as synonyms to audio-visual aids.
The second stage of educational technology is associated with the 'electronic revolution' with the introduction and establishment of sophisticated hardware and software. Use of various audio-visual aids like projector, magic lanterns, tape-recorder, radio and television brought a revolutionary change in the educational scenario. Accordingly, educational technology concept was taken in terms of these sophisticated instruments and equipments for effective presentation of instructional materials.
The third stage of educational technology is linked with the development of mass media which in turn led to 'communication revolution' for instructional purposes. Computer-assisted Instruction (CAI) used for education since 1950s also became popular during this era.
The fourth stage of educational technology is discernible by the individualized process of instruction. The invention of programmed learning and programmed instruction provided a new dimension to educational technology. A system of self-learning based on self-instructional materials and teaching machines emerged.
The latest concept of educational technology is influenced by the concept of system engineering or system approach which focuses on language laboratories, teaching machines, programmed instruction, multimedia technologies and the use of the computer in instruction. According to it, educational technology is a systematic way of designing, carrying out and evaluating the total process of teaching and learning in terms of specific objectives based on research.
Educational technology during the Stone Age, the Bronze Age, and the Iron Age
Educational technology, despite the uncertainty of the origin of the term, can be traced back to the time of the three-age system periodization of human prehistory; namely the Stone Age, the Bronze Age, and the Iron Age.
Duringthe Stone Age, ignition of fire by rubbing stones, manufacture of various handmade weapon and utensils from stones and clothing practice were some of the simple technological developments of utmost importance. A fraction of Stone Age people developed ocean-worthy outrigger canoe ship technology to migrate from one place to another across the Ocean, by which they developed their first informal education of knowledge of the ocean currents, weather conditions, sailing practice, astronavigation, and star maps. During the later Stone Age period (Neolithic period),for agricultural practice, polished stone tools were made from a variety of hard rocks largely by digging underground tunnels, which can be considered as the first steps in mining technology. The polished axes were so effective that even after appearance of bronze and iron; people used it for clearing forest and the establishment of crop farming.
Although Stone Age cultures left no written records, but archaeological evidences proved their shift from nomadic life to agricultural settlement. Ancient tools conserved in different museums, cave paintings like Altamira Cave in Spain, and other prehistoric art, such as the Venus of Willendorf, Mother Goddess from Laussel, France etc. are some of the evidences in favour of their cultures.
Neolithic Revolution of Stone Age resulted into the appearance of Bronze Age with development of agriculture, animal domestication, and the adoption of permanent settlements. For these practices Bronze Age people further developed metal smelting, with copper and later bronze, an alloy of tin and copper, being the materials of their choice.
The Iron Age people replaced bronze and developed the knowledge of iron smelting technology to lower the cost of living since iron utensils were stronger and cheaper than bronze equivalents. In many Eurasian cultures, the Iron Age was the last period before the development of written scripts.
Educational technology during the period of Ancient civilizations
According to Paul Saettler, 2004, Educational technology can be traced back to the time when tribal priests systematized bodies of knowledge and ancient cultures invented pictographs or sign writing to record and transmit information. In every stage of human civilization, one can find an instructional technique or set of procedures intended to implement a particular culture which were also supported by number of investigations and evidences. The more advanced the culture, the more complex became the technology of instruction designed to reflect particular ways of individual and social behaviour intended to run an educated society. Over centuries, each significant shift in educational values, goals or objectives led to diverse technologies of instruction.
The greatest advances in technology and engineering came with the rise of the ancient civilizations. These advances stimulated and educated other societies in the world to adopt new ways of living and governance.
The Indus Valley Civilization was an early Bronze Age civilization which was located in the northwestern region of the Indian Subcontinent. The civilization was primarily flourished around the Indus River basin of the Indus and the Punjab region, extending upto the Ghaggar-Hakra River valley and the Ganges-Yamuna Doab, (most of the part is under today's Pakistan and the western states of modern-day India as well as some part of the civilization extending upto southeastern Afghanistan, and the easternmost part of Balochistan, Iran).
There is a long term controversy to be sure about the language that the Harappan people spoke. It is assumed that their writing was at least seems to be or a pictographic script. The script appears to have had about 400 basic signs, with lots of variations. People write their script with the direction generally from right to left. Most of the writing was found on seals and sealings which were probably used in trade and official & administrative work.
Harappan people had the knowledge of the measuring tools of length, mass, and time. They were the first in the world to develop a system of uniform weights and measures.
In a study carried out by P. N. Rao et al. in 2009, published in Science, computer scientists found that the Indus script's pattern is closer to that of spoken words, which supported the proposed hypothesis that it codes for an as-yet-unknown language.
According to the Chinese Civilization, some of the major techno-offerings from China include paper, early seismological detectors, toilet paper, matches, iron plough, the multi-tube seed drill, the suspension bridge, the wheelbarrow, the parachute, natural gas as fuel, the magnetic compass, the raised-relief map, the blast furnace, the propeller, the crossbow, the South Pointing Chariot, and gun powder. With the invent of paper they have given their first step towards developments of educational technology by further culturing different handmade products of paper as means of visual aids.
Ancient Egyptian language was at one point one of the longest surviving and used languages in the world. Their script was made up of pictures of the real things like birds, animals, different tools, etc. These pictures are popularly called hieroglyph. Their language was made up of above 500 hieroglyphs which are known as hieroglyphics. On the stone monuments or tombs which were discovered and rescued latter on provides the evidence of existence of many forms of artistic hieroglyphics in ancient Egypt.
Educational technology during Medieval and Modern Period
Paper and the pulp papermaking process which was developed in China during the early 2nd century AD, was carried to the Middle East and was spread to Mediterranean by the Muslim conquests. Evidences support that a paper mill was also established in Sicily in the 12th century. The discovery of spinning wheel increased the productivity of thread making process to a great extent and when Lynn White added the spinning wheel with increasing supply of rags, this led to the production of cheap paper, which was a prime factor in the development of printing technology.
The invention of the printing press was taken place in approximately 1450 AD, by Johannes Gutenburg, a German inventor. The invention of printing press was a prime developmental factor in the history of educational technology to convey the instruction as per the need of the complex and advanced-technology cultured society.
