Wednesday, November 7, 2012

A Great Online Education is at Your Fingertips

Have you ever thought about enhancing your education by going back to school? If so, you probably have wondered whether you should go your local college or university. If you haven't been to one recently, let me paint you a picture.
There are usually acres of buildings, jammed parking lots, and lots of other students. You might have to commute for miles in terrible traffic, and then find it impossible to park near your classes. You may spend hours traipsing back and forth across campus, lugging 30 pounds of books on your back. You stand in line to register your classes, only to find that they are all full. Or if your class is available, it's at 7:00 a.m. or 9 p.m. If you have a family to juggle, it gets worse -- the kids get sick you get to miss classes. And most of the students closely resemble your youngest child, making you feel like a dinosaur.
Does the above scenario fill you with dread? Could it be the reason you haven't pursued higher education before now? What if you could achieve your educational goals without leaving the comfort of your own home, and maybe even do it cheaper?
If this is music to your ears, you should consider getting an online education. All you really need is a computer, an internet connection, and the desire to learn. No traffic nightmares, no weather worries. No scheduling conflicts or babysitter problems, and you can even go to school in your pajamas. Wow! That's my idea of school. You take the classes you need at the times you want, at your own speed, and still achieve your chosen goals.
Online education does not mean that the classes are easier, it just means that they are easier to take. You will still have to study, do homework, write papers, take midterms and final exams. Yes, you do have to work! But the good news is, you can do it in the comfort and convenience of your own home.
The advantages of getting an online education are virtually endless. If you have ever considered getting more education to improve your chances of landing a job, or making more money, or maybe even changing careers completely, now is the time to do it. There really is no excuse for not pursuing the wonderful opportunities available through distance education.
For many people this is all the motivation they need to get going. However, it is important that you know your limitations. If it's impossible for you to have quiet time on a regular basis, if you find it difficult to focus with all the insanity going on around you, or if you just can't discipline yourself to do the job, then distance education might not be for you.
However, if you are adept at managing the ins and outs of your personal life while dealing with the demands of going to school, you should be able to juggle the extra balls that an online degree program might toss at you.
During the past 10 years, distance education has finally come into its own, and now many programs are even eligible for federal financial aid such as grants and loans. So it's entirely possible for you to attend school without breaking the bank. You can find classes and online education programs in a large variety of topics, starting with getting your GED and going all the way up to masters degrees and Doctoral programs.
Some online schools have brick and mortar campuses and some don't. Some require occasional meetings with students and teachers, also called limited residence requirements. Many have no such requirements, and your education is simply based upon the classes you complete successfully. Some schools require you to attend online live or prerecorded lectures or interactive classes, while others just give you the class materials online and let you take exams when you are ready.
It is important that you research the options thoroughly and carefully. Whether you're planning to take trade courses, business classes or any type of higher education, make sure the distance learning program is accredited by the appropriate agency in your state. There's nothing worse than wasting your time, money and energy to get an education that you won't get credit for, unless of course you are doing it just for fun.
What you need to do first is decide what career you want to pursue or what subject you want to study or, then look for the online education learning program that's best suited to meet your needs. Whether you want to learn web design, culinary arts, business management or something else, you'll be able to find a distance learning program that will give you what you need.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Career Education Institutes

Career education essentially means vocational education that develops basic skills required to execute jobs in technical fields. There are many career education institutes that guide students who are looking for the right opportunities to enhance their careers.
Individuals exploring different fields of work, changing professions, or simply looking for a career description are briefed about different vocational careers. The counselors or qualified specialists at career education institutes inform potential students about various colleges and institutions imparting vocational courses that can prepare them for fruitful careers. They also enlighten students about financial aid programs from various sources and summer job programs - both locally and nationally.
Career education resources that offer an extensive assortment of circulating books, pamphlets, audiovisuals, electronic databases, software and periodicals. They assist students in dealing with job search strategies, resume and letter writing, making the right career choices, employment and academic test preparation. They conduct pre-employment tests to determine the skill and personality of the candidates to analyze whether they are fit for a particular job.
Career education institutes also provide assistance to people who are unhappy with their career or job choice. An assessment is done using a series of questions. Answers to the questions are evaluated and students are giving the appropriate advice to help them take effective steps in planning for a job or career change.
There are websites of vocational centers that provide details on career exploration, career and education, work opportunities, trade and technical schools and career related reference resources. People can register and seek necessary guidance from professionals. The sites also provide information on several career descriptions. They also give information on educational sites relating to a particular career such as tutorials, directories, industry news, glossaries and associated academics. Career education institutes have proved to be a boon for people on the look out for suitable jobs.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Understanding Educated Gambling

