Secondary education reduces HIV risk for girls

Longer secondary schooling reduces the risk of contracting HIV, particularly for girls, shows a study.

Students with longer secondary education had an eight percent lower risk of HIV infection, about a decade later, from about 25 percent to about 17 percent infected, found the research from Botswana.

“It is difficult to isolate the effect of education on HIV risk from the complex web of co-factors such as personal motivation, psychological traits, socio-economic status and family background. In the absence of large-scale trial data, natural experiments can provide robust evidence to guide policy,” said senior author Jacob Bor, assistant professor at Boston University School of Public Health.

The study used a recent school policy reform as a ‘natural experiment’ to determine the impact of increased years of secondary schooling on risk of HIV infection.

The authors examined the causal effect of an additional year of schooling on HIV status in 7018 men and women at least 18 years old at the time of the surveys.

Individuals with an extra year of secondary schooling were eight percentage points less likely to test positive for HIV about a decade later.

The effects were particularly strong among women, with each additional year of secondary schooling reducing infection risk by 12 percentage points.

“This study provides causal evidence that secondary education is an important causal determinant of HIV infection. Our results suggest that schooling should be considered alongside other proven interventions as part of a multi-pronged ‘combination’ HIV prevention strategy.”

“Expanding the opportunities of young people through secondary schooling will not only have economic benefits but will also yield health benefits and should be a key priority for countries with generalised HIV epidemics.”

The study appeared in The Lancet Global Health journal.

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India to set up chair for cross-border teacher education

India will set up a Malaviya Commonwealth Chair for Cross Border Teacher Education, and has also proposed a research consortium for the grouping, an official said on Sunday.

The announcement in this regard was made by Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani at the 19th Conference of Commonwealth Education Ministers held at Nassau (Bahamas) from June 22 to 26, an official statement here said.

The chair will focus on issues pertaining to curriculum development, pedagogy, student assessment, pre-service and in-service teacher training and capacity development.

Irani also proposed the setting up of a Commonwealth Consortium for Research which can function in collaboration with the Commonwealth Education hub and provide cross-funding for research projects which member nations deem appropriate.

India would provide its e-Learning platform SWAYAM to host e-courseware developed by Commonwealth of Learning, she said, and also proposed that India post digitized materials of Commonwealth countries on its soon-to-be established national e-Library.

The conference which deliberated upon `Quality Education for Equitable Development` was attended by the education ministers of 38 Commonwealth countries.

“There could be no more opportune time than now that the Commonwealth countries work towards a more coordinated and holistic approach towards rationalizing methods and processes for inclusive and qualitative expansion of education in the respective countries,” said Irani at the conference.

“The concern of quality in education would remain the centre stage of deliberations of each country of the Commonwealth as a key parameter for sustainable development and, therefore, there is a need to create a platform to share both the resources and the best practices,” she added.


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Revenue from distance education used elsewhere

The distance education programme seems to be a cash cow for universities because the only major expense is for reviewing and printing study material, which in any case is done once in three or four years. In many universities, the distance education programme sustains regular colleges, said an official of the Madurai Kamaraj University on condition of anonymity.

“This explains why universities are reluctant to drop courses and often tie up with private players to conduct contact classes,” he said. “We do make a profit from the distance education programme — during the last fiscal, we had a proft of Rs 1 crore,” said TD Kemparaju, director, DCC and DE, Bangalore University.

BU’s distance education programme makes about Rs 3 crore from its undergraduate programme (Arts, 3 years) alone. There are about 2000 admissions per year for its various Arts programmes, with a fee of Rs 4000. BCom sees a higher intake than Arts and its BBM course fee is Rs 9000.

With a fee of about Rs 6900 for each of its six postgraduate programmes (excluding MCom) and an intake of about 40 students per year, Mangalore University rakes in Rs 33,12,000 from its programme (for two years). Its MCom programme rakes in about Rs 20,70,000 with about 150 students paying Rs 6900 in fees for two years.

“Open and distance education is profitable. However, where we differ from regular programmes is the study material,” he said.

According to Mangalore University officials, it spends about Rs 15 lakh to Rs 20 lakh for printing study material. Apart from this, experts who revise study material are paid Rs 15,000 per subject.

This cost is periodical, perhaps once in four years.

Other expenses are for conducting contact classes and examinations, administration of university (including staff salary, telephone bills, maintenance of computers and other infrastructure, etc). Lecturers from other colleges/ universities are hired on an hourly basis at Rs 500 to Rs 1000 per hour plus travel expenses. According to NS Ramegowda, former VC, KSOU, universities using revenue from distance education is rampant.



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India does not need new education policy, ask experts

Some of India’s most renowned education experts have reportedly opined that there is very little evidence to back the government’s decision to revamp the nation’s education policy.Participating in a recent roundtable conducted by CUTS International Public Policy Centre (CIPPolC), the experts reportedly arrived at a consensus that earlier polices related to education have already spelt out concerns relevant even today.They said what was needed was an implementation strategy.

For this, they said there is a need to focus on credible data collection at all levels of the education system.

Prof S K Thorat, Chairman, Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR) said India should have a similar system as UK’s educational statistical institute.

He also stressed that in the Indian context there is also a need to have a National Education Commission which should conduct in-depth assessment of the requirements of the educational system.

Prof. Thorat chaired the roundtable while C Raj Kumar, Vice Chancellor –O P Jindal Global University, Prof. J S Rajput- former Chairman NCTE & NCERT and Sanjay Bhargava – Chairman Shiksha Mandal Wardha – a Bajaj education trust, were the key catalysts at the roundtable.

The discussion also significantly dealt with the question of India having the need for-profit entities in the education sector.

There was a divided house on this issue. While C Raj Kumar stated that education worldwide is run by non-profit entities, some other experts opined that it is for profit entities which alone can provide for the expansion and quality provided it is accompanied by effective but not excessive regulation.

Currently, even though India has the largest private sector participation in education, it does not work because of excessive controls.

Sajaya Bhargava said that decisions on starting and expanding an institution should be left to institutions, especially for institutions with a good track record.

Speaking on merit of earlier polices, Professor Rajput suggested that common school system as recommended by Kothari Commision (1968) should be put in place.

Some of the other important issues that were dealt with included lack of philanthropic involvement in education and the need to include even pre-primary education within the fold of education system in India.

Some of the key recommendations included need to have student feedback on teachers, doing away with restrictive labour polices to boost skill development, need to have capable leaders at the helm of institutions and reform of UGC by involving states in its governing body.

Pradeep Mehta, Secretary General of CUTS International, delivered the concluding remarks.

The roundtable was attended by representatives of academia, policy makers, researchers, civil society, UN agencies and NSDC, amongst others.

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