Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Building a blueprint


Smaller sub-centres, cluster colleges, courses on oceanography and a training academy for examiners — the University of Mumbai’s perspective plan proposes several changes. Experts say efficient implementation and administration will be key to driving chan

Instead of just the Fort and Kalina campus, if other University centres are granted more powers and administered well, each can tackle issues faced by the students in that region. SUDHAKAR TAMBOLI, former senate member of MU
Ashish Chawla, 20, a third-year student of information technology at Thadomal Shahani Engineering College in Bandra, still remembers how he had to visit the University of Mumbai’s (MU) Kalina campus multiple times to ask for his revaluation results, after he failed in his math paper in June. “Technically, it should have come out in August last year, so that if I still didn’t qualify I would have enough time to prepare for the December exams,” says Chawla.
While everybody else got their results in the first week of September, Chawla was still waiting to know what happened with his paper. “I had to run to the university several times to figure that there were still some formalities left and that my results would appear in the next list,” recalls Chawla. He finally received his results on September 25.
Aside from issues with examination, a student at MU has limited course options, outdated syllabi and few opportunities for independent research. This may change if the university’s perspective plan for 2016-17 is implemented.
In the upcoming academic year, the university plans to introduce reforms that not only make the administration of affiliated colleges smoother, but also offer more interdisciplinary and relevant course options to students. Additionally, the university has plans to begin a law college exclusively for women and 66 new colleges in the state, focus on enhancing Marathi language, categorising affiliate colleges into weak, reasonable and excellent It is clear that a lot of thought has gone into the preparation of such an exhaustive plan. Even if it yields 50% of what it aims to, it will be beneficial to the higher education scene in the state. MANJU NICHANI, principal of KC College, Churchgate colleges based on NAAC ratings and an academic audit.
MU’s two-part perspective plan (PP) is a document that lays out the vision for the functioning of the body for the next five years. According to university officials, Part 1 of the plan deals with the body’s long-term plans and points under Part 2 will be implemented from the next academic session, which is 2016-17. Under the long term plans, MU will be divided into various sub centres, which will be called UoM1, UoM2, and so on, for better administration; and form clusters of colleges, where the lead college will be an autonomous entity with powers to restructure the undergraduate programmes, states the PP document.
“The university already has close to 750 colleges and we are definitely overburdened with administration work. If the state government approves, we will look to strengthen the existing sub centres and start more in areas that require one,” says Anil Patil, director of the newly-appointed Board of College and University Development (BCUD), a body responsible for the formulation of the draft plan.
According to registrar MA Khan, the vice-chancellor was assisted by 21 academics in framing the guidelines for the document and also follows recommendations from the Narendra Jadhav committee on reforming higher education in the state. “The plan is open to suggestions from academics and will be considered till next year. The last date for submission of proposals for starting new colleges or courses is December 31. Hereafter, with proper verification and validation, the plan will be implemented with immediate effect,” says Khan.
While some of these points already existed in the previous perspective plans, academicians believe that it needs proper implementation to yield desired results. “It is clear that a lot of thought has gone into the preparation of such an exhaustive plan. Even if it yields 50% of what it aims to, it will be beneficial to the higher education scene in the state,” says Manju Nichani, principal of KC College in Churchgate.
A look at some of the new proposals under the plan.
Under PP 2016-17, there are 66 new proposed colleges, with 47 set to offer graduate courses, 17 to offer professional courses and two to offer postgraduate courses. Among the 13 proposals in Mumbai, four are law colleges including a women’s exclusive college, two night colleges, three arts, science and commerce colleges (of which two are for women), and one each for BEd and fine arts. Besides, one architecture college and one college offering post-graduate programme, is also proposed.
“We cannot overlook the increasing number of students in the state and thus, it becomes imperative to offer them more and specialised options,” says Nichani. “Moreover, there are good managements who are keen to offer good quality education and they should get an opportunity to set up quality institutes in the state.”
However, experts seem divided over the university’s plan to add more colleges. “The university should f i rst l ook to develop its existing subc entres and colleges,” says Sanjay Vairal, former senate member of MU. “There is budget allocated for it, but e ve - rything goes unused due to lack of visionary members in the committee.” He further says that the university is supposed to conduct an area survey before deciding to start a new college. “It is imperative to find out student strength, demand for a course, industrial growth, among other factors in an area to gauge the necessity of a college there. In the absence of this, these colleges will only add to the messy administration.”
For administrative convenience, it has been proposed under the plan that the university be broken down into several smaller ones and will be called UoM1, UoM2, and so on. This is mentioned in Part 1 of the document, which, says Patil of BCUD, is a visionary plan and will be done in due course if the state government approves of it. While this is a practical approach meant to ease the process, some feel that this will need a rigid plan for proper implementation.
“There will have to be proper synchronisation between all the university sub centres, otherwise it could well just become a power game between various campuses,” says Ashok Wadia, principal of Jai Hind College in Churchgate. “They can start any number of sub centres but then they will require satellites to monitor them.”
“Currently, students from far off places like Thane and Ratnagiri also need to come all the way to the Fort or Kalina campus to solve their issues,” says Sudhakar Tamboli, former senate member .“If the sub centres are g ranted more powers and administered well, each centre can take care of students in that region.”
To further simplify administration, there are also plans to club colleges under clusters where the lead college will have powers to restructure undergraduate programmes. “I don’t think it’s a good idea. Why would any college want to be governed by any other college and not a university?” says Wadia.
Nichani of KC College too feels that this is not a viable option. “Every college has its own vision and that might not correspond with the lead college’s vision. I don’t see it as a practical solution to anything.”
While the plan talks about strengthening research, there aren’t any specifications as to how it will be done. “The research scene in the university is extremely poor,” says Vairal. “The university doesn’t even maintain a list of guides in the department. Some of them in their list are either retired or are not even alive.” He further says that unlike any other university, there is no open defence viva for PhD students and thus they easily acquire the degree without any quality research.
“There is no value of a lab research unless it is done in collaboration with the industry and can be implemented in real life,” says Nichani.
Apart from the above mentioned proposals, the PP also proposes for development of a training academy for all administrative staff, including those working in the examination department, increase digital footprint of the university, encourage skill development through community colleges, establish centres for training in entrepreneurship and start-ups and industrial parks for incubation of these startups, introduce interdisciplinary courses, among others.
“Community colleges is a good concept and can be helpful to students in the rural areas as well,” says Tamboli. ‘However, the university needs to propagate it well among students and look to market it in a better way.”
For immediate implementation from the next academic session, the plan proposes to start various degree, diploma and certificate courses in cultivation of bamboo and canned industry, oceanography, marine biology and sports management.

