Mumbaiites continue to breathe poor quality air, except in Borivali

As a citizen of Mumbai and a medical doctor, I am very concerned about the quality of air we breathe. The Hindustan Times reported today that the city continued to have poor air for the second day in a row.The pollutant-measuring indicator air quality index (AQI) fell from 224 on Monday morning to 220 by the evening, both falling under the ‘poor’ category. There was no change in minimum temperatures from Sunday, which was 4.5 degrees Celsius below normal.

545012-pollution

The System for Air Quality Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) predicted an AQI of 220 for Tuesday as well. An AQI between 101 and 200 falls under the ‘moderate’ category, while that between 201 and 300 is ‘poor’ and beyond 301 falls into the ‘very poor’ category.

The Santacruz weather station, representative of Mumbai, recorded the night temperature at 16.4 degrees Celsius, similar to Monday and November 11, which has been the lowest November night temperature since 2012. The night temperature at Colaba, representative of south Mumbai was recorded at 22 degrees Celsius, a degree Celsius below normal.

Officials from the weather bureau said the current wind pattern over the city has led to cool temperatures and a decline in air quality. “From late Saturday night onwards, cool winds from the north-western parts of the country has led to a cooling effect,” said KS Hosalikar, deputy director general, western region, India Meteorological Department. “As a result, due to the process of inversion, cool temperatures have allowed pollutant particles to settle close to the surface. We expect these conditions to continue till Wednesday.”

Meanwhile, day temperatures were more than 2 degrees Celsius above normal as Colaba and Santacruz, both recorded 35.6 degrees Celsius as the maximum temperature. “During the day, the winds are not strong and this has allowed temperatures to rise. However, cool winds during the night are leading to a fall in temperatures,” said Shubhangi Bhute, director, Regional Meteorological Centre, IMD. “The gap between day and night temperatures can lead to health issues such as cough, cold and fever,” Bhute added.

On Monday, Malad was the most polluted location with an AQI of 307 (very poor), followed by Navi Mumbai at 303 (very poor). While majority of the locations in Mumbai recorded ‘poor’ air quality, Borivli had the cleanest air with an AQI of 132 (moderate).072813_1339_4.png

As part of a citizens Forum called the New Link Road Residents Forum, http://www.newlinkroad.wordpress.com we have been pro active to ensure that Borivali and its near by areas are free from man made sources of pollution. We wish that more readers would be encouraged to take steps to combat this menace.

Fun with Liquid Nitrogen in Mumbai

Fun with Liquid Nitrogen in Mumbai
Imagine being able to have liquid nitrogen which is minus 196 degrees Celsius right in your home! For experimenting with, ofcourse. Nitrogen Utsav (56)The team with the various experiments they did.

They started with introducing themselves, Science Utsav, a company, started 4 years ago in Bangalore. Then they invited questions from the children and parents alike. The first experiment was one of pouring out liquid nitrogen into a plastic beaker and putting a fresh rose in it. Nitrogen Utsav (30) Nancy was told to crush the rose and it powdered in her hands!

After this there were various experiments with different objects like cricket ball, banana, chikoo, balloons and Amul cool Milk. Nitrogen Utsav (20)

Pouring Liquid Nitrogen
Pouring Liquid Nitrogen

Yes that is what some of us Mumbai Homeschoolers got to taste, literally of course, at Liquid Nitrogen Science fun organised by Science Utsav, a company that organises science themed birthday parties too.
We met at our home on the 14th of October 2015. There were around 35 of us including a few parents.

Frothy fountain
Puking Volcano

 We also got to see this Puking volcano!
IMAG6082

Pouring out Liquid nitrogenIMAG6118

Experiments in full swing.IMAG6132

Children lining up to get a taste of instant icecream made right before their eyes!

Everyone enjoyed and learnt a lot of physics, chemistry and biology as well! Three cheers to homeschooling and science Utsav!

More parents take to home-schooling their kids, term school studies as rote-learning

Children have always learned naturally from grandparents, parents and elder siblings by accompanying them to the market, to the jungle, to the river, or to the fields. Helping with daily tasks of sowing, harvesting, hunting, food gathering, wood cutting, thatching, attending cattle and so on… children acquire valuable knowledge about biodiversity, medicinal plants, animal husbandry, agriculture, water conservation, house construction, fishing, pottery, weaving, painting … That is EDUCATION!! http://ancientroots.in/children-tomorrows-custodians-of-traditional-knowledge-part-1/

Now it looks like city dwellers have caught on to this and are taking on to homeschooling in a big way. Here is an article in the Times of India by Freny Fernandes….

Seven-year-old Aditi Choudhary is intensely poring over a copy of an atlas and correctly spells out the capital of all nations on the globe when asked. After a pat of appreciation, she resorts to learning math. Nothing out of the ordinary, except that Aditi is getting her lessons at home and not in school for the past three years.