In the pre-industrial phases, while industry was simply the handwork at artisan level, the instructional processes were relied heavily upon simple things like the slate, the horn book, the blackboard, and chalk. It was limited to a single text book with a few illustrations. Educational technology was considered synonymous to simple aids like charts and pictures.
The year 1873 may be considered a landmark in the early history of technology of education or audio-visual education. An exhibition was held in Vienna at international level in which an American school won the admiration of the educators for the exhibition of maps, charts, textbooks and other equipments.
Maria Montessori (1870-1952), internationally renowned child educator and the originator of Montessori Method exerted a dynamic impact on educational technology through her development of graded materials designed to provide for the proper sequencing of subject matter for each individual learner. Modern educational technology suggests many extension of Montessori's idea of prepared child centered environment.
In1833, Charles Babbage's design of a general purpose computing device laid the foundation of the modern computer and in 1943, the first computing machine as per hi design was constructed by International Business Machines Corporation in USA. The Computer Assisted instruction (CAI) in which the computer functions essentially as a tutor as well as the Talking Type writer was developed by O.K. Moore in 1966. Since 1974, computers are interestingly used in education in schools, colleges and universities.
In the beginning of the 19th century, there were noteworthy changes in the field of education. British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), right from its start of school broadcasts in 1920 had maintained rapid pace in making sound contribution to formal education. In the USA, by 1952, 20 states had the provision for educational broadcasting. Parallel to this time about 98% of the schools in United Kingdom were equipped with radios and there were regular daily programmes.
Sidney L. Pressey, a psychologist of Ohio state university developed a self-teaching machine called 'Drum Tutor' in 1920. Professor Skinner, however, in his famous article 'Science of Learning and art of Teaching' published in 1945 pleaded for the application of the knowledge derived from behavioral psychology to classroom procedures and suggested automated teaching devices as means of doing so.
Although the first practical use of Regular television broadcasts was in Germany in 1929 and in 1936 the Olympic Games in Berlin were broadcasted through television stations in Berlin, Open circuit television began to be used primarily for broadcasting programmes for entertainment in 1950. Since 1960, television is used for educational purposes.
In 1950, Brynmor, in England, used educational technological steps for the first time. It is to be cared that in 1960, as a result of industrial revolution in America and Russia, other countries also started progressing in the filed of educational technology. In this way, the beginning of educational technology took place in 1960 from America and Russia and now it has reached England, Europe and India.
During the time of around 1950s, new technocracy was turning it attraction to educations when there was a steep shortage of teachers in America and therefore an urgent need of educational technology was felt. Dr. Alvin C. Eurich and a little later his associate, Dr. Alexander J. Stoddard introduced mass production technology in America.
Team teaching had its origin in America in the mid of 1950's and was first started in the year 1955 at Harvard University as a part of internship plan.
In the year 1956, Benjamin Bloom from USA introduced the taxonomy of educational objectives through his publication, "The Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, The Classification of Educational Goals, Handbook I: Cognitive Domain".
In 1961, Micro teaching technique was first adopted by Dwight W. Allen and his co-workers at Stanford University in USA.
Electronics is the main technology being developed in the beginning of 21st century. Broadband Internet access became popular and occupied almost all the important offices and educational places and even in common places in developed countries with the advantage of connecting home computers with music libraries and mobile phones.
Today's classroom is more likely to be a technology lab, a room with rows of students using internet connected or Wi-Fi enabled laptops, palmtops, notepad, or perhaps students are attending a video conferencing or virtual classroom or may have been listening to a podcast or taking in a video lecture. Rapid technological changes in the field of educational have created new ways to teach and to learn. Technological changes also motivated the teachers to access a variety of information on a global scale via the Internet, to enhance their lessons as well as to make them competent professional in their area of concern. At the same time, students can utilize vast resources of the Internet to enrich their learning experience to cope up with changing trend of the society. Now a days students as well teachers are attending seminars, conferences, workshops at national and international level by using the multimedia techno-resources like PowerPoint and even they pursue a variety of important courses of their choice in distance mode via online learning ways. Online learning facility has opened infinite number of doors of opportunities for today's learner to make their life happier than ever before.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

India's Move to Right to Education

It was Saturday afternoon; the world seemed to be on vacation but me, as I was busy serving guests at a lunch party at my masters' residence. Chatting and laughing was loud enough to be heard in every nook and corner of the house. But those were of least concern to me, because I had to respond to every single call for any requirement at the very word of the guests or the master in particular. It was 2009, and I was just seven, wearing a sweater and a half pant, watching a bunch of people boasting about the achievements of their wards and trying to prove ones child better than the other. When suddenly, an old man read from a magazine that the government was to pass a new act namely, Right to Education Act. But to me those routine talks about the household work made more sense than this new coming up topic, because neither I could read or understand there high-level conversation, which had diverted there talks from their children, on top of that I didn't even understand, what the word 'right' meant. That elderly fellow said something like...
History of the Act:
The Free and Compulsory Education Bill 2003 was the first attempt of the Central government to draft a comprehensive legislation on education after the 86th Constitutional Amendment that made education a fundamental right. The Bill was an excellent example of bureaucratic empowerment, creating up to 6 levels of various authorities to ensure the provision of free and compulsory education. Furthermore, the reservation of up to 25% of the private school seats for the economically backward students to be selected by these authorities ensured that the Bill was a throwback to the old licence-permit-raj regime. Following widespread criticism, the Bill was discarded.
The Right to Education Bill 2005 is the second attempt by the Central government to set the education system right. Some of the important provisions of the Bill:
• Promises free and compulsory education of equitable quality up to the elementary level to all children in the age group of 6 to 14.
• Mandates unaided private schools to reserve up to 25 percent of the seats for students from weaker sections. The schools will be reimbursed by the lower of the actual school fee or per student expenditure in the government school. The aided schools will reserve "at least such proportion of their admitted children as its annual recurring aid bears to its annual recurring expenses subject to a minimum of 25 per cent."
• Requires all remaining students to be accommodated by opening new government schools and within three years of the passage all students to have a school to go within their own neighbourhood.
• Forms School Management Committees (SMCs) comprising parents and teachers for state schools and aided schools. The SMCs will own the assets of the school, manage the accounts, and pay salaries.
