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Something beyond the conventional

+1 vote
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Source: DH

Are you looking for something beyond the traditional degrees? Have you been looking up for interesting courses that resonate with your passion, but haven’t had any luck yet? The good news is, there are a number of interesting degree courses that may match your interests, but you are likely to have missed catching them because they are generally overlooked. Here is a look at eight creative yet overlooked courses that have a great career prospect. 

Viticulture & oenology
If you are interested in the oldest forms of biotechnology, you should consider getting a degree in viticulture and oenology. Viticulture is the study of production of grapes, and oenology teaches the science of wine and winemaking. Additionally, it also teaches students to identify, address and solve issues faced by the grape and wine industries.

Options: With this course, you can make a career in wine and related industries, such as vineyard management, winemaking and winery management, food and beverage technology, hospitality and tourism among many others.

Bakery science & management
Are you interested in the scientific aspects of baking? Bakery science and management focuses on the scientific aspects that can impact the bakery sector, including bakery ingredients and flavours to mixes and equipment. This course will train and equip students to stay updated with today’s high-tech businesses involving complex equipment, formulations, organisation and products. 

n Options: If you have a knack for baking and a head for business, you can start your own. As courses like this are designed to train students as a baking technologist, you can seek jobs in restaurants, hotels, clubs, food manufacturers, testing laboratories and bakeries. 

Floral design & management
For those who love flowers and are artistically inclined, here is a chance to take your passion to the next level by taking up the Floral design and management course. This course includes sourcing, purchasing, distributing, marketing, designing with, and selling floricultural products. This course balances business and science where systematic business procedures and design principles are applied in the operation of a retail or wholesale floral business.

Options: This course opens doors to multiple job opportunities such as retail florist and designer, interior plantscape technician, display artist, wedding and bridal design planner and much more. 

Turfgrass management
Have you ever wondered who maintains the professional sports fields and stadiums to stay all green and flat? Due credit goes to the turfgrass professionals! Combining botany, and business management, turfgrass management is an overlooked course with an interesting career option. In the turfgrass management course, students are taught all aspects of plant and soil science, and learn environmentally sound strategies for controlling common turfgrass pests such as weeds, insects and diseases. Likewise, a turfgrass professional is knowledgeable about entomology, plant pathology and weed science. 

Options: This is a perfect career for those who love science and sports at the same time. Turfgrass management professionals can work as golf course superintendents, athletic field managers, sod producers, turfgrass researchers, and even as private consultants.

Public health entomology
For the humanitarians in heart and the lover of science, public health entomology gives a chance to stay true to your passion and create positive impact. This course is focused on insects and arthropods that impact human health and lays great emphasis on insect vectors and vector-borne disease control. It also includes research on the behaviour and ecology of various such species. 

Options: Various career opportunities include roles as epidemiologists, health development managers, public health advisors, health programme specialists, medical practitioners in public health, clinical university teachers etc. 

(The author is co-founder, The Chopras)

References

Natasha Chopra, Jun 29 2017,
posted Jun 29, 2017 by anonymous

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Photo Source: The Wire

By- Pramod K. Nayar

https://thewire.in/education/the-spectre-of-rankings-haunts-the-higher-education-sector-in-india

There is a variety of ranking organisations – QS, THE, NIRF, NAAC, IoE, ARWU, etc. – in almost every conceivable acronym, compiling gigabytes of data to determine where universities stand, sit or crawl, and it is mind-boggling. The ranking parameters and criteria, including undergraduate teaching (especially in the Times Higher Education list), research (volume, citation index, income), teaching, employability, industry income (knowledge transfer) and internationalisation have been endlessly debated. So what roles do the modalities of evaluation and classification play in shaping the way we have started to think about these institutions?

This is not a plea for a variant of jingoistic nationalism in thinking about higher educator, rather an evaluation of what we do, are required to do, as we rush into the headlong halls of globalised ranking. Another question this shift into the rankings mode begs is: how best can we recalibrate ourselves to alleviate the tensions between a quantitative ranking system and the social needs higher education has been designed for until now? Can the former enable the latter?