She is being home-schooled, just like the growing number of other children whose parents have taken responsibility as teachers, instead of sending their wards to school for what they call rote learning.

“The schools are preparing them for a rat-race. It is not about gaining knowledge these days. It is all about rote-learning and preparing them for a job market. I do not subscribe to this concept,” says Maya Choudhary , Aditi’s mother.

Shubhangi Bagul, an artist and resident of Louis Wadi, is determined to pull out her fouryear-old son from a school in Thane after a year of observing the way he was being taught.

“We enrolled our son in the junior KG of a popular school with lots of hope. The first thing that disappointed us was that it was overcrowded with 68 children and one teacher to handle them. The school’s approach was a very standard, one-size fits-them all pattern where a child’s natural instinct takes a beating,” she says.

Shubhangi’s husband, Chetanraj, also an artist, says that he wanted his son’s ability at creativity, imagination and understanding to be nurtured and sharpened. “Home-schooling is an alternative education system that can allow holistic growth, “ he says.

Most of the 500-group of parents from Thane and Mumbai who are home-schooling their children say that taking on the role of a teacher requires 100 per cent commitment.

Shruti Patil, who took an infinite sabbatical from her career in architecture to homeschool her three daughters, says, “I have not gone to work ever since I took the responsibility of teaching my children. Every night I have to think of ways to teach basic concepts to them in an interesting way. I even took a course on phonetics from Deborah Rodrigues to understand it better before teaching them. I am constantly reading up on child psychology, etc. to help me teach them better. “

Adapted from May 17 2015 issue of The Times of India (Thane) by Freny Fernandes.

Father of the nation

Being a father is a huge responsibility. How huge? Bigger than any position the world may bestow! Are you sure, some may ask.

Here is what came in the news today:

A British auction house has put on sale three explosive letters written in June 1935, revealing Mahatma Gandhi’s deep concerns over the behaviour of his eldest son Harilal.

You should know that your problem has become much more difficult for me even than our national freedom” Gandhi says.

Mohandas Karamchand [Mahatma] Gandhi was the leader of India’s freedom struggle, where he used non-violence as the means to resist British rule in India in the 1900’s. He is now called the Father of the Nation, and his image is on the currency notes of India, called the Rupee.

Figure 1 Mahatma Gandhi Father of the Nation of India

These letters reveal the huge impact his son’s behavior was having on him, an impact bigger even than the issue of freedom for the entire Indian sub-continent, which is now three countries with 20% of the World’s population.

As parents this is a lesson we need to take very very seriously.

Dead Dad or Dad to be, however important your job or business or even Title may be, ultimately if you have not been a father to your own children, everything else will be in vain.

Over 3000 years ago it was written in the Book of Proverbs [19:13] A foolish son brings disgrace to his father. And (Pro 17:25)

Foolish children bring sorrow to their father and pain to their mother.

As parents the most important job you can have is to bring up children who are wise. Take it very seriously, dear friend. The time you have with your children will soon pass away, but the impact you can make on their lives is eternal.

 

IGCSE students applying for admission to a local Junior College after 10th grade exams

Many homeschooled children are taking the IGCSE exams at the tenth grade level [IGCSE/O Level] in India. Some of them would like to join Junior colleges in their respective states. What should they do to get admission into any Junior College in their state? What about the state of Maharashtra, and the Mumbai University?



These are the things that we are currently aware of in this respect:

IGCSE/O Level: Maharashtra State Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education states that students who have passed IGCSE/O Levels (minimum 5 subjects with English) are considered eligible for admission to the first year of Jr. College (Std. XI) affiliated to this Board.

http://recognition.cie.org.uk/OrganisationDetails.aspx?QI=2&RI=863 [This is from the Cambridge website. You can search for any Country and Exam here]

Tanya Valecha, the Principal of Rustomjee Cambridge IGCSE School in North Mumbai, Maharashtra, said “There is an equivalency booklet released by the Maharashtra state education department and available at their Navi Mumbai and Pune office. Not sure if it is available online. This book states all the boards from across the world which are equivalent to the SSC [Tenth grade State Board Secondary School Certificate] and in what context e.g.: 5 subjects at O levels with English is equivalent to SSC and the student is eligible for admission to a junior college in Maharashtra.

She also mentioned “For admissions to junior college, the following steps are taken by our students who write the IGCSE exam.

1. They need to apply online or offline in minority /in house quota at schools as per dates prescribed by the board.

2. They are issued the following documents from CIE – statement of marks, IGCSE certificate and migration certificate

3. They are issued the following documents by the school –

  • School leaving certificate,
  • Bonafide certificate and
  • Transcript of marks as per format of department.

