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Project Beyond – Unique competition for schools in Shimla to encourage student-led social initiatives

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SHIMLA- What are the critical issues that urban youth of Himachal Pradesh is facing in today’s modernized world: delinquent behaviour, substance abuse, academic stress, and depression due to growing competition that often leads to suicidal attempts or suicides. The fact that substance abuse among Himachal’s youngsters has reached an alarming level isn’t a secret. The age of exploration for such subjects has dropped for school students. Himachal’s urban environment isn’t difference and children are taking a hit due it. Another loss that children face today is of sensitivity to moral and ethical values. The virtues of compassion and empathy hardly find any place in the academic race.

Keeping in mind all these issues, स्वAWAAZ, a Delhi based organisation, has initiated a unique competition for schools in and around Shimla. The initiative called Project Beyond is taken in association with Rotary Club Shimla Midtown. This is an inter-school competition to encourage social responsibility and community engagement in students. The participating school teams will include students of sixth to tenth standard. The teams will be required to plan and implement a social project on the competition theme ‘Kindness Matters’.

About 200 schools including both private and government schools in Shimla and Solan districts have been invited to participate in Project Beyond. The last date of registration is May 12, 2017. Schools have been provided with detailed guidelines and rules of the competition. Schools have about 45-50 days starting from May 1 till June 20 to plan and implement a social initiative on ‘Kindness Matters’, the theme of the competition.

A submission form along with supporting evidence in the form of either a write-up with photographs, a powerpoint presentation or a short video has to be submitted by schools till June 20. The best social initiatives will be awarded, the award ceremony for which will be held in July, 2017.

The organization and Rotary team are offering continuous support during the entire duration of the competition. Schools will soon have an online portal through which the teams will be able to regularly communicate and interact with the participating schools.

स्वAWAAZ believes that the focus in schools should shift from mere academics and marks-oriented learning to holistic development of students that will help in curbing these pressing issues.

As per the founders of the organization, the Project Beyond was evolved with the aim to enable a culture in schools and community that creates more thinkers, innovators, entrepreneurs, change-makers who are responsible and perceptible individuals. The goal of Project Beyond is to create a thoughtful society by fulfilling key objectives like cultivating an environment of kindness, gratitude, empathy and respect, spreading social awareness through student-led social initiatives and enabling schools, teachers and students to be agents of change.

Recently, स्वAWAAZin association with Rotary Club Shimla Midtown, organised a seminar for school principals and teachers on ‘Impact of Innovative and Reflective Practices in Schools’. This was held on April 5, 2017 at Rotary Town Hall, The Mall, Shimla. Sh. Ghanshyam Chand (H.A.S.), State Project Director, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan, Himachal Pradesh, was the Chief Guest. Over 45 delegates comprising school principals and senior teachers from several schools in and around Shimla attended the seminar.

The main purpose of the seminar was to orient schools about the need and impact of adopting innovative and reflective practices for holistic development of students. ‘Project Beyond’ was also introduced at the seminar.

Project-Beyond---seminar-pics

स्वAWAAZ, founded by experienced professionals, who works with varied types of schools across India. Their work involves school enrichment programs, teacher training and development, student workshops, child safety in schools, youth and community engagement programs.

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Weed (Parthenium) Eradication Campaign Organized at UHF Nauni

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UHF Nauni Parthenium Eradication Drive

Solan-A parthenium eradication campaign was organized at the Dr YS Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry (UHF), Nauni on Friday. The Department of Environmental Science and the Estate Office of the University organized the event under the Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan. All the university students, faculty and staff took part in the drive.

Parthenium weed is considered to be a cause of allergic respiratory problems, contact dermatitis, mutagenicity in human and livestock. Owing to this weed’s aggressive growth, it leads to the reduction in crop production and threatens biodiversity.

UHF Nauni Parthenium Eradication Drive 2

To undertake the drive, the staff and students were divided into nine teams with each group assigned the task of removing parthenium from different areas of the university. The drive was carried out under the watchful eyes of group facilitators and field guides. The proper disposal of the uprooted weeds was ensured by the disposal team.

UHF Nauni Parthenium Eradication Drive 3

Addressing the gathering of staff and students, Dr Parvinder Kaushal, UHF Vice-Chancellor said it was important to organize such events along with tree plantation drives because they were important to conserve the biodiversity.

UHF Nauni Parthenium Eradication Drive 4

He asked the university staff and students to focus on the removal of the weed throughout the year. Dr Kaushal urged the university scientists to conduct further studies for the complete eradication of this weed.

Dr JN Sharma, Director Research of the university also spoke about the impact of parthenium on biodiversity and agricultural production. Earlier Dr SK Bhardwaj, Professor and Head, Department of Environmental Science gave an overview of the programme and the need for the eradication of the parthenium weed.

 

 

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HP Govt Schools Lag Behind in Imparting IT Education, Put Future of Children at Stake

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IT Education in HP government schools

Shimla-The Himachal Pradesh Government schools are lagging behind in imparting IT Education to children in the 21st Century in which this knowledge has become a basic requirement. The Centre government boasts of Digital India initiative and the state government never misses an opportunity to mention that Vidhan Sabha has gone fully digital. At the same time, government schools are awaiting critical reforms to keep up with the modern world.