As an entry level position to PR, I found myself typing up a forecast by a major Public Relation's firm for a major pharmaceutical company of what life would be like in the year 2000. Market research predictions included telephones with monitors that could help you see people while you talked, fax machines that could transmit information over telephone wires, microwave ovens for reducing food defrosting time from hours to minutes and other devices that have certainly come to pass. In the lifestyle area, predictions proved less valid. Not only would Americans be enjoying longer lives, it foretold, but they would have shorter work weeks, more vacations and overall, a more leisurely lifestyle. An iota of truth, but mostly wishful thinking when we read 2005 front pages.
I will always remember being called to account because the final document the Client saw had several typos. Presentation counts in this field.
PR firms attempt to influence the major media who in turn help persuade viewers, listeners and readers to think or act in a particular way. The people who enter the profession and those in the media usually have a gift of gab, a facility with the written word, a decent IQ and a certain love affair with risk.
Fortune tellers don't make much money. But most PR firms charge a substantial amount of money to present their client, product or service in a positive light to the media. People are continuously reporting polls or surveys as if they are fact, when, in truth, often the questions asked are the reason for the results tendered. Trends are so swift these days, just when buzz begins, another bee is buzzing a different tune.
Here is the PR agency drill. A brainstorming session consists of several persons who try and identify a project, tag line or campaign hook that will capture the right response from the media while delivering the Client message. Then a qualified person writes the plan, another person interfaces with the Client and still other people "pitch" the media. Often times in large firms, a separate TV department usually has close ties with the producers of various programming. You can pitch the same story to ten different venues, and come up with ten different responses. It is an expensive process.
Since everyone is trying for the biggest hits first, and the spots are truly limited, the pitchers have to be focused and persistent. Then it becomes a numbers game. The more balls you throw, the more likely you are to get a strike. The more strikes you pitch, the more likely your team will win, and the competition will be beaten. The more consistent your story, the more believed you will be. The more you can afford to spend, the more you get to use credible spokespeople to help tell your story. It is a numbers game.
So by all means pitch "Oprah" first if you have a story that will hug her heart. Next work the syndicated morning shows. Then try the syndicated writers at the major news services when your news is hard and important. Talk to AOL when you have the money, or put it in the movie theatre, the newest venue for enlightening if not annoying a captive audience.
But you can also tell your story with incredible reach and exciting response if you
use syndicated articles publicity via a service which currently targets the Internet with your original article. Your message usually gets printed exactly as you tell it, or your captioned color illustration tells the story just the way you approved it. You've increased your chances of the public reading a product or service mention by making it more informational than promotional, and you've had the help of expert PR people with years of presentation skills behind them. Your story will stay on their editorial website for six months to a year, and you get quarterly usage reports to help impress you if you are the business owner or your Clients if you are an agency.
Best of all, the educated consumer gets to find you online and to learn something informational that can help them and their family live a better life. It seems likely that any marketer would find this a low-budget risk worth taking.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Businesses Use Online News Submission As Part of Their Marketing Efforts

Businesses are always seeking new opportunities of presenting their services and products more efficiently and effectively to a wider and more varied audience. At the same time, they look for more cost effective methods of advertising, and obtaining greater exposure without spending highly significant amounts of money. By utilising online news submission sites, they are able to achieve these advantages and benefits, when compared to the traditionally accepted forms of marketing.
The correct use of online methods provides the capability of tracking and monitoring the progress and results, of any changes made to the content, as and when needed. This is not possible with traditional methods of marketing or advertising.
Web marketing
With web marketing, specific information displays details of an individual's gender, age and their location. Additional information includes levels of education and occupations, making for easily determined and accurate target marketing.
In every business, there is news to interest and attract potential customers, and with online news distribution, this is again attainable with relative ease and accuracy. Web hosters distribute news to the appropriate online outlets and provide visibility worldwide quickly. Excellent content receives recognition on major search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing.
Other online news distribution services associated directly or indirectly to your particular business may also pick up your content. By utilising the use of links, keywords and videos in your release, your online visibility will grow and attract greater site traffic volume and the resultant attention.
The transmission of news is in various forms. Macys provide an example of an innovative inhouse situation, by making changes to their in-store shopping experience. Setting up customer kiosks, where customers key in their information and the product wanted and then pay electronically. Particularly with cosmetics, electronic consultants reply with advice on products. In general, people appreciate and enjoy the convenience of shopping online. Therefore, this idea of kiosk shopping for items such as cosmetics is one that should prove most beneficial for the store sales and profit.
As the world economic climate remains unsteady, businesses have to optimize their cost base, thereby hoping to boost their profit drive online. With Google reviewing the quality of link building, the impact on the search engine industry has caused a revision by online commerce and blog sites, with the delisting of major link networks.
Social Media
The use of social media for online news distribution, such as Facebook or twitter gives business exposure to news with a long-lasting impact on prospects for the future and the potential of attracting new customers.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Best Way to Learn About Indian Employment News

