Daily Current Affairs for 8th Sep 2021

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School Children’s Online and Offline Learning (SCHOOL) survey

Why in News

According to the survey of ‘School Children’s Online and Offline Learning (SCHOOL)’, the prolonged closure of primary and upper primary schools since the onset of the pandemic has led to “catastrophic consequences” for school students, particularly in rural India.

Key Points

  • Based on the School Children’s Online and Offline Learning (SCHOOL) survey conducted by researchers, who worked in coordination with eminent economist Jean Dreze, the ‘Emergency Report on School Education’ says that only 8% of school students in rural India have been able to access online education, while at least 37% have stopped studying altogether.
  • The SCHOOL survey makes it clear that the reach of online education is very limited: the proportion of schoolchildren who were studying online “regularly” was just 24% and 8% in urban and rural areas respectively.
  • One reason for this is that many sample households have no smartphone, found the survey that was conducted by around 100 volunteers across India.
  • The report covered 1,362 sample households spread across 15 States, including Assam, Bihar, Delhi, Gujarat, Haryana, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal.
  • The survey also found that the Dalit and Adivasi children were at a greater disadvantage as a mere 5% of the children from these groups had access to online classes.
  • According to the findings, access to online education among students in those houses with smartphones is also handicapped by the fact that the smartphones are mainly used by the working adults who are not always able to share the gadgets with the children at home.

No access to teachers

  • Another casualty of the prolonged closure of schools has been the relation between the teachers and students in both urban and rural sectors, with 51% of the respondents in the urban areas and 58% in rural India saying that they had not met teachers during the month preceding the survey.
  • Researchers also found that there have been many teachers who went out of their comfort zones to help students during the 17-month-long closure of schools.
  • In addition to education, the closure affected the level of nutrition among the children in rural schools where the midday meals have been stopped.
  • Midday meals have been discontinued in all the sample States with the closure of schools. Among parents with a child enrolled in a government school, about 80% reported receiving some food (mainly rice or wheat) during the preceding 3 months as a substitute for their child’s midday meals.
  • Most parents surveyed have supported reopening of the schools at the earliest. Ten percent of the parents in urban areas had some hesitation in sending their children to school but, overall, 97% of parents supported reopening of schools.
  • The report said the prolonged school lockdown, one of the longest in the world, has led to a “colossal disaster”.
  • According to the researchers, it will take years of patient work to repair this damage.
  • Reopening schools is just the first step, still being debated. In fact, even preparations for that first step (such as repairing school buildings, issuing safety guidelines, training teachers, enrolment drives) are virtually invisible in many States.


Vidyanjali 2.0 portal

Why in News

Recently, the Prime Minister of India launched Vidyanjali 2.0, to facilitate donations, contributions from Corporate Social Responsibility funds, and volunteering, all aimed at developing and improving schools.

Vidyanjali 2.0

  • Vidyanjali is an initiative taken by the Ministry of Education with the objective to strengthen Schools through community and private sector involvement in schools across the country.
  • Vidyanjali 2.0 is an amalgamation of the words Vidya meaning “correct knowledge” or “clarity” and Anjali meaning “an offering with both hands” in Sanskrit language.
  • This initiative would connect schools with varied volunteers from the Indian Diaspora namely, young professionals, school alumni, in service and retired teachers / Government officials / professionals and many others.
  • Vidyanjali has two verticals:
  • Participate in school Service/Activity, and
  • Assets/Material/Equipment in which volunteer can support and strengthen the government and government aided schools. Vidyanjali 2.0 is a platform for the country’s resolution of ‘Sabka Prayas’ with ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas’.
  • The Vidyanjali portal will be used for facilitating education volunteers, donors and CSR contributors for school development.


Shikshak Parv 2021

Why in News

Recently, the Prime Minister of India inaugurated the conclave of ‘Shikshak Parv’ via video-conferencing, which will be held from September 5-17 in recognition of valuable contributions of teachers and to take New Education Policy (NEP) 2020 a step forward.

Key Points

  • Shikshak Parv is being celebrated from 8th September- 25th September, to felicitate the Teachers and to take New Education Policy 2020 forward.
  • The theme for year 2021 event is ‘Quality and Sustainable Schools: Learnings from Schools in India’.
  • Under this event, five key initiatives in the education sector has been launched:
  • Indian sign language dictionary of 10,000 words;
  • Talking books (audio books for visually impaired);
  • School quality assessment and accreditation framework (SQAAF) of CBSE;
  • NISTHA teachers’ training programme for NIPUN Bharat, and
  • Vidyanjali portal to facilitate education volunteers, donors and CSR contributors in development of school.
  • The Prime Minister stated that for the progress of any country, education should not only be inclusive but should also be equitable.
  • National Digital Architecture I.e. N-DEAR is likely to play a major role in eradicating inequality in education and its modernization.
  • N-DEAR will act as a ‘super-connect’ between various academic activities in the same way as UPI interface revolutionized the banking sector.
  • The country is making technology like Talking Books and Audiobooks a part of education.
  • School Quality Assessment and Assurance Framework (S.Q.A.A.F), which was operationalized recently, would address the deficiency of the absence of a common scientific framework for dimensions like curricula, pedagogy, assessment, infrastructure, inclusive practices and governance process.
  • SQAAF will help in bridging this inequality.
  • With rapidly changing era, teachers also have to learn about new systems and techniques rapidly and it will be done through ‘Nishtha’ training programs.
  • The ‘Shikshak Parv’ celebration will encourage innovative practices to ensure not only continuity of education at all levels but to improve quality, inclusive practices and sustainability in schools across the country as well.


Behler turtle conservation award

Why in news

Shailendra Singh, a biologist from India, has won the Behler Turtle Conservation Award.

Key Points

  • He has been awarded for bringing three critically endangered turtle conservation species back from the brink of extinction.
  • Shailendra Singh was named to lead the Turtle Survival Alliance/Wildlife Conservation Society India Turtle Program.
  • According to the Shailendra Singh, turtles are one of the highly smuggled species in the country and in the past several years, he and his team have rescued about 35,000 turtles and have rehabilitated them in the wild.

Conservation of endangered turtles in India

  • The critically endangered turtles are being conserved as part of Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA) India’s research, education program, conservation breeding in various parts of India.
  • The Northern River Terrapin (Batagur Baska) is being conserved by the teams in Sunderbans; Black Softshell Turtle (Nilssonia nigricans) at different temples in Assam; Red-crowned roofed turtle (Batagur Kachuga) is being conserved at Chambal.
  • In India, there are 29 species of freshwater turtles and tortoises.
  • The report released in 2019 by the International Wildlife Trade Monitoring Body TRAFFIC revealed that at least 200 individual freshwater turtles and tortoises fall prey to illicit smuggling every week.
  • 11,000 each year and over 1,11,130 between September 2009 and September 2019.

Behler Turtle Conservation Award

  • In 2006, the Behler Turtle Conservation Award was established to recognize the contributions, outstanding achievements, and leadership excellence in international turtle conservation and biology.


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