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The holy officer and the scientist September 3, 2011

Posted by aglakadam in Inspirational Story, Social Casue.
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(This blog is based on the story of a boy from a small village  who ventured out to make a mark in the world. Idea behind this write up is to inspire students from lesser Privileged places to think big and also to inspire  people to connect with students and contribute to the society. The content in the story is based on what has been told to the auther by (the then ) teachers  in the school . Names of the characters in the story are assumed.)

These days I have been on a mission to reach out to village schools. Seven days and seven different villages to address 2100 students on career selection. Main aim has been to inspire them and to educate them. I shared, with these less privileged students, the available career opportunities in the country. These children dwell in places where schools are scarcely equipped, students rarely have books in hand to read, computer and internet is out of question and hygiene & health are not just comfortably compromised but also taken in their stride. As they say lotuses bloom in the marsh! I get overwhelmed and amazed to see certain success stories coming out of these villages. Here I share one such story with you today.

I share a story as told to me by a set of school teacher from Karpawand which is is a small village 45 kms from Jagdalpur. With a sub 8000 population the place has not more than 500 hutments. The village is a nature’s paradise. So much of greenery that you can get overdose of oxygen! A village where you can see the greenery of Mais  farming in every hutment. A lot of corn ( bhutta) is produced and sold in other parts of the country by the villagers. Apart from Corn fields the only other occupation is cashew nut farming.

A school dress in light blue and dark blue ( given  by the  government to students under special schemes) is the only luxury that a parent can afford to their children. Study books and other learning material is scarcely available for students. There is no stationary shop even in the village . Light from the earthen pot (only no moon nights) enables the student’s to learn their lessons at home on examination days.

Ganaram ( assumed name) lived in a small outfit in the region and studied at a local school in the vicinity. He always dared to stare at the sun and asked many questions about the sun to his teachers and parent. He was curious about the light and the energy coming from the sun. Ganaram  demonstrated a keen interest in studying science . His parents wanted him to go for higher studies ( middle school) and as such sent him to  a nearby village, for further  education. He had to travel 14 kms on road or bullock cart or an occasional bicycle ride every day.

One old & retired teacher from the village tells that on one particular 5th September ( teachers day) one senior government officer was invited to preside over a function in the school. ( no one remembers the name of this noble government officer anyway )  While going round the school and chatting with children, this officer happened to meet a boy who looked sad. Ganaram  was unhappy because he wanted to learn more about physics and science but his family had told him that this was his last year of school education. Next year onwards he would have to get into the farm and start cultivating mais. The officer listened to all that this boy had to say and what happened next is unprecedented.

Enthusiastic Ganaram  got financial assistance from the holy officer to pursue his Bachelor’s degree from Jagdalpur and Masters in Science from some college in Raipur. Subsequently Ganaram  qualified to be a part of  some leading research institute as a scientist. Current status  of Ganaram  ( as informed by the local people)  is that he is a well established researcher somewhere outside India!

If the wonderful officer did not extend his support to Ganaram  would have we lost a great scientist? I guess Yes and am sure you will also agree with me on this. How great was that teacher’s day when Ganaram met with the angle!  Not just for Ganaram , that was a great day also for the nation and for the humanity. In real essence the spirit of mentorship and service to mankind was demonstrated on earth.

Friends we do not need to be employed in a school to become a teacher.  We all are teachers within. At least we all have the potential to be good teachers at home and in the society. Wherever and for whatever purpose we move, the network of being a teacher within should always follow us.  Its time all of us took this responsibility to spread the light of education. Not necessary that we make financial contributions, sometimes just one word of inspiration can as well push someone to great heights.

This teacher’s day lets all pledge that we shall mentor at least one under privileged child in the society. This I think this would be the best tribute to Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakhrishnan. Let’s strive to make life much more knowledgeable and fulfilled for every child on this earth.


* Scientist’s can take birth in a remote village, but they can become so only when someone from better access extends a helping hand.

* It’s our social responsibility to contribute to the upbringing of every student in the society.

* Imparting education is not just the duty of school and school teachers. We the members of this society have an equivalent role to play.

*. You and me have a teacher within, rejuvenate it.

* This teacher’s day, let us all pledge to share the light of education to at least one student in the society.

Ajit Varwandkar

Email : info@fsindia.in

Post Script : Recently I got an email from a person, who lived in the referred village, stating  that no such Ghanaram ( assumed name ) hails from the village and this story might not be factual.

My submission : Its not just teachers who are responsible to ensure the academic growth of the students, the society shares a collective responsibility. May be, the details shared with me by the school teacher could be distorted. However even if  the story is imaginary, still it can inspire & suggest individual’s to support student’s in distant localities.


How much homework is enough for students? August 7, 2011

Posted by aglakadam in Children n Students, National Issues.
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What is your homework policy?