For colleges wanting to offer postgraduate degree, they will need to have at least two successful batches of undergraduate courses.
Source: Hindustan Times dated 23 December, 2015

  • Hindustan Times (Mumbai) - Wed, 23 Dec 2015

TCS develops mobile, digital inventory platform for Mumbai Mobile Creches

Mumbai: Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), (BSE: 532540, NSE: TCS), a leading global IT services, consulting and business solutions organisation, today announced the launch of comprehensive inventory management system to assist Mumbai Mobile Crèches (MMC). Mumbai Mobile Crecheshas been one of the few NGOs working specifically to support the health, education and safety of children of construction laborers, since 1972. 

Developed by TCS pro bono as part of corporate social responsibility programme, MMC’s comprehensive inventory management system,

Reduces manual paper work at the sites
Provides the ability to aggregate data across all centres managed by MMC
Helps in easy monitoring of centre activities and advance planning
The system also generates real time accurate reports with statistics, assists in recording inventory of purchased and donated assets across all centres.

Migrant workers at construction sites are on daily wages and work under harsh conditions. Both the parents need to work to support themselves and their family, leaves the children to fend for themselves or entrust them to older children in an unsafe environment where heavy equipment and material used at the construction sites. 

Without these crèches children could go astray or led to anti-social elements in the vicinity. These crèches not only provide shelter to the children but also education. The child’s health is also taken care of through the nutrition programme and they are provided with food and medicines. 

