Monday, May 11, 2015

EFF in Indian Startups

It's a proud moment for us, Education For Free has been featured in IndianStartups.co; an online start up news portal that serves and highlight emerging startups.
Syed Sirajuddin described EFF  in simple yet powerful lines. He described how EFF is trying to reach the fundamental right, 'Right to Education' through our innovate approach 'Virtual classroom'. He also added comments of volunteers shared with us. On behalf of EFF we thank Sirajuddin for a good write-up.
Read full article here - 
http://indianstartups.co/stories/education-for-free-ngo-raising-the-quality-of-education-in-government-schools/

Friday, April 24, 2015

Parents must maintain Equilibrium in Raising a Child as in Giving Birth to a Child!

Into this peaceful, pleasant and perfect world that God created, evil entered in various ways. And perfection resulted in imperfection which is manifested in personal grief, lack of hope, faith and trust and the loss of safety and security of human life. Among all these, child sexual abuse is the most heinous evil that has been creeping into the minds of people of all ages, and it has ruined moral values and ethical life both in the family and society. 
Lustful feelings and selfishness of man led human life to go through painful experiences, and much of it occur in childhood itself.  Caretakers alone are sometimes unable to protect children from painful experiences. Statistics presented by various organizations working with children indicate that more than half the populations of Indian children suffer from child sexual abuse in one form or other.
Sexual abuse is when any person, young, adult or child forces, tricks, threatens, or coerces a child to have sexual contact with him or her for the benefit of personal sexual excitement and satisfaction. Showing children pornographic pictures or films or telling them explicitly sexual stories can be a form of sexual abuse. Some children are forced or encouraged to have sexual contact or intercourse with parents, uncles, grandparents, friends of the family, and servants in the house. Other children have sexual contacts with strangers. Most of the times one’s own family members make one the victim of child sexual abuse but unfortunately parents are unable to understand the children because  lack of knowledge, ignorance, illiteracy, fear of shame etc…  At times parents become only the birth givers not caretakers. Nowadays most of the parents are busy working in the fields or at offices leaving their children at home with someone or servants in the house.
Most parents think that they should give the best to their children which make them keep earning money to give entertainment and excitement through toys, dresses and all the material goods. However, they forget the importance of caring for their children. Very often the negligence of children by their parents becomes the root cause of the horrible experience of sexual abuse in childhood. The literature that I have read on child sexual abuse, the personal testimonies of survivors of child sexual abuse and the experiences that people have shared personally with me make me conclude that this is a reality which many face in today’s world.

How to respond to a possible situation of sexual abuse: 

     If your child says that she/he does not want to play with uncle / cousin / servant / brother etc… you need to pick up what the child wants to say, but is unable to say.  The child may be trying to tell you that it is the victim of sexual abuse.  She/he may say that uncle is not good or he is bad. In such situations DO NOT scold the child or punish the child and defend the good character of the uncle.  The child knows only the word “bad” and nothing more.   Stay with the feeling of the child, and help her or him to speak out more in a very gentle and non-intrusive way.  You may take for granted that your child may be in a situation of sexual abuse. It is here that you need to believe your child. DO NOT believe the uncle or cousin or play down what your child says.  You may be missing out the ONLY chance to protect your ONLY child.
      The child may say that uncle did something bad to me.  In such or similar situations you may ask the child whether he touched her / him and whether that made her / him feel not good. Allow the child to use her / his expressions and feelings.   It is of utmost importance that you communicate to your child that she / he is far more precious to you than the uncle or cousin. A sense of security, homeliness, trust needs to be communicated to the child.  If your child is made a victim of sexual abuse, then you are the BEST healer for her or him.  The process of healing will have begun from the time the child feels unthreatened and protected by you.
    The next step in the process of dealing with possible abuse is to make the child feel that no matter what has happened she / he is still your dearest and best one.  Help the child feel that she / he is still good and that for you she / he matters much.  These words have meaning only if you avoid everything that would make the child feel negative about her or him.
NEVER BLAME OR PUNISH THE CHILD.  Parents are in the habit of blaming the child for whatever may go wrong because it is easier to blame the child than the adult. Besides, the child cannot defend itself.  In no way your child is responsible for what has happened (assuming something has gone wrong).  Never say: ‘You are a bad girl’ or ‘You are a bad boy’.  To be labeled as bad for innocent behavior is the greatest harm one can do to a child.  Ensure that the so called ‘uncle’ or ‘cousin’ is blamed and the child should be helped to think and feel that it has done no wrong.  The blame is to go totally and entirely to the perpetrator.  
      Ask the child whether she / he would like a change.  For example a change in the driver who transports her / him to the school; the shopkeeper who regularly supplies the stationery; the teacher who takes tuition; the kitchen girl who prepares the food etc…  Remember the perpetrator of the crime is very close to the child and is a confidant.
      Ensure the safety of the child in all contexts.  If need be, change the location where the child frequents or the school that she / he frequents. Protect the privacy of the child as much as possible.  It is of utmost importance that no one gets a chance to make the child feel bad, sad and ashamed.  No matter how good your intention is.
     REMEMBER, there is no one who is as capable and competent as you, the parent, to bring the original innocence back to the child.  She or he can be totally and completely made well, in case sexual abuse has taken place, provided you stay with the child with all the love you can pour out on her /him.
Finally believe in your child. Children usually do not lie.


