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Junior Achievement India

 (A Company registered under Section 25(1)(a) of the Companies Act, 1956)


JA India Newsletter

Volume 2, Issue  2
We have for you...
Alternate program delivery
ExxonMobil | Delhi and Mumbai
MphasiS | Great volunteers
Mumbai | Citi and Deloitte
Reaching out | Sahasra Deepika
Exemplary volunteer | Ramesh Shah
JA Caterpillar Industry program
New Delivery Channels | WBTs
JA India Review Meet
The 21st Century Classroom
Educator Speak | Transforming Education
The India less known
India's Learning Agenda
Who defines this? 
April 2009

The subject has been a major pre-occupation for four months now. Two stories that I came across in the recent past has helped me build some more perspective. One is about Jason Box, an associate professor of Geography at Ohio State, and his colleagues, graduate students Russell Benson and David Decker, all with the Byrd Polar Research Center.  Their immediate object of concern: A massive crack developing in Petermann Glacier in Greenland which has a 16kms by 80kms floating section. The reason: Global warming. They were out there testing if the melting could be arrested by wrapping (!) the glacier with a suitable fabric.  The other story was about Confederation Bridge -- The Confederation Bridge joins the eastern Canadian provinces of Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick. The curved, 12.9 km long bridge is the longest in the world crossing ice-covered water, and a decade after its construction, it endures as one of Canada's top engineering achievements of the 20th century.  For making this a possibility engineers had to find a way to save the bridge from collapsing due to colliding ice sheets. They eventually found their solution in the technology used by ice-breaking ships.
So what's the point? The above two stories have three types of players - the pupils, the preachers and the practitioners of professions. In their respective roles, each of them added to their professions and so also to their roles. Over time professions and their body of knowledge have developed only when all the three have contributed. Whenever this was not the case either the profession stagnated or if the area of application moved ahead, the profession degenerated and at times replaced by an alternate body of knowledge. While the consequences of a stagnating or degenerating profession are several, a key consequence being it renders the stakeholders (pupils, preachers and practitioners) increasingly uncompetitive.
What has this to do with the learning agenda? Whether the pupils, preachers and the practitioners contribute is underpinned in their motivations for learning - their agenda or reasons for engagement with the profession. Should the reasons be primarily opportunistic, the professions would eventually become less effective (and relatively more expensive) in solving real life problems; innovation ceases, outcomes diminish, jobs move out and lesser and lesser new jobs get created!
Let us apply this yardstick to the Indian pupil, preacher and practitioner. What would be the take on professions in India and their ability to understand and solve everyday problems? Does it have anything to do with the quintessential Indian professional's under-employability, unemployability, inability to create new opportunities or inability to innovate?
Should India be worried about its learning agenda? Are the pupils and preachers embracing the learning agenda with the right motivations? More important, WHO and WHAT is setting India's learning agenda -- whether consciously or otherwise?
The following could indicate the state of our learning agenda. We engaged with several thousands of students, across the spectrum, in the past few years. This experience makes us raise some queries.
  1. Why is a typical student choosing between 'What would get me a job' and 'What is it that I like'?
  2. Why is it that 'What is it that the student likes' not even a choice for many parents?
  3. Why is it that the top recruiters visit 'Engineering' and 'MBA' colleges for the 'best' talent?
  4. Why is it that the 'best' are expected to take up 'science'? And the 'next best' expected to take up 'Commerce' and 'Arts'?
  5. If the recruiter needs the best talent and the best talent is in the technical colleges, should they still be recruited even if the job needs the best talent but not their qualification?
  6. If a student understands merit in pursuing what she likes but overwhelmed by the 'practical considerations' to be 'relevant' in the job market, is this the set of choices we should put our students to?
  7. On the potential consequences: If the 'best' after their chemical, mechanical, electrical, civil engineering etc are doing jobs that has nothing to do with what they have learnt, are the less than 'best' handling the jobs which they were supposed to?
  8. On the possible contribution: At an average run rate of 4 mn engineers per decade, what is your take on the contribution made by our pupils, preachers and practitioners in growing their professions in the last three decades?
If any of the above make you believe India's learning agenda is skewed, where do we start to realign the skew?
We could blame the preacher and the parent but they too seem to be victims of 'practical considerations'! About the pupil's ability to arrive at their likes, such limited is their comprehension of the professional wolrd, they say they want to pursue engineering because they like math and science so that they can work in an IT firm! To reassure you, I have not made any grammatical error in framing the last statement.Venkat Matoory, Chief Executive, JA India
A completely new dimension opens up when we account for the subsidy extended to each technical graduate from top rung institutes. Last known, this was close to Rs 800,000 per graduate -- this means for a typical organization that employs 100,000 technical grads from the top rung institutions a subsidy of USD 2bn has been expended for their employees. Has their contribution to the profession and industry been commensurate? Have their alma maters progressed through their top rung contribution? This would be an entire debate in itself and perhaps best treated separately.
I am happy to present to you the fifth issue of our newsletter. The feedback from readers has been positive. We continue to enhance our efforts to present to you a much broader representation from the learning world. Of particular interest would be 'Turf Talk' and the experience sharing by young Afroz -- who possibly struggled through that section of our population for whom India is yet to shine. 