Employment News is a famous Indian Weekly giving A to Z news about the employment opportunities in India. The weekly is released in English, Hindi and Urdu by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India. This journal carries ample information about the various job openings all over India. It also gives useful tips to students who are preparing for various government examinations.
This journal's fame remains unshaken even in this web dominated era. A copy of this weekly can be found in all the major public libraries. Several rural students who do not have access to internet or any other modern means of communication, consider Employment News weekly as their best guide to land lucrative government jobs.
This weekly is the largest distributed career guidance journal in India. The weekly had helped aspirant Indian youth, interested in Government jobs find a bright future since 1976. Though there were some other journals similar to it like Competition Success Review, Employment News is a unique and one of its kind journals by all means. Here is a slight introduction on what you can find in this knowledge source.
1. Employment News weekly gives details about all the state and central government jobs.
2. The weekly gives news about all the public sector openings, banking jobs and the jobs in educational sector.
3. The weekly gives details about the various examinations necessary to get these jobs and the applications for them.
4. Notifications regarding all the major examinations like Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) and the State Services Commission (SSC) are published in this weekly. The results of these exams are also published in the Employment News weekly.
5. Rojgar Samachar is the Hindi version of the weekly. Both versions are available online too.
6. This journal contains applications for all the professional courses in government colleges, details about the fee structure and the examination details.
7. Vacancies in all the autonomous colleges and Universities in India are advertised in this weekly.
8. The editorial section of Employment News weekly features useful articles which help people choose the career best suitable for them. The articles in this section give ample information about the new fields, upcoming opportunities in the less known areas and many more.
9. All the details necessary to write railway, bank and Civil Service exams are provided in this weekly, including the exam dates and application forms.
The target audiences of the weekly are poor rural youngsters. Most of them are first generation school goers in their families. They need a vivid description and guidance of what to do and what not to do when it comes to applying for government jobs. The Employment News weekly journal provides exactly the same.
Government jobs are still a dream for many rural students hailing from backward communities. These students have the brain and academic record to land the same. All they lack is guidance. The Employment News weekly serve as their silent companion that helps them make their dream come true.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Top Websites For Space News

If you are trying to find the top websites for space news then you have a lot of options to choose from. With a quick Google search, you will get more than 1 million possible options. So how can you tell which ones are worth your time? There are a number of different things to consider, however two factors tend to stand out from the rest. The news must be current and consistently updated, and the website needs to be an authority on the subject. With that in mind, here are the four of the top websites for space news that you should definitely look into.
1. Space.Com
It makes sense. If you want news about space, then should be able to provide the goods. was first launched in 1999 and is now considered to be the number 1 source of news for sky-watching, astronomy, space exploration, and commercial spaceflight. They have excellent, in-depth articles, interviews, and videos that anyone can access. Additionally, is regularly featured by the most popular online news outlets include Yahoo! News and MSNBC. This website is maintained by the Tech Media Network, which also manages other extremely popular websites like TopTenReviews, TechNewsDaily, LiveScience, and OurAmazingPlanet.
While may have the most basic appearance, it is definitely an excellent source for all types of space related news. The content on the website is definitely never in question. It is extremely timely and well researched. If you want a simple site to give you daily updates about news relating to space then is a great site for you. The only noticeable problem is that it can be difficult to navigate at times, and some people think that it is a little heavy on the advertisements. However, the excellent content easily overcomes these issues.
3. was created by SpaceRef Interactive out of Toronto, Ontario. This website provides a number of unique benefits in terms of a space news website. Not only is it an excellent resource on its own, but it also connects you to other excellent space related websites within their family of websites. These sites include NASA Watch, OnOrbit, SpaceRef Canada, and Commercial Space. Plus, they have an excellent newsletter that you can sign up for. It will deliver the top space news stories to your inbox on a daily basis. This is especially helpful if you don't follow RSS feeds, but still want to get the top space related news on a regular basis.
4. Science.NASA.Gov
If you are talking about the top websites for space news, then you can't forget about the NASA website. This website is unique for several reasons. The first is that along with providing you with up to the minute news about space, it also features unique analysis from NASA researchers and also has sections dedicated to educators, students, and kids.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

