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Maharashtra: Sociology textbook storm

A regressive and misogynist sociology textbook prescribed by the Maharashtra State Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education (MBSHSE) for class XII students of its 28,000 affiliated schools statewide, has precipitated a storm of protest from educators and women’s rights activists.

“If a girl is ugly and handicapped, then it becomes very difficult for her to get married. To marry such girls, the bridegroom and his family demand additional dowry. Parents of such girls become helpless and pay dowry as per the demands of the bridegroom and his family. It leads to a rise in the practice of dowry system,” says the sociology textbook which purports to condemn the dowry system.

Questioned by media in Mumbai on February 2 about this regressive content having been cleared by the MBSHSE, Gangadhar Mamane, chairman of the board, promised to discuss the issue with the board and order a thorough investigation. 

Corporal punishment row

A video clip caught by CCTV camera of a private school showing a teacher in Gujarat’s Amreli district brutally assaulting higher secondary (class XII) students has gone viral statewide, and has resurrected the issue of rampant corporal punishment in K-12 education.

Addressing the media in Ahmedabad on February 4, Mansukh Ramani, the school’s principal said he had warned the teacher that corporal punishment is illegal following earlier complaints against him. “We had requested the teacher — Rajesh Chavda — to control unruly students by counselling them. Clearly, he hasn’t heeded the advice. Therefore, we have suspended him,” said Ramani.

Taking note of the incident, Bhupendrasinh Chudasama, the state’s education minister assured parents of the assaulted children that stringent and exemplary action would be initiated against the teacher. “We will set a precedent so no teacher ever dares to assault students again,” he said.


West Bengal
IIT-Kharagpur’s new school

India’s premier Indian Institute of Technology-Kharagpur (IIT-Kgp, estb.1951), which was the first IIT to also offer business management, medical technology and law education study programmes on its campus, is set to launch a first-of-its-kind Subir Chowdhury School of Quality & Reliability offering quality assessment and testing study programmes.

Announcing IIT-Kgp’s new school, named after quality management guru Subir Chowdhury following an endowment of Rs.6.6 crore from the Michigan (USA)-based Subir and Malini Chowdhury Foundation, Dr. P.P. Chakrabarti, director of IIT-Kgp, informed the media on February 10 that the interdisciplinary school will offer students new academic courses, research facilities and mission-mode programmes on quality assessment and reliability which will bring about social transformation.


Imminent early exams row

Despite the Right of Children to Free & Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009, prohibiting examinations (or detention) of children until class VIII, the BJP government of Rajasthan has introduced a compulsory common class V final examination for government schools statewide from the start of the new academic year 2017-18. Rajasthan’s education minister Vasudev Devnani announced this decision to the media in Ajmer on February 13. 

As in the case of the class VIII board examination made mandatory last year, if a student fails to clear the exam, he will be given another chance a month later. Clearing the examination is compulsory for advancing to the next class, clarified the minister. 

The state government’s introduction of public exams for class VIII and latterly class V students, is certain to be legally challenged, and educationists in Jaipur are bracing themselves for a round of courtroom confrontations.


Anganwadi spruce up scheme

Haryana’s women and child development ministry (WCD) has invited public contributions for its hamari phulwari scheme, to make the state’s 27,000 anganwadis — nutrition centres for newborns and lactating mothers which also provide early childhood care and education to pre-primary children — look more attractive, child-friendly and modern. Addressing the media in Chandigarh on February 20, a WCD official said the government expects contributions in cash or kind from panchayats, municipal councils, individuals and civil organisations for the project.

“Building robust physical and digital infrastructure for early childhood care and education and introducing professional development programmes for anganwadi workers, helpers and supervisors in nutrition and health education, are among the objectives of the scheme,” explained a WCD spokesperson. Names of donors contributing over Rs.1 lakh will be displayed outside the centre, he added.

Paromita Sengupta with bureau inputs 

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