4. If they apply for a diploma, they need to acquire an equivalency certificate from Navi Mumbai in their name.

5. If they do HSC, once the admission process is completed at a junior college, the student needs to fill up an eligibility form (available at college for a nominal fee) .and submit to his college

6. The college then proceeds and completes the process. The college may also write to school/board for verification.”

I found this form from Mumbai University for application for Provisional Statement of Eligibility for students from another Board or even another country seeking admission to Mumbai University:

http://www.mu.ac.in/eligibilityform.pdf

For those students wanting to take up professional courses, these are the requirements mentioned by some Universities like Manipal: Candidates intending to join Medical or Engineering degree programs are required to have obtained A Level passes in Physics, Chemistry and Biology/Mathematics besides five passes at GCE O Level/GCSE/IGCSE.

Figure 1 Homeschooling or teaching children at home is a growing trend in India

So as of now, homeschooled children in India taking the IGCSE exams at the tenth grade level should be able to get admission into Junior Colleges in Maharashtra [and other states also] by following the above steps.


Have a wonderful homeschooling learning journey. J If you need any clarifications please write to me.

PS:

I also found one Equivalency Booklet issued by a University in India online, http://gndu.ac.in/gndu2014/Downloads_pdf/eq_book.pdf

This form lists the Cambridge Exam as equivalent to the tenth grade exams.

There is also a Migration Certificate and an Equivalence certificate available online for those seeking admission for higher education: http://www.msbte.com/msbte_html/admins/files/stud_cen_act/Certificate_MIG_EQU_TRANS.pdf

 


What about exams or tests?

One of the most common questions we encounter as parents of three homeschooled kids is: What about exams?

Let us start with the basics: An examination, commonly known as exam, is a test to see how good somebody is at something.

If that ‘somebody’ is your child and he or she happens to attend school, the only way the teacher and you as a parent can find out how much your child has understood is by giving him a formal test.

A test or examination is an assessment intended to measure a test-taker’s knowledge or rarely skill.

A test may be administered orally, on paper, on a computer, or in a confined area that requires a test taker to physically perform a set of skills. Tests vary in style, rigor and requirements. For example, in a closed book test, a test taker is often required to rely upon memory to respond to specific items whereas in an open book test, a test taker may use one or more supplementary tools such as a reference book or calculator when responding to an item. A test may be administered formally or informally.

An example of an informal test would be a reading test administered by a parent to a child.

An example of a formal test would be a final examination administered by a teacher in a classroom.


Figure 1 A formal test in process

So what people really want to know is what about formal tests for homeschooled children?

The beauty of homeschooling is that the parents, being the teachers of the child, know exactly what their children are learning and have understood at any point in time, by giving them informal tests all the time. So for them there is really no need to do any formal testing at all! Who else needs to know how much their child has understood? Who cares for their child more than they themselves, the parents? We as parents often go beyond testing too, to find out the heart of the child, something that cannot be measured by any test.

So my simple answer to people who ask me this question is: ofcourse we as parents test them regularly and informally. There is absolutely no need to do formal testing, with all its associated tensions for the child, parent and teacher as the case may be. As the homeschooled child grows older, he or she can take formal tests as deemed fit by the parents, if they wish to prepare him or her for entry into colleges.

There are different options for homeschooled children to take formal exams at different levels, like the Macmillan International Assessment for Indian Students, The NIOS and the IGCSE etc. You will find out more details of these on my other blogs. Relax and have a nice relaxed exam-free day J

 

 

 

City NIOS candidate moves HC over no extra answer sheets rule

City NIOS candidate moves HC over no extra answer sheets rule

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MUMBAI: A clause in the rules governing the flexible National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) exams, which says that candidates are not allowed to ask for extra answer sheets, has now been challenged in court.


Jeremy Fernand, a Class 10 student,[whose parents are part of Swashikshan, the All India body of Homeschoolers], couldn’t complete his Math paper in the October exam session, didn’t know he wasn’t entitled to an extra sheet till he asked for one, because no announcement was made at the exam centre, he claims.

When his father Max subsequently wrote to the authorities, they were told the rules didn’t contain a provision for supplementary sheets.

Fernand has now moved the Bombay high court through a Public Interest Litigation (PIL), praying that the rule be amended so students can use more than one answer sheet.

He has alternatively prayed that the rule be better publicized through the hall ticket and admission form well in advance so that students are prepared for it during the exam. “We are not saying that the rule is right or wrong, we are only asking that candidates be made more aware about it,” said Fernand. “Students shouldn’t find out the rule after it’s too late.”

The petition came up in the court on Friday, when a division bench of Justice SJ Vazifdar and justice BP Colabawalla said it should be heard as a writ petition. It is likely to come up before a different bench soon.

More than 20,000 students across the state appear for the NIOS exams every year.

The NIOS is an alternative system that allows greater flexibility as compared to mainstream schools.


The petition has pointed out that other boards allow the use of extra sheets and that the rule is arbitrary. “While the purpose of the NIOS is to foster the needs of the children in promoting educational programmes, such arbitrary rules are only counterproductive to the objectives of the NIOS,” it said.

  • 20 Jan 2014
  • Hindustan Times (Mumbai)
  • Bhavya Dore bhavya.dore@hindustantimes.com