• Establishes a National Commission for Elementary Education to monitor the implementation of the Bill, State Regulatory Authorities to address grievances under the Bill, and several 'competent authorities,' 'local authorities,' and 'empowered authorities' to perform a vast number of regulatory functions and meet out punishment to defaulters.
• Assigns all state school teachers to particular schools from which they will never be transferred-creates a school-based teacher cadre.
The finance committee and planning commission rejected the Bill citing the lack of funds and a Model bill was sent to states for the making necessary arrangements.
As is evident, even after 60 years, universal elementary education remains a distant dream. Despite high enrolment rates of approximately 95% as per the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER 2009), 52.8% of children studying in 5th grade lack the reading skills expected at 2nd grade. Free and compulsory elementary education was made a fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution in December 2002, by the 86th Amendment. In translating this into action, the `Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Bill' was drafted in 2005. This was revised and became an Act in August 2009, but was not notified for roughly 7 months.
The reasons for delay in notification can be mostly attributed to unresolved financial negotiations between the National University of Education Planning and Administration, NUEPA, which has been responsible for estimating RTE funds and the Planning Commission and Ministry of Human Resource and Development (MHRD). From an estimate of an additional Rs.3.2 trillion to Rs.4.4 trillion for the implementation of RTE Draft Bill 2005 over 6 years (Central Advisory Board of Education, CABE) the figure finally set by NUEPA now stands at a much reduced Rs.1.7 trillion over the coming 5 years. For a frame of reference, Rs.1 trillion is 1.8% of one year's GDP.
Most education experts agree that this amount will be insufficient. Since education falls under the concurrent list of the Constitution, financial negotiations were also undertaken between Central and State authorities to agree on sharing of expenses. This has been agreed at 35:65 between States and Centre, though state governments continue to argue that their share should be lower.
1. Every child from 6 to 14 years of age has a right to free and compulsory education in a neighbourhood school till completion of elementary education.
2. Private schools must take in a quarter of their class strength from `weaker sections and disadvantaged groups', sponsored by the government.
3. All schools except private unaided schools are to be managed by School Management Committees with 75 per cent parents and guardians as members.
4. All schools except government schools are required to be recognized by meeting specified norms and standards within 3 years to avoid closure.
On the basis of this Act, the government has framed subordinate legislation called model rules as guidelines to states for the implementation of the Act.
The family, I had been working for, (walia family) had always been caring for me, with occasional slaps and abuses, to which I had become accustomed to and accepted them as a part and parcel of my monthly income of 700 Rs along with square meals and the discarded cloths of the children to the master. But then that was my life......bhaiya and didi (son and daughter to the master) were both elder to me by 4 or 5 years respectively and during my free time often played along with me, but again I was reminded of my being a servant whenever I forgot that...they had thought me to read and write my name in Hindi, which I always kept scribbling at the corners of the walls which resulted in a colour change of my cheeks to red from white, whenever caught. That Act being the burning topic of those days always managed to occupy some space at the front page of every news paper, which further became a topic of early morning drawing room discussion for the family as it was that day and just like every normal citizen he also started which his speech, with the critique of right to education act and its loop holes....
The Act is excessively input-focused rather than outcomes-oriented. Even though better school facilities, books, uniforms and better qualified teachers are important, their significance in the Act has been overestimated in the light of inefficient, corrupt and unaccountable institutions of education provision. Then the Act unfairly penalises private unrecognised schools for their payment of market wages for teachers rather than elevated civil service wages. It also penalises private schools for lacking the infrastructural facilities defined under a Schedule under the Act. These schools, which are extremely cost efficient, operate mostly in rural areas or urban slums, and provide essential educational services to the poor. Independent studies by Geeta Kingdon, James Tooley and ASER 2009 suggest that these schools provide similar if not better teaching services when compared to government schools, while spending a much smaller amount. However, the Act requires government action to shut down these schools over the coming three years. A better alternative would have been to find mechanisms through which public resources could have been infused into these schools. The exemption from these same recognition requirements for government schools is the case of double standards -- with the public sector being exempted from the same `requirements'. By the Act, SMCs (school management committees) are to comprise of mostly parents, and are to be responsible for planning and managing the operations of government and aided schools. SMCs will help increase the accountability of government schools, but SMCs for government schools need to be given greater powers over evaluation of teacher competencies and students learning assessment. Members of SMCs are required to volunteer their time and effort. This is an onerous burden for the poor. Payment of some compensation to members of SMCs could help increase the time and focus upon these. Turning to private but `aided' schools, the new role of SMCs for private `aided' schools will lead to a breakdown of the existing management structures. Teachers are the cornerstone of good quality education and need to be paid market-driven compensation. But the government has gone too far by requiring high teacher salaries averaging close to Rs.20,000 per month. These wages are clearly out of line, when compared with the market wage of a teacher, for most schools in most locations in the country. A better mechanism would have involved schools being allowed to design their own teacher salary packages and having autonomy to manage teachers. A major problem in India is the lack of incentive faced by teachers either in terms of carrot or stick. In the RTE Act, proper disciplinary channels for teachers have not been defined. Such disciplinary action is a must given that an average of 25 percent teachers are absent from schools at any given point and almost half of those who are present are not engaged in teaching activity. School Management Committees need to be given this power to allow speedy disciplinary action at the local level. Performance based pay scales need to be considered as a way to improve teaching.
The Act and the Rules require all private schools (whether aided or not) to reserve at least 25% of their seats for economically weaker and socially disadvantaged sections in the entry level class. These students will not pay tuition fees. Private schools will receive reimbursements from the government calculated on the basis of per-child expenditure in government schools. Greater clarity for successful implementation is needed on:
• How will 'weaker and disadvantaged sections' be defined and verified?
• How will the government select these students for entry level class?
• Would the admission lottery be conducted by neighbourhood or by entire village/town/city? How would the supply-demand gaps in each neighbourhood be addressed?
• What will be the mechanism for reimbursement to private schools?
• How will the government monitor the whole process? What type of external vigilance/social audit would be allowed/encouraged on the process?
• What would happen if some of these students need to change school in higher classes?