       Image source: www. frontpagemag.com





Tuesday, April 14, 2015

A day in the school with techies

Early morning three hours ride to the country side rejuvenate our senses isn't it? March first week, spring season dressed in its green gown. The beautiful climate welcomed us all the way to the school.
Academic year is coming to conclude in less than a month, it's time  to visit our rural school, ZPHS Gandeed to evaluate their learning through virtual classroom. We made it on 7th March '15 along with a new set of volunteers working in different professions.

We were excited to see the pupils after five months; though we daily interact them in virtual classroom. Inspite of Holi festival prior day, more than 80% pupils turned up to school on Saturday. That makes our teaching unique.

Volunteers were thrilled to meet the pupils, they spent the whole day in their assigned class. Experience in their own words...
"When I talked to these pupils I was really amazed and wondered that they are really good in English. They have learned a lot from virtual class teaching. EFF has given them good opportunity from what they're learning from their regular syllabus. Moreover, they said an interesting line on me - 'this is the first time we're talking to a Punjabi guy, you are literally awesome'. These words made my day." - Supreet Singh, Design Manager at PurpleTalk


"I got the opportunity to teach the 7th class students through EFF. Before going there my thoughts were like, ‘You are going to a govt school and do not expect much from their side’.
But they proved me wrong and I am very happy for that.
They are poor in English but very enthusiastic, not afraid to express what they know and made my life hard with missiles like questions flying from all around. They have appetite for learning. 
Thank you EFF for making them wonder kids. I can feel all the efforts you have put in when I stood between them.
All the best.
And thank you for giving me the opportunity to teach as well as learn. " - Manohar Krishna, Director & CEO, Creative Bite Digital studio  

"It was an extraordinary experience for me to teach small kids. I was amazed to meet those kids and see how enthusiastic they were to learn the new things through online education system introduced by EFF. After meeting the students, I couldn't judge if they were the students of some govt. school in some village. This kind of initiatives can give a new shape to our Indian education system. Keep it up EFF"- Harsimran Kaur, Freelance designer, sewer & home maker

"Some of the students looked passive, but when I asked questions they answered with full explanation, it was beyond my expectations. I taught them how to give presentation using the resources available-like piece of chalk and black board. I was amazed to see a boy how well he implemented my words. Pupils need this kind of platform to inspire, they'll automatically become good citizen. There is something lacking in this 8th Std, but they're putting good efforts in English-speaking skills.This is the first time I am in between kids, it's wonderful experience; I really learned a lot from them, looking forward to teach and learn from these innocent and smart champs." - Shiva Dasoju, SSE-QA, PurpleTalk

"I dealt with 7th Telugu Medium students. Praveeen, Ravi, Mahesh, Mahendra, Yadaiah have been the best performers." - Nagaraju, SE-Dev at PurpleTalk'

Volunteers are the key resource for a non-profit organisation. On behalf of EFF, we express our gratefulnes to all these techies for making our evaluation easier. A part from it, hanging out with you guys was great fun for the pupils :)

Monday, March 30, 2015

HYSEA Annual Summit & Awards 2015


For the second time EFF has been nominated to HYSEA Awards 2015 under social impact category. It's a wonderful platform showcasing innovative designs and products.