With best regards,
Venkat Matoory
Chief Executive, JA India

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Participating students from JA Careers with a Purpose single day workshop

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JA India's students volunteers @ RTI VidyapeethJA National Capital Region |
Alternate Program Delivery
Engaging students to engage students | JA's Student Volunteers
Logistical reasons and excessive comprehension gaps between corporate volunteers and middle grade students led JA Delhi program management team to experiment with the idea of student volunteers. The team identified select students in their final year of graduation who could be trained to conduct JA programs for middle grade students.
The first such experience was created when student volunteers Sumedha and Vidisha conducted JA Success Skills program for middle grade students at RTI Vidyapeeth, Bajghera village in Gurgaon. The sessions were liked by participating students as well as the school teachers/management. Student volunteers too enjoyed their experience.
Fostering Financial Literacy| Engaging the women in the householdInteraction session at RTI Vidyapeeth, International Women's day
On the occassion of international women's day, Sucharita Selot, Region Head (North) and Junita Paul (Delhi program manament team) had the opportunity to interact with about 200 women from around Bajghera village in Gurgaon region. These women are supported by Literacy India's centre at RTI Vidyapeeth in the village. Alongwith Capt. Indraani Singh, the team engaged with the participants to explore possible ways in which JA India could collaborate with the centre in developing relevant program interventions -- interventions that enhance specific skills within the target audience. A possible intervention could be in the field of financial literacy.
Fostering financial literacy is one of the pillars of JA programs -- the added benefit being children of the participant's family could benefit from a financially literate woman in the household. Over the next few months, JA India would stay engaged to further this process. Should this concept resonate with you, please do reach out to our team in Delhi.
ExxonMobil LogoJA Volunteering

ExxonMobil Volunteers @ PVV Schools
Classroom volunteering support from ExxonMobil employees continues to grow stronger. ExxonMobil Delhi volunteers ran JA Careers with a Purpose programs for students from Pratibha Vikas Vidyalaya schools.
This period also saw ExxonMobil Mumbai volunteers participating in JA Classroom programs at R.N. Podar School in Mumbai.
April saw some of the best moments of JA India classroom volunteering when Nathaniel Hedman (Business Head, ExxonMobil Lubricants) personally conducted JA classroom programs at Pratibha Vikas Vidyalaya (PVV), Raj Niwas Marg. The energy and enthusiasm within students was palpable. Even more gratifying was to see engagement and interest from the school's teachers.
Thanks to the positive experience and continuing support from the school Principal, JA India programs have now expanded to PVV schools in Lodhi Road and Shalimar Bagh.
MphasiS Corporate logoJA Volunteering
MphasiS | Bangalore

JA India commenced India operations with its first set of classroom programs, in Bangalore, in January 2007. With early classroom successes came the need to develop a volunteer base to reach more students. MphasiS provided that lifeline by facilitating a structured plan for engaging potentially interested volunteers from its Bangalore offices.

Niranjana | MphasiS Volunteer

That engagement has continued over the years and Bangalore operations continue to be sustained in a significant way with support from MphasiS volunteers. Today we are particulary proud to be introducing to our readers a very motivated volunteer: Niranjana, Senior Transaction Processing Officer at Mphasis, Bangalore. His work involves gathering of service and repair information on automobiles, formatting and processing acquired data on databases. He interacts extensively with customers to understand customer specifications and guidelines.

