While the RTE is a welcome step, its practical implications would sweep away teachers who are not trained or equipped to impart physical, mental and social skills to different classes of students, including children with disabilities
They say reality bites. Well, the practical realities are about to bite down hard on lakhs of school teachers across the country as their schools struggle to comply with the mandates of the Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009. For instance, take a look through the eyes of Mumbai school teachers Manpreet Kaur, Rekha Vadloori and Gorretti (pronounced ‘Gertie’) Sequeira. For four hours every morning, the three are on their toes, imparting physical, mental and social skills to about 40 preschool children at Guru Harkrishan School, 17th Road, Khar. They are veterans, having taught children for well over two decades, and they know their job extremely well. It is physically and mentally exhausting; Gorretti’s varicose veins bear evidence of the fact that she barely gets a chance to sit down.
Onwards from the next academic year, their job will become even more demanding. Because, as mandated by the RTE Act, about one-fourth of the students between the ages of six and 14 will be from disadvantaged section of the society—like children with disabilities, children of migrant labourers, etc. And the teachers will have to impart knowledge to them along with the ‘normal’ children, and not segregate them in any way. Compare this classroom with the ones that you may have studied in, where any child who deviated from the physical, mental and economic norms of the school was never admitted.
Parents and teachers are not yet fully aware of this nationwide change, which is about to hit them like a tidal wave. Undoubtedly, the RTE Act will encourage a more egalitarian society, and give children unrestricted access to education, which is their fundamental right. Let us look at the new demands that are about to be placed on ordinary school teachers, and an important challenge and opportunity that the new scenario will throw up.
Do Manpreet, Rekha and Gorretti know how to manage with, say, a child with autism who repeatedly bangs his head on the desk daily and wanders off into neighbouring classrooms? Or, say, a born-hearing-impaired child who cannot hear instructions, but tends to make vocalizations that can divert the attention of all his normal classmates?
Yes, Gorretti already has two differently-abled children in her class, who come to class accompanied by “shadow teachers” sent by the parents. One child tugs on Goretti’s sleeve several times a day and asks cutely, “Teacher, will you teach me?” Not all shadow teachers are trained professionals, and they are not very highly paid. Naturally, they are barely interested in the classroom curriculum. Some of them have a hard time to keep from dozing off! These grown-ups are a constant presence in Gorretti's classroom, and their numbers may rise next year onwards. The RTE Act has mandated that all children with special needs must compulsorily be admitted to regular schools regardless of nature and severity of their disabilities. They must be admitted even if their parents cannot afford to retain specially-trained shadow teachers, or provide them with the bare necessities such as wheelchairs and hearing-aids.
The writing on the wall is clear. Lakhs of experienced teachers will have to learn new skills essential for dealing with special children, and for including them with the children in mainstream schools.
Overall, the demand for capable school teachers and also training facilities in inclusive education is about to shoot up. The RTE Act itself specifies pre-service training in inclusive education and in-service training for mainstream school teachers.
In Mumbai, one place where such training is available is ADAPT (formerly known as Spastic Society of India). At ADAPT, special teacher-training and orientation is offered for teachers and would-be teachers in association with Helen O’Grady International (HOGI), a learning company.
Meet Monisha Herani, the young lady from HOGI who is currently equipping a batch of women teacher trainees with the theoretical and practical skills for dealing with children—both normal and special. “The people who come to us for training are from all walks of life3housewives as well as professionals and women entrepreneurs who see a future in education,” says Monisha.
“My current batch has women between the ages of 24 and 55. What fascinates them is the three hours of practical hands-on work with children, acting as assistant teachers to many other experienced teachers at the schools where we have a tie-up. At ADAPT, they get hands-on training and a chance to observe how to deal with special children in the correct way. And during the three hours of solid theoretical classroom work that we do, whatever they learn and observe during field work is discussed and analyzed.”
ADAPT stands for “Abled Disabled All People Together”. The founder chairperson Dr Mithu Alur has always propagated inclusion as an ideology, which is now becoming a reality thanks to the RTE Act.
“Currently, the number of people attending our teacher-training courses is a thin trickle”, remarks Monisha, referring to the two courses run by HOGI at Bandra and Malad. “But we expect it to turn into a tidal wave within a year or two, when the changed reality dawns on school managements, teachers and parents. Without such practical courses conducted on a very large scale across the country, I don't see how we all will manage this transition.”
Only a close above any previous day’s high can signal a change in trend
The market settled lower on selling in metals, capital goods and banking stocks. Today again the Nifty made a lower low and lower high. Sustaining today’s low may bring in some days of sideways movement on the bourses. However, a higher high on the benchmark may change the trend. The National Stock Exchange (NSE) saw a volume of 51.64 crore shares and a negative advance decline ratio of 673:972.
The market opened with a downward bias on unsupportive global cues. Markets in the US closed mixed on a report which revealed that the decline in manufacturing in August was at its fastest pace in over three years. Meanwhile, markets in Asia were down in morning trade as investors turned cautious ahead of the crucial European Central Bank meeting on Thursday.
The Nifty opened 30 points down at 5,244 and the Sensex started the day at 17,360, a cut of 81 points from its previous close. The dismal opening saw all the sectoral gauges in the negative.
Although in the negative, the benchmarks scaled their intraday highs in early trade on buying in select scrips. At the highs the Nifty went up to 5,260 and the Sensex climbed to 17,412.
The indices were sideways in subsequent trade in the absence of any domestic triggers. Selling got intense in noon trade which pulled the market to its lows. At this point the Nifty fell to 5,216 and the Sensex retracted to 17,251.
Meanwhile, Morgan Stanley today downgraded Axis Bank to ‘underweight’ from “equal weight” as its sees an increase in the private lender’s sticky loans. The global agency also trimmed the target price on the stock to Rs800 from Rs900.
