2 items, yesterday 22.11.2004 -- comment?

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Asian Age:
Centre favours neighbourhood schools

By Tanu Jain

New Delhi, Nov. 21: The Centre\x92s affidavit, filed in
response to the assistance sought by the Delhi high
court for drawing up an uniform policy for admission
of children into nursery and pre-nursery classes, is
nothing new but what has remained on paper since
1964-66.
Neighbourhood school, as suggested by Attorney-General
Milon Banerjee in his affidavit, had been included
long back in the recommendations made by the Kothari
Commission. But till date, "an equitable system of
quality education," as envisaged in the neighbourhood
school system has remained a cherished dream.
Now, with the high court deliberating over ways to
secure admission for toddlers, the long forgotten
government policy has once again come to the
forefront. The concept of a community-controlled
system or neighbourhood school had first came into
being in 19th century. A system, defined as \x97
imparting equitable education quality in terms of
infrastructure, quality of professional teachers,
diversified and flexible curriculum and child-centred
pedagogy to all children irrespective of class, gender
or any differences \x97 has been working effectively in
the US and UK.
India, which saw the concept being introduced in 1964,
is yet to implement it. It was explicitly mentioned in
the Centre\x92s national policy on education in 1968. The
policy stated, "The CSS would be open to all children
irrespective of social, economic and other
differences; adequate standards would be maintained
and average parents would not ordinarily feel the need
of sending their children to expensive schools outside
the system."
Another policy in 1986 said, "The concept of a
national system of education implies that, up to a
given level, all students, irrespective of caste,
creed, location or sex, have access to education of a
comparable quality. Effective measures will be taken
in the direction of the CSS as recommended in the 1968
policy."
In 1988, the Central Authority Board of Education
appointed a committee which proposed a 10 year,
phase-wise programme for reconstruction of the
education system into CSS or neighbourhood school
system.
However, it remained merely on papers. The CSS was
even upheld by the Delhi government. A notification by
the directorate of education, Delhi government, dated
April 9, 1997, had categorically fixed 3 km as the
maximum area from where children will be admitted in
schools, paving way for the neighbourhood school
concept.
Now, emphasising the same principle that admissions in
a school ought to be only for children from the same
neighbourhood, the attorney-general said, "Considering
the overall distances in Delhi, it will be desirable
to have a limit of five km." This could be enhanced to
eight km in case seats in a school are not full."
"Now, what Centre has to pay attention is that before
establishment of a common school system, neighbourhood
schools should be established," said Ashok Agarwal,
from Social Jurists \x97 a lawyer\x92s group
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Hindustan Times:
Branson, Bilimoria to visit Delhi for charity

Vijay Dutt
London, November 22
 
In an unprecedented goodwill gesture, a large number
of leading public figures, senior British peers and
business heads are flying to India to appeal for funds
to educate children of poor Indian widows. Virgin
Atlantic boss Sir Richard Branson and co-chairman of
the Indo-British Partnership from the British side,
Karan Bilimoria, are to be part of the group.
The mission of educating the widows\x92 children was
undertaken by the Loomba Trust launched five years
back in London by NRI businessman Raj Loomba. Prime
Minister Tony Blair's wife Cherie Blair is the
president of the trust. She had agreed to associate
with it, as the cause of children is "dear to her".
Branson had donated over \xA3100,000 through the "Change
for Children" appeal on his Virgin Atlantic flights
worldwide. Branson and the other dignitaries,
including Dy. Leader of the House of Lords Lord Navnit
Dholakia and former Speaker Bbaroness Betty Boothroyd,
would also attend a banquet being hosted by Loomba at
Ashoka Hotel on November 27, to celebrate the fifth
anniversary of the trust. It has so far raised Rs 7
crores through charity events in London, of which
scholarships worth Rs 2 crore have been given to
educate 1100 children in 10 Indian states. The rest Rs
5 crore has been used to set up a corpus fund in
India.
Loomba plans to educate 100 children in every Indian
state in the second stage
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