How News Reporting Differs From Article Marketing Writing

Are You A News Writer Or An Article Marketer?
Fresh out of journalism school over 20 years ago, one of my first jobs was with The New York Times (D.C. Office), where I had the opportunity to work for some of the most talented and celebrated journalists of today (Maureen Dowd, Gwen Ifill, Thomas Friedman). I learned a great deal about writing and editing news articles (I went to a lot of congressional meetings:), and understood on a more meaningful level the art of news reporting.
Fast forward ten years later. I was married and had a child with another one on the way and I was trying to transition my career as a psychotherapist into one that I could do online because I wanted to stay home with my children. At first I didn't know how I was going to make that successfully happen, so I thought the easiest thing I could do while I figured things out was to write.
As I wrote more articles for the web, I began to realize that how I was trained to write was not going to get me the results I was looking for - for people to actually read the articles!
The two styles of writing are completely different and you need to be really clear about what kind of writer you are when looking for results on the web.
1. News reporting means that there is an issue or an event that a reporter (writer) is going to investigate, research, and report about. There are no opinions in news reporting - just facts.
In article marketing, there can be a variety of article types. There can be fact reporting, opinion, how-to and many more approaches to the writing. There are no rules on the type of articles you will read on the web. In fact, more often than not you will read an article that has a unique perspective on a topic of interest.
2. News reporting is timely. It is not evergreen. You typically cannot read a news article that was written last year and it still be relevant the following year.
Good article marketing articles are evergreen. This means that the articles apply to today and will remain relevant the next year and even longer. While this is not always the case, for the most part, this is a good standard to write by for the web.
3. Good news reporting requires a great deal of research. In fact I would say that 70% of the work of a news article is the research that goes into it. The other 30% is the energy and talent that it takes to pull all that information together into a cohesive and interesting article that people will read. Needless to say this takes a lot of time. Research has to be searched for, found, and then validated.
On the other hand, article marketing requires less "research" on your part. While there may be some initial research for content you may want to add to your articles, the real purpose of article marketing is to educate or entertain the reader about a topic that you specialize in. You shouldn't have to do a lot of research and fact checking. In fact, people are more interested in your perspective and your opinion on the topic -- not just "the facts".
4. News articles typically begin with a lead (the point of the article), the facts (supporting information), and then the background information (background info and interviews). This is pretty standard among most publications.
Web articles used for article marketing do not have to fit the same stringent criteria as news articles.You can discuss a point you are trying to make using storytelling. You can build to your "point of the article". You also do not have to include a lot of background information, etc. because you don't have a lot of time or words to get your point across to your reader.
People who read The Times know that they have to devote at least 10-15 minutes to an article. They are use to it and have been conditioned to expect that. Web readers do not have that type of attention span.You have to get to the point quickly and succinctly. No more looking to "fill" your articles with stuff. Just talk about the things that people really care about and move onto the next article.
5. News articles tend to be copy heavy for the reasons I've already stated above. Long, in-depth articles are expected.
It is the opposite on the web. Dense articles can give readers headaches and a reason to click away. Readers need white space and visual breaks between paragraphs.
Web articles are read on computers, tablets, and smartphones. Also again there is the attention span issue. Readers have less and less time these days. If they are reading you at all -- it's better not to bore them to death with too many paragraphs of filler and fluff.
6. News articles do not have a resource box at the end of their articles. The writer is given a byline and maybe a blurb if it's a news column.
What makes article marketing unique is the use of the resource box. The key to a good article marketing strategy is to use a resource box to give the reader a call to action to follow after they've finished reading your article.
7. Finally and probably most importantly is the fact that people who pick up a newspaper are reading to find out what the news is of the day. What's going on in the world or in their communities.
The readers on the web are looking for solutions. They are looking for answers to specific questions. So if you are an article marketer, make sure that you write articles that solve problems for people in your niche, because that is what will ultimately separate you from a writer just reporting the facts. Your Expertise.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Go On A TV News Diet

If you are suffering with anxiety, is it in your best interest to watch television news? Or can it increase your feelings of stress, tension, depression, and hopelessness?
Today I was reading a popular psychology blog, PsychCentral, and there was a poll asking people how much current events affected their mood. I found the results of this poll disturbing. Over 30% of respondents claimed that their mood goes up and down depending on what is going on in the news. Another 30% said they sometimes get depressed over the news.
I imagine that most people would say they want to be happy. Yet here was evidence that millions of people subject themselves to television news daily even though it probably negatively effects their mood. Imagine, letting your happiness be controlled by the sounds coming out of an electronic box! Pretty crazy when you think about it that way, isn't it?
If you aren't as happy or relaxed as you would like to be, let me urge you to try a "news diet." I can hear you already, "But how will I know what is going on?". Let me ask you this, what is the worst that is likely to happen if you are not informed of what is going on? Even if you specifically avoid the news, if there is anything you really need to know about, trust me, you'll find out. Someone will let you know.
If you simply must be up on current events for your profession, then I would suggest you read the paper or look at a reputable news source online instead of watching the news on TV. Both of these media let you have more control over what you choose to be exposed to. You can scan headlines and choose what not to read. Most people who watch the news on TV will not be disciplined enough to mute or change the channel when something unedifying comes on the tube.
You must understand that all news media make money by spreading bad news and terrifying their viewers. They insidiously make you believe you need to be informed to keep yourself safe. That's how they hook you into staying tuned.
My rule of thumb about whether I need to know about a current event is this; I ask myself, "Is this within my sphere of influence?" As you can imagine, the answer is almost always no! There really isn't much that affects me directly except the weather. The exception I make is that I educate myself on candidates and issues before elections so I can vote intelligently.
Being continually exposed to negative events which you can't do anything about can lead to your feelings of helplessness, which can fuel feelings of depression and anxiety.
I urge you to give up all news for a week or two and notice how you feel. Are you feelings of stress and anxiety reduced? You might be convinced at this point. If not, try adding the news back into your life again and notice if you are feeling more angry or tense.
If you suffer from stress, anxiety or panic attacks, stop watching television news. This one suggestion might make a tremendous difference in the way you feel.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

