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Texas education board set to revise sex education curriculum

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AUSTIN: In the first changes to the sex education curriculum in Texas in more than 20 years, the State Board of Education on Friday approved teaching middle schoolers about birth control but decided against providing students with information on consent, sexual orientation and gender identity.

The revisions consist of teaching seventh and eighth graders about the effectiveness of birth control in preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. Currently, only high schoolers get such lessons, though health courses aren’t required for graduation.

The new standards, which guide textbook content as well as instruction in public schools across the state, will go into effect in 2022. The board last updated the state’s sex education curriculum in 1997.

The board also approved teaching fifth graders about fertilization and sixth graders about sexual intercourse.

School districts in Texas aren’t required to offer sex education, but if they do, they’re required by state law to emphasize abstinence.

While some board members tried to include references to sexual orientation and gender identity in the curriculum revisions, the majority of the Republican-dominated board was against such additions.

Marty Rowley, a Republican board member from Amarillo, said it should be up to districts to determine whether they wanted to include such information.

“I know not everyone got what they wanted in this set of standards, but I would encourage them to compare this set of standards with what we began with to see there was a great deal of advancement with regard to coming up with a set of standards that I think are relevant and workable,” Rowley said.

Val Benavidez, president of the Texas Freedom Network, a left-leaning watchdog of the state’s education board, said in a statement: “This isn’t a local control issue. It’s an issue of basic human decency.”

“Arguing that it’s controversial simply to acknowledge LGBTQ people exist and deserve to be treated with respect just like everyone else is pretty damning,” Benavidez said.

Across the nation, 11 states require inclusive content in regard to sexual orientation in sex education, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that supports reproductive rights. The organization said nine states require sex education to include information about consent.



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IIT Madras placements: IIT-Madras registers rise in pre-placement offers

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CHENNAI: Pre-placement Offers (PPO) for the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Madras, have seen a rise during 2020-21 when compared with last year. The first phase of campus placement is set to commence on December 1.

As many as 182 PPOs have been made to students in this academic year (as on November 28) as against 170 offers during the entire 2019-20 academic year. The institutes internship programme, conducted completely online this year for the first time in its history to overcome restrictions on account of the pandemic, could be the reason for the slew of PPOs, a press release said here on Monday. The internships, facilitated through an institute- coordinated process, enables students to intern with companies that are large recruiters. The constant increase in PPOs was the result of the excellent performance of students during the internships. Microsoft and Texas Instruments led the pack offering 12 PPOs each followed by Qualcomm with 10 and Goldman Sachs and American Express with nine each, a release from IIT- Madras said.

According to C S Shankar Ram, advisor (Training and Placement), IIT-Madras, the sustained increase in the number of PPOs this year is a clear reflection of the academic quality of IIT-Madras and its students.

I am optimistic that we would be able to carry forward this momentum and our students would obtain the best possible job offers in Phase-1 placements,” he said in the release.

Day-one (August 30) of the internship drive saw 17 companies offering 140 internships.

In 2019, 147 internship offers were made on day-one, the release said.

N V Ravi Kumar, advisor (Internships), IIT-Madras, said, We have been observing a direct correlation between internships and PPOs since the internship office was created. Internships provide an excellent opportunity for students to understand the working culture and expectations of companies they work for and for the companies to realise the potential of our students during that short period.”

When interests and expectations of interns and companies match, it culminates in pre-placements offers, he added.

The major sectors that offered PPOs during 2020-21 were information technology (46 per cent); core and R&D (29 per cent); analytics, consulting and finance (19 per cent) and FMCG (6 per cent), the release said.



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iit bombay jee advanced: Student loses IIT Bombay seat due to ‘wrong’ click, moves SC

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MUMBAI: An 18-year-old student has lost his seat for a four-year electrical engineering course in the prestigious
IIT
Bombay after he “inadvertently” clicked on a “wrong” link which was meant to withdraw from the process.

