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‘right to education’ act not against home schooling and alternate education…

sayeth our Indian Ministry of HRD. Nice! (but there is some bad news about NIOS)

RTE not against home schooling and alternate education: MHRD

In response to a public interest litigation, the Ministry of Human Resources Development on Thursday filed an affidavit in the Delhi High Court stating that the Right to Education Act does not come in the way of home schooling.

The affidavit, however, said National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) for children in the age group of 6-14 years will only be allowed to run up to 2015.

“Parents who voluntarily opt for alternate forms of schooling may continue to do so. The RTE Act does not come in the way of such alternate schooling methodologies or declare such form of education as illegal,” the affidavit stated.

The Minsitry’s response came after the High Court directed it to respond to a petition filed by a 14-year-old girl, Shreya Sahai, who opted for home schooling but contended that Section 18 of RTE Act does not recognise any other mode of imparting education except the one through formal schooling.

“The benefits of all children aged 6-14 years and their parents who feel threatened because their right to choose a mode of education for primary education stands violated as the Act restricts the same only to a formal school,” she said.

All other modes of imparting education, except a formal school, like home schooling, alternate schools of education and the schools not subscribing to the norms and curriculum mandated in the Act stand declared illegal under sections 18 and 19 of the Act, said the petition.

“Subscribers of the academics check tests conducted by the government-established NIOS feel threatened of the discontinuance of the same in view of the impugned Act,” the petitioner said.

The petition sought the court’s direction to quash the RTE provisions as they are violative of the fundamental rights of children, the petition said. It also asked for home-schooling and alternate education schools to be included in the “specified category” and also allow NIOS continue imparting education to children.

The matter will come up for hearing on August 8.

(This link via young Ramgopal Koneripalli)


why does this bother me?

I’m an Article About the Internet That You Repost on the Internet
by Teddy Wayne May 14, 2012


… because it is so true…



why a liberal art education matters…

This is a fine essay by Vedika Khemani, that appeared in NYT. I wholeheartedly agree with the take and the stance of her.

I am reproducing hereunder, the beautiful essay in toto, thusly violating all copyright laws basically because there are only a few folks that are interested in clicking the links if I provide them, which actually is a rather sad story.


February 1, 2012, 8:30 pm

Why a Liberal Arts Education Matters


Well, what is it going to be: engineering, medicine or commerce?

Most 12th-grade students in India are faced with this question, as they struggle to fit themselves into one of a few narrowly defined boxes. Heaven forbid someone might enjoy reading both Newton’s laws and Plato’s dialogues! Plato is clearly a waste of time with no practical, remunerative value. Or is it?

I grew up in Kolkata, India, and came to the United States as a freshman to study physics at Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, Calif. Harvey Mudd is a unique liberal arts college which specializes in science and engineering, while also honing its graduates to be well read in the humanities and social sciences. While taking intensive physics and mathematics classes, I also studied history, economics, linguistics, philosophy and creative writing. I am now pursuing a Ph.D. in theoretical physics at Princeton University.

Based on my experiences, I wanted to advocate for the value and necessity of a broad, liberal education rich in both technical subjects and the humanities.

The pragmatic attitude taken by most Indian students and parents is certainly understandable in a country where millions of students regularly compete for scarce college placements and job opportunities. The entrance requirements at Indian universities have steadily risen, with certain premier colleges in New Delhi posting the mind-boggling admission cutoff of 99 percent last year.

In this high-stress setting, students want to study whatever will land them a job, creating a college experience much more akin to “technical training” rather than intellectual exploration. However, I believe it is precisely today’s environment with a rapidly expanding, educated working class in India that makes an interdisciplinary liberal arts education all the more necessary.

In a global world dominated by so-called knowledge workers, the ability to communicate effectively and work well on a team is imperative. But besides raw technical ability, how do you develop the myriad other skills needed to distinguish yourself and excel in your job? How can you learn to inspire people so they want to work towards the sales goals you’ve set?

As a start, try an oratory class and read speeches given by paradigm-changing leaders. To learn the brevity, precision and charisma needed to write a funding proposal for your dream project, try a creative writing class. To incorporate vastly different perspectives from your team members, try classes in psychology and philosophy. These may help you understand where they might be coming from.

And nothing could be more practical than the humanities.

As the story goes, when three blind men felt an elephant, one concluded it was flat like a wall, another thought it sharp like a spear and the last was sure an elephant was thin like a snake. All were correct in their own way, just incomplete.