Utility and the higher-education hierarchy

Ranking introduces a set of notions about the utility of a higher education institution. One can think of this as introducing a tension between the ideal of educational values, as we have understood if not articulated for years, and the market value. The former focuses on critical thinking, analytical abilities, social agendas and the inculcation of citizenship ideals that are unquantifiable and intangible because they manifest in our primary beneficiaries (or victims, depending on how we see higher education) in the long-term. The market value scheme, which is industry-driven, orients the project of neoliberal higher education training towards developing particular skill-sets for the labour market.

Also read: The New Colleges Ranking Framework is a Good Idea – But Will it Help?

This is not to say that there are segments of a population that only want to contemplate the absolute, live on love and fresh air and not want jobs. But the expected skill-sets from a quality higher education programme, as it stands today, does not seek a unidimensional product. This is changing with the neoliberal turn in higher education. The noted scholar Henry Giroux has this to say about the ‘attack’ on public institutions:

What we are witnessing is an attack on universities not because they are failing, but because they are public. This is not just an attack on political liberty but also an attack on dissent, critical education, and any public institution that might exercise a democratising influence on the nation. In this case the autonomy of institutions such as higher education, particularly public institutions are threatened as much by state politics as by corporate interests. How else to explain in neoliberal societies such as the U.S., U.K. and India the massive defunding of public institutions of higher education, the raising of tuition for students, and the closing of areas of study that do not translate immediately into profits for the corporate sector.

Ranking systems ensure that, globally, all universities seek to fit into a single model of the university because all higher education institutions seek to gain in more or less the same set of parameters, irrespective of where they are located and the local cultures/societies they were set up to serve. This eventually leads to an alienation of the university from the immediate requirements of the locality, region and nation, as it strives to compete with very differently located (in terms of geography, demography, educational ecosystems) universities worldwide. If, for instance, a university was set up to provide greater access to higher education for a particular region and begins to shift its emphasis towards internationalisation and research (two key parameters in rankings), then does it serve its immediate populace better through quality classroom teaching? Would it then result in an alienation of our higher education institutions from our ecosystems because we are trying to fit into a global one?

Research and teaching, or research versus teaching

Greater emphasis is laid on publications and a concomitant emphasis, therefore, on research – but far less on teaching. Thus, one of the most widely used ranking systems, the QS World University Rankings, has only one indicator connected to teaching: the faculty-student ratio. To this it assigns 20% weightage. According to QS:

… teaching quality is typically cited by students as the metric of highest importance to them when comparing institutions using a ranking. It is notoriously difficult to measure, but we have determined that measuring teacher/student ratios is the most effective proxy metric for teaching quality.

A study published in March 2018 found the following:

A total of 24 ranking systems were identified and 13 eligible ranking systems were evaluated. Six of the 13 rankings are 100% focused on research performance. For those reporting weighting, 76% of the total ranks are attributed to research indicators, with 24% attributed to academic or teaching quality. Seven systems rely on reputation surveys and/or faculty and alumni awards.

Such weightage provided for research in most ranking mechanisms has resulted in the making of what Pushkar brilliantly described in an article for The Wire as ‘pretend research’. This results in, and in turn is driven by, the massification of publication. As an ironic consequence, India is finally an academic capital… for predatory journals. Seeking to boost rankings, universities emphasise – and perhaps fund (we need exact data on how funding for research has changed since the quite literal ‘ranking business’ began) – research rather than teaching. Weird results have also been reported – such as attempts to inflate citation (20% weightage in QS) through the unethical practice of excess self-citations – in the academic debate on rankings.

Eventually, unless teaching becomes central to evaluative and ranking processes, the basic work of most universities in India – teaching – will collapse if it hasn’t already. Teachers preparing for classes from Wikipedia (the chosen source for several colleagues in English is Spark Notes) is now a common feature, since student feedback on teaching quality is not factored into rankings or even for teacher-evaluation. When ‘publish or perish’ becomes the motto, we could perhaps ask if we publish perishable materials. (My senior colleague therefore asks that we distinguish between a ‘print-out’ and a ‘chapter’ in what faculty members write.)

