Gandhiji’s Dandi March — A Citizen Science Movement

May 8, 2013

Gandhiji’s Dandi march to protest against salt taxes back in 1930 in the pre-independence India is what I consider probably the first citizen science movement of India. Here is my analysis:

Gandhiji at the age of 60, led the peoples or citizens movement to break the salt laws. The movement initially began with about 100 satyagrahis from Sabarmati, increasing upto 4000 in Asali, later into 30,000 in Surat, and elevating upto 50,000 in Dandi.

The Dandi march, a stretch of 390 km, flowing from 4 districts and 48 villages, with about 50,000 people, was completed in 24 days (March 12 — April 6, 1930).  (Source for data — Wikipedia article on Dandi March)

Apart from it being a great political movement to protest against paying taxes for salt which was considered as a necessity to each and every Indian, I consider the Dandi March  as a citizen science movement in which the participants or the satyagrahis were involved in a scientific process of making salt.

On reaching Dandi, Gandhiji picked up a handful of salt mud and boiled it in seawater, thereby producing salt. The thousands of followers likewise began making salt along the seashore by this simple scientific process.

For some history on the salt laws, taxes, protests, route of the march, one may visit links, read books.


Nat Geo Explorer Education Program

March 27, 2013

A member of National Geographic Explorer Education Program conducted a presentation at HBCSE a couple of days ago.  As we know the photo, video quality of Nat Geo has always been a visual treat to us. They are now exploring into the education arena with so called state-of-the-art technology.  After the seminar, during the discussion, I made quite a lot of observations and raised some concerns as well. I thought of discussing here also.

I thought, in order to create a direct impact of the life with its environment, the appropriate context needs to be defined. Although the content was encompassing the world’s geography, to me, it does not make sense if I am not aware of the geography, the life, the environment of my own surroundings, and neighbors. I recalled that in our education system, giving Western names were being criticized and it was emphasized to give names that convey about the Indian context. I thought NGX education program is repeating the same old method.

Again talking about the context, the photos of classroom learning, were shots of  Western people. And it was being contrasted with  the lack of facilities in education which were shots of poor, tribal people with ‘look of hope’ photographs.  I did not understand why do they still hold such prejudice.  (On a side note: I recalled the scene in Munnabhai MBBS, where a tourist wants to see India and he mentions that he wants to see the crying people, sad people. To which ‘circuit’ slams him by saying that all you tourist want to portray is a bad picture of India, don’t you ever see good things of India like, Taj Mahal, etc.).

My concern, was that since the program is packaged with a subscription which can also allow online content, seems to cater to elite schools in India. But the country has a huge number of govt. schools, where there are huge number of first generation learners, let alone English speaking learners, I doubt how the program could cater to such situations. The program seems to be compliant with the smartboard method of teaching. But it does not cater to a traditional chalk and talk classroom teaching which is still being practiced in many schools in the country.

Access to teacher’s handbook is mandatory, but this is possible only after subscribing with a fee. That leaves with no option for a teacher to explore the content. I also could not get a satisfactory answer when I asked whether the content was in public domain.

The presenter made a remark, that NGX education provides knowledge, and quoted KBC’s promo ‘Gyaan hi Sabkuch hai’. To me, this kinda knowledge presented is fact-based knowledge. From the presentation, there was no hint that learning can be activity based. The program is a visual treat of photos, videos, simulations, with text. However it lacks activities. When I raised this issue, the presenter mentioned that there are activities, but it needs to be done under the supervision of teachers.  Above all the presenter also asked whether the Indian textbook provides scope for activities. Immediately I clarified that the science textbooks in the country are activity based which is a direct influence of the policy document NCF 2005.

Anyways, I am still skeptical that such a program could provide support to science learning in the country’s govt. schools, given that a large number of learners are first generation learners, native language speakers, uses traditional chalk and talk method of teaching. Let me further state, that even with such situations, I think, we are certainly doing quite well.


we, the power of people

April 30, 2009

Today April 30, 2009 was the voting day for Mumbai, Maharashtra, India for the 15th Loksabha Elections.

Yes, as a responsible citizen I did Vote !!

myvote

ivote

It was really a very easy affair. It took just 10-15 min. of time to vote. But before voting day, it was worth to know about the registration procedures, voters list, about the constituenciences, to know the candidates with their detail profiles, and other related information. I think this election mostly used the internet technology to spread the awareness and share the information. The websites and organizations such as jaagore.com, myobv.com, ceomaharashtra.gov.in have been very useful to have the information.

The results of the Loksabha elections will be up on the 16th May 2009. Let us see..


Khoj 2008 – Gurgaon

October 6, 2008

Like last year, I was invited to be a judge for the International School Competition on Science Projects in DAV Public School at Gurgaon. The projects dealt on issues of Global warming, Future Energy Sources, IT, Clean and Green City, etc. Overall the students were very enthusiastic about their models but when it came to conceptual understanding the students were found to be not so competent.

Later on the second day, I was one of the panel members for the discussion on the topic of Science Education – A Challenge. This was held for the teachers. The other members of the panel were from IITD, NCL, BARC. The panel discussed on how the teachers can help the students to generate an interest towards science, about classroom learning, conceptual understanding, relating their learning with their daily experiences, etc.


my blog level

July 10, 2008

My blog level:

blog readability test

Feels good 🙂


School Science Education – Universalisation with Quality

September 12, 2007

This is one of the sessions organized in a National Conference on Science Education-Challenges of Quality being organised in HBCSE on account of Prof. B. M. Udgaonkar’s 80th birthday.

The speakers of this session: Prof. Anil Sadgopal (Chair), Prof. Ram Takwale, Dr. Anita Ramphal, Dr. Jayashree Ramadas, Dr. Gambhir and Dr. Subramaniam.

Prof. Ram Takawale talked about the issues of Open Educational Resources, distance and open universities, school science education, universalization and quality school science education for all, how to achieve universalization of education. As we know, information and knowledge society is emerging, and therefore ICT can play an important role in solving the problems of making quality of science education universal. In today’s world, we are connected with mobile phone, TV,internet, but not all the schools are connected, in this situation how can we create a connected world. ICT is using different processes such as digitization, personalization, customization and can we use these new processes to universalize science education.

According to Prof. Takwale, we cannot use the conventional processes to solve the problems of universalization, and we need to use ICT to solve such problems. The keypoint is that ICT enables for mass collaboration wherein few people come together for a common cause and create resources for everyone for example wikipedia. He showed interest in creating learning groups or learning communities for the open educational program.

Well, I would like to add here that the SELF Project is also an example of such open educational resources. The SELF Platform is being used to create courses and learning materials. It aims to be a community-driven platform for producing and distributing educational materials.

The next speaker, Dr. Anita Ramphal dealt with the formulation of NCERT syllabus. She showed concerns to bridge the inequality in school education. Some other issues that were touched upon were the language of science used in the textbooks, sometimes due to this the people are distancing from science. The language of science has to be explicit, visual representations are important.

Jayashree Ramadas talked about the Homi Bhaba Curriculum, Dr.  Subramaniam talked about research in mathematics education, Dr. Gambhir talked about science experiments in schools.


SELF Launch News in Media

September 10, 2007

SELF Launch got a good coverage in Media. There were reporters from Loksatta, DNA, and TV News Channel from DD News. The images are the clippings from the articles.

dna-self-launch.jpg

 Article from DNA

express-self-launch.jpg

 Article from Indian Express

loksatta-self-launch.jpg

Article from Loksatta