The new digital MMC inventory system uses open source technology and is deployed on the MMC server. This system also complements the donor management system which was previously conceptualised, designed by TCS for MMC to manage donors and donations systematically. The web based solution can be accessed by any MMC staff though their network on their computers has several modules involving:

Management of centres: Registration, activation, deactivation, grant
Management of items: Education, nutrition, general care, medicines                        
Employee management: Register, associate to centres, and                                               
Report generation: Centre specific, across center, overview, and detailed
Dr Joy Deshmukh, global head, corporate social responsibility, TCS, said, “It is an important part of TCS’ values to support crucial community programmes. We are happy to leverage our technological capabilities to address issues faced by NGOs like Mumbai Mobile Crèches. We are confident that these comprehensive solutions will enable and enhance their efficiency to serve the community better.” 

“TCS has supported Mumbai Mobile Creches’ (MMC) IT systems through the past years. The latest inventory management system developed by TCS has enabled digitisation of MMC’s inventory management. We are so appreciative of the wonderful support received from TCS through the process of development of the system, and we thank them for the incredible support,” said Vrishali Pispati, CEO of Mumbai Mobile Crèches.

English in the Classroom - Competition for Teachers

Grand Prize WinnerPuja Singh - Teacher (Language & Literature), Victorious Kidss Educares, Pune (Entry - Sub-skills)
Category PrizesYoung LearnersMiddle SchoolTertiary / Higher Education
I PrizeGurdeep Kaur Aujla- Primary Teacher, Bombay Cambridge School, Andheri (East), Mumbai  (Entry - Language)D. Sreedevi - English Teacher, Sri Jayendra Swamigal Silver Jubilee Matriculation Higher Secondary School, Tirunelveli (Entry - Language)Catherine Anna Pushpam A - Assistant Professor, B S Abdur Rahman University, Chennai (Entry - Exam)
II PrizeViral Vimal Shah - English Teacher, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan's Public School.(Vidyashram)Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad (Entry - Language)Priyanka Payaal - English Assistant Teacher, Mount Carmel School, Dwarka, New Delhi (Entry - Sub-skills)Shashi Prabha Nagendra - Assistant Professor, BNM Institute of Technology, Bangalore (Entry - Language)
III PrizeSunali Mehrotra - English Teacher, Chiranjiv Bharati School, Palam Vihar, Gurgaon (Entry - Language)Surabhi S.Vasavada - Fulltime faculty, Sheth C.N. Angreji Kendra, Ahmedabad (Entry - Language)Ananthan Balakrishnan - Associate Professor, Hindustan University, Chennai (Entry - Exam)
Participant with maximum likesArva Mustafa Masvi - Fulltime faculty, Sheth C.N. Angreji Kendra, Ahmedabad
Most Collaborative participantP. Rathna - Associate Professor, B S Abdur Rahman University, Chennai