The ability to synthesize different perspectives into the big picture is far more powerful than narrow expertise in any single field. The social sciences offer perspectives from vantage points separated by time, place and society. Drawing and painting offer perspectives on what perspective even means. Critical thinking is the logical result of being able to simultaneously synthesize multiple ideas in one’s mind.

Real-world problems rarely ever have textbook solutions. More than anything, the purpose of a college education is to learn how to think critically and what questions to ask. Liberal arts colleges aim to mold their students into well-rounded, well-informed global citizens with a wide skill set — whether it is through elective or voluntary courses that push specialized students to be broader, or general requirements that force every graduate to know at least something about certain subjects.

In the throes of our current economic crisis, all conventional strategies for success are moot. All the more reason for a liberal arts education that creates resilient people who can invent creative solutions and always have new ways by which to try things differently.

As Albert Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited; imagination encircles the world.”


on death: two pointers

Happy new day everyday and all that… 🙂

On to the subject – I have been thinking about this interesting idea of death for a few years now. Oh well. This is to just give the readers of the blog two links and so.


I have not read anything more poignant than this column written by Emily Rapp in NYT, lately.

Please read Notes from a Dragon Mom – and ponder over how fortunate the rest of us are.

Parenting, I’ve come to understand, is about loving my child today. Now. In fact, for any parent, anywhere, that’s all there is.


The second pointer is to that excellent and a very beautifully done up course on death offered for free by the Yale University. You would perhaps require a broadband connection to view the course and enjoy it.


Both links are eminently recommended.

It is true that from the day we are born, the clock starts ticking and that we are designed to move on, from day #1.

Yes, but it is also of course true that we are designed to live our lives to the fullest too. (yes, I just managed to listen to one of  them finest violinists on earth – Yoana Strateva, yesterday live – still baskin’ in the reflected glory! Oh what a magical treat it was! Apparently this Bulgarian lady visited Bangalore in 2008 – and somehow we seem to have missed her.)


daughters of fire, vimochana from dowry

A couple of adults and all the erdkinder from NammaShaale were fortunate enough to participate in the ‘India Court of Women on dowry and related forms of violence against women’ organized by the activist & doer folks from Vimochana in association with other organizations on 28th July, 2009.

Lumps in throat. Feeling of helplessness.  Misery that, while I enjoy my daily morning coffee, at least 5 women in & around my Bangalore are preparing to kill themselves for no reason other than harassment for dowry/money by their husbands, in-laws. Or some in-laws and/or husband are planning the execution.  Guilt of being a participant male in an essentially inequitable patriarchal, patrilineal & patrilocal society.

On the contrary…

Stunning courage shown by marginalized folks against impossible odds. The fact of so many folks from all walks of life rallying against gross injustices. The pleasure of being amidst real activists and not mere armed-chair intellectuals. Incredible stories from the battlefields. Redemption. Hope. We shall overcome. There are other worlds. Yes.

If one cares to use google, one can get a significant amount of information on what went on – but I am going to merely record my experiences rather than give a true reportage.

To begin with,  Mallika Sarabhai the danseuse par excellence, enthralled the audience with her innovative and sensitive  portrayal of  the four kerala sisters who committed suicide as a protest and not as cop-outs as Mallika put it. This 15 min performance of Mallika and the one that preceded it  – about the Ethiopian woman who rebelled against the illtreatment meted out to her by her husband and who finally succeeds in preserving her dignity and self-esteem, using the Sike as a metapbor  (Sike is a Oromo term for the staff that is given by the mother of the bride to the latter, as a symbol affirming her power over her life, should she be troubled in her marital life) – set the tone for the court.

The whole day was full of first person narratives (mostly harrowing, many liberating) but all of them outstandingly couragious, from the many affected individuals from many regions and communities of India.

The whole day was reverberating unrelentingly with one ghastly story after the other, with the dramatis personae being real people. I frequently felt that  I could’t take it anymore – but I was also full of admiration for the testifiers who 1) braved all odds to emerge from their (our?) dark dungeons, continuing to fight & 2) the courage of conviction that made them narrate their very personal stories in front of a numbed audience.

The good folks on the jury & compere leads, included such accomplished individuals as Kamala Bhasin,  Shiv Viswanathan, Mallika (again), Veena Talwar, Nivedita Menon and many others including good ol’ V R Krishna Iyer. They all had something significant or the other to say, apart from being very time conscious. Much appreciated.

One statistically significant thing (with respect to the Indian demographics) was that, I was surprised not to find any story of struggle and redemption from any Christian testifier, but then, I don’t think it is anything significant from the point of view of the Court. The story of women is the same all over the world.

