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Schools in Pune set to reopen from Monday



PUNE: After nearly eight months, schools and junior colleges are set to reopen in Pune district from November 23.

Classes 9 and 10 of schools, and 11 and 12 of junior colleges will start from Monday.

Earlier in the day, Maharashtra School Education Minister Varsha Gaikwad said that local authorities will take a decision on reopening schools in respective areas after assessing the coronavirus situation.

The district administration and Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad municipal corporations issued guidelines for safey of students and teachers on Friday evening.

The district administration also asked school managements to take prior consent of parents.

“Schools will have to provide thermal scanners/guns, pulse oxymeters, hand wash soaps, and ensure that school premises and classrooms are cleaned with disinfectants,” said the guidelines.

Only one student will sit on each bench, and it is mandatory for all the teachers and non-teaching staff to undergo COVID-19 test.

Dr Milind Naik, Principal, Jnana Prabodhini Prashala said that all safety protocols are being followed before the school reopens.

“There will be a total of 160 students of class 9 and class 10 and they will be coming to school only for practicals and co-curricular activities between 4 and 5.30 pm,” he said.

Curriculum activities will continue online as earlier.

“All our teachers have undergone COVID-19 tests and all results are negative,” said Naik.

But some schools are not going to reopen on Monday.

“Though we are prepared to implement international- standard safety measures, we will not be starting classes on November 23. We first need to overrule the possibility of any spike in infections in the city post-Diwali,” said Praneet Mungali, a trustee at Sanskriti Group of Schools.

“We will have a detailed dialogue with all stakeholders including our students, parents to determine the next course of action by consensus,” he said.

Prasad Joshi, a parent, is cautious about sending his daughter, who is in the 9th standard, to school.

“I have got a consent form from the school. They have sought my consent to send the ward to school. But the school should take parents into confidence and inform what measures they have taken for the safety of students,” he said.

Pune district collector Rajesh Deshmukh said there are over 18,000 teachers of class 9 to 12 in the district.

“So far over 3,000 teachers have undergone COVID-19 tests,” he said.

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Freelance earning in India back to pre-COVID-19 levels: Report




The freelance earnings in India increased in the ongoing quarter of this financial year and have returned to pre-COVID-19 levels, according to a report. The report is based on an analysis of the data on Flexing It – a platform for business consultants and highly skilled flexible talent.

The median fee earned by freelance consultants dropped by almost 25 per cent between the first and second quarters but started picking up from the third quarter slowly reaching pre-COVID-19 levels, it said. The analysis is based on over 3,84,000 fee quotations and benchmarks collected from independent consultants which showed trends in freelance earnings based on skillset, experience levels, gender and industry including professional services, pharma and healthcare, FMCG, education and the development sector.

Further, the report said that in the FMCG industry, consultants were least impacted by the pandemic in terms of fees while in other industries, including professional services, pharmaceuticals and education, there was a decrease of over 20 per cent in the median compensation between the first and second quarter of 2020-21.

The impact of the pandemic on fees paid to junior consultants (with less than 5 years of experience) was limited and their earnings were relatively unaffected, it added.

“After the initial decline in the earnings of freelancers as a result of the pandemic, we have now seen a return to pre-COVID-19 levels. As top-tier global talent increasingly chooses freelancing because of the flexibility, autonomy and financial opportunities it offers, large corporates are rapidly recognising and leveraging this talent pool for the agility, quality and specialised skills offered,” Flexing It founder and CEO Chandrika Pasricha said.

The report found that the gender pay gap persists in freelance work too with the average income of women lower than that of men by 35 per cent.

However, the compensation of women grows at a relatively higher rate as compared to that of men until 20 years of experience, it stated. Post 20 years of experience, while the average income for men rose by 20 per cent, that of women remained the same, it added.

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Rajasthan raises scholarship amount for Sainik School students




JAIPUR: The Rajasthan government has decided to increase the scholarship amount and annual family income ceiling of students studying in Sainik Schools in the state. The state government will provide Rs 15,000-37,500 instead of Rs 10,000-25,000 to its bona fide students studying in Sainik Schools in Chittorgarh and Jhunjhunu, an official statement said.

Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot approved the proposal of the Finance Department. According to the proposal, Rs 25,000 is payable for tuition fee in the form of full scholarship to students studying in Sainik Schools having annual family income of Rs 1.2 lakh.