Moreover, the method for calculation of per-child reimbursement expenditure (which is to exclude capital cost estimates) will yield an inadequate resource flow to private schools. It will be tantamount to a tax on private schools. Private schools will end up charging more to the 75% of students - who are paying tuition's - to make space for the 25% of students they are forced to take. This will drive up tuition fees for private schools (while government schools continue to be taxpayer funded and essentially free).
Reimbursement calculations should include capital as well recurring costs incurred by the government.
By dictating the terms of payment, the government has reserved the right to fix its own price, which makes private unaided schools resent this imposition of a flat price. A graded system for reimbursement would work better, where schools are grouped -- based on infrastructure, academic outcomes and other quality indicators -- into different categories, which would then determine their reimbursement.
Quality of Education
The quality of education provided by the government system remains in question. While it remains the largest provider of elementary education in the country forming 80% of all recognized schools, it suffers from shortages of teachers, infrastructural gaps and several habitations continue to lack schools altogether. There are also frequent allegations of government schools being riddled with absenteeism and mismanagement and appointments are based on political convenience. Despite the allure of free lunch-food in the government schools, which has basically turned the schools into a "dhaba" and school teachers to "chefs", many parents send their children to private schools. Average schoolteacher salaries in private rural schools in some States (about Rs. 4,000 per month) are considerably lower than that in government schools. As a result, proponents of low cost private schools, critiqued government schools as being poor value for money.
Children attending the private schools are seen to be at an advantage, thus discriminating against the weakest sections, who are forced to go to government schools. Furthermore, the system has been criticized as catering to the rural elites who are able to afford school fees in a country where large number of families live in absolute poverty. The act has been criticized as discriminatory for not addressing these issues. Well-known educationist Anil Sadagopal said of the hurriedly-drafted act:
"It is a fraud on our children. It gives neither free education nor compulsory education. In fact, it only legitimizes the present multi-layered, inferior quality school education system where discrimination shall continue to prevail."
For me this new topic was like Ramayana being recited in the house, although Ramayana was still Hindi, but this was complete was Wednesday afternoon and the family members were all taking rest when I decided to run away from that house, and then actually did...but when was back home I was scolded brutally by my father who said 'here comes one more, person with his mouth wide open, good for nothing creature'. After few days, I was as well enrolled in local village school, which served lunch to every student who attended the school. But the food wasn't easy here too, every pupil was made to cook food and wash dishes, the left out time was utilized in fulfilling the desires of the school teacher. I did everything in the school but study. But my sister was not as lucky as me, although for sake of attending school, she was only enrolled in there but the reality was that she hardly attended any classes due to engagement in the household work, as that was more important and education for marriage than that what was written the school books. The only day we had a feast was when inspection was on the calendar. I did wanted to study but my pockets didn't allow me, I always pondered but couldn't make out what was wrong with my school when compared to those big ones in the cities but the answers were nowhere for me......
The RTE Act has been passed; the Model Rules have been released; financial closure appears in hand. Does this mean the policy process is now impervious to change? Even today, much can be achieved through a sustained engagement with this problem.
Drafting of State Rules
Even though state rules are likely to be on the same lines as the model rules, these rules are still to be drafted by state level authorities keeping in mind contextual requirements. Advocacy on the flaws of the Central arrangements, and partnerships with state education departments, could yield improvements in at least some States. Examples of critical changes which state governments should consider are: giving SMCs greater disciplinary power over teachers and responsibility of students learning assessment, greater autonomy for schools to decide teacher salaries and increased clarity in the implementation strategy for 25% reservations. If even a few States are able to break away from the flaws of the Central arrangements, this would yield demonstration effects of the benefits from better policies.
Assisting private unrecognized schools
Since unrecognized schools could face closure in view of prescribed recognition standards within three years, we could find ways to support such schools to improve their facilities by resource support and providing linkages with financial institutions. Moreover, by instituting proper rating mechanisms wherein schools can be rated on the basis of infrastructure, learning achievements and other quality indicators, constructive competition can ensue.
Ensure proper implementation
Despite the flaws in the RTE Act, it is equally important for us to simultaneously ensure its proper implementation. Besides bringing about design changes, we as responsible civil society members need to make the government accountable through social audits, filing right to information applications and demanding our children's right to quality elementary education. Moreover, it is likely that once the Act is notified, a number of different groups affected by this Act will challenge it in court. It is, therefore, critically important for us to follow such cases and where feasible provide support which addresses their concerns without jeopardizing the implementation of the Act.
Most well-meaning legislation's fail to make significant changes without proper awareness and grassroot pressure. Schools need to be made aware of provisions of the 25% reservations, the role of SMCs and the requirements under the Schedule. This can be undertaken through mass awareness programs as well as ensuring proper understanding by stakeholders responsible for its implementation.
Ecosystem creation for greater private involvement
Finally, along with ensuring implementation of the RTE Act which stipulates focused reforms in government schools and regulation for private schools, we need to broaden our vision so as to create an ecosystem conducive to spontaneous private involvement. The current licensing and regulatory restrictions in the education sector discourage well-intentioned 'entrepreneurs' from opening more schools. Starting a school in Delhi, for instance, is a mind-numbing, expensive and time-consuming task which requires clearances from four different departments totaling more than 30 licenses. The need for deregulation is obvious.
Today, I am 15 in age, out of school and again away from home, working only to earn hand to mouth, to boast that am literate I have gained my elementary education but the fact is, I only know how to write my name in Hindi along with few more things and that's not because of the school but I owe that to Mr walias' children. And today, the biggest question for me is, why should anyone get enrolled in a school to gain elementary education, when that education is doing no good to him in the future? After 14 I had to leave the school, in spite of me being still in standard four, I couldn't support my studies further so ultimately all my efforts went in vain, leaving me all to myself, just to ponder what should I do????
The Act has failed in identifying what actually ails our education system and so not surprisingly it offers solutions that are either redundant or counter-productive. Its unrelenting faith in the bureaucracy and its seething animosity towards private initiatives in education reflect a bygone era. However well-intentioned the government may be, the central planning approach cannot serve the future needs of India. It has failed in economics and it cannot do any better in education. The promises made in the Bill then amount to political grandstanding.