The student, Siddhant Batra who hails from Agra, has now approached the supreme court seeking a direction to the institution to admit him after the
IIT said it cannot intervene at this stage as all the seats for the course were full and admission rules had to be followed.

It said Batra could apply again next year for JEE (Advanced).

The
Bombay High Court had initially directed the
IIT to consider Batra’s petition, after he approached it earlier this month, as representation and pass appropriate orders.

Batra, who had secured All India Rank (AIR) of 270 in JEE Advanced exams and secured admission, claimed in his plea that he had clicked the wrong link which was meant to withdraw his seat. Batra intended to freeze the seat, the plea said.

On November 23, a division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice G S Kulkarni dismissed Batra’s petition noting that
IIT had considered his representation and passed its order.

In his petition to the supreme court, Batra has sought a direction to the
IIT to consider his case on humanitarian grounds, and requested creation of an additional seat to undo his loss.

Batra, who lives with his grandparents following death of his parents, in the plea said he had worked hard against all odds to crack
IIT JEE exams.

The petition, filed through advocate Pralhad Paranjpe, said Batra had lost his father when he was a child and was brought up by his mother who passed away in 2018.

As per his plea, Batra, while filling out the admission process online, came upon a page with ‘freeze’ option, which he thought meant confirming the seat and the completion of his admission process.

“On October 31, 2020 when Batra was surfing the
IIT portal to check for further updates, he came upon a link which carried a declaration that read ‘I would like to withdraw from the seat allocation process of JoSAA (Joint Seat Allocation Authority’,” the petition said.

As per the plea, Batra inadvertently clicked on this link and stated ‘
IIT
Bombay, Electrical Engineering’ as reasons for withdrawal. It added that Batra never intended to withdraw his admission.

In November 2020, when the final list of students was uploaded on the
IIT portal, Batra’s name was not included.

The
IIT, in its order, however, said the withdrawal option was a “conscious” two-step process.

It said candidates who want to withdraw before the final round can do so and the ‘seat acceptance fee’ gets refunded, adding that once a candidate has withdrawn then his or her seat stands cancelled.



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iit delhi pollution: How Japan can help Delhi ease pollution woes

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NEW DELHI: The solution to India’s pollution woes may lie in Japanese best practices. While there is no magic wand to check pollution, we can emulate their sustainable development and constant monitoring methods to bring changes, researchers at IIT Delhi have suggested.

IIT-D has advocated the formation of a Clean Air Partnership (CAP) between India and Japan, which should have academics, government officials, scientists and other stakeholders who would constantly be in touch with Japanese officials and exchange best practices to combat pollution.

Nomesh Bolia, professor at IIT-D and co-coordinator of Centre of excellence for research on clean air (CERCA), stated that “there is no magic wand to ward off pollution in Delhi and India.”

But the Japanese, he stated, “have looked at air pollution through a holistic perspective. They did not wait for any country to come and give them solutions. The process started with laws, which were then implemented through a series of mechanisms and continuous monitoring of industries and sectors.”

One of their ways of combating pollution was the idea of green procurement. “Under this, the Japanese government promoted the purchase of equipment with lower environmental impacts. They also created a priming effect and promoted the shift in demand towards eco-friendly goods as a whole. Each fiscal year, government institutions were required to formulate a green purchasing policy, which included consideration for environmental factors.”

Bolia stated that Japan’s waste management system was modernised. “They have clearly defined roles of organisations, which India and Delhi lack.”

The IIT professor said that there was also a need to reach out to all sections. The recent Diwali firecracker ban was criticised by experts who pointed out how there was no involvement of people in the fight against fireworks.

“Air pollution affects all and there has to be an ecosystem-based approach. There is a need to create laws for continuous waste management, and to call for a push for electric vehicles,” said Bolia.

The CERCA co-coordinator said that “there needs to be a continuous enhancement of best practices between the two countries,” which can be achieved through the CAP.

“We have a memorandum of co-operation on pollution. But we cannot only have a system where the Japanese come and give us their technology. We need to learn through a continuous exchange of best practices.”



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