11th march 2020 : The Hindu Editorial Notes : Mains Sure Shot
Question – The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Human Resource Development presented its report on budgetary grants for school education and literacy 2020-21. Analyse the report and suggest the way ahead.
Context – The report and its findings.
Why in news?
- Parliamentary Standing Committee on Human Resource Development in its latest report on budgetary grants for school education and literacy for 2020-21 found from data for 2017-18,
- Only 56.45% of government schools had electricity and,
- 98% a playground, while almost 40% lacked a boundary wall.
- Other depressing insights from the district information database as of end-2019, are:
- Neglect of toilet construction for children with special needs,
- Failure to build toilets for girls in a third of secondary schools and,
- Laboratories for higher secondary science students.
- The tardy progress on such important facilities, in spite of the projects having been sanctioned, shows the low priority that school education is being accorded.
The importance of school education/ the importance of education in our society:
- Removing poverty – Education helps in removing poverty as if a person is educated, he can get a good job and fulfill all the basic needs & requirements of his family.
- Safety and security against crime – If a person is well-educated, he will not be fooled by anyone easily. An educated person is less prone to involve in domestic violence & other social evils. They enjoy healthy relationships in life. This means people are less susceptible to being cheated or becoming a victim of violence.
- Prevention of wars and terrorism – To lead a safe & secure life, one needs to understand the value of education in our daily life. One needs to take an active part in various educational activities. These types of productive activities provide knowledge to live a better life.
- Commerce and trade – A good education doesn’t simply mean going to school or college & getting a degree. Trade & commerce of the country will also be flourished easily if its citizens are well-educated. Education helps to become self-dependent and build great confidence among them to accomplish difficult tasks. On getting an education, their standard of life gets improved.
- Law and order – Education enables the process of the Nation’s Fast Development. If you have a good education, you can serve your country well. It develops a good political ideology.
- Women empowerment – Education also helps in empowering women. Certain old customs like Not Remarrying Widows, Sati Pratha, Child Marriage, Dowry System etc. can be demolished with the power of education. Women, if educated, can raise voice against the injustice done to her. This will bring a lot of development in society as well as in the nation. In short, Right to Freedom of speech & expression can be used in the right way if all women will become educated.
- Upliftment of economically weaker sections of society – Education is the most important ingredient to change the world. Due to lack of education, many illiterate people suffer the hardships of discrimination, untouchability & injustices prevailing in the society but with the advancement of a good education. If all the people will be educated; this ultimately leads to the upliftment of economically weaker sections of society.
- Communications – The relation between education & communication is apparent. Good education helps to communicate better with other people. It also improves our communication skills such as speech, body language etc. A person who is educated feels confident within him to confront or give a speech in front of a large public or can held a meeting or seminars. Writing emails, letters, typing messages, reading magazines & newspapers or even using a Smartphone can never be possible without getting a basic education.
- Overall education helps create a better society – An educated person is more likely to develop better moral and ethical values as compared to an uneducated person. Lack of education creates problems like superstition, domestic violence, poor health, and poor living standards. Education brings equal opportunity for both men and women and educated people will be able to create a better society. Without a good education, a better society can’t be formed.
The importance of playground in schools:
- Today’s kids get so few opportunities to play freely, because we understandably fear for their safety, be it the road or dangerous people.
- Children nowadays spend much of their time in the structured confines of school, and a lot of the rest of the time in extra-curricular activities and hobbies.
- Whilst these offer a lot of valuable learning for kids, much of their day is spent under the supervision of adults and as directed by adults.
- When kids have the opportunity to go out and get some fresh air, they are also developing important life skills along the way. The school playground allows them to climb, jump, swing, and slide. All of these movements are important building blocks of the gross motor skills that they will constantly need to use throughout their lives. The sandbox can be a great venue for children to work on sensory play. Many playgrounds also include extra games and activities which help develop fine motor skills as well.
- Emotional benefits of playing for children:
- Builds kids’ self-esteem and confidence to try things they’ve never tried before.
- Allows kids to experience a range of emotions normally not available to them in other situations.
- Helps them overcome trauma.
- Social benefits:
- The child learns how to navigate a complex social network.
- How to listen
- How to collaborate
- How to play with others
- How to gain independence.
- Mental and creative benefits:
- Enhanced critical thinking skills
- Increased attention spans
- Improved motor skills
- No labels or preconceived ideas: When conventional rules are out the window, as often happens on a playground, kids create new worlds and rules in ways that are sometimes difficult to do at home, and almost impossible to do in a classroom environment. Playground equipment can help kids use their creativity and have tons of fun in the process.
- Leadership skills.
- Physical benefits:
- Reducing obesity
- Strengthening the immune system.
- Improving school performance and school work.
- Lowering anxiety
- Helping with sleep.
- One of the first things the NDA government did at the launch of its second term was a ‘100-day programme’ for education, focused in part on training of schoolteachers and opening of central schools. It should be possible to bring the same mission-mode approach to infrastructure now, ensuring that no school is left behind.
- Solar power can be installed in schools and toilets built for all students in 100 days. Community participation can make sure that the objectives are satisfactorily met.