Competition, standards and standardisation

An enhanced spirit of competition enters the system. Ranking introduces an element of competition between institutions, and parameters such as internationalisation imply that universities will have to compete for these resources. For example, as internationalisation is a key parameter attracting foreign students, it entails the development of programmes that will attract these students, ironically in a context where most higher education institutions have refused to upgrade their syllabi or pedagogies for Indian students. My own institution has sought, at least in principle, to strike a balance between the race for global ranking and our immediate mandate – good quality higher education for India – by thinking in terms of ‘national needs and global standards’. Nothing stops an institution from boosting its quality of teaching and research such that it impacts positively on our students’ futures.

Standards need not come from, or result in, standardisation. To adopt world-class standards within any domain of knowledge does not necessarily entail fitting into a global ranking mechanism. Updating and upgrading teaching materials, pedagogy and testing mechanisms, even research within the funding possibilities offered, can still be world class. Humanities and social sciences, deeply defensive in all evaluative mechanisms, are surely not quantifiable by the same indices (impact factor, H-index, etc.) but that does not ever mean that we cannot publish in the world’s top-ranked journals.

Also read: So You Think You Can Make Sense of University Rankings?

Even Indian faculty members, admittedly few in number, have done so in the past and continue to do so. These are aspirants to global standards but either do not homogenise or standardise their work. Seeking exclusion from rankings and global standards is to simply seek a state of (postcolonial) exception – although no one would refuse global funding for conference travel, fellowships or collaboration opportunities. For the latter, one doesn’t hear excuses that ‘we are different and need to be evaluated differently’, do we?  What we have to do is to ask if standards equal standardisation, given the mandate of different universities across the country, but at no point is it wise to abandon any and all discussion of standards.

With ranking tied to ‘graded autonomy’ that the Indian state is now proposing for select institutions, new parameters come into play. The relative freedom the latter provides, at least in theory, can (or must?) be suitably leveraged to generate resources that will then subsidise a higher education institution’s social agenda and programs. Cross-subsidy is an established mode of operations. For example, global publishers make enough money from their dictionaries and school textbooks to fund their higher education publishing, which has far lower sales.

The way we can see these two – ranking and autonomy – is that we raise standards to global levels to attract high-paying international students, which in turn funds the ‘regular’ programmes of an institution – programmes that are running aground for lack of state-provided funds (and this is one example). A two-tier system, therefore, seems inevitable in the current context.

The prestige economy

Greater emphasis is laid on publications and a concomitant emphasis, therefore, on research – but far less on teaching. Thus, one of the most widely used ranking systems, the QS World University Rankings, has only one indicator connected to teaching: the faculty-student ratio. To this it assigns 20% weightage. According to QS:

… teaching quality is typically cited by students as the metric of highest importance to them when comparing institutions using a ranking. It is notoriously difficult to measure, but we have determined that measuring teacher/student ratios is the most effective proxy metric for teaching quality.

A study published in March 2018 found the following:

A total of 24 ranking systems were identified and 13 eligible ranking systems were evaluated. Six of the 13 rankings are 100% focused on research performance. For those reporting weighting, 76% of the total ranks are attributed to research indicators, with 24% attributed to academic or teaching quality. Seven systems rely on reputation surveys and/or faculty and alumni awards.

Such weightage provided for research in most ranking mechanisms has resulted in the making of what Pushkar brilliantly described in an article for The Wire as ‘pretend research’. This results in, and in turn is driven by, the massification of publication. As an ironic consequence, India is finally an academic capital… for predatory journals. Seeking to boost rankings, universities emphasise – and perhaps fund (we need exact data on how funding for research has changed since the quite literal ‘ranking business’ began) – research rather than teaching. Weird results have also been reported – such as attempts to inflate citation (20% weightage in QS) through the unethical practice of excess self-citations – in the academic debate on rankings.