As per information provided by MLA, Sarkaghat Constituency, Colonel Inder Singh, in Vidhan Sabha, in state’s government schools, IT is taught as an optional subject only from class IX to Class XII, that too only in Senior Secondary Schools. The subject is not available in middle and high schools. The students who opt for IT as a subject are charged Rs. 110. Students falling under SC and BPL category are given exemption of 50 per cent, he informed.

In Centre schools, on the other hand, IT is taught as a compulsory subject from Class III to Class X and as an optional subject from Class XI to Class XII, Inder Singh said in the Vidhan Sabha. The fee in Centre schools in Rs. 100 per student.

He said, in Navodaya Vidayalas, IT is taught as a compulsory subject from class VI to class X and as an elective subject from class XI to XII.

The private schools running in the state do not follow any set pattern in terms of the class from which the students are introduced to IT and fee charged for it, he added. However, there is no doubt that every student enrolled in private schools do receive IT education irrespective of the level at which the subject is introduced.

As far as the neighbouring states are concerned, Inder Singh said, in the state of Haryana, IT education is taught as a compulsory subject from class VI to Class VIII and as an optional subject from Class IX to Class XII. No fee is charged from students upto class VIII. Thereafter, Rs 30 is charged during Class IX and X and Rs 35 during Class XI and XII, he informed.

In Chandigarh, IT education is a compulsory subject from Class VI to VIII and no fee is charged from the students for it.

The MLA pointed out that our education system has serious loopholes when it comes to imparting IT education to children in a government schools. The students are introduced to this subject in class IX, which is very late considering the need of the time. Also, this subject is not compulsory. Moreover, as the fee charged for opting IT as a subject is higher, students who find it unaffordable to pay this fee remain deprived of this necessary knowledge.

The future of such students who could not afford to study IT could be imagined in the current scenario. They would find it quite difficult to adjust in professional courses at the graduate or postgraduate level. Later, in terms of career opportunities, they would lag behind, the MLA said.

Inder Singh requested the government to consider making IT Education a compulsory subject from Class VI to Class VIII and provide at least two to three computers at middle and high schools along with computer teachers.

Further, he informed that the National Institute of Electronics and Information Technology is facilitating IT Education in 1,131 schools of the state, and 1,367 teachers have been recruited for this purpose. In remaining Senior Secondary schools, PGT (IT) teachers have been recruited by the Education Department.

The leader of the opposition, Mukesh Agnihotri, also supported this argument and questioned the government over non-delivery of laptops promised to school students.

In response to this request, the Education Minister Suresh Bhardwaj said that the total number of government schools in the state is over 18,000. Considering a lack of sufficient resources, it is not feasible to provide computer labs in all schools, he said.

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UHF Nauni Scholar Attends One-Month ‘Food Safety and Security’ Programme in Israel

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UHF Nauni Scholar Nitesh Sharma

Solan-Nitesh Sharma, a doctoral scholar of Department of Entomology, Dr YS Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry (UHF), Nauni, successfully completed the ‘Summer Institute for Food Safety and Security 2019 in Israel. The one-month programme was organized by Manna Centre for Food Safety and Security, Tel Aviv University.

Nitesh had received the Planning and Budgeting Committee fellowship worth over 3,575 US dollars to attend the programme in which 72 students from 11 countries namely India, US, China, Israel, Italy, Vietnam, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Nigeria and Liberia participated. He was among the 14 students from India who got a chance to attend the programme.

The programme provided an insight into the past and present agricultural conditions of Israel and how the country is readying itself to cope up with the challenges of rising population, global warming and water crisis.

UHF Nauni Doctarate Scholar Nitesh Sharma

The participants were exposed to various aspects of the production of agricultural commodities especially under the protected cultivation and growing crops in desert and saline conditions using modern approaches.

The desert conditions are not preventing the farmers from growing quality agricultural commodities in good quantity as they are using water efficiently along with adopting other precision agriculture techniques. 

The pest problems encountered like whiteflies, thrips and aphids, in various crops grown under the protected cultivation are also being managed by using precision agriculture. The participants were also apprised about the use of Good Agricultural Practices to make the food safer for the end-users. Visits to small startup companies to observe their working were also organized.

Nitesh is presently doing his PhD on the management of fruit flies under Dr Divender Gupta, Professor and Head, Department of Entomology. Fruit flies are a direct pest of several fruit and vegetables and has attained a status of ‘pest of international importance’.

Nitesh is using eco-friendly techniques to check the fruit fly population. He is hopeful that he can implement that the knowledge gained during the programme for the benefit of Indian farmers. 

Dr Parvinder Kaushal, Vice-Chancellor, Dr Rakesh Gupta, Dean Horticulture and Dr Divender Gupta congratulated Nitesh for attending the summer institute and representing the University in Israel.  

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