And, I sincerely hope, within our lifetimes, we could see some positive things emerge…

A lot of positive things unite India (Bharath ki Chaap) – but among the negative things that we should be rightly ashamed of are, three prominent things that we citizens can definitely do something about. They are so common and each a major unifying farce for all jaatis, classes, regions, religions, languages, levels of education(!), you see…

  1. Dowry harassment, as a symptom of the status of women and its myriad forms.
  2. Insipid films (dished out in the name of entertainment) and the TV channels that are hell bent on making us all into drooling & insensitive idiots and lazy bozos.
  3. Cricket – that game of laziness personified and glorified that has gotten reduced to a monster tamasha, lately

Surely, we can all do something… about these blasphemies, something?

Now, our erdkinder are all from second generation urban families, with little or no exposure to the realities of life and ruralia;  and so,  it was a great opportunity for them to know first hand about the other worlds and realities. I am sure, their brains are full of question marks, fears, apprehensions and mostly hope. It must have been a great experience for them to be amidst such a large and beautiful gathering of activists and changemakers.

We plan to conduct a seminar / workshop around the ‘learnings from daughters of fire‘ – so that ideas get consolidated and coherence emerges in the impressionable minds of NammaShaale children.

A few words need to be said about the organization of the event. I never realized that the Christ College (now university) had such a nice auditorium – pleasing colours, comfortable seats (no need for arms-rest wars), the effective multichannel sound system. A good infrastructure for hosting quality events. Of course, this was put to an effective use by Vimochana.

I must say that the conducting of the event, the professionalism of compering, handling glitches, the warmth, the friendliness – put many of the cash rich corporate events and roadshows (HP, SUN, IBM, Microsoft etc etc techshows) to shame at many levels – Content, Framework, Visuals, Music, Effect, Audience, Food, the surcharged ambience, the Soul

I am really and truly proud of the fact that some of the good folks behind the event (Vimochana group) – a good many of them, to be precise Madhu, Kalpana and Chalam Bannurakar are all NammaShaale parents.

I salute & thank thee.

(second part / take2 on the event here)

welcome aboard, parents…

Dear fellow-parents:

Thanks for visiting the blog.

Whenever a few parents (like us, for example) of children that go to
NammaShaale  met, we have always discussed about creating a forum for
exchanging of ideas and opinions about ‘education’ in general and
NammaShaale in particular.  And, this is an effort in that direction.

We thought, we would just begin a blog – at – an
opensource site that is clutter and ad free; this effort has been going on for the past 2 months or so and now, I feel the time has come to ‘talk of cabbages and kings’ and spread the news around…

If you peruse the site, you would see that there are many categories –
such as news, request-for-comments, visit report, elementary,
erdkinder etc – as only one person has posted so far, it reflects only one
person’s view of the universe. But am sure, with contributions and
active participation from you folks, it could become the bulletin
board of a vibrant community. Since this blog is regularly read by folks from the ‘management’ of the school as well as staff, I suppose there could be healthy and effective interchange of memes…

We understand that, the parents’ community is generally busy, what
with the pressures of having to ‘earn a living’ etc – but we would like to think
that we always have enough time to share and spare, if anything has to
do something with the wellbeing of our children. Hence I suppose, you
can start participating, what?

As such, the basic rules that of course all of us will obey, would be
the following:

1. The content should have lots of those fundamental particles called
cluons. (Meaning, the content will respect the time and energy of its readers and will seek to be clueful, always.)

2. No ad hominem stuff, Never. (There would not be any personal attacks and venting of spleen)

3. We are free to crib and complain as long as we actually do something to address it. Giving positive suggestions is absolutely fine and welcome, And if that can be accompanied by what one can and will do, to implement the suggestion, that would be more welcome. As Yoda (of Starwars fame) says: TRY? there is NO try. Only DO or no do.

4. If one chooses to post as an ‘anonymous’ person (this itself is not
an issue) and if the post/comment violates the three above, then the
admin would intervene.

Please feel free to post your comments. If you want to contribute or
be an editor , please contact me at ‘ramjee dot swaminathan at gmail dot com’; for the time being I would be the admin of the site and if any of the parents also wants to be the admin, we can share the responsibility or I can transition it in toto. Whatever that works.

If you don’t want to be a contributor (in the formal sense of the
term), but still want to publish something of relevance, please do
contact me. We will try to take things further, as meaningfully as

Some links:

Who are we –
December 2006 archives –
January 2009  archives –

Your comments and suggestions to make the blog an effective medium and
as a vehicle for discussion and issues-resolution  – are most welcome.

Speacial thanks to Rama, Jayashree, Reshma  and Sowmya for their feedback.