Eventually, unless teaching becomes central to evaluative and ranking processes, the basic work of most universities in India – teaching – will collapse if it hasn’t already. Teachers preparing for classes from Wikipedia (the chosen source for several colleagues in English is Spark Notes) is now a common feature, since student feedback on teaching quality is not factored into rankings or even for teacher-evaluation. When ‘publish or perish’ becomes the motto, we could perhaps ask if we publish perishable materials. (My senior colleague therefore asks that we distinguish between a ‘print-out’ and a ‘chapter’ in what faculty members write.)

Competition, standards and standardisation

An enhanced spirit of competition enters the system. Ranking introduces an element of competition between institutions, and parameters such as internationalisation imply that universities will have to compete for these resources. For example, as internationalisation is a key parameter attracting foreign students, it entails the development of programmes that will attract these students, ironically in a context where most higher education institutions have refused to upgrade their syllabi or pedagogies for Indian students. My own institution has sought, at least in principle, to strike a balance between the race for global ranking and our immediate mandate – good quality higher education for India – by thinking in terms of ‘national needs and global standards’. Nothing stops an institution from boosting its quality of teaching and research such that it impacts positively on our students’ futures.

Standards need not come from, or result in, standardisation. To adopt world-class standards within any domain of knowledge does not necessarily entail fitting into a global ranking mechanism. Updating and upgrading teaching materials, pedagogy and testing mechanisms, even research within the funding possibilities offered, can still be world class. Humanities and social sciences, deeply defensive in all evaluative mechanisms, are surely not quantifiable by the same indices (impact factor, H-index, etc.) but that does not ever mean that we cannot publish in the world’s top-ranked journals.

Also read: So You Think You Can Make Sense of University Rankings?

Even Indian faculty members, admittedly few in number, have done so in the past and continue to do so. These are aspirants to global standards but either do not homogenise or standardise their work. Seeking exclusion from rankings and global standards is to simply seek a state of (postcolonial) exception – although no one would refuse global funding for conference travel, fellowships or collaboration opportunities. For the latter, one doesn’t hear excuses that ‘we are different and need to be evaluated differently’, do we?  What we have to do is to ask if standards equal standardisation, given the mandate of different universities across the country, but at no point is it wise to abandon any and all discussion of standards.

With ranking tied to ‘graded autonomy’ that the Indian state is now proposing for select institutions, new parameters come into play. The relative freedom the latter provides, at least in theory, can (or must?) be suitably leveraged to generate resources that will then subsidise a higher education institution’s social agenda and programs. Cross-subsidy is an established mode of operations. For example, global publishers make enough money from their dictionaries and school textbooks to fund their higher education publishing, which has far lower sales.

The way we can see these two – ranking and autonomy – is that we raise standards to global levels to attract high-paying international students, which in turn funds the ‘regular’ programmes of an institution – programmes that are running aground for lack of state-provided funds (and this is one example). A two-tier system, therefore, seems inevitable in the current context.

The prestige economy

It is the prestige economy that alters the demographics of incoming students, faculty and funding. To be associated with a high-ranked institution translates in most cases to improved employer perception for students, more visibility for faculty work, collaboration, funding, travel, among others. Ranking then cannot be dismissed as a mere number. Over time, it can bring in benefits for stakeholders as well. Elsewhere, Ellen Hazelkorn lists these benefits:

For students, they indicate the potential monetary or private benefits that university attainment might provide vis-à-vis future occupation and salary premium; for employers, they signal what can be expected from the graduates of a particular HEI; for government and policymakers they can suggest the level of quality and international standards, and their impact on national economic capacity and capability; and for HEIs they provide a means to benchmark their own performance. For the public, rankings provide valuable information about the performance and productivity of HEIs in a simple and easily understood way.

Both rankings and the newly proposed autonomy systems reorient higher education into accountability regimes that are ruthless, unrelenting and multilayered, a study published by the Centre for Global Higher Education at the UCL Institute of Education, London, in 2017 made clear. As the world clamours for greater transparency, accountability and return-on-investments, the public institution, for long never held to account – although its faculty has always asked everybody else for accountability – faces a frightening situation of having to fit into this new economic and accountability regime.