Cambridge English India in association with Flinnt has launched an online / mobile app – the Cambridge English India Network that provides a platform for educators to connect with one another, view and share resources, and to function essentially as a networking platform.The platform offers a managed network to enable seamless flow of information and becomes a repository of all the past communication and learning resources that can be retrieved and reused with convenience. It is a device agnostic platform and can be accessed through the website as well as through the android and iOS app.
This easily downloadable application, designed exclusively for English language trainers, enables them to contribute and access material such as classroom activities and to access information and resources on Cambridge English Tests at various levels such as YLE, KET, PET, FCE and BEC.
Once logged in, members will be able to access 5 groups, the details of which are provided below – the first 3 groups will be updated by our administrators, where the users can only view the content, but will not be able to post. The last two are open forums, the ‘Pathway’ groups, where the users will be able to post their content and resources. These posts will be moderated by admin.
1. Whatsup @ Cambridge - This group is to communicate the training events, availability of new resources, updates in any qualifications, meetings, seminars etc.
2. Cambridge Resources - This is a channel for Cambridge to connect with the teachers directly, sharing validated sample materials, seminars and new resources. Our Materials Writers/ Coordinators can additionally help with new materials. This will ensure that the resources are made available to the teachers in their smart phones and they can access it when they require. Teachers will come to know about the various resources and how they are to be used through this channel.
3. Cambridge Extras - This will have posts related to third party resources mapped to the different Cambridge English Qualifications for e.g. Books related to KET, Test paper sets related to FCE, online preparatory resources etc. If educators or institutions are looking for buying any of these resources then a repository of resources will be available tagged to the different qualifications.
4. Cambridge English Schools pathway - A channel for peer-to-peer connection where a YLE, KET, PET or FCE teacher in a school can share new lesson plans with their peers and comment on the same from others.
5. Cambridge English BEC pathway - A channel for peer-to-peer connection for BEC teachers. In both these streams all the registered users will have rights to post any of their own resources, lesson plans, activities, worksheets etc. . The educators can share any information or resource that they feel is relevant and others may also interact on the same. The posts will be moderated.
Innovative classroom activities which have resulted in higher student performance can be uploaded onto the app to make them available to a wider network of educators who might find them useful. Furthermore, other trainers can view this content and comment or “like” them, making this an interactive platform. The app is designed to be very user friendly, making the upload of material very simple and straightforward.
Members can log on to the app to access resources such as vocabulary exercises, reading activities, listening skills training exercises, lesson plans and handbooks for teachers. All resources are tagged for easy retrieval. The other groups are resource and information groups which will have content provided by Cambridge English and which they can use to consult and refer.
Innovative classroom activities which have resulted in higher student performance can be uploaded onto the app to make them available to a wider network of educators who might find them useful. Furthermore, other trainers can view this content and comment or “like” them, making this an interactive platform. The app is designed to be very user friendly, making the upload of material very simple and straightforward. Innovative classroom activities which have resulted in higher student performance can be uploaded onto the app to make them available to a wider network of educators who might find them useful. Furthermore, other trainers can view this content and comment or “like” them, making this an interactive platform. The app is designed to be very user friendly, making the upload of material very simple and straightforward.
Members can log on to the app to access resources such as vocabulary exercises, reading activities, listening skills training exercises, lesson plans and handbooks for teachers. All resources are tagged for easy retrieval.
Members can stay connected and up to speed on the latest and upcoming events at Cambridge English through the updates on the app.
English in the Classroom
Cambridge English India has conducted a competition exclusively for the teachers and trainers of English on our new mobile app, Cambridge English India Network. Titled "English in the Classroom," the competition is open to English language teachers in both the school and higher education segments who are registered members on the Cambridge English India Network.
The competition requires the teachers to submit original classroom activities produced by the teacher him /herself through this platform. These activities need to fall under one of the following three categories and focus on any one skill:

Young Learners
Middle School
Tertiary / Higher Education
Sub skills
Sub skills
Sub skills

'Adopt NCERT markers or develop one'

Clearly defined learning outcomes for each class would help parents track student’s progress

MUMBAI: Even as the state government has come up with new programmes such as competency tests to improve the learning levels of students in schools, the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) has defined class-wise, learning indicators and outcomes for students across the country. City school principals and other academicians have said that the state government should adopt these indicators or develop special markers for students in Maharashtra.
In a 208-page report, the NCERT has laid down the indicators and outcomes, which state exactly what a child is expected to learn at a particular age. The report also provides evaluators a guide to identify whether students are acquiring the skills. It has provided simple guiding points for parents to check the progress.
Although states have been given the liberty to adopt these indicators as per their needs, Maharashtra has not yet accepted them despite the state having set up new programmes that focus on improving learning levels.
Education experts said that these new programmes of the state including the Pragat Shaikshanik Maharashtra are blindly following Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) and the MHRD instead of looking at learning outcomes.
“The government introduced two competency tests this year to assess the skills of students in maths and first language but nowhere have they defined the basic competencies that students of different age-groups,” said Rohan Bhat, chairperson, Children’s Academy Group of Institutions, Kandivli and Malad.
According to Bhat, listing out competencies will help schools in monitoring the children as well. “Most private schools already have their own learning outcomes to ensure quality of learning, but setting up standards by the state will surely help in uniform quality across schools,” said Bhat. “This will specially help students in government-aided schools and schools in rural areas.”
Adopting these guidelines will also help teachers in drawing out their lesson plans, said others. “All the status of education reports point out to dropping learning levels in the state, this is because the schools and teachers are unable to identify the needs of the students and teach them accordingly,” said Farida Lambay, co-founder, Pratham, an NGO that comes up with the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER).
In fact, a national forum on Right to Education Act has also put this forth as a recommendation for the new education policy which is being formulated right now. They said that such indicators should also be provided to parents so that they can get better involved in the students learning.
“A school report card only shows the marks scored by the child and his rank among his peers, but it doesn’t help parents in understanding whether the child is meeting all the learning levels expected of him,” said Hemangi Joshi, education manager, city-based, Narotam Sekhsaria Foundation, an NGO working in education. “If teachers, principals and even parents are given such guidelines, they will be able to track the progress of their children better and seek intervention when required.”