The annual family income limit has been increased to Rs 3 lakh and the scholarship amount in form of tuition fee payable has been increased to Rs 37,500.

Similarly, the current annual family income limit of students eligible for 3/4th scholarship has been revised from Rs 1.2 lakh-1.8 lakh to Rs 3 lakh-5 lakh per annum. Now, for the tuition fee in the form of 3/4th scholarship, the amount will be Rs 30,000 instead of Rs 20,000.

According to the proposal, the current annual family income limit of Sainik School students eligible for half the scholarship has been increased from Rs 1.8 lakh-2.4 lakh to Rs 5 lakh-7.5 lakh. The scholarship amount has also been revised from Rs 15,000 to 20,000.

The current annual family income limit of students eligible for one-fourth scholarship has been increased to Rs 7.5 lakh-10 lakh as against Rs 2.4 lakh-3 lakh. Also, the scholarship amount of tuition fee payable has also been increased to Rs 15,000 from Rs 10,000, according to the proposal.

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Laws and regulations on US student visas have not changed




Promoting educational exchange between nations forges lasting connections between Americans and their peers in other countries, benefiting local communities, and generating knowledge to solve shared challenges.
Ariel Pollock, spokesperson, US Embassy, New Delhi, explains how the US government is committed to welcome international students and promote educational exchange.

Will the new US government have a fresh strategy for international students?

Welcoming international students to the US colleges and universities has been and remains a cornerstone of the US international education policy and is fundamental to the State Department’s academic exchange efforts. Successive US governments have welcomed international students to the United States and encouraged more Americans to experience the world through study abroad. Promoting educational exchange between nations forges lasting connections between Americans and their peers in other countries, benefiting local communities, and generating knowledge to solve shared challenges. This is all the more important now in the light of the challenges the entire world faces due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Open Doors 2020, there has been a 4% decline in Indian students visiting the US for education. What could be the reasons?

The United States remains the top global destination for international students, attracting students from almost every country across the globe. Over the past 10 years, the number of Indian students in the United States has roughly doubled. There are currently over 1,93,000 Indian students in the United States, the second-highest number of foreign students. We are pleased to say that we have also seen a steady increase in the number of undergraduate students from India at US colleges and universities.

Choosing a place of study is an important, personal decision, and prospective students take into account several factors when making that decision, including the right programme of study, affordability, and practical experience.

·More than 4,000 accredited US higher education institutions offer a variety of majors and degree options and opportunities for students to tailor the educational path. The US spends on research and development and offers world-class laboratories and facilities.

·A US degree is both valuable and affordable. The variety of colleges and universities offer the right fit and price point for prospective students, along with opportunities to obtain scholarships and eligible on-campus employment.

·Through Optional Practical Training (OPT), international students who qualify benefit from the combined strengths of a US higher education, coupled with practical work experience in their field of expertise.

In the last couple of years, more students from India were visiting the US for graduation. Is the 6% decline indicative of unsurety among the aspirants due to visa policies, increasing expenses or due to pandemic?

Many factors affect a student’s decision on where to study. Let me be clear. Neither the law nor regulations on US student visas has changed and there have been no changes in the way we adjudicate student visas and we continue to greatly value the contributions international students bring, in particular, Indian students. As always, and in particular now with the challenges we are all facing due to the pandemic, the US Embassy and Consulates across India are striving to make the visa application process as easy as possible.

An investment in a US degree today is an investment in a successful future. With the right amount of planning and research, pursuing a US higher education can be made affordable with high returns on your investment.

Finally, we recognise the serious challenges the COVID-19 pandemic has posed to universities and students alike, and we hope that international students who had originally planned to study in the United States will still be able to do so, now and in the future.

Will the new government announce relaxation to the H-1B non-immigrant visa that the Trump administration, imposed restrictions on?

I cannot speculate on future policy decisions.

COVID-19 has changed the education paradigm, and most universities are offering online courses. Do you think the campuses will introduce innovative methods to encourage offline learning or digital learning is here to stay?

Individual US colleges and universities are determining how to provide the best and safest educational experience for their students as we all continue to adapt to the ongoing pandemic and other related global challenges. I encourage interested students to visit our EducationUSA Advising Centers, easily available online at, to learn about the wealth of opportunities offered by US colleges and universities.

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