I happened to be discussing about school education and child upbringing with one senior bureaucrat recently. The officer’s son was studying in one of the most prestigious ( & costly too!) school in the town, however he was still seemingly unhappy about his child’s performance at school and at home. He said, “Ajit Ji, readymade Maggy ko pani mein ubal ke agar gharwali khana parosegi to usne khana banaya bolenge kya?” ( If the housewife buys a ready to eat food, just boil’s it and arranges it for you to eat, will she be given the credit of preparing a good food?). I said, Not really. That’s what is happening to our children today. His complaint was that for every home work assignment which his son gets, he prefers to surf the internet, download the data, do a bit of copy-paste-reformat and finish the homework. I am afraid tomorrow he may upload his homework on face book and update the status!

When parent’s meet what they most of the time discuss and speak is about their children. A variety of ideas and information gets churned out in such discussions. One lady who shifted her son to a new school, feels it’s a very good school only because back home she had never seen her son so immoderately busy with his homework. In her words, “Now a day’s my son ‘studies’ a lot!” Actually her son is most of the times busy completing his homework.  On the contrary here is one senior banker who curses his son’s school like anything. What they tell the child to do at home is only to copy down the matter from textbook to homework copy. Worst is this that most of the time his son is on a multitasking mode. He does all his topo job (copy work) simultaneously while he is watching those film fare awards or other reality shows on the idiot box ( television). When cross questioned his son has a logical explanation “ Dad, till date not even a single such assignment has been checked by our teacher. She will only put a red colour mark to fulfill her statutory responsibility. Even if I write down the story of DON 2 in between the notes still I can get the “red colour OK mark and signature” from my teacher on the home work submission!”

Friends won’t you agree that doing such homework is just like eating a heavy dose of junk food which has no nourishment but only satisfies the sense of having eaten something!” If there is zero importance to homework given to children, it will only kill the students productive time and make him dull. I recall my school days when if I were to prepare for a debate on any topic first I used to use all my available information in the memory bank to scribble the preliminary framework. Then discuss it with parents and friends to make it more relevant ( obviously we did not have search engines those days!). Finally our teacher used to do the final cut and approve or disapprove the content. On the contrary in today’s era  if a student has to prepare for a debate, I can bet, 95 out of 100 students will log on to google.com and download the content (rest 5 might not have the  “right to internet” at home!)

In the current schooling system I have observed a gross disconnect between school homework and its expected output. Students from various schools share that they get homework from various subject teachers in different periods. Sometimes the summation of homework given by all the subject teachers in a particular day grossly surpasses the students capacity to accommodate. Students from lower classes are sometimes given assignments and projects which are very difficult for them to execute. In one school a class II student got an assignment to make a model of Roads and Buildings. This child has not been prepared to take on such an assignment on his own and as such the project gets outsourced to the kids parents or brother-sisters. This is a typical case of a fruitless home work. In the process the child learns to daringly fake in front of the world when she proclaims that she has done that project on her own! 

Be it an essay contest preparation or any kind of a project work submission there are off line and online companies which offer a readymade solution. This should not sound like news that there are various homework vendors available in big markets who offer to do your child’s homework in exchange of a few rupees! Home work is a booming business in a few metro’s now a days, specially the ‘bulk home work’s’ like summer home work or the winter homework!

Homework is defined as out-of-class tasks assigned to students as an extension or elaboration of classroom lessons. In effect I think, there could be three main purposes of  homework:

  1. Make the student practice at home what has been taught in school.
  2. Make her to prepare for the examinations.
  3. As an extended learning ( skill development and extra curriculum)

A lot of research has been done on the need and relevance of home work given to school children and its relevance in the current context. It has been found that homework is a largely effective in enhancing the student’s performance but only when it is executed by the student in the intended manner. According to a Duke professor of psychology Mr. Harris Cooper, there is a positive correlation between home work and student performance specially for secondary school students. Too much or too little home work, both work against the students learning aptitude. The research suggests assigning of 10 minutes of homework per day per grade-level. Accordingly class I students should get 10 minutes worth of homework while 9th graders can accommodate 90 minutes of homework.

Assigning homework should have educational value and should serve to enhance the learning. It should not attempt to supplement the time constraint in school in order to cover up the full course curriculum.  Homework is a tool which should be effectively and intelligently used by the school administration to leverage intellectual discipline and establishes desirable study habits. It should reinforce the lessons studied in school. As a by-product home work should bring the home and the school as well as the teacher and the parent close to each other.


  • Every school should have a well discussed and properly designed homework policy.
  • Before going for the internet resources, students should be educated and encouraged to at least attempt the first level of assignment with the available resource with him in his mind.
  • Feedback improves the effectiveness of homework, especially when the homework submission is genuinely reviewed and feedback given in a timely manner.
  • Attempt should be made to limit after school activities so that student has enough time to manage various other activities like sports, social networking, relationships etc.
  • Homework should entice the parents to monitor the child’s work at home, but it should not compel them to get into “on the job” execution support at home.


Ajit Varwandkar

Email : info@fsindia.in