Month: April 2003

Lessons in Flying

Lessons in Flying

Milton Wright, father of Wright brothers once said, "They were pretty good boys, but mischievous. I had little trouble with them." These mischievous boys went on to create history. Ever since Wilbur and Orville Wright invention invented the first airplane, flying machines have fascinated people around the world. One hundred years ago, the Wrights created their first powered craft, which successfully flew on December 17, 1903. Today, aviation technology has come a really long way – from gliders and air balloons to helicopters, fighter planes, and hi-tech passenger aircraft.

Students of Thane who wish to learn a bit of basic flying technology have a good opportunity to do so. They can enrol themselves for a two-day workshop on Aero-modelling. Organised by city based NGO Jignyasa trust, the workshop will be held on May 01 and 02, 2003 at Ghantali Devi Mandir Hall, Near Ghantali Temple. There will two batches – one between 9.30 am and 12.30 noon and the other between 2.30 and 5.30 p.m.
Deepali Agarwal, who is a NCC Gold Medallist in Aero Modelling, will conduct the workshop. The workshop will focus on elementary science of flying. The students will be provided with two sets of chuck gliders, a type of unpowered aeromodels. For the uninitiated, unpowered aircrafts are without a motor or an engine and fly only using the initial force supplied during launching. The chuck gliders are launched in the air by the chucking action of the hand and are often flown indoors.

One of these chuck glider kits will be used to assemble a model during the workshop under the guidance of the instructor and the other set will be provided for practice at home. For more details contact Surendra Dighe on 2540 3857 between 11 am and 5:30 pm.

Cuisine Crazy and Phone Woos

Cuisine Crazy and Phone Woos

It is said that English food is like English weather – dull, grey and wet. In the same vein, Indian Food is also quite like Indian weather – warm, bright and sunny with diversity at its core. The multiplicity of Indian cuisines is fantastic. From Punjabi to South Indian, Bengali to Gujarati, Rajastani to Malwani, delectable Indian fare whets the appetite of people all over the world.

Now, the grand mixture of cuisines from around the country is all set to tempt Thane residents. Between May 02 and May 04, 2003 a mega food exposition called Food Fiesta 2003 will be held at Ghantali Grounds. The organisers claim that this is the first time such an exhibition is being organised in the city. It will be a complete food exhibition which will not only display an assortment of recipes, but also food supplements, modern cooking appliances, kitchen sets and everything else related to food and cooking.

The highlight of Food Fiesta 2003 will be the food stalls allocated for special diets for the health conscious. So we’ll have stalls such as "Cholesterol-Free", "Diabetic Diet" and so on.

"What is food to one man may be fierce poison to another", said a first century Roman Philosopher named Lucretius. A poster exhibition will spell out several such foods and poisons based on the different constitutions, health issues and lifestyles. Visitors will get a good opportunity to learn about the pros and cons of various diets. The poster exhibition will propagate good food habits among visitors, especially those suffering from various ailments.

Cuisine competitions, demonstration sessions on cookery and quiz programmes on Food & Diet will add to the flavour. The fair will be thrown open to the public by Thane MP Prakash Paranjpe. Many other local politicians and celebrities are also expected to visit the exhibition.

For more information to participate as an exhibitor or simply visit the exhibition, readers may call the chief organiser Tushar Pitale on 25400399.

Busy Tone
According to a survey of 400 pre-teens, "youngsters are on the phone early in life, and by their middle teens years, are yakking nearly 12 hours a week". No wonder, phone addiction among children is surfacing as a major concern among parents. Besides the nuisance factor and soaring phone bills, there’s another problem that such phone mania inflicts on parents.

Thane’s Assistant Commissioner of Police, Nandakumar Chaugule relates an interesting little episode. He has two landlines installed at his home. In spite of that, when he recently tried to reach his wife, he just could not get through to her for an extended period of time. Assuming that his phones might have gone ‘dead’, he finally resorted to calling on his neighbour’s line and requested the kind neighbour to call his wife so he would speak to her. Turned out that both the lines were working fine – his son was speaking to a friend on one and the other line was connected to the Internet!

This little story goes to show that phone addiction plagues all parents alike – doesn’t help even if you’re a top police official!

The Way It Should Be

The Way It Should Be

The Ideal School Competition held earlier this year in Thane city was a uniquely designed event that helped in gaining significant insights into the machinery of primary and secondary schools. The contest was a first-of-its-kind project driven by self-assessment, which provided the participating schools an opportunity for introspection. It was like self-appraisal of schools. The evaluation criteria in the competition focussed on the over-all development of the child and not just academics. Sports, extra curricular activities like drawing and craft etc., parent-teacher relations, and even sanitation facilities, were inspected.

The results of the competition are expected to go a long way in helping the schools understand their lacks and work upon them. The project has also brought to the forefront the many issues that smaller public schools face.

Some of the key conclusions are described below.

Interaction and cooperation between parents and teachers was found to be a rather useful quality. It was unanimously agreed that understanding between parents and teachers helps the schools run several useful schemes and programmes for the students. The interaction also helps ease the financial burden on the schools to a certain extent. Schools must seriously encourage such relations.