Unfortunately, this shift comes when funding has decreased. A public university is, in the last instance, accountable to its public – but that it is the state that creates these mechanisms of accountability generates the anxiety in these places. At the same time, who else would do it? Accountability regimes, like the prestige economy, are here to stay – as are rankings.

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               A school in Chikkaballapura district in dilapidated condition. - B H Shivakumar

Photo Source: Deccan Herald

By: Reshma Ravishanker, DH News Service

https://www.deccanherald.com/are-we-addressing-right-689373.html

At a time when shutting down schools seems to be an option that the government is contemplating to tackle the issue of decline in enrolment into government schools, education experts believe that finding alternative solutions is the need of the hour.

From having the educated in the locality assist the existing teachers to provide better incentives, several ground-level challenges need to be addressed. Experts believe it is in the same ground where the problem is breeding that the solution could bepicked up from. Involving community efficiently and empowering local youth to teach in government schools could be tentative solutions to addressing the problem of single teachers in schools, believe experts. Nagasimha G Rao, a child rights activist from Bengaluru who has been battling the cause of Right to Education (RTE), sees this from the perspective of a teacher. “When appointments are made, not all posts in rural areas are filled. This could be one of the primary reasons for posts to remain vacant,” he says.  He attributes the vacancies to a few persistent issues. “Some teachers when the postings are made realise that they can’t travel to remote areas. Some of them do not report to work at all due to this. In such places, guest teachers are appointed and the school is run,” he adds. 

In other places, the number of enrolments into schools itself is low. In such places, the government finds no need to appoint additional teachers, he says.

“As per the Right to Education norms, the pupil-teacher ratio (PTR) ought to be 30:1. When there are 20 students in a school, one teacher would suffice if one were to go by this norm,” he says adding that this, however, would only do injustice to children. “Even as the PTR is met in most schools the difference arises as a single teacher is expected to teach students from multiple classes simultaneously. She is not only teaching different age groups of students but also different subjects, which as per the RTE act ought to be taught by subject teachers. Locals who are well-read and youth from the same village can be empowered to teach. The School Development and Monitoring Committee (SDMC) has to identify them. If they are given good incentives and certificates, they will be motivated to come and teach these children.” 

                                                             Read more

0 votes

     

The Dolphio talking pen that makes learning, especially speaking and listening, altogether interesting besides infusing morals and life skills.

 

Its the joint initiative of the UNICEF and the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) that aimed at providing a new learning curve to those students hailing from the rural backdrop. To start with, the government has selected a Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya and a Zilla Parishad high school from each district in the State and provided them with a Dolphio talking pen, 100 each English and Telugu books that worth around Rs 1 lakh.

+2 votes

Source: BM

For parenting, this is a magical microcosm, real-world simulator for our children to navigate

It’s been a hectic week and weekend. Faraway relatives have descended on namma ooru to celebrate. Mid-week dinners, late-night airport trips, and chatting assemblies, have thrown life as we knew it, into happy chaos. The scheduling that we’d honed as parents (decimated by the summer holidays) was just recovering. Now, carefully-crafted bedtimes and routine fly out the door, as grandma celebrates a birthday. It’s not just any birthday, it’s the 80th.

And she’s not alone; there’s an identical twin who is twice as crazy as her. It’s the event of a lifetime, one worth commemorating; and in true Indian style – over many days and meals. Goodbye, quiet time. The pluses are many. And I’ll start with the one that makes parenting lighter 1. I don’t need to worry about our meals at all – and what parent doesn’t love that! It’s all good. Day 1 is a full-on excitement-overload. 2. There’s so much ‘lurrve’. And compliments.

The children have obviously grown and everyone is staring at them in amazement. “How tall! How and when did this happen?!” I often borrow the line , “We water their feet every morning!” The children are enjoying the attention/smiles/bad jokes/stories/ laughter. And guess what? They’re learning from the village. The stories will, no doubt, remain. Well, the scandalous ones will. Especially, when they’re grandmas’! As I watch the shenanigans, I can’t help but notice 3. the psychological value of socialising. Everyone is loosening up. There’s the old aunt sitting with one of the children, giving her advice on what not to take seriously, and how to ignore a baby brother who’s bugging you. The older-but-still-young relatives giving career-advice to someone or the other, and the giggling cousins (notice how no one is on their phone?!), well, just giggling. There’s the oddball relative who’s missing a filter between his thought and words.

