Vision 2017: Access to All for Basic Schooling

What is vision? It is the faculty or state of being able to see. In terms of organizational vision it is the ability to think and plan the future with imagination and wisdom. What is a world vision? This would mean comprehensive view of the world and human life. Presently HERD Foundation’s aspirational vision is keyed on meaningful humanitarian plans intending to serve the future course of envisioned humanist values to facilitate access to basic education.

Having been in the education field it pains us to see that cutting across the country there is still lack of equal educational opportunities for all. More especially for the underprivileged; this leaves countless children bereft of schooling opportunities even at the basic primary education level. Education in India is provided by public sector as well as private sector. The Indian Constitution offers provisions for free and compulsory education as a fundamental right to children between the ages of 6 and 14.

Provision of quality education is dragging at different levels. What is more apparent is that schooling is being transformed into a human supply chain schooling system centered round education becoming a business. We still have hackneyed curriculum and modes for teaching even as we move towards a world thriving on the information boom. Despite India emerging as an outstanding force in the IT sector, we yet grapple with transformational aspects to be introduced in the basic primary school education system.

The current challenge remains that of building up quality and quantity for primary and basic education schooling. Since we all agree that education is a human right, therefore like all human rights we cannot allow it to be taken for granted. We need to take up the responsibility to ensure that boys and girls everywhere get the chance to study a well planned course of primary education.

Such an undertaking is certainly daunting. But the high numbers of children out of school, for reasons beyond their control, make us more determined to find resources for our vision and to include them in our intentions for delivering it to them. Our vision is to improve the quality and learning outcomes for these children so as to provide an education that adapts to the required changes with the wherewithal needed.

Years of being in the business of social change makes us understand that there is a decided connection between access to quality education, and economic plus social development. Lack of access to education to boys and girls, leaves communities with lopsided educational development. It is only when accessibility to education is ensured that we will we be able to reap subsequent benefits relating to health, equality, and employment.

Children today need modern day skills and knowledge, more so ones who come from low income groups and underprivileged communities. Current teaching methodologies and current requisite education has to focus on inputs like reasoning, critical thinking, problem solving, creativity, and digital literacy that is the need of the hour. Even young children need to be familiar with new technologies and cope with rapidly changing educational environments.

We therefore aim to work in constructive ways to improve the quality of education. Innovation has to be brought in with like-minded partnerships that will be forged. Simply financial aid cannot replace domestic-resource mobilization; however donors do play an important role. More so in supporting initiatives needed in these directions. It is for this reason that we look for newfound educational patterns to develop a new order of basic primary education.

Our focus is going to be on intensifying efforts to rope in the poorest and difficult to reach children and ensure they have access to education. Since education is a right for everyone – all girls and all boys should be facilitated to have it. It is a right for the countless out-of-school children and adolescents. Regardless of where you are born and where you grow up, it is time we ensure that primary education has to be made accessible to all.

 

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World Braille Day

World Braille Day

World Braille Day

Most countries observe World Braille Day on January 4, being the birthday of its inventor Louis Braille. This day recognizes his significant contribution that has been assisting blind people to be able to read and write. Several organizations celebrate the day to create awareness about the challenges faced by visually impaired people. Many schools also mark the day to share its history for the benefit of students.

Braille is a code using bumps and indentation on surfaces that represent letters. They are recognized by touch and Louis Braille, blinded in an accident when he was only 3 years of age, invented it. Up until his discovery the Haüy system that had embossed Latin letters on thick paper or leather was used. But it was a complicated system requiring rigorous training and could only be read and not written.

This encouraged Braille when he was only 15, to invent the Braille code. Today we have several different versions of Braille. Since it is basically a code, all languages and even subjects like mathematics, music and computer programming can be read and written in Braille! This has been critically instrumental in the lives of millions of blind people to study and access literature.

It has been 200 years now since blind people have been facilitated to read and write using Braille.  This tactile alphabet system has letters, numbers and symbols for most languages in the world.  For blind students Braille is the key to attaining knowledge, literacy and employment. The world owes it to the young French man enrolled in the Royal Institution for Blind Youth, Paris who so wanted to read books just like other children, that he created a tactile alphabet to enable him easily to read and write!

The Marrakesh Treaty, an international copyright agreement ratified by 20 countries allows Braille books to be produced without copyright permission. The Treaty allows libraries for the blind to share accessible versions of books across borders without copyright permission. Till date the Marrakesh Treaty has been signed by 81 countries. The World Blind Union a global organization effective in 190 countries represents over 285 million blind or partially sighted people worldwide.

HERD Foundation encourages everyone to understand the importance of human right for all people who are blind, visually impaired or otherwise print disabled, to be able to access and facilitate access to published works. The organization remembers and recognizes Louis Braille for his simple yet effective invention that made it possible for blind people throughout the world to read and write.

January 4 - World Braille Day

January 4 – World Braille Day

Eyes – Windows to the Soul!

Eye Disease

Eye Disease

A survey done on 1272 persons on an urban Indian population of age groups from 5 upwards, from all socio economic groups showed that vision impairment existed in 67% . Strangely the subjects had no idea that they had vision impairment. These impairments were related to visual acuity, binocularity, stereo depth and colour perception, lateral and vertical phorias and peripheral vision deficiency found in glaucoma suspects. This survey done at the instance of India Sight Screeners’ Foundation was undertaken by Market Research Agency A C Nielsen, using the Titmus Comprehensive Vision Screener.

The human eye is a body part that needs serious care. If anything this survey appears to be a call for action.  The human eye has enough intricacies to necessitate specialized attention and care beyond what a general physician can do for you. You need specialists or eye care professionals to help you safeguard these important human organs. You may need both ophthalmologists who perform surgery, and you may need optometrists who prescribe lenses after checking the eyes acuity. There are many disorders and age-related changes that affect eyes and you do need professional help in such eventualities.

Visual Acuity

Visual Acuity

As the eyes age there are bound to occur certain changes due to the aging process. Most of such physiological changes follow as a matter of course when your body gradually declines. With aging the quality of vision worsens, as eyes too age. While there are very many significant changes due to old age, the most important change that affects functionality is the reduction in pupil size and the loss of accommodation or focusing capacity. The area of the pupil governs the amount of light that can reach the retina.

The degree to which the pupil can dilate is affected by increasing age. This leads to considerable lessening of the light required on the retina. One needs to therefore obtain detailed visual diagnostics from professionals who can help you to get corrective measures. With aging, a prominent white ring develops in the periphery of the cornea too. Aging also causes laxity, downward shift of eyelid tissues and atrophy of the orbital fat. These changes also contribute to the eyelid disorders leading to impaired vision.

With a string of eye care professionals – ophthalmologists, optometrists, opticians – you can get help in the treatment and management of vision disorders. From reading charts to precise machines they can measure your vision to exact numbers. You may really be the fortunate few who may get such services, for the truth is that a vast majority of us living in rural India still lack basic eye care services. Go to any village and you will see the geriatric populations languishing in semi blindness. Life turns a nightmare for such people who cannot see or find their way about. Rural Indians suffer from such soul-less eyes and it is for them that concrete steps need to be taken to restore their vision and sense of self esteem.

Simple Procedures

Simple Procedures