- It may be more challenging to find attached playgrounds, but that problem can also be overcome by identifying suitable commons that can be upgraded to accommodate students, while permanent arrangements are made.
- More fundamentally, the Centre and States must realise that their talk of a demographic dividend has little meaning, when they do not provide enough funding for proposals on the one hand and the administrative machinery fails to utilise even the amount allocated in some cases.
- As the parliamentary committee notes, the allocation to the School Education and Literacy department has suffered a cut of 27.52%, amounting to ₹22,725 crore in the Budget Estimate for 2020-21, although public expenditure on education has been rising.
- The government-run school sector needs a fund infusion. A public school system that guarantees universal access, good learning and all facilities has to be among the highest national priorities.
- The transformation in the upgradation of school infrastructure in Delhi government schools and the impact it has had on the morale and behaviour of the children must be studied and implemented by the states in their own modified way according to their needs.
Note – Today there is another article on genome sequencing. Not much is there to note but the following are the highlights with additional inputs:
What is genome sequencing?
- Genome sequencing is figuring out the order of DNA nucleotides, or bases, in a genome—the order of As, Cs, Gs, and Ts that make up an organism’s DNA. The human genome is made up of over 3 billion of these genetic
- Today, DNA sequencing on a large scale—the scale necessary for ambitious projects such as sequencing an entire genome—is mostly done by high-tech machines. Much as our eye scans a sequence of letters to read a sentence, these machines “read” a sequence of DNA bases.
The IndiGen Genome Project:
- The IndiGen Genome Project, launched in April, 2019, is a government-funded exercise that sequenced more than a thousand individuals from diverse ethnicities to create a genome database for Indians.
- Since most of the globally available genetic tests have been developed using data of Caucasian populations, this indigenous genetic mapping exercise might improve our ability to diagnose, prevent, and treat diseases specific to the Indian population.
Importance of genomic data:
- Human genome sequencing has the potential to determine the role of individual genes and their ability to cause diseases. Data generated through these sequencing technologies offer opportunities to assess genetic predisposition to a disease, diagnose heritable cancers, and develop tests to prevent adverse drug reactions.
- Examples include prenatal genetic testing for expectant couples to detect birth defects or genetic disorders, predictive genetic testing to diagnose heritable breast and ovarian cancers, and diagnostic genetic testing to confirm the possibility of monogenic disorders such as sickle cell anaemia and cystic fibrosis.
- In short, genomics offers the potential to medically treat patients according to their unique genetic profiles.
- Gene sequencing is becoming so inexpensive that companies now sell testing kits directly to customers. Do-it-yourself (DIY) genetic testing may transfer disease diagnosis from health professionals directly to consumers. This raises risks. Some of these can be seen today, while others will appear in hindsight.
- India today has only loose regulations for this budding field. The Indian Council of Medical Research, the apex body that regulates clinical trials in India, has no specific guidelines to govern genetic testing laboratories.
- Companies have access to sensitive personal information, which could be hacked or sold to third parties without participants’ consent. Since genomic data also characterises a person’s ancestral history, information about one person reveals information about the person’s close or distant biological relatives. Health insurers and employers might misuse this data to marginalise or discriminate against people based on genetic profiles. In India, where caste, sex, religion and colour-based discrimination is so common, genetic discrimination can be another ticking bomb.
How to keep genome data safe?
- Given the sensitivity of genomic data, every effort must be made to minimise the likelihood of data breaches and to maintain public trust in institutions that gather, store and use such data. This can be achieved in three different ways.
- First, there is a need for a more comprehensive and effective policy to guide the use of genomic information, with significant emphasis on protecting the privacy of research subjects. One way to make this possible is through ‘dynamic consent’ by which people who wish to participate in a research project can register themselves and provide consent on an ongoing basis. These models will help improve participation rates while providing patients with the autonomy to make informed decisions regarding the use of personal data they chose to part with.
- Second, gathering such large-scale information can only be achieved if the process of data collection is reliable, confidential, and accurate. A practical and feasible solution to build such a reliable and safe database is the application of blockchain technology—a digital distributed ledger—to secure genomic data. This model can provide the data subject with singular control over her data, and the authority to grant access to specific healthcare providers and research institutions for collaboration on disease prevention and treatment.
- Third, a collaborative and harmonised framework must be developed to balance sharing of genomic data with an individuals’ privacy. The framework must be transparent enough to specify the purpose of the collected genomic data and the duration for which it will be stored in the databank.
- The framework should also have specific clauses dealing with the communication of results to not only data users but also the contributors of data.
- The Data Protection Authority—set up under the draft Personal Data Protection Bill, 2018— should periodically monitor this to help build public trust and to ensure that the data-sharing model minimises harm and maximises benefits.
- Although the current market for genetic testing is limited due to lack of awareness and cost challenges, India’s massive population along with a huge burden of genetic diseases holds tremendous potential for the field.
- India, however, needs to balance the protection of patient’s privacy with data access to reap the benefits of advancements in genomics in the field of personalised medicine—a scenario where patients are treated based on their unique genetic profiles.