Niranjana runs JA programs for students at Silicon City Public School in Indiranagar, Bangalore. To ensure he is available to his JA Classroom students, Niranjana travels long distances switching three buses. And when he completes the day's session, he is ready for all that travel once again to return home.
Niranjana, MphasiS Bangalore

Says Niranjana about the program, students and his experience: "JA Careers with a Purpose program enhanced my knowledge through its excellent course material. Students at Silicon City School were interactive. By providing examples relevant to the industry I was able to correlate the information in the material to events from my own experience in the industry. This helped students get a better grasp on the subject."
His dedication to the JA cause is a motivating experience for all of us at JA India.

JA VolunteeringCiti and Deloitte Corporate logos

The summer months saw debrief/orientation sessions being conducted for Deloitte Mumbai volunteers -- specifically for JA Careers with a Purpose and JA Success Skills programs. Following these session, Deloitte volunteers conducted JA Careers with a Purpose program for students at Powai English School.
The School Adoption Program by Citi and Deloitte:
To ensure constant flow of volunteers and to sustain program expansion, a School Adoption Program has been suggested to Mumbai Corporates. The suggestion has found acceptance from Citi as well as Deloitte volunteers. Specifically:
  1. Citi would support program execution in two Bandra schools and another Chembur school
  2. Deloitte would support program execution for specific schools in Powai

Mumbai program management team would be extending this program to more Corporate partners in the city.

Parag S, Regional Managing Director, Deloitte Consulting @ JA Class

Parag Saigaonkar, Regional Managing Director, Deloitte Consulting India Pvt Ltd
conducting JA Classroom sessions for high school students

JA Volunteering
Classrooms | Bangalore

Lovedale Foundation and Sahasra Deepika Foundation for Education support (Boarding, Food, Education)Sahasra Deepika logo kids who are either with no parents or have single parent and are from very humble backgrounds. There are about 15 kids supported by each organization who are in the age group of 11-15 years. JA India would be conducting JA Success Skills program for these students, at Sahasra Deepika on 11|12|13 May 2009.

For event participation and program details please visit Events page on The FirstLovedale Foundation logo Acquaintance.

All student transport needs for the event are being provided by Accenture Bangalore.

JA Volunteering | Mr. Ramesh Shah
Exemplary Volunteering

Ramesh Shah, JA Volunteer
Ramesh Shah found new joy and a great companion in his retirement years -- in Junior Achievement program! He has been teaching JA programs to school students in Grades 1-12 all around Greater Cleveland, for 10 years now! In the process he has touched lives of hundreds of children with JA programs.
The JA program he loves the most: JA Global Market Place. A program targeted for students in Grades 6-12, the sessions provide practical information on the global economy and its effect on students' lives. He brings his own experience from travelling to more than 10 countries and from his upbringing in India till his undergraduate years. 
Just in 2008-2009, Ramesh Shah took the program, all by himself, to more than 1200 students across Mumbai, Surat and Gadak in Navsari district of Gujarat.

About Mr. Ramesh Shah (
JA Volunteer)JA Global Marketplace classroom sessions
Ramesh Shah holds two graduate degrees - Masters in Electrical Engineering and Masters in Business Adminstration. He is 72 years old but in class looks more like a 50 years young man. He has been living in USA for more than 50 years now.
During his active professional life, Mr. Shah was an entrepreneur in real estate and mortgage space for more than 20 years. Presently, he teaches International Marketing, Finance and investments to undergraduate students @ Myers College, Kent Stae University and in a few more colleges.
JA Volunteering | Joint initiatives
JA Caterpillar Caterpillar Corporate logoIndustry Program

Industry volunteers are the backbone of JA Volunteering in India and across the world. Program execution partnerships further aid the volunteering process by driving better connect between the volunteer, volunteer's organization/industry and the target students group. Based on JA India's JA Inside Industry program, volunteers from Caterpillar's Asia Pacific Shared Services group developed a customized program for Commerce students aspiring to be part of the Finance function. Set to be delivered over 10-12 hours across 3-4 sessions, the program provides participating students a high-level vision of the Company and the industry Caterpillar serves. The customized program delves into the various interactions between functional groups within the organization -- with a specific emphasis on the manner in which Finance function engages within and with the organization and business context.
The program takes a deep dive into the CFO organization and the various functions within the CFO organization, briefly touching upon the responsibility areas such as Accounting (Shareholder/Management), Treasury, Tax, Audit and so on. Students are engaged, in detail, on some of the common accounting and related topics such as role of the accounting premier bodies, accounting principles, role of internal controls, risk mitigation, and more in an interactive manner through appropriately linked problem statements and case studies.

