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Pearson’s VET pilot programme

In association with the government of Assam, Pearson Group — the world’s largest and most diversified education and publishing conglomerate — has launched a unique programme to deliver vocational education and training (VET) to schools in the state. Pearson has established vocational skills centres in ten selected government-run schools in Guwahati, initially offering training in two streams — retail and computer hardware and IT. By early December, over 600 students had signed up for these programmes.

The VET curriculum is designed and administered by two Pearson companies: IndiaCan, one of India’s most reputed vocational skills providers, and Edexcel, the UK’s largest qualifications awarding board, recognised the world over for its rigorous accreditation of courses and students. As a precursor to this initiative, an orientation programme was organised for teachers and students of the selected schools. Classes are conducted after school hours for students of class IX onwards.

“The curriculum is hands-on, encourages the use of audio-visual aids, and includes lectures by industry experts and factory visits to familiarise students with shopfloor conditions. Encouraged by the enthusiastic response of the government and students, Pearson intends to roll out this initiative statewide in the near future,” says a company spokesperson.

GE Edison Challenge Winners

Team Aarogya of the Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati (IIT-G), was adjudged winner and awarded an incubation prize of Rs.10 lakh at the fifth edition of GE Edison Challenge held at the GE India Technology Center, Bangalore on December 7. The winning team’s entry was selected by a panel of judges comprising senior technologists and members of the Edison Engineering Development Program of the GE India Technology Center.

Under the rules of the contest, students were required to create ‘An idea for India’ in one field — healthcare, energy or transportation. The IIT-G team’s project proposes wireless EEG (electroencephalogram) for monitoring autistic patients with signals transferred through wireless media while the patient is at home. Team BioMedical Blazers of the Vellore Institute of Technology was adjudged runner-up and awarded a prize of Rs.5 lakh for its Veinloc, which proposes a low-cost vein detection solution.

“The 2012 edition of the GE Edison Challenge is a one-of-a-kind contest which encourages students to create an idea that will make India a better place to live in. Our country is on its way to becoming a global superpower and it’s up to us to encourage our innovators of tomorrow to match to the speed. I was impressed with the balance of innovative ideas and practicality demonstrated by the winning and runner-up teams,” said Dr. Gopichand Katragadda, managing director of the GE India Technology Center, speaking on the occasion.

KISS Human Chain for Humanity

The Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences (KISS), Bhubaneswar, reputedly the world’s largest residential school, celebrated Human Rights Day on December 10 with 20,000 tribal/indigenous K-12 students forming a 25 km Human Chain for Humanity — said to be world’s longest human chain. The children’s chain demonstrating the theme ‘My Voice Counts’ started from the KIIT University campus and covered almost the entire city over a radius of 25 km.

Established in 2004 by social entrepreneur and philant-hropist Dr. Achyuta Samanta to eradicate poverty through education, KISS provides food, accommodation, healthcare and KG-PG (kindergarten to postgraduation) education to 20,000 children free of charge. “It is an effort to bring the most underprivileged children into the mainstream of education and public life,” says Samanta, who has also been generously assisting nearly 1,500 tribal children to pursue professional education free of charge at the affiliated KIIT University.

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of KISS this year, a year-long programme is being organised which will culminate in 2013. Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik launched the inaugural session of the year-long celebrations in KISS on November 30 last year.

APU invites admission applications

Azim Premji University (APU), Bangalore invites admission applications for its Masters of education and development programmes. Graduates from any discipline (working professionals or fresh graduates) are eligible to apply for these two-year (2013-15) programmes. The last date for receiving applications is February 8.

Students in the MA (Education) programme may choose to specialise in curriculum and pedagogy, school leadership and management or pursue a balanced general programme. MA (Development) students will be given the opportunity to specialise in areas such as public policy, livelihoods, health and nutrition, law and governance, or pursue a balanced general programme. Applicants will be obliged to write a test to be held at 36 centres across India on Sunday, February 24, followed by personal interview.

According to APU spokespersons, “hassle-free educational loans” to cover partial/full tuition fees and living expenses will be offered by the university. In addition, support for loan repayment is offered to students who opt to work in the social sector or pursue higher education in related domains. Scholarships are also available for students who meet economic eligibility criteria.

“APU aims to contribute to creating a just, equitable, humane and sustainable society through the development of passionate, aware and capable leaders in the education and development sectors in India,” says S. Giridhar, registrar and chief operating officer of APU.

UCC appoints preferred India agent

University College Cork (UCC), a constituent institution of the National University of Ireland, has appointed the Bangalore-based S.S. Group of Educational Institutions its first preferential agent in India. This appointment was made public in Bangalore on December 11 by UCC during the India tour of the Ireland Education Mission, led by Ireland’s minister for education and skills Ciaran Cannon.

University College Cork is ranked among the world’s top 2 percent of universities and is Ireland’s first five-star university according to the annual QS World University Rankings. Moreover, it has been adjudged the Sunday Times University of the Year on three separate occasions.

“In the past, Indian students have performed exceptionally well in UCC and we hope this announcement will encourage other high performing students to consider Cork as the place to study in future. I am delighted that SS Group has been appointed UCC’s first preferential agent in India, and I look forward to our close co-operation in the future,” said Trevor Holmes, vice president of external relations at UCC.

C.F. Andrews Alumnus Awards

The inaugural C.F. Andrews Alumnus Awards were conferred upon St. Stephen’s College alumni at an investiture ceremony on December 12. The awards instituted by St. Stephen’s College, were conferred upon 58 alumni to acknowledge and honour their exemplary achievements.

Kapil Sibal, Union minister for communication and IT; Salman Khurshid, Union minister for external affairs; Shashi Tharoor, minister of state for HRD, and Dr. S.Y. Quraishi, former chief election commissioner among others, were conferred the prestigious award. The ceremony was graced by eminent personalities from various fields such as politics, business, media, art and culture etc.

The C.F. Andrews Distinguished Alumnus Awards have been instituted for the first time in the history of the college as part of its commitment to excellence. The awards commemorate C.F. Andrews, named Deenabandhu (‘friend of the helpless’) by Mahatma Gandhi for his contribution to the Indian freedom movement. He taught philosophy at St. Stephen’s from 1904-14.    

NMCA inaugurated in GIIS

NIIT Ltd, Asia’s largest information technology training company, announced the launch of its NIIT MindChampions Academy (NMCA) at the Global Indian International School, Noida (GIIS). The academy on the school’s premises was inaugurated by world chess champion and NIIT MindChampion Viswanathan Anand on December 20. A joint initiative of NIIT and Grand Master Viswanathan Anand, MindChampions academies popularise chess in schools across India. Since its inception in 2002, NMCA has inspired over 1.65 million children in more than 17,000 schools across India to take to this mind stimulating game.

“Over the years, NIIT MindChampions Academy has been popularising chess in schools across India, to enable development of young minds and encourage them to take up the sport. It has been established that the game of chess makes significant contributions to education. We are pleased to partner with GIIS, Noida, to bring to its students the advantages of technology combined with the benefits of chess that NMCA delivers,” said Anand speaking on the occasion.

Added Rajeev Katyal, country director-India of GIIS: “The tie-up with NIIT MindChampions Academy will not only help children attain expertise in the game of chess, but also enhance multiple skills in our children, leading to holistic development. Students will get an opportunity to interact with a chess Grandmaster. This will boost their self-confidence and leave a lasting impression on their young minds.”

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