EFF stall been attractive one, a lot of people visited us and enrolled as volunteers.

 ZenQ employees, interested in volunteering as teachers

Teach For India (TFI) fellows at EFF stall

With PurpleTalk family!

Governor, ESL.Narsimhan, addressing the HYSEA summit

To be a part of this event was a great experience, we didn't bag the award though. Met so many people from different backgrounds, learned their innovation, amazed to see the products designed by the students, it's out and out a good expo for every individual. 

Some interesting startups spotted in the event...
Problembolo.com is one of the winner under social impact category. It's a great initiative by the young lads of class X and XII.





Friday, March 20, 2015

A new take on evaluation, CCE pattern in the state of Telangana

Exams are here. Mug-up, by heart, memorize and reproduce in the exam. After all, we need good figures at the end of the academic year.Education in those days was figures in the progress card. If you get 95% marks you are the best student in the school.
I used to study the whole year day and night, and get just pass marks, where as my friends who study just a month before exams used to get excellent scores. Evaluation was merely concerned with facts delivered in the paper. Is this a right way to evaluate learning...?

The revolutionary change in the evaluation system has brought by the centre through CCE - Continuous Comprehensive Evaluation pattern. This enable the teacher to overlook all the qualities of the pupil through out the year. Starting from daily assignments, projects, oral and written tests, non-scholastic such as behavior, games, etc are counted in CCE pattern.
This is the first time for the state of Telangana implementing CCE pattern full fledged. Of course, they've come up with few more modifications in the CCE pattern.



Few highlights -
  • It's not semester model
  • 80 marks for written exam and 20 marks for internal assessment(projects, home works etc)
  • Questions are designed in such a way to test seven skills of the kid - information, communication, appreciation, aesthetic sense, application to daily life, experimentation, field investigation
  • Questions given at the end of the text book will not be seen the exam. Instead they're asked in different scenarios.
  • In evaluation, teachers should consider all the answers from students' point of view
There are so many questions arising in every nook and corner. Teachers got used to stereo type evaluation, this model will perhaps give space for bias in evaluation. Students got used to by-heart the content, they feel like out of water to answer application model questions. One should have minimum writing skills to answer an application model question. Few teachers argue, pupils of tenth standard will undergo mental trauma to digest this pattern as they got used to traditional model.

A small survey conducted in some schools, here is teachers' view on the new CCE pattern -


Related links:
http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/cce-learning-beyond-textbooks/article6655765.ece

Monday, February 23, 2015

Mobile Science Lab - A step towards quality science education

Schools are the learning temples. Pupils learn everything from their mini society, school. Science is an important subject for every grade. The subject science is meant for practicality, hands on experience. Teachers can give good explanation of the science experiment, but it is not 100% instruction until the child is taken to the laboratory to perform a live experiment. Do our schools (government) have science labs?
 To my surprise I had seen a team of youngsters wearing aprons performing live experiments in 9th classroom at Govt. Girls High School Red Cross. The team is from Mobile Science Lab. They were carrying experiment kits related to chemistry, biology and physics. Pupils were excited to participate in executing the experiments, holding the glass jars with chemicals, watching the reactions live was much fun for them.
Mobile Science Lab (MSL) is an initiative of Sahayata Trust, supported by Tech Mahindra Foundation. MSL started in the year 2011, works for the quality science education in India. "Schools in Hyderabad, regardless private or government are running without science laboratories. Schools are busy inducing the syllabus to the little brains, how can they spare time for science experiments", says the founder of Mobile Science Lab, Mr. Lateef Atear. According to NKC (National Knowledge commission) majority of the employees prefer to work in multinational companies relating to IT industry, finance etc., People in India are hardly taking up research as their career. The problem starts at schools, as chalk & talk method do not create interest in the subjects like science. Science is a lively subject, experiments and field trips are the ways we can acquire the subject through. Unfortunately, our education system is concerned with cognitive skills with little or no importance given to the application.