India's Move to Right to Education

It was Saturday afternoon; the world seemed to be on vacation but me, as I was busy serving guests at a lunch party at my masters' residence. Chatting and laughing was loud enough to be heard in every nook and corner of the house. But those were of least concern to me, because I had to respond to every single call for any requirement at the very word of the guests or the master in particular. It was 2009, and I was just seven, wearing a sweater and a half pant, watching a bunch of people boasting about the achievements of their wards and trying to prove ones child better than the other. When suddenly, an old man read from a magazine that the government was to pass a new act namely, Right to Education Act. But to me those routine talks about the household work made more sense than this new coming up topic, because neither I could read or understand there high-level conversation, which had diverted there talks from their children, on top of that I didn't even understand, what the word 'right' meant. That elderly fellow said something like...
History of the Act:
The Free and Compulsory Education Bill 2003 was the first attempt of the Central government to draft a comprehensive legislation on education after the 86th Constitutional Amendment that made education a fundamental right. The Bill was an excellent example of bureaucratic empowerment, creating up to 6 levels of various authorities to ensure the provision of free and compulsory education. Furthermore, the reservation of up to 25% of the private school seats for the economically backward students to be selected by these authorities ensured that the Bill was a throwback to the old licence-permit-raj regime. Following widespread criticism, the Bill was discarded.
The Right to Education Bill 2005 is the second attempt by the Central government to set the education system right. Some of the important provisions of the Bill:
• Promises free and compulsory education of equitable quality up to the elementary level to all children in the age group of 6 to 14.
• Mandates unaided private schools to reserve up to 25 percent of the seats for students from weaker sections. The schools will be reimbursed by the lower of the actual school fee or per student expenditure in the government school. The aided schools will reserve "at least such proportion of their admitted children as its annual recurring aid bears to its annual recurring expenses subject to a minimum of 25 per cent."
• Requires all remaining students to be accommodated by opening new government schools and within three years of the passage all students to have a school to go within their own neighbourhood.
• Forms School Management Committees (SMCs) comprising parents and teachers for state schools and aided schools. The SMCs will own the assets of the school, manage the accounts, and pay salaries.
• Establishes a National Commission for Elementary Education to monitor the implementation of the Bill, State Regulatory Authorities to address grievances under the Bill, and several 'competent authorities,' 'local authorities,' and 'empowered authorities' to perform a vast number of regulatory functions and meet out punishment to defaulters.
• Assigns all state school teachers to particular schools from which they will never be transferred-creates a school-based teacher cadre.
The finance committee and planning commission rejected the Bill citing the lack of funds and a Model bill was sent to states for the making necessary arrangements.
As is evident, even after 60 years, universal elementary education remains a distant dream. Despite high enrolment rates of approximately 95% as per the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER 2009), 52.8% of children studying in 5th grade lack the reading skills expected at 2nd grade. Free and compulsory elementary education was made a fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution in December 2002, by the 86th Amendment. In translating this into action, the `Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Bill' was drafted in 2005. This was revised and became an Act in August 2009, but was not notified for roughly 7 months.
The reasons for delay in notification can be mostly attributed to unresolved financial negotiations between the National University of Education Planning and Administration, NUEPA, which has been responsible for estimating RTE funds and the Planning Commission and Ministry of Human Resource and Development (MHRD). From an estimate of an additional Rs.3.2 trillion to Rs.4.4 trillion for the implementation of RTE Draft Bill 2005 over 6 years (Central Advisory Board of Education, CABE) the figure finally set by NUEPA now stands at a much reduced Rs.1.7 trillion over the coming 5 years. For a frame of reference, Rs.1 trillion is 1.8% of one year's GDP.
Most education experts agree that this amount will be insufficient. Since education falls under the concurrent list of the Constitution, financial negotiations were also undertaken between Central and State authorities to agree on sharing of expenses. This has been agreed at 35:65 between States and Centre, though state governments continue to argue that their share should be lower.
1. Every child from 6 to 14 years of age has a right to free and compulsory education in a neighbourhood school till completion of elementary education.
2. Private schools must take in a quarter of their class strength from `weaker sections and disadvantaged groups', sponsored by the government.
3. All schools except private unaided schools are to be managed by School Management Committees with 75 per cent parents and guardians as members.
4. All schools except government schools are required to be recognized by meeting specified norms and standards within 3 years to avoid closure.
On the basis of this Act, the government has framed subordinate legislation called model rules as guidelines to states for the implementation of the Act.
The family, I had been working for, (walia family) had always been caring for me, with occasional slaps and abuses, to which I had become accustomed to and accepted them as a part and parcel of my monthly income of 700 Rs along with square meals and the discarded cloths of the children to the master. But then that was my life......bhaiya and didi (son and daughter to the master) were both elder to me by 4 or 5 years respectively and during my free time often played along with me, but again I was reminded of my being a servant whenever I forgot that...they had thought me to read and write my name in Hindi, which I always kept scribbling at the corners of the walls which resulted in a colour change of my cheeks to red from white, whenever caught. That Act being the burning topic of those days always managed to occupy some space at the front page of every news paper, which further became a topic of early morning drawing room discussion for the family as it was that day and just like every normal citizen he also started which his speech, with the critique of right to education act and its loop holes....