The fulfillment of the constitutional obligation does not necessarily require the state to build and manage schools. It can discharge its obligation successfully by restricting its role to the provision of financial resources to those who cannot afford and enabling all parents to make informed choices. The education system should be designed in such a manner that there is competition and choice. The schools should compete with each other to attract students and the students should in turn have the freedom to choose their school. This would ensure the best allocation of scarce resources and an improving quality of education.
One way for the government to finance education that would guarantee access to school and would create right incentives for improving quality is to fund government schools on the basis of number students in the school. Instead of a lump sum grant, the government fixes a per student charge, which multiplied with the number of students, determines the grant that a school would receive. The state can also provide financial support to students in the form of a voucher that can be redeemed only at educational institutions to cover the expenses of education. With this education voucher, the student would be in a position to choose from amongst the various public and private schools.
This would ensure competition amongst schools and thus good quality education. Furthermore, the financial resources of the state would be put to more effective use by targeting them towards the poor only and by optimally utilizing the management skills of the private sector. There is no doubt that privately managed institutions have made a tremendous contribution to the cause of education, and in the last decade particularly the unrecognised private schools for the poor. It would be a tremendous loss of social capital if these schools were forced to close down. If the government opens a new school and runs well, there would be no reason for parents to send their children to a fee-charging, unrecognised school.
They would go out of business automatically. One more reason not to outlaw these schools with the passage of the Act is the chaos and harm it would create since they will have to close down well before the government will be able to open new schools across the country. In its zeal to fulfill its constitutional mandate, the government would achieve the opposite.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Challenges in Education in Today's Society

Recent investigations in the study of demographic trends at global level are currently making light on a very controversial aspect, although ignored by global institutions, like O.N.U., U.N.D.P., G 20, same by organizations with attributions in the educational field (as UNESCO, Youth International Authorities and other). The so-called "demographic winter" phenomenon, which reveals the dramatic consequences of the "modern" life, marked by familial and moral decline, by miscarriage, vulgarization and the homosexuality "normalization", by the poisoning influence of the majority of mass-media and the "Hollywood culture" are inoculating egocentrism, frivolity and irresponsibility. Considering this demographic trend offers a new dimension to the way in which abundance and resource of the world are distributed and also gives a new vision on elementary educational issues.
The globalization of education is reflecting itself in the extension and unification of educational practices, used by all those public or private entities, involved as active social educators. Over time, the public education systems in developed or emerging countries, which promote formal education, are illustrating with consistency the practice of a classical education system. In the field of non-formal education there are used more innovating and diverse methods of education, but unfortunately few of this are oriented upon individual behaviour reshaping in the global context, and they are looking only to proliferate consumerist habits, by preparing youngsters for a successful professional career start. The presence of NGO's with international coverage and professional training companies has fixed the currently understood "development in education" in comfortable limits. This makes room for a reshape of educational fundamentals and, more obvious, for the ultimate purpose of learning.
Most people think that education should equip them with the proper exploitation instruments so that they can forever trample over the masses. Still other thinks that education should furnish them with noble ends rather than means to an end. The function of education, therefore, is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. But education which stops with efficiency may prove the greatest menace to society. The most dangerous criminal may be the man gifted with reason, but with no morals.
Socially speacking, the technological revolution, the broaden access to information and the modern lifestyle facilities have made possible the appearance of an irreversible phenomenon in the conflict between generations. In our present times, the children, "sons of globalization" have access to multiple sources of information, with the internet being most of the time an instrument of self-education. The balance is leaning in the favour of the power of informed youth, who become "the teachers", explaining the new world order to the eldest. This theory takes into consideration the acceleration of technology and the way of our lifestyle, but, beyond its observational character, it does not bring up the discussion on the relevance of educational systems, visible outmoded, which attempts to destroy the moral and statutory principles. The wisdom is transmitted from the old generation to the youth, and not backward.
Therefore we are raising the question regarding the way organisms responsible for educational issues should reconsider the basic fundamentals of this basic activity, which clearly has guided the evolution of our world so far. It isn't enough for organizations like U.N.E.S.C.O or U.N.D.P. to confront the absence of primary education and the discrimination regarding access to education in underdeveloped countries, to avoid resettling the educational needs inside an inappropriate system. It is necessary to deal with these aspects in proper time, because we consider education the key-element which can slow down the process of planet and people self destruction.
The proposal regarding fundamentals reshaping and reviewing the individual education, approached in all stages and cycles of life, starts with the assumption that "Man has to be educated to act responsible towards the environment and civilization, and not interfere in the harmony and balanced world development with his behaviour". This observation, not exactly recent, triggered a chain of initiatives in the educational system in countries like France, Italy, Germany, including Romania, but I consider that implementing a discipline of Civic Education, in the gymnasium module is not enough, neither convincing.
We feel that the new fundamentals and principals of education, which must be known, understood and applied by every teacher, through all the range of educational processes in the long life learning of individuals, and also in the non formal educational process, whereat people have access during existence are:
1. Self-consciousness - is essential because it allows every individual to find his role in society, to know his weak points and to develop them according to his unique talents genetically inherited. A person aware of his/her self can easily act in choosing the occupation or the carrier to practice that he or she will be able to direct his energies to and recognize the real problems that the world and society faces. Consciousness-based education, introduced in 1971 by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, is unique in its ability to effectively develop the total brain potential of every student.
2. Stimulating creativity - this special quality is reflected in the mental and social process of generating new ideas, concepts, associations, and permits individual adaptation to unpredictable contexts and situations. There are simple techniques, associated to lateral thinking that can promote this capacity, for example: improvisation, fiction as imaginary product, (Randomness, Improvisation, P.S.).
3. Communication - in the actual forms and methods used as learning practices, communication is not capitalized at being the supreme value, because mostly individual activity it's encouraged, which promotes inappropriate values like egoism, indifference, self-interest. Without communicating problems and discussing difficult situations, there is no way to claim solving the issues in optimal parameters of time, quality and accuracy. The man can not act in terms of social responsibility, as a "macro attitude", which I consider as being shallowly approached, especially in the economical environment.