Affording a science laboratory and maintaining it is not an easy task for every school. The solution is Mobile Science lab! The lab moves from school to school; educates the pupils in practicality of the subject.
MSL focuses on gaining knowledge through research. Scientific learning is tied directly to state learning standards (essential knowledge and skills) and is scheduled so that teachers have time to take up new concepts and design ways to transfer the essential concepts to their students on a regular basis.
MSL tied up with 18 government schools in Hyderabad. They make nine visits to each school in a particular academic year.  They shows live experiments in physics, chemistry, biology, astronomy etc. Startups like these nurture the little scientist in every student. Govt. should take up this initiative in a big scale, and ensure the service for more schools.

For more information about MSL visit: http://www.mobilesciencelab.in/

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

‘Straight’ expressions

The word ‘straight’ is associated with an important metaphor, and as a result gives us a number of useful expressions by Nilesh Jahagirdar
Straight dope
This is a slang, informal expression that refers to ‘unadulterated, complete truth or information.’ For example, you might say: ‘‘While most news channels cover entertainment more than actual news, i like this new channel because it gives me the straight dope.’ In usage, the expression is always preceded by the article ‘the.’ When you ask someone for ‘the straight dope,’ you are asking them to tell you the truth, complete and without any coverup.
Here is another example: ‘My father never tried to hide the harsh realities of the world from me. Whenever I asked him a question, he always gave me the straight dope.’
A straight arrow
Mostly used in American English, ‘straight arrow’ describes someone who is honest and straightforward. For example, you might say: ‘I hope my friends all describe me as a straight arrow, because I try to be honest and direct in all my interactions with them.’ Beyond honest and straightforward, ‘straight arrow’ also implies that someone is well-behaved, or careful about their behavior in social situations.
The role of the metaphor ‘straight’ should be clear in this context. Someone who is a straight arrow is predictable and reliable, and certainly the opposite of ‘devious’ or ‘crooked.’
Get something straight
In conversational English, this expression is particularly useful in a specific context. If a friend tells you something, and you want to confirm that you have understood her correctly, you can start your sentence with this expression.
Here is an example: ‘OK,so let me get this straight. You want me to go there in the morning to pick up your book?’ In terms of meaning, the expression essentially says ,‘please confirm this for me.’
However, the expression is particularly useful in situations where you paraphrase something someone has said, in such a way that you make it sound wrong, and thereby express your disagreement. Here is an example: ‘OK, so let me get this straight. You don’t want to use your credit card online because of security fears, but you are asking ME to use my credit card for you?’

This article was originally posted in The Hindu 

Friday, January 30, 2015

Republic Day Celebrations at Majeedia School

India is celebrating 66th Republic Day. Development in the country is still stagnant. For example in our city Hyderabad there are so many government schools with insufficient classrooms. These schools run on shift bases. High schools works in the morning hours, 8am to 12.30pm and primary in the postnoon, 1pm to 5pm. One such school is Government Girls High School (GGHS) Majeedia, located at Masab Tank. Majeedia school is a co-education school with three medium of instruction - English, Telugu and Urdu.
Observing 26th January, we tried to connect this school through some competitions. As we don't know the capability levels of the school students, we proposed two simple activities to be conducted. They were -
  • Creative letter writing
  • GK quiz competition

We were surprised to see good number of pupils turned up for letter writing activity. Creative writing enables the pupils to improve their writing skills. Some scanned copies for your read -

GK quiz is all about recalling the facts. Quiz enables the pupils to improve their thinking and decision making skills.
Quiz competition between the classes 6th and 7th of three medium (English, Telugu and Urdu)

There were three levels in the quiz competition. All the questions are based on their syllabus. Pupils find it little anxiety as it was first time they were playing a quiz. Everyone enjoyed and gained knowledge.

Quiz competition for high school students from 8th to 10th classes.

The teams have bifurcated based on their medium. English, Telugu and Urdu. Guess who won the quiz. Yeah! Its Telugu medium team bagged the prize.

Republic Day celebrations and prize distribution for the winners.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Most unusual expressions

Some interesting words that describe people engaging in fraud or cheating in someway by Nilesh Jahagirdar.