He’ll say something inappropriate for sure. And that’s okay too. Our kids are getting exposure to the real world, in an atmosphere that largely positive, and within their parent’s earshot.As the kids practise a special song for the twin grandmas, I see them ‘collaborate’. The “leaders” steamroll their way, the peacemakers hone their skill. It’s such a pond of learning, and one that’s rich in human relationship and interaction. Such bliss. Well, at least until the tiredness sets in. My rose-tinted reverie was interrupted by Ms. Teen, the super girl who’s tackling school, projects, early-rising, co-curricular, tuition and partying. She burst through the door with a whiny voice that I haven’t heard in a long while. “I have no time for myself and the family has moved ahead without me, and I have tuition while you all have fun. And I haven’t completed my Geography project, and someone stepped on my white shoes and ruined them, and I didn’t get any presents, and....”she said crying. As always, the cure is, to put her to bed.

This morning, I woke up to a strange jolting sound and heard myself shout out to Mr. Dad, What’s that?”He replied calmly (as he was right beside me), “The alarm.” Then, school frenzy began. Two out of three children could not wake up, and when I decided to give in and get back under covers, she decided to do school. Back to the frenzy – this time, with lost time.

Argh. Even the even-tempered Mr. Dad is kinda grumpy this morning. He blames overeating; we’ll blame exhaustion. And honestly, these are small prices to pay for the fun that was – creepy uncle included.

+1 vote

Source: TOI

With Harry Potter, Tintin and Sherlock Holmes being included in the school curriculum, students from junior and middle school, have a reason to rejoice. The Indian School Certificate Examination (ICSE) had announced that these books will be included in the syllabus for the 2017-2018 academic session. We asked some students to speak about their favourite books that could enter school syllabuses, like Harry Potter did. Here's what they have to say...
Swathi Seshadri (2nd PUC student, Christ PU College)
" Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, has definitely been one of the most amazing books I've ever read. It has inspired me to follow my dreams irrespective of all the hardships. Ranging from deadlines, life changes and dreams, it covers everything a teenager would want to know about life after school. Fangirl is a book which proves that simplicity is the utmost sophistication."
Hemangini Singh Rathore (10th grade student, Presidency School)
"Much like how Harry Potter stands for values of love and determination, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, is packed with important ideals that would fit right into the principles that schools try to instil in their students. From unending grit for survival, to sacrifices, and proving that tyranny is always overpowered in the end, this book is a goldmine of good ideals. Plus, it's always a better read than Shakespearean 'classics'!"
Aditi Maria Das (1st PU student, Mount Carmel College)
"I feel A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini will make for a good read. When you read this book, you tend to have a new perspective about the world and the way you think. Shakespeare's writings are kind of forced on us, whereas these books every student will enjoy reading."
Brinda Sridhar(2nd PU student)
" The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. Contrasting to the horrors of the World War II against a deep love for language and reading, it presents a personal and moving account of wartime reality. Students should be exposed to literature like this, because the entertainment aspect of the novel is balanced by important historical details that everybody ought to know."
Pradhyumna S (1st PU student)
" The Motorcycle Diaries by Che Guevara. Not only does this memoir appeal to the sensibilities of students that are interested in travel, but it is also a very inspirational piece that pushes readers to step out of their comfort zones and widen their horizons. The story outlines how Che's life turned out, and sends out strong messages about core values."
Rishvanjas Raghavan (2nd PUC student, VVS Sardar Patel PU College)
"I would love to see Sudha Murthy's How I Taught My Grandmother to Read: and Other Stories in school syllabuses. This book is true Indian-ness at its heart. While the short stories are very elegant and well-written, they promote all values a student is expected to learn at school, such as respecting elders, valuing time, or even saving money, in an irresistibly interesting manner. The book can be used as a whole, or in parts over middle and high school."


By Sanjana Sindhe

 

 
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