4. Promoting a responsible role in society - education must train one for quick, resolute and effective thinking. To think incisively and to think for one's self is very difficult. We are prone to let our mental life become invaded by legions of half truths, prejudices, and propaganda. At this point, I often wonder whether or not education is fulfilling its purpose. A great majority of the so-called educated people do not think logically and scientifically. Even the press, the classroom, the platform, and the pulpit in many instances do not give us objective and unbiased truths. To save man from the morass of propaganda, in my opinion, is one of the chief aims of education. Education must enable one to sift and weigh evidence, to discern the true from the false, the real from the unreal, and the facts from the fiction. This is the way in which he or she could develop and exercise an active role in society.
5. Changing opening - in order to be able to intervene in the actual course of the life circle, accepting and promoting the changes is considered a healthy habit, which stimulates the flexibility and the disruption of existing corporately stereotypes, which are heading humanity to destruction, because of the ignorance or simply because of unknown problems that Terra is facing. From this perspective, the change tackling implies a real transformation at psychological level and of human behaviour, therefore to satisfy those priorities needed to be handled immediately. Here we refer to: the necessity of a re-conversion of world economy from a military economy to civil one, immediate solutions for energetic and environmental problems, as well as for the underdevelopment and poverty aspects propagated into the world.
6. Global vision upon world - the actual educational system, as a whole, is constituted by a sum of operations (method -> evaluation -> communication), whose final objective must reflect a pragmatic and global view on the world. At present, the youth is informed regarding global problems through sources like mass media, not making possible a healthy analysis, not making possible a debate and a thoroughness facilitation that could lead to the understanding and building-up personal opinions regarding aspects like underdevelopment, global economical relations, international monetary system, etc.
7. The ability of solving problems - solving problems is the easiest way to re-create conditions and actions in an artificial manner, experience which allows pupils and students to deal with in a constructive way and to develop solutions for different problems. Learning systems which are basically constructed like this are superior because it helps individuals to recognise and adapt to specific economic, social, psychological, spiritual context and to detect real problems in any form, associating optimal alternatives of decision. For example, simulating a complex economical context for a start-up enterprise leads to the stimulation of individual creativeness and decision-making abilities.
8. Multidisciplinary teams - to permit the reshaping and the restructuring of scholar curricular in the needed form in order to develop these abilities and capacities, we are suggesting even some changes in the study of discipline, considering the logical and contextual relations between them, providing an understanding of all existing correlations at a certain point. For example, Public Finances should be studied in the International Monetary System context and not separately. At the same time this characteristic involves, according to those said before, the start point of collaborations between students coming from different specialization, in order to accomplish complex projects with a multidisciplinary approach. In this case, the elaboration of a business plan would unite students from different specializations in economical science discipline (services, marketing, management) and students from engineering, agriculture and others profile Universities.
In recent years, there have been promoters that recognise the importance of remodelling and updating the learning systems and they have introduced some of this principals through various pedagogic and psychology methods and ideas, which became guide-lines in Universities educational activities from regions around the world. A recent example at this point is the study made by Clay Shirky, author of "Here Comes Everybody", in which he proposed an innovating learning model, named Open Model of Education. In the Closed Model of Education or Classical System, education is limited because the ideas that a school or district can consider can come from only a limited number of sources, usually teachers, administrators, and consultants. A great deal of thought must be put into the consideration of ideas because the time and cost of failure are so high. Time spent with meetings, staff training, and materials, has a cost. This means the filter for ideas is very high. Only those ideas that seem to have the most benefit will be implemented, though there is no way to know in advance that one of the ideas picked will bring the desired benefit, and one of the ideas left on the table could be the most effective and beneficial.
It is true that by putting into practice an educational system based on the same universal fundamentals it essentially means stimulating globalization through its universal optic itself. Although the manner in which this model contributes to the globalization phenomenon is clear, still we must consider the fact that the final purpose of education is no other then confronting globalization's effects and influences, as well as the global negative impact upon environment and, ultimately, upon the way people live everywhere. Education will allow us to know the actual estate of the world, with all its pluses and minuses, and also will increase the awareness of the impact of every individual upon the world and upon the next generations. In other words, we consider politics, economy or administrative sciences weapons of less importance in the process of global issues eradication, compared to education, as a social science.
To conclude, I would like to specify the way these ideas were generated and which were their fundamentals. This actual study is not a result a thorough research activity, neither a genius idea. I am myself a "product" of a classic, formal educational system, but also had some benefits form the non-formal educational system by involving myself in a volunteer organization that developed soft skills and hard skills both. I consider that these educational practices are not adapted enough to the global context that we are facing everyday, and that specialized literature is exposing, bringing up to light its pronounced effects of human existence on Terra. I am a person that does not hold sufficient information and power to be a voice and to be able to get involved in a sustainable and constant development of society, whose values are not profit, nepotism, indifference towards future generations, but responsibility to create and offer equal chances. I am an ambassador of a civilization which is plunging headfirst, shy daring to change the dissonant order and murderously world.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Sex Education

Sex Education, as the term clearly indicates, refers to education which is based on human sexual behavior. Parents, schools or caretakers offer it in some parts of the world to educate the children, who are stepping into their adolescence. If formally received, sex education is either taught as a full course at high school or junior high school level or in biology, health, home economics classes. Teaching sex education is rather a controversial issue; debates have been going on for several decades discussing if it should be taught formally in schools or not. Sex education in schools should exist without any doubts and apprehensions as it offers many benefits.
Adolescence is called the "age of storm and stress". The young teenagers, during this phase of life are under deep psychological pressure. Mainly, this psychological pressure is the result of one's growing sexual needs and the biological changes and hormonal effects on the individuals. During this time, most of the children are observed to become easily irritable. They find it difficult in most situations to deal with the family members. They might not want to talk to them about the natural changes taking place in their body and mind. In such circumstances, one highly suitable option is that of the teachers who are able to teach them to control their urges until a proper age. In schools, trained teachers would help the students to know how to deal with their sexual impulses. This role can not be replaced by parents or other entities. A classroom discussion and lesson would make them feel it is natural, and they would also feel that they are being understood by someone. However, taking them individually to psychologists or other trained educators would not help. In such a situation they might consider themselves to be different and misunderstood by family and people around them. Therefore, it becomes crystal clear that the best way to offer sex education is always in school.