Shill: One time I was at a train station, where I was approached by someone who was offering to sell branded, expensive sunglasses for next to nothing. I’m sure we have encountered such fraudulent offers. As it happens, even as I refused, this seller was approached by a ‘customer’ who was interested in buying, and was praising the quality of the sunglasses loudly enough for me to hear. We know the routine with these things. The ‘customer’ who showed interest was a ‘shill’--a person who was in league with the seller, and was trying to get him business by tricking other people.
The job of a shill is to pretend to be a customer, lend legitimacy to the business or the seller by pretending to like and buy the product, and thus trick other people around into buying the product too.
As you can tell, this is an unflattering way to describe someone who is putting on an act, being dishonest, and essentially trying to defraud others. The meaning of the word is often extended to describe people who are known apologists or unreasonably strong supporters of political parties, politicians, etc.
For example, you might say: ‘Although the government has failed to implement any welfare policies, this prominent journalist--who is perhaps a government shill--continues to praise it.’ Here is another example: ‘The mining activities have damaged our forests and hurt the local people, but the media, which is basically a shill for large corporations, has failed to take the issue seriously.’

Charlatan: Let’s deal with the pronunciation first. ‘Charlatan’ is pronounced--to indicate very roughly-- as ‘shaar-la-tan’. This is a word of French origin, that again means ‘a fraud’ or ‘a trickster.’ The precise usage is important though. A charlatan is someone who fakes a specific skill, or knowledge of a particular profession in order to cheat people and make some quick money. For example, you would frequently come across news items about charlatans who go from town to town pretending to be spiritual guides, and in the process steal money from people.
The word is perhaps most commonly used to describe people who pretend to have professional medical expertise, but are actually not qualified doctors at all. If you are angry at a doctor and believe him to be extremely incompetent, you might call him a ‘charlatan’--which would definitely be an insult--even though you are aware that he has a medical degree.

This article was originally posted in The Hindu 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

EFF is back again with assorted team: motivating the students

Finally yes!we are here this year to discuss with you about the EFF trip to country side, Gandweed ZPH School. Once in every three months we visit the school to check the over all development and progress among the students, but this time we were late by one month because of the formation of Telangana and Andhra states and hours of power cuts especially in villages. Due to which we could not take the virtual classes regularly.
Every visit of ours, we introduce new set of volunteers from various professions, by doing so, students, get excited to see new faces who could express their intentions, motivating and encouraging the pupils by inserting corporate play schools methods of teaching, rather than the routine presentation teaching.

Volunteers from different backgrounds implant their teaching skills and involve the students in activities such as classroom games, speaking activities, quiz competition, reading, social issues etc... This time we have concentrated only the speaking skills of the students because we wanted to evaluate how well they are able to cope up with English and in their communication skills. The topics that we have emphasized this time were; Role of News paper in our life, what is your aim in life, Story telling and above all last not the least, Eradication of child marriage etc....

Improvisation

At the end of the day, when we took the summary class wise, it was impressive! The virtual classroom teaching helped most of the students to perform well in all categories of subjects, social issues, general knowledge, speaking activities, current affairs, and English grammar and so on. Over all it was amazing to learn that students have put in lot of interest in learning to speak in English. The different methods of teaching especially, to those vernacular medium students of classes VI and a very small number of students from other classes needs an extra concentration individually, to help them shine like other students. Who are already in that stream, in a nut shell, lots of efforts to be put in with students to overcome the fear of stage and speech. Perhaps help them to take daring steps to disclose their talents standing in front of the class and audience.
Vehemently speaking, while the presentation of Hockey Sticks along with items relating to them and some Educational Literature books were awarded for the students for the excellent performance in the activities that were conducted by the EFF.We noticed that there were lot of people standing  at the school main gate and some of them sitting on the walls while others standing witnessing the proceedings taking place in the school premises. Out of their anxiety and excitement, we could hear  them clapping in joy along with the students cheering the students who are presented with gifts. We the EFF are happy to bring this awareness among the residents of Gandweed Village and are very pleased with the encouragement they offered to the students.

This school visit has created awareness: In student's performances, and how we need to work with them in the areas they need to be polished to make an improvement in their progress.

On behalf of EFF, we sincerely thank all the Purpletalk employees and others who supported the achievers and made the children happy at the end of the day. We hope to get the same support and encouragement from all of you, in the future too. We thank the school management for cooperating with us in all errands.