In Focus by The Hindu

The Hindu

A podcast from The Hindu that delves deep into current developments with subject experts, and brings in context, history, perspective and analysis. read less

What India needs to improve its education system post-pandemic | In Focus podcast
6d ago
What India needs to improve its education system post-pandemic | In Focus podcast
It was only in 2022, after the third wave of COVID-19, that schools in India finally reopened fully, after two plus years of pandemic-related disruptions. Educationists had flagged concerns both about students potentially dropping out and about learning losses. The Annual Status of Education Report 2022, brought out by the NGO Pratham last week, reveals that at least one of these concerns may not be a problem: overall enrolment figures for the 6 to 14 year age group, have increased and the number is now over 98% in 2022. Learning losses however, are steep: both reading and numeracy skills in children have taken a hit. The percentage of class 3 children who were able to read at the level of class 2, has dropped from the already low 27.3% in 2018 to 20.5% in 2022 -- a decline visible across most States, in both government and private schools. The number of children who can do arithmetic at grade level is more varied, but still not promising.  India now has National Education Policy 2020, which stresses the importance of fundamentals in education, and a scheme, the NIPUN Bharat programme, launched in 2021, aiming at achieving foundational literacy and numeracy for grade 3 children by 2026-27. But even as roadmap is laid out for lower primary schoolchildren, data from ASER from 2012 to 2022 shows that learning trajectories in upper primary, classes 5 to 8, are relatively flat.  So where is the education system stumbling? Families want their children to be educated: this is clearly evident in the rise in number of children going for private tuition classes. What can be done, post-pandemic, to help children catch up with their learning? Do we need better teacher training, bigger budgets and more resources? In our curriculum-heavy, board exam driven system, how can the country ensure no child is left behind in their school career?
What is the legal position of narcoanalysis for  police investigation in India? | In Focus podcast
What is the legal position of narcoanalysis for police investigation in India? | In Focus podcast
On New Year's Day this year, the country was rocked by the news of a horrific accident in Delhi -- 20-year-old Anjali Singh, who was on a scooter, was hit by a car, and her body dragged for several kilometres. Soon after, news reports indicated that investigating officers may consider a lie detector test for the five main accused persons in the crime. This is not the first time a lie detector test has been brought up in the course of an investigation in a high profile case: the accused in the Shraddha Walkar case, Aaftab Poonawala underwent polygraph tests; these tests have begun on three suspects in the murder of a Tamil Nadu Minister's brother and a court has now allowed narcoanalysis and polygraph tests to be conducted on an accused person in the case of Ankita Bhandari, a 19-year-old murdered in Uttarakhand, as per news reports. These are just a few of the recent cases where such "scientific" tests are being used on those accused of crimes. In 2010, a Supreme Court ruling said that the use of narcoanalysis, brain mapping and polygraph tests on the accused, suspected and witnesses to a crime, without their consent, was unconstitutional and violated their right against self-incrimination. It also said that such test results could not be admitted in evidence; however any information/material subsequently discovered with the help of tests undertaken voluntarily, could be admitted. Despite the ruling however, these tests continue to be used, to date. But how scientific are they? Several countries across the world have disbarred or significantly cut down on their use - is there any evidence to suppose that they truly work? Do such invasive procedure violate the rights of those who undergo them? And have they led to any investigative breakthroughs in India?