It is a psychological phenomenon that children at young age are under an immense peer pressure. Something that they learn in the class with their peer group is what makes a better impression on their minds than otherwise. They are more focused in the lessons that teachers offer and are more eager asking question to clear their ambiguities. They might feel embarrassed and uneasy questioning their parents about it, but it always differs in case of the teacher in the class. This is because everyone in the class is going through the same stage. A class discussion becomes healthy source of learning as it helps in enhancing the knowledge on the subject.
Many people advocate that sex education should only be restricted to families, that is, that parents should personally educate their children. This view is totally illogical and holds complications and questions. The first point is that not all the parents would be willing to do it or would be able to do it. Secondly, this education needs a proper channel through which it should reach its required learners. There could be many possible problems in the families so they might not be able to take the role of a teacher in educating their children regarding sex. The demand of annulment of sex education from the schools is highly conservative.
Most importantly, there are many single parents, how would they take up this challenge of educating their children on their own? Parents can not properly educate their children about sex also because they lack details that qualified sex educators convey in schools. Thus, the stance of abolishing sex education in school is not a favorable thought. In many observed cases where parents or children are embarrassed about talking over sexual matters with each other, it is most likely to be uneasy situation at both the ends. This keeps the children from learning the answers to the questions they might have in their minds. This can be a great flaw of shifting the duty of sexual education from teachers to the parents. It will leave the children only half or less educated about the issue and as they say "Little knowledge is a dangerous thing", this might end up in grave situations.
According to research, most of the parents also feel uneasy because they know that they are not equipped to provide the apt sexual information to their children. They also fail to comprehend what details and information should be concealed and what should be revealed, keeping in mind their children's age. On the other hand, there might also be parents who would feel comfortable talking to their children about sexual matters, but only when the children bring the matter up.
Most parents, around the world, may also lack role models to look up to as they would not have talked over sexual issues with their own parents in their adolescent. This makes them inefficient to trigger their roles of educating their children in an effective way as the assigned teachers are able to do in schools.
Sex education is not limited to only a single branch of knowledge. This education focuses on a number of significant sexual matters that are offered with especially designed courses and programs. Sex education covers the education of relationships, sexual abstinence at a certain level and teaching to practice safe sex to the level of children who are thought to be sexually active. Therefore, its claim for being appropriate and guiding holds strong base.
At a certain age of adolescence, growing children have problems facing relationships and controlling their personal emotions. Conflicts related to such matters persuade many youngsters to commit suicides or take part in other immoral activities. Proper sex education in schools also concentrates in making the youngsters emotionally stronger and in educating ways to cope with relationship problems. This argument strongly shows the immense benefit of sex education in schools.
Sex education is an important health strategy and this cannot be denied. AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases can only be controlled if people are aware of precautions and have a vast knowledge in this case. This knowledge is conveyed through sex education, and if sex education is banned in schools and if parents have to educate their children, then it would not be as beneficial to the individuals and the society on the whole as teaching in school could be.
Sex education does not exist in all parts of the world. Asians are commonly regarded conservative when compared to westerners. It is not a part of their course in schools; this does not in any way mean that their teenage pregnancy rate is any lower if they are not exposed to sexual matters openly. In fact, this is one way how peers can mislead most of the youngsters and persuade them to bask in young age sexual relationships without any attempts for safety. This has resulted in serious problems such as the spread of fatal diseases like AIDS and has also increased rate of illegitimate births.
Researches have shown that the cause for ramification of STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) in the eras of 80s and 90s in the US and the UK is the lack of knowledge and information provided about sex in schools or home. Home and family has never and will never play an integral part in conveying sex education to teenagers, therefore to rely on the option of home, is to deceive your own self from the expected exigency in the future.
Some conservative groups assert that to discuss sexual issues openly is to devalue religion. No religion in the world abstain its followers from spreading the information that is so essential for human lives. Sexual behavior is natural and takes place through biological changes and this cannot be questioned as this is a part of human life. Thus people who take refuge under the religious shelter, to make their arguments strong, are misinterpreting religious ideas and laws.
Modern time is the time of internet and powerful media. Teenagers are exposed to Hollywood, TV and internet. These sources offer demonstration of sex which is highly thoughtless and casual; in this situation it is almost illogical to leave the teenagers on their sexual choices. They are young and fully excited; therefore they can not make a favorable choice. Sex education in school offers the information and knowledge they need to understand to know the responsibility that is accompanied by sexual relationships. The teacher in school helps the students to know the difference between a thoughtless and thoughtful sex. Having an urge for sex is not a problem; it is a natural process showing that the young people are developing to become adults; however the problem is having unsafe sex and hurting people through sexual choices.
People who claim that sex education in schools have more cons than pros, often come up with the statements suggesting that sex education in classroom should be avoided because the most effective tool for offering sex education, according to them is TV, films, magazines and media. Such people fail to understand that trained sex educators under especially designed programs teach sex education to children in schools. They are thus able to handle children's problems and clear their ambiguities in the best possible way, whereas magazines, films, TV and other channels and mediums of providing sex education are be reliable. They are most of the times urging the young people by encouraging their sexual promiscuity rather than effectively teaching and educating them. This wrong approach damages the society and the individuals in disguise of ameliorating them.
People contradicting the notion insist that sex education always makes the learners have sex and experience it personally, once they learn about it in school. The reality is that sexual urge for any human being is a natural occurrence. When children reach to a certain age, whether they find people to educated them about sex or not, they do have natural instincts about it, and therefore if provided a chance they would surely want to satisfy their urge. This natural reaction can not in any way be related to the outcome of sex education in schools. In fact, the best time for letting sex education play its role is when the sexual urge increases and the teenagers want to find a source for its satisfaction. It offers individuals with the required knowledge so that they are careful. It is only then that they understand the consequences of sex leading to child birth as well as sexually transmitted diseases. Thus sex education is basically a warning and a caution for such children who are stepping into the phase of life where they would need to know all this.
Some people who go against the topic also argue that even though sex education exists, it has still not decreased the rate of teenage pregnancies. I would rather not go deep in to the moral issue of the topic, but it is important here to discuss and point out the shortcomings of our society. Social values that insist that being single, pregnant and teenagers is fine, is what has to be changed. Through educating the children and making them aware that it is just not 'cool' to be pregnant when single or teenager, and just because 'others are also doing it' does not in any way justify their actions, this change can be achieved. There are many sexual education programs that teach the learners about the grave consequences that can result in having early sex. This type of sex education in schools is helpful and makes the learners responsible and mature enough to understand the difference between morality and immorality.
