Good people, doing good things --- Rajesh Sharma, a grocery story owner in New Delhi, has spent the last seven years teaching children under a bridge. Nearly 200 underprivileged children from neighbouring ghettos now come to the school, known as ‘Free School, Under The Bridge’ located in one of the world’s most polluted cities, New Delhi.
Rather than a simple scam, Vyapam appears to be a vast societal swindle—one that reveals the hollowness at the heart of practically every Indian state institution: inadequate schools, a crushing shortage of meaningful jobs, a corrupt government, a cynical middle class happy to cheat the system to aid their own children, a compromised and inept police force and a judiciary incapable of enforcing its laws.Aman Sethi writes in the Guardian on the so-called Vyapam scam—allegations of high-level and systematic corruption in the administration of the state professional examinations that determine entry into medical schools, state colleges, and entry-level civil service jobs within the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. The scandal has been connected with 48 suspicious deaths involving people implicated in or investigating the scandal. The Indian Express has a timeline of events, while the Times of India has an extensive archive of further coverage.
Indian tech entrepreneur and engineer Navin Kabra was dubious when the B.E. students he was advising told him that publishing papers at conferences were a requirement for graduation - a requirement shared by M.E. and M. Tech students in India. When an 'international engineering conference' came to Pune, he submitted two fake papers - one generated using SCIgen and one interspersed with random references to pop culture. Both were accepted - and one was published after Navin paid for the publishing fees (haggled to a 50% discount). Since the expose, the University of Pune has clarified that publishing for Masters students is recommended but not mandatory, more conference fraud has been uncovered, and Navin's still investigating publishing requirements for Bachelors students.
Sugata Mitra's 2013 TED Prize talk argues that learning should be viewed as self-organizing and that our educational system is a relic of the victorians. His first TED talk has slightly more detail, while his blog has considerably more.
Blast from the past: scans of posters from schools in India. That's all.
"For the progress of humanity, work alone is not adequate, but the work should be associated with love, compassion, right conduct, truthfulness and sympathy. Without the above qualities, selfless service cannot be performed."On Sunday morning, Indian guru Sri Sathya Sai Baba passed away. He leaves behind a massive empire, several million mourning devotees worldwide, an extensive religious philosophy, a great deal of controversy and a legacy of large-scale philanthropic projects in India, including free hospitals and mobile medical facilities, a free university and schools, and other efforts which included supplying clean water to hundreds of rural villages. [more inside]
"Sure, Bono and Richard Branson can change the world. But there are millions of individuals making a difference who are not rich or famous." The Christian Science Monitor's ongoing Making a Difference section focuses on "that unheralded community – 'to honor the decency and courage and selflessness that surround us.'” [more inside]
Lori Whisenant, who teaches business law and ethics at the University of Houston, has outsourced the grading of students' papers to a private company, Virtual-TA, who sends them to be marked in Bangalore, India.
The Dark Side of Literacy - Indian education reform organization Shikshantar, who aims to encourage concepts of "Swaraj", or self-rule in local education, argues that current education and literacy models do not take into account local cultures and languages and gives too much credit to the Western alphabet. They also argue that there are many serious flaws in what they describe as UNESCO's campaign of "McEducation For All".
Where the Engineers Are - "To guide education policy and maintain its innovation leadership, the United States must acquire an accurate understanding of the quantity and quality of engineering graduates in India and China."
Next step: English Video helping kids learn roman script
India Emerges as Innovation Hub. Some other recent innovations I've read about include wireless internet rickshaws and public internet kiosks, trading services for farmers, and an education satellite. Perhaps of most interest to Americans now should be India's e-voting machines.
Two months from illiterate to MP3 trading hax0rz. Very cool social experiment showing how easy today's GUIs are to use, especially for kids.