Source: Hindustan Times dated 23 December, 2015

The beautiful Icelandic tradition of giving books on Christmas Eve

Katherine Martinko (@feistyredhair)

Living / Culture
December 21, 2015
woman reading
CC BY 2.0 Steve Bissonette
Book lovers will want to adopt this lovely holiday tradition, which melds literary and holiday pleasures into a single event.
Icelanders have a beautiful tradition of giving books to each other on Christmas Eve and then spending the night reading. This custom is so deeply ingrained in the culture that it is the reason for the Jolabokaflod, or “Christmas Book Flood,” when the majority of books in Iceland are sold between September and December in preparation for Christmas giving.
At this time of year, most households receive an annual free book catalog of new publications called the Bokatidindi. Icelanders pore over the new releases and choose which ones they want to buy, fueling what Kristjan B. Jonasson, president of the Iceland Publishers Association, describes as “the backbone of the publishing industry.”
"It's like the firing of the guns at the opening of the race," says Baldur Bjarnason, a researcher who has written about the Icelandic book industry. "It's not like this is a catalog that gets put in everybody's mailbox and everybody ignores it. Books get attention here."
The small Nordic island, with a population of only 329,000 people, is extraordinarily literary. They love to read and write. According to a BBC article, “The country has more writers, more books published and more books read, per head, than anywhere else in the world… One in 10 Icelanders will publish [a book].”
It seems there is more value placed on physical, paper books than in North America, where e-books have grown in popularity. One bookstore manager told NPR, “The book in Iceland is such an enormous gift, you give a physical book. You don't give e-books here." The book industry is driven by the majority of people buying several books each year, rather than the North American pattern of a few people buying lots of books.
When I asked an Icelandic friend what she thought of this tradition, she was surprised.

“I hadn't thought of this as a special Icelandic tradition. It is true that a book is always considered a nice gift. Yes, for my family this is true. We are very proud of our authors.”

It sounds like a wonderful tradition, perfect for a winter evening. It is something that I would love to incorporate into my own family’s celebration of Christmas. I doubt my loyalty to physical books will ever fade; they are the one thing I can’t resist collecting, in order to read and re-read, to beautify and personalize my home, to pass on to friends and family as needed. Combining my love for books and quiet, cozy Christmas Eves sounds like a perfect match.


City scientists blaze a new trail to make artificial liver tissue
Abdullah Chand, Arun Chandru and Sivarajan T
At a time when scientists all over the world are struggling to develop artificial liver tissue, three Bengaluru scientists have actually developed such tissues that perform functions of the human liver. This breakthrough has not just brightened hopes for patients seeking liver tissues from live donors, but has also brought a potential alternative to artificial extracorporeal liver support (or liver dialysis) used in detoxification treatment for liver failure - a process similar to hemodialysis.