People, who are against the notion, repeatedly state the question that why sex education is given so much importance when there are also many other issues connected with juvenile delinquencies such as drugs, drinking and aggressive bullying. No doubt, there are also many other issues to consider important enough to be taught in school for awareness but psychological researches show that behind most of the juvenile behavioral problems, one main reason is always the active sexual urge which drives the young people to indulge themselves in harmful activities like drug abuse and alcoholism. It is also commonly observed that young teenagers who indulge into such activities are unaware of proper sex education. Once they are given a true picture of sex and its consequences their mental status relaxes and they are easily able to cope with other social taboos.
Parents, who believe that sex education pollutes the minds of their children, have in large number taken their children out of schools promoting sex education. In this process of instilling in their minds their religious and family values, they forget that the media, their children are largely exposed to can also lead them astray. Sex education in schools does not in any way offers them an invitation to have open sex by making them aware of the risks; it just educates them about the matter in the best way.
Apart from educating the students about safe sex, sex education in schools is also helpful as it helps students to learn proper terminology for reproductive system, STDs and birth contraceptives rather than the street lingo that is commonly used by laymen. Sex education classes are gender based and that is why the young learners are not embarrassed and are only taught what is related to their gender. Early inclusion of classes also helps the teenagers to either become abstinent for some time or to become responsible if they are already active. Therefore, many sexual problems that occur in adulthood can be controlled if effective and apt sex education is given at the right time.
A proper sex education which is holistic, nonjudgmental and comprehensive never misleads or misguides the teenagers. Such a curriculum should be imposed in all schools around the nation; it is an answer to many social problems and conflicts. Would any parent leave their kindergarten kids to walk alone on the streets without letting them know how to walk safely? No parent would actually do that, in the same way, letting your teenager children socialize with their peers and fellows without any proper sexual education is nothing contrary to the analogy mentioned above. It is hazardous and risky for their lives. Thus, proper sex education in schools should be encouraged so that they learn all the significant facts through trained teachers, who help and supports them in these matters of highly crucial value. Sex education should be taken as a positive aspect which promises healthier and better life for the youngsters. It therefore should be taken as a subject taught in schools to enhance knowledge on the subject matter; something merely as human anatomy or biology class. Sex education should be given in all schools to educate the children for their betterment, avoiding it will only result in emotional, social and health problems.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Psychology of Education

On the need for an individualistic educational psychology emphasizing on the central role of the learner
Education and psychology are related in more than just one way and the psychology of education could be related to educational principles in psychology or how education as a discipline is taught within psychology as a subject and how these two disciplines merge. This is primarily the focus of educational psychology which studies how human learning occurs, what ways of teaching are most effective, what different methods should be used to teach gifted or disabled children and how principles of psychology could help in the study of schools as social systems.
Psychological education would be completely focused on learning methods as structured or imparted according to psychological and individual needs of the students. Education would differ according to culture, values, attitudes, social systems, mindset and all these factors are important in the study of education in psychology.
Educational psychology is the application of psychological objectives within educational systems and psychological education as I distinguish here is application of educational objectives in psychological processes. The first focus of using psychology in education is more general and the second approach of using education in psychology is more individualistic. However as far as present study of educational approach to psychology is concerned, there is no difference between individualistic educational psychology and general educational psychology and all interrelationships between psychology and education are considered within the broad discipline of educational psychology.
However a distinction between the more general educational psychology and more specific psychological or individualistic education could help in understanding the nuances of individualistic study and give a subjective dimension to the study of psychology in education. This could also help in making learning systems more student based and according to the needs of culture, society, individual or personal factors. This sort of study with a focus on personal/psychological aspects of learning is not just about social objectives and objectives within educational systems but also about personal goals and objectives and the psychological processes involved in learning. There has to be a clearer demarcation between education in psychology as a general study and individualistic education in psychology as a more specific and subjective discipline.
As of now educational psychology encompasses a wide range of issues and topics including the use of technology and its relation to psychology, learning techniques and instructional design. It also considers the social, cognitive, behavioural dimensions of learning but it would be necessary to make education more personal and individualistic through a special branch with a psychological focus on education so that individual needs are considered. There could be two ways in which this branch of knowledge could evolve - either by strengthening psychological education or individualistic approach to the psychology of education or by having two distinct branches of general educational psychology and individualistic educational psychology.
As in client centered approach to psychology, a psychology of education should also include further research that would highlight the need for individualistic dimensions in learning. Learning psychology is the use of psychological theories for example that of Jean Piaget and Kohler in the study of learning techniques, especially among children. I have already discussed Piaget but briefly Piaget's theory higlights different stages of learning in children and Kohler suggested that learning occurs by sudden comprehension or understanding, however I will not go further into learning theories here. Whereas the focus of educational psychology is on learning techniques per se and the role of the learner is considered only secondary, a branch of individualistic psychology in education could help in emphasizing the role of the learner considering not just their disabilities or giftedness but also their personality patterns. This focus on personality patterns brings out the central role of understanding psychology in educational systems.
Educational psychology studies both the personal approaches to education as in giftedness, disability, learning theories applied to children and adults, and the more general objective approaches to learning as the role of schools as social or cultural systems.
The psychology of education could include the following branches:
General Educational Psychology
1. Learning Systems - As studied from individualistic learning perspectives and generalized learning perspectives, a discussion of the different theories, practices and systems or techniques of learning is an integral part of educational psychology and especially central to general educational psychology.
2. Social Systems - The use of education in social, cultural and economic systems could be considered within the psychological context and this relates to the role of education in society.
Individualistic Educational Psychology
1. Learning Systems - Learning techniques and systems or methods will have to be in accordance with the needs of the children or adult participants and according to skills of the teachers. Needs vary according to personal traits and abilities and individual needs will have to be considered during the learning process.
2. Social Systems - Individual learning psychology will have to be studied according to specific social and cultural backgrounds of the learners and thus a more subjective study of learning approaches and centralized role of the individual in the learning process considering their social, cultural or intellectual background will have to be considered.