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HindustanTimes Fri,11 Jul 2014

The home and the school

Sumana Ramanam, Hindustan Times   October 02, 2011
First Published: 01:30 IST(2/10/2011) | Last Updated: 01:33 IST(2/10/2011)

Since I wrote a month ago about HT's new student edition, HT Next, many readers have asked where they can buy a copy.

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People at HT connected with the student newspaper, which was launched on September 5, (Teachers' Day) tell me that it is being distributed only through schools right now and is not available on the stands.

Interested readers who have children - and I suspect the majority fall in this category - could consider approaching their children's school principals to ask them if they might want to subscribe. Readers can simultaneously write to htnextedit@hindustantimes.com.

We are living in a period in which, for the first time, the habit of reading newspapers is not automatically being passed on from one generation to the next - at least in the West. The situation in India is different for a number of reasons, including the fact that neo-literate people are likely to become newspaper readers, and their numbers will grow for some time. However, they are likely to read newspapers in regional languages, so English newspapers in India may face similar problems that bedevil their counterparts in the West.

When newspapers can no longer entirely depend on the home to get young people hooked to them, it makes sense to reach out to youngsters through schools. Indeed, newspapers have been trying to position themselves as an educational tool, long before the current situation.

The first formal school programmes were set up as early as in the 1930s, according to the World Association of newspapers. Today, there are more than 700 programmes internationally, including digital editions, says the Association.

"The role newspapers can play in ensuring children get a well-rounded education is often underestimated," said Pravinchandran Nair, HT's deputy resident editor. "Newspapers provide children a window to the wider world, beyond their textbooks and classrooms. And for these future decision-makers and responsible citizens, a knowledge of public affairs is essential."

Talking about schools, HT will start releasing its third annual Top Schools Survey tomorrow. After each of the past two surveys, I have received several phone calls and emails from schools and readers with school-going children asking me why the institution they were associated got the rank it did or did not make it to some list.

I would be happy to have readers get in touch this year as well, but I would also like to say a couple of things before the survey appears.

I know that HT has been refining its methodology in evaluating schools over the past three years based both on its own insights and suggestions from readers.

However, no matter how sophisticated the methodology, there will always be an element of subjectivity in a school survey because people have different conceptions of what constitutes a good education and school.

Some people might value a homogeneous elite institution, others might be actively looking for socio-economic diversity; some might want a competitive atmosphere, others a relaxed one that puts a premium on co-operation.

I think that this survey can help many parents, both newcomers and those who have lived in the city for many years, because education has seen so many changes over the past three years. But above a particular threshold, which school a parent picks will depend on their own views and values about education.


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