The Act is excessively input-focused rather than outcomes-oriented. Even though better school facilities, books, uniforms and better qualified teachers are important, their significance in the Act has been overestimated in the light of inefficient, corrupt and unaccountable institutions of education provision. Then the Act unfairly penalises private unrecognised schools for their payment of market wages for teachers rather than elevated civil service wages. It also penalises private schools for lacking the infrastructural facilities defined under a Schedule under the Act. These schools, which are extremely cost efficient, operate mostly in rural areas or urban slums, and provide essential educational services to the poor. Independent studies by Geeta Kingdon, James Tooley and ASER 2009 suggest that these schools provide similar if not better teaching services when compared to government schools, while spending a much smaller amount. However, the Act requires government action to shut down these schools over the coming three years. A better alternative would have been to find mechanisms through which public resources could have been infused into these schools. The exemption from these same recognition requirements for government schools is the case of double standards -- with the public sector being exempted from the same `requirements'. By the Act, SMCs (school management committees) are to comprise of mostly parents, and are to be responsible for planning and managing the operations of government and aided schools. SMCs will help increase the accountability of government schools, but SMCs for government schools need to be given greater powers over evaluation of teacher competencies and students learning assessment. Members of SMCs are required to volunteer their time and effort. This is an onerous burden for the poor. Payment of some compensation to members of SMCs could help increase the time and focus upon these. Turning to private but `aided' schools, the new role of SMCs for private `aided' schools will lead to a breakdown of the existing management structures. Teachers are the cornerstone of good quality education and need to be paid market-driven compensation. But the government has gone too far by requiring high teacher salaries averaging close to Rs.20,000 per month. These wages are clearly out of line, when compared with the market wage of a teacher, for most schools in most locations in the country. A better mechanism would have involved schools being allowed to design their own teacher salary packages and having autonomy to manage teachers. A major problem in India is the lack of incentive faced by teachers either in terms of carrot or stick. In the RTE Act, proper disciplinary channels for teachers have not been defined. Such disciplinary action is a must given that an average of 25 percent teachers are absent from schools at any given point and almost half of those who are present are not engaged in teaching activity. School Management Committees need to be given this power to allow speedy disciplinary action at the local level. Performance based pay scales need to be considered as a way to improve teaching.
The Act and the Rules require all private schools (whether aided or not) to reserve at least 25% of their seats for economically weaker and socially disadvantaged sections in the entry level class. These students will not pay tuition fees. Private schools will receive reimbursements from the government calculated on the basis of per-child expenditure in government schools. Greater clarity for successful implementation is needed on:
• How will 'weaker and disadvantaged sections' be defined and verified?
• How will the government select these students for entry level class?
• Would the admission lottery be conducted by neighbourhood or by entire village/town/city? How would the supply-demand gaps in each neighbourhood be addressed?
• What will be the mechanism for reimbursement to private schools?
• How will the government monitor the whole process? What type of external vigilance/social audit would be allowed/encouraged on the process?
• What would happen if some of these students need to change school in higher classes?
Moreover, the method for calculation of per-child reimbursement expenditure (which is to exclude capital cost estimates) will yield an inadequate resource flow to private schools. It will be tantamount to a tax on private schools. Private schools will end up charging more to the 75% of students - who are paying tuition's - to make space for the 25% of students they are forced to take. This will drive up tuition fees for private schools (while government schools continue to be taxpayer funded and essentially free).
Reimbursement calculations should include capital as well recurring costs incurred by the government.
By dictating the terms of payment, the government has reserved the right to fix its own price, which makes private unaided schools resent this imposition of a flat price. A graded system for reimbursement would work better, where schools are grouped -- based on infrastructure, academic outcomes and other quality indicators -- into different categories, which would then determine their reimbursement.
Quality of Education
The quality of education provided by the government system remains in question. While it remains the largest provider of elementary education in the country forming 80% of all recognized schools, it suffers from shortages of teachers, infrastructural gaps and several habitations continue to lack schools altogether. There are also frequent allegations of government schools being riddled with absenteeism and mismanagement and appointments are based on political convenience. Despite the allure of free lunch-food in the government schools, which has basically turned the schools into a "dhaba" and school teachers to "chefs", many parents send their children to private schools. Average schoolteacher salaries in private rural schools in some States (about Rs. 4,000 per month) are considerably lower than that in government schools. As a result, proponents of low cost private schools, critiqued government schools as being poor value for money.
Children attending the private schools are seen to be at an advantage, thus discriminating against the weakest sections, who are forced to go to government schools. Furthermore, the system has been criticized as catering to the rural elites who are able to afford school fees in a country where large number of families live in absolute poverty. The act has been criticized as discriminatory for not addressing these issues. Well-known educationist Anil Sadagopal said of the hurriedly-drafted act:
"It is a fraud on our children. It gives neither free education nor compulsory education. In fact, it only legitimizes the present multi-layered, inferior quality school education system where discrimination shall continue to prevail."
For me this new topic was like Ramayana being recited in the house, although Ramayana was still Hindi, but this was complete was Wednesday afternoon and the family members were all taking rest when I decided to run away from that house, and then actually did...but when was back home I was scolded brutally by my father who said 'here comes one more, person with his mouth wide open, good for nothing creature'. After few days, I was as well enrolled in local village school, which served lunch to every student who attended the school. But the food wasn't easy here too, every pupil was made to cook food and wash dishes, the left out time was utilized in fulfilling the desires of the school teacher. I did everything in the school but study. But my sister was not as lucky as me, although for sake of attending school, she was only enrolled in there but the reality was that she hardly attended any classes due to engagement in the household work, as that was more important and education for marriage than that what was written the school books. The only day we had a feast was when inspection was on the calendar. I did wanted to study but my pockets didn't allow me, I always pondered but couldn't make out what was wrong with my school when compared to those big ones in the cities but the answers were nowhere for me......