The trio that achieved the breakthrough comprises Arun Chandru, Dr Abdullah Chand and Dr Sivarajan T - all senior scientists at Pandorum Technologies Pvt Ltd, the Bengaluru-based biotechnology start-up working on tissue engineering.
The ideation process for the same started way back in 2009. In 2012, they received a grant for the research project from the Union department of biotechnology (DBT), under the ministry of science and technology.
It has not yet reached the stage where it can be transplanted. But the made-in-India mini liver will presently serve as test platforms for discovery and development of drugs with better efficacy, less side-effects and lower costs.
And it could eventually replace the human liver, thus enabling transplants without waiting for living donors.
The process of making this made-in-India liver tissue involved taking cells from a live human liver and encapsulating them in hydrogel.
These were then bio-printed as mini-livers using an indigenously developed 3D bio-printer. The cells in the hydrogel were then grown in an environment that almost replicated the conditions in which liver thrives in a live human body.
The scientists found that the cells grown in such a way were viable and stable for up to four weeks outside the human body.
The scientists say the artificially grown liver tissue resemble the original human liver tissues structurally and functionally - which means they can produce albumin, fibrinogen, transferrin, ferritin, urea and cholesterol, besides being able to store fat and secrete enzymes responsible for metabolism and detoxification.
The scientists feel the artificial tissues could help cut down costs of medical research by 20-30 per cent, besides transplant costs too when that can be achieved subsequently. The current cost of liver transplant is around Rs 20 lakh. "The 3D printed living tissues enable affordable medical research and could reduce animal and human trials. It will eventually lead to full scale transplantable organs," Chandru, who is also the co-founder of the company, said.
This is not only a significant milestone but will also meet the acute shortage of human organs available surgical transplantation. They can produce personalised tissue patches and organs that can be used by surgeons in a clinical setting.
"They perform functions like any other liver tissue and their response drugs and toxins are more realistic than current industry standards of 2D cell culture and animal models which are not human alike. Generally testing on animals may not get accurate results all the time. The tissue that we have developed has 10 million cells and can be primarily be used in medical research which is mainly to do with disease modelling and studying the radiation effects," says Chandru.
As of now, the biggest challenge in clinical trials is a lack of human-like models, which is why this 3D bio-printing technology, that enables producing artificial tissues, can improve drug and vaccine delivery, mechanistic toxicology and medical research.
In 2013, a Massachusetts Institute of technology (MIT) engineer Sangeeta Bhatia told one of the science writers of their news magazine that although the liver is a regenerative organ, global efforts of researchers working in the hope of producing an artificial liver tissue for transplantation have repeatedly been stymied.
The question that is bugging the scientists globally is this: "Why do mature liver cells quickly lose their normal function when removed from the human body?" Well, Chandru, Abdullah Chand and Sivarajan seem to have found the answer to that question. As of now, work on artificial organs have been going on Japan, USA, and Europe with China recently joining the league.
The Bengaluru scientists are now in talks with the pharmaceutical industry specialised in liver-specific drugs, a multi-billion-dollar market.

Artificially manufactured living human liver tissue


* The living human-origin liver cells were taken from the body and these are encapsulated in Hydrogel. These embedded hydrogel with cells is called as Bio-ink. These are then bio-printed as mini livers using an indigenous 3D-bio printer. The bio-materials were also indigenously designed. * Precise and reproducible multi-cellular hepatic architecture was achieved via 3D bio-printing. * They are grown in an environment resembling that of a human body and are viable and stable for four weeks outside the body * They resemble native human tissue, structurally and functionally and possess critical liver functions such as production of albumin, fibrinogen, transferrin, ferritin, urea and cholesterol. They store fat and secrete enzymes responsible for metabolism and detoxification.

The 3D printed living tissues enable affordable medical research and could reduce animal and human trials. They perform functions like any other liver tissue and their response drugs and toxins are more realistic than current industry standards — Arun Chandru, senior Scientist

In #DigitalIndia; Student will get All CBSE Books online without any charge

There is a big news for the more than 14 lacs students of class 10th and 12th lakh, as they are going to get their books without any charge. Some of the books are already available and now with the #DigitalIndia mission all books will now be available in coming days.
As per theAccording to Human Resource Development (HRD) minister Smriti Irani,NCERT has already made some of its books available online through its mobile app and e-books, and will look to add CBSE books, videos and other learning material. and All CBSE textbooks and other learning material will be made available online by the NCERT.
“We made NCERT books available online for free through e-books and mobile applications a month-and-a-half ago. We are similarly going to make CBSE books available online along with additional learning material and videos as part of our good governance efforts,” Irani said at the inauguration of a new building of the school in Khichripur.
Says Smriti Irani in At a function organised at a Kendriya Vidyalaya in east Delhi.
This is a really big decision as digitalizations in the education field is really important as this may impact large number of people In rural India.
Government is also taking more people online with the partnership of state owned BSNL with Facebook to offer free WiFi

How you can get these Books ?

The National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) currently offers copyrighted textbooks online for classes I to XII in Hindi, English and Urdu.
  1. The online textbooks can be accessed from here
  2. After that you need to select Class and Subject
  3. The Title list is populated after selection of class and subject
  4. When Title is selected the respective books is made available.

Digital India For Education

There are many updates in the field of education. These includes


ACTIVE USERS OF THE LIRC ( June 1 st  to 30th June 2018)   All the below Active Users are eligible for one extra  library  card for...