A green opening of the key European indices rubbed on the Indian market, which resulted in a minor upmove. But the rise lacked strength, thus keeping the indices range-bound at a slightly elevated level.
The Nifty closed at 5,226, down 48 points (0.92%) and the Sensex contracted 128 points (0.73%) to finish at 17,313.
Among the broader indices, the BSE Mid-cap index closed 0.31% down and the BSE Small-cap index fell 0.49%.
BSE Fast Moving Consumer Goods (up 0.72%) and BSE TECk (up 0.35%) settled higher while other sectoral indices were in the red. The top losers were BSE Metal (down 2.64%); BSE Capital Goods (down 2.54%); BSE Bankex (down 1.82%); BSE Power (down 1.34%) and BSE PSU (down 1.05%).
Of the 30 shares in the Sensex list, nine stocks settled in the positive. The top gainers were Bharti Airtel (up 3.28%); Hindustan Unilever (up 1.84%); TCS (up 1.41%); ITC (up 0.66%) and ONGC (up 0.57%). The losers were led by BHEL (down 4.98%); Jindal Steel (down 4.78%); ICICI Bank (down 3.56%); Tata Steel (down 3.42%) and Sterlite Industries (down 3.17%).
The top two A Group gainers on the BSE were—Torrent Power (up 4.03%) and Strides Arcolab (down 3.93%).
The top two A Group losers on the BSE were—BHEL (down 4.98%) and Axis Bank (down 4.90%).
The top two B Group gainers on the BSE were—Finotex Chemical (up 20%) and Nath Seeds (up 19.97%).
The top two B Group losers on the BSE were—Fintech Communication (down 17.51%) and Minaxi Textiles (down 14.93%).
Out of the 50 stocks listed on the Nifty, nine stocks settled in the positive. The top gainers on the index were Bharti Airtel (up 2.76%); HUL (up 2.04%); TCS (up 1.80%); ONGC (up 1.10%) and ITC (up 0.54%). The key losers were Jindal Steel (down 5.82%); BHEL (down 5.32%); Axis Bank (down 4.75%); Tata Steel (down 4.10%) and Sesa Goa (down 3.80%).
The Asian pack settled in the red as investors were less enthusiastic about the outcome of the ECB meeting, slated to take place on Thursday. A slowdown in global growth raised fresh worries in the export-oriented continent.
The Shanghai Composite declined 0.29%; the Hang Seng tanked 1.47%; the Jakarta Composite declined 0.73%; the KLSE Composite dropped 0.79%; the Nikkei 225 contracted 1.09%; the Straits Times fell 0.52%; the Seoul Composite tumbled 1.74% and the Taiwan Weighted closed 1.03% lower.
At the time of writing, CAC 40 of France was up 0.16%, DAX of Germany was up 0.60% while UK’s FTSE 100 was trading 0.18% lower. At the same time, the US stock futures were in the negative, indicating a soft opening for US stocks.
Back home, foreign institutional investors were net buyers of shares amounting to Rs304.40 crore on Tuesday whereas domestic institutional investors were net sellers of equities aggregating Rs105.60 crore.
Jain Irrigation Systems (JISL) today said it plans to raise around $200 million (about Rs1,100 crore) by issuing shares and other securities to IFC, Rabo bank and others to strengthen the balance sheet and reduce interest costs. The funds will be utilised for repayment of high cost short-term loans of JSPL and its subsidiaries and the long term loans of the company and its subsidiaries due in 2012-13 fiscal. The stock tumbled 4.13% to settle at Rs61.55 on the NSE.
Salt maker and marketer Tata Chemicals on Tuesday launched India’s first iodine plus iron fortified salt in Gujarat where the deficiency has been found in more than 55% women and 70% children. The iron-fortified iodised salt has been developed by the National Institute of Nutrition (NIN), Hyderabad, Tata Chemicals said in a statement. The stock jumped 2.16% to close at Rs311.50 on the NSE.
The country’s largest credit card issuer, HDFC Bank, today announced the launch of a credit card for teachers on the occasion of Teacher’s Day. The private sector bank said the card offers features such as multiple reward points, week-end bonanza points, petrol surcharge waiver and 500 teacher’s day special gift reward points that will get credited annually on Teacher's Day. HDFC Bank rose 0.32% to settle at Rs592 on the NSE.
Oil Ministry is seeking immediate hike in diesel, cooking gas and kerosene prices and limiting supply of subsidised LPG cylinders to 4-6 per household in a year. The price hike may take place anytime after Friday
New Delhi: The Oil Ministry has moved a Cabinet note seeking immediate hike in diesel, cooking gas and kerosene prices and limiting supply of subsidised LPG cylinders to 4-6 per household in a year, reports PTI.
The ministry's proposal to the Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs (CCPA) also includes barring households with income of more than Rs50,000 per month or Rs6 lakh in a year from getting LPG cylinders at subsidised rates.
The Cabinet committee is likely to consider the hike at the first occasion it meets after the current monsoon session of Parliament ends on Friday, a top Oil Ministry official said here today.
Also on cards is an increase in petrol price on which the state-owned oil firms, despite having freedom to raise rates, are losing close to Rs6 per litre.
The price hike may take place anytime after Friday.
"The situation facing us is very grim. We can no longer afford to postpone a price hike," the official said.
"We have not recommended the quantum of increase in rates but have analysed the situation that warrants an immediate price rise," he added.
Diesel, domestic LPG and PDS kerosene rates have not been changed since June 2011 even though cost of production has soared 28%.
Oil PSUs are losing Rs560 crore per day on sale of diesel and cooking fuel at present, and are forced to resort to short-term borrowings to meet funds needed for importing crude oil (raw material for making fuel).