The RTE Act has been passed; the Model Rules have been released; financial closure appears in hand. Does this mean the policy process is now impervious to change? Even today, much can be achieved through a sustained engagement with this problem.
Drafting of State Rules
Even though state rules are likely to be on the same lines as the model rules, these rules are still to be drafted by state level authorities keeping in mind contextual requirements. Advocacy on the flaws of the Central arrangements, and partnerships with state education departments, could yield improvements in at least some States. Examples of critical changes which state governments should consider are: giving SMCs greater disciplinary power over teachers and responsibility of students learning assessment, greater autonomy for schools to decide teacher salaries and increased clarity in the implementation strategy for 25% reservations. If even a few States are able to break away from the flaws of the Central arrangements, this would yield demonstration effects of the benefits from better policies.
Assisting private unrecognized schools
Since unrecognized schools could face closure in view of prescribed recognition standards within three years, we could find ways to support such schools to improve their facilities by resource support and providing linkages with financial institutions. Moreover, by instituting proper rating mechanisms wherein schools can be rated on the basis of infrastructure, learning achievements and other quality indicators, constructive competition can ensue.
Ensure proper implementation
Despite the flaws in the RTE Act, it is equally important for us to simultaneously ensure its proper implementation. Besides bringing about design changes, we as responsible civil society members need to make the government accountable through social audits, filing right to information applications and demanding our children's right to quality elementary education. Moreover, it is likely that once the Act is notified, a number of different groups affected by this Act will challenge it in court. It is, therefore, critically important for us to follow such cases and where feasible provide support which addresses their concerns without jeopardizing the implementation of the Act.
Most well-meaning legislation's fail to make significant changes without proper awareness and grassroot pressure. Schools need to be made aware of provisions of the 25% reservations, the role of SMCs and the requirements under the Schedule. This can be undertaken through mass awareness programs as well as ensuring proper understanding by stakeholders responsible for its implementation.
Ecosystem creation for greater private involvement
Finally, along with ensuring implementation of the RTE Act which stipulates focused reforms in government schools and regulation for private schools, we need to broaden our vision so as to create an ecosystem conducive to spontaneous private involvement. The current licensing and regulatory restrictions in the education sector discourage well-intentioned 'entrepreneurs' from opening more schools. Starting a school in Delhi, for instance, is a mind-numbing, expensive and time-consuming task which requires clearances from four different departments totaling more than 30 licenses. The need for deregulation is obvious.
Today, I am 15 in age, out of school and again away from home, working only to earn hand to mouth, to boast that am literate I have gained my elementary education but the fact is, I only know how to write my name in Hindi along with few more things and that's not because of the school but I owe that to Mr walias' children. And today, the biggest question for me is, why should anyone get enrolled in a school to gain elementary education, when that education is doing no good to him in the future? After 14 I had to leave the school, in spite of me being still in standard four, I couldn't support my studies further so ultimately all my efforts went in vain, leaving me all to myself, just to ponder what should I do????
The Act has failed in identifying what actually ails our education system and so not surprisingly it offers solutions that are either redundant or counter-productive. Its unrelenting faith in the bureaucracy and its seething animosity towards private initiatives in education reflect a bygone era. However well-intentioned the government may be, the central planning approach cannot serve the future needs of India. It has failed in economics and it cannot do any better in education. The promises made in the Bill then amount to political grandstanding.
The fulfillment of the constitutional obligation does not necessarily require the state to build and manage schools. It can discharge its obligation successfully by restricting its role to the provision of financial resources to those who cannot afford and enabling all parents to make informed choices. The education system should be designed in such a manner that there is competition and choice. The schools should compete with each other to attract students and the students should in turn have the freedom to choose their school. This would ensure the best allocation of scarce resources and an improving quality of education.
One way for the government to finance education that would guarantee access to school and would create right incentives for improving quality is to fund government schools on the basis of number students in the school. Instead of a lump sum grant, the government fixes a per student charge, which multiplied with the number of students, determines the grant that a school would receive. The state can also provide financial support to students in the form of a voucher that can be redeemed only at educational institutions to cover the expenses of education. With this education voucher, the student would be in a position to choose from amongst the various public and private schools.
This would ensure competition amongst schools and thus good quality education. Furthermore, the financial resources of the state would be put to more effective use by targeting them towards the poor only and by optimally utilizing the management skills of the private sector. There is no doubt that privately managed institutions have made a tremendous contribution to the cause of education, and in the last decade particularly the unrecognised private schools for the poor. It would be a tremendous loss of social capital if these schools were forced to close down. If the government opens a new school and runs well, there would be no reason for parents to send their children to a fee-charging, unrecognised school.
They would go out of business automatically. One more reason not to outlaw these schools with the passage of the Act is the chaos and harm it would create since they will have to close down well before the government will be able to open new schools across the country. In its zeal to fulfill its constitutional mandate, the government would achieve the opposite.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