Regarding facilities, there was more bad news than good. Many schools in the city have inadequate space – the school buildings and class rooms are congested and this puts a limit on the number of students they can admit. Several schools don’t even have a playground. This deprives students of sports and other outdoor activities which are vital for the overall development of a child.

For a school to offer/maintain a certain level of service to its students, funds are required. It was observed that often aided schools do not get grants on time & unaided schools are unable to raise funds through donations as this source is looked upon suspiciously by the society.

The schools located in border areas of Thane Municipal Corporation limits are all relatively new and confront the problem of funds even more than established schools. This is because most students seeking admissions in these schools belong to the lower strata of the society and cannot afford anything beyond basic fees.

One interesting discovery that the ratio of new students seeking admissions was heavily skewed in favour of the English Medium schools. Only 25 per cent of all students sought admissions to vernacular medium schools, with the remaining opting for schools with English as the primary medium of instruction.

On the positive side, despite several constraints, most school authorities display tremendous enthusiasm and dedication. The panel of judges agreed that good leadership helps the school in pooling all the resources, motivating the staff and students alike, exposing students to different pastures and seeking active participation from parents and the society.

As we had reported in an earlier story, it is a known fact that there is a directly proportionate relationship of good educational facilities to student performance. Research proves that better facilities in a school get translated into superior performance of its students. When the concerned authorities fail to monitor and control the sphere of education, it is left upon the society to initiate self-governance. Projects such as the Ideal School Competition are good examples of what can be done. What started off as an idea that most people discarded as unworkable, went on to be quite successful. The Rotary Club of Thane and all others who were involved in organising the competition deserve to be congratulated for taking up such a noble project for the benefit of the society.

And the winners are…

And the winners are…

"Our children have turned into percentage-generating-machines, and no one but we are to blame", said Sumitra Mahajan in a fiery speech delivered at the prize distribution ceremony of the "Ideal School" competition. The event was held at Sahayog Mandir Hall on Saturday, March 29, 2003. Sumitra Mahajan, the Union Minister of State for IT and Telecommunications presided as the Chief Guest while Dr. Ashok Modak, Member of Legislative Council graced the function as Guest of Honour.

Both the special guests of the evening are achievers in their own fields. And both had some powerful messages for schools, teachers, parents and the society. Modak used Sanskrit slokas to drive home the issue of over-commercialisation of our education system. "What is the state of education in our country?" he reflected. "Lack of funds can be dealt with, but lack of moral values cannot", he emphasised, giving an example of a former vice-chancellor serving a jail term.

Delighting the audience with her oration, Mahajan urged every school to set aside a play-period for students. She spoke about the psychology of students and what an important role parents play in moulding children through their expectations of them. She appreciated the Rotary Club for initiating such a "noble" project and stressed the importance of continuing it year after year. Though she was the last to speak, she left an indelible impression on everyone who listened to her.

The "Ideal School" Competition held earlier this year was a one-of-a-kind contest wherein the quality of the participant school’s facilities was evaluated based on a self assessment procedure. Each participant school was required to answer objectively a set of questions covering relevant aspects of running a school: academics, sports, library, science laboratory, computer facilities, provision for sanitation, career guidance and level of teacher-parent interaction etc.

Dilip Soman, President of the Rotary Club of Thane (Dist 3140), revealed, "Most schools were reluctant to participate initially. We had to literally sway them out of it. Eventually, this reluctance paved way for enthusiasm and excitement as 56 out of approximately 148 schools in the TMC limit finally joined."

The competition, which was open to all secondary schools in Thane, was supported by the TMC, Thane Zilla Parishad and Navneet Publications (India) Ltd, and organised by the Rotary club of Thane. According to the organisers, the primary objective of the competition was to "develop a spirit of competition and achieve progress thereby".

Significant insights into the workings of city schools emerged and these will be discussed in another report.

Meanwhile, all prize-winning schools received a trophy and a certificate and also prize money in some instances. As facilities at municipal schools cannot be compared to those run by the various trusts and private organisations, the schools had been divided into four major categories. Category-wise winners are given below:

Municipal Schools
The results were not very encouraging. There was only one consolation prize was awarded to TMC school no. 3 at Kopri Colony in Thane East.

Marathi and other vernacular medium language private schools
1. Saraswati Secondary School
2. Saraswati Devi Thirani High School. Vartak Nagar
3. Dr. Bedekar Vidyamandir

English medium private schools
1. Holy Cross Convent High School
2. A K Joshi High School
3. Saraswati Education Trusts Secondary School and Junior College

Schools affiliated to ICSE/CBSE
Only two entries were received and they were both awarded Trophies/certificates.
1. Sulochana Devi Singhania High School
2. Lok Puram Public School

Special prizes were also awarded St. Lawrence High School and Bhartiya Sainik School in the "upcoming schools" category. Prior to the prize distribution ceremony, the panel of judges comprising of senior representatives from the field of education, the Zilla Parishad, the TMC and the Rotary Club of Thane, were also felicitated.

Although there were only a handful of schools that walked away with the trophies, in the end all participant schools benefited. As a result of this competition, the school authorities went through a serious process of self-introspection, which is sure to help them gauge their weak spots and work at eliminating them to offer better facilities to their students. So we reckon that the real winners of the competition are the students.