How Can It Be of Help to the Reader

This is a good question to ask for those of you who do not have any idea about what news statistics is. By definition, this is a tool included in a news search engine whose main purpose is to inform you about the number of readers that come and visit the site from time to time. Apart from this, here is how it can be of help to you as a reader.
First - It provides a chart (as well as an explanation to what is included in this chart).
Charts are graphical representations that you will not totally appreciate unless an explanation comes with it. There are news sites that offer only a chart in their database but there are also those that offer complete information about what is indicated in the chart. The explanation would include total number of visitors for the site for a certain period of time, say one month. The minimum and maximum number of readers for specific dates within that time frame is also included. It may also inform you about the average number of times the news site is visited per day for that period.
Second - It gives you the chance to compare the news categories in that site.
News search engines often categorize their topics according to people's interests. Business, lifestyle, education, sports, technology and politics are among the most popular ones. Using news statistics, you will be able to compare which among these categories are most visited by other visitors of the site.
Third - It gives you an idea of an interesting category where you can read news from.
More often than not, you know what you would want to read from a news site. However, it will also be a good idea if you will look into what other readers are interested about. This would be of great help if you want to start local discussions. You can do this by using news statistics provided in the site.
These things present how news statistics can be of great help to you. If it is your first time to browse into a certain site and you want to make sure that others appreciate the news content loaded therein, then you can use this tool to assess if visiting the site to gather news will be well worth it.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Hindustan Times News Mobile App

Everything today seems to be converging to a single point - Mobile Phones! Email, web browsing, document viewing, etc have now become such common features that one doesn't even count them as a premium feature anymore. With the ever so expanding arena of what you can do with your mobile today, we bring to you here an useful little app that just adds more value to your handset.
The Hindustan Times Mobile Application (titled mPaper) is a light app that can be downloaded to your mobile phone and brings the top news stories to you on the move! I have been using this application for a few months now and it has recently undergone an upgrade that further refines its usability and performance. The application is customizable as per your preferences and you can choose from an array of sections which in turn are customizable into categories that you wish to view on your app's home page.
The sections on offer are - news, entertainment & lifestyle, columns & blogs and education. I pick the most used section for review here - The News Section. The app segregates news items into tabs including headlines, national news, world news, sport, city specific (Delhi & Mumbai) and business. You can select the ones that you wish to receive refreshed content for.
The news stories updation is fairly frequent making the content quite fresh. You have the option of clicking onto a news item that you wish to read more on, which opens up the story in full. The app also has a news ticker scrolling at its top that highlights important and most recent news headlines. What's more, you may leave your app running in the background and you have a scrolling ticker on your phone's home screen displaying recent news.
Although the app has undergone an upgrade and is far superior to its predecessor, there still remain some glitches that would need attention to be resolved. To start with, although the news is reasonably fresh, it does not compare to real time breaking news stories that may be available on mobile enabled sites of leading news agencies. The news ticker in particular needs to be updated much more frequently for it to have any relevance on your home screen. Besides, the app if left on in the background for automatic refresh of the news feeds consumes a lot of your battery backup and exhausts it at a much more rapid rate. Again, for the app to be relevant for auto retrieval and a home screen ticker, it needs to work seriously on making it much lighter on the battery consumption. And last, a little more aesthetic appeal would do no harm to an otherwise useful and innovative product. I would rate the app at 2.5/5 in its present form - a product worth trying for sure.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Read and Listen to Nutrition News With an Educated

One day you are told that eating certain foods are extremely bad for you so you swear off those foods and eat what the news recommends instead. Then a few months later you read a report about how your new favorite food is also bad for you health! How are you supposed to believe the news when they hop from one belief to the next? The advice from one day is no longer valid and it can leave you feeling betrayed and searching for something else that may just change in a few months again.
Sometimes results from a single study are presented as fact when actually the results of a single study don't prove or disprove anything! But they are still presented to you anywase as a new fact that you need to know.
Here are a few things to look for when you are learning about your new tidbit of nutrition information to keep you safe from switching your diet completely to something that is just as unhealthy.
1. The study should be published in a peer reviewed journal as an unpublished study or one from a non credible source may not be as official. If it has been challenged or reviewed by experts in the field then give more weight to the study then if it has not.
2. Learn if the study was done over a long period of time, how many people were involved, and whether there was direct contact between participants and researchers.
If the study was done for 1 week, with 10 people, and they collected their data over the phone then it may not be an exact science as if it was done for 30 years, with 50,000 people, and closely monitored. You get my drift; just be wary of short term studies that claim wild things.
3. If the study was done with humans then take into account the similarity they have to you. Meaning if they are 30 years you're senior, non-active, and a different gender than you, then you may not be as affected or you may be more affected then they are. Take into consideration your differences.
4. Has there been previous research about the topic? Are there other studies to back up this study or is this the first of its kind?
Meaning is this constant throughout time or is it because of factors from this time period and situation.
5. Does this make sense to me? If the study tells you that margarine is bad for your heart you have to wonder if the amount of margarine in the study is the same as the amount you eat. Do you eat enough to have it affect your heart?
The point I am trying to make is that you have to take in your nutrition news with a critical eye and not allow yourself to jump on the bandwagon because of one study reported to you in a way that makes you think you have to change or suffer the consequences. Take into consideration all of these things and let your common sense as well as solid proof decide what is healthy for you.