The objective of the entire program is to provide participating students a flair of the practical world and its inherent dynamics. The target students (B.Com/BBA) might have been exposed to the theory already. However, when volunteers present the practical view, students understand the complexity involved and undergo their learning process with the much needed application view.

To beging with , this customized program was conducted, by about 10 Caterpillar volunteers, for a batch of 70 II Year B.Com. students from St. Anne's College in Bangalore.
Caterpillar demonstrates great commitment to the program with sponsorship and participation right from the senior management and across all levels. JA India thanks Steven Guse, CFO, Asia Pacific Shared Services and S. Rengarajan, Director, Accounting Shared Services for initiating and sponsoring this joint effort and Badrinath Chellappa, Business Support Manager for all the support in developing the programs. We thank every volunteer for the time invested and hope to benefit more students through this joint initiative.
JA Volunteering | Joint initiativesDeloitte Corporate logo
JA Careers with a Purpose | Web delivery

JA India's flagship program, JA Careers with a Purpose program continues to be sought by students and educators alike. Volunteers accord a high degree of relevance to this program. Yet delivering the program in the classroom has not been that easy. It requires the volunteer to have atleast 8+ years of work experience. Further such experience should have enough depth to engage student imagination with the right real life examples. Once the core concept is understood by the students, they need to apply these frameworks to their individual decision making process.
Having said, we also believe that if a right learning tool is made available to younger volunteers and highe-Learning for Kids logo school teachers, they would be better enabled to create the right experience in the classroom. The same tool could also serve as a concept reinforcer to participating students and a teaser to new students.
The above considerations brought the JA India team, The Human Capital team at Deloitte and e-Learning for Kids team together to develop a web based version of this program. The team has jointly worked for more than 4 months to develop the storyboards. We hope to launch the program soon once the storyboards undergo production and other mandatory refinements.

Barclays Corporate logoProgram Partnerships

Three million dollar program to teach entrepreneurship and business skills to students in 11 countries in first year.
In February  2009, JA Worldwide (Junior Achievement) and Barclays Bank announced the launch of a three-year, $3 million program, "You can B." The initiative will support the expansion of Junior Achievement's entrepreneurship and work-readiness projects in 11 countries during its first year: This include seven countries in Africa, two in the Middle East, Russia and India. "You can B" was formally launched with an event at Barclays Emerging Markets headquarters in Dubai. The initiative was unveiled by Ahmed Khizer Khan, Chief Executive of Barclays Emerging Markets; Sean C. Rush, JA Worldwide President and Chief Executive Officer; Jack E. Kosakowski, JA Worldwide Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer; and Thomas G. Dewar, JA Worldwide Senior Vice President.

Specific to the first year of partnership in India, "You can B" would include  the following key components:
  • "B-INSPIRED innovation camps": Multiple schools will participate in the program; the students will be presented with a business challenge at the camp and will collaboratively devise a solution, using leadership, critical-thinking and teamwork skills.
  • The "B- SMART" program: This initiative would involve students from high school and above who would be engaged to setup and run their own student-companies using JA Worldwide's JA Company ProgramŽ. JA Company Program fosters entrepreneurial thinking and business acumen among high school students through a volunteer-led mentoring program in which students devise, produce, market and sell a product while trying to turn a profit for their company's shareholders.
  • Barclays employees will take part in "B-EXPERIENCED" an on-site career mentoring initiative in conjunction with the implementation of JA Worldwide's JA Job Shadow™ program, in which, after receiving preparatory classroom instruction, students visit a place of business for a day and get first-hand knowledge about what it takes to be successful in the workforce. Students learn how to interact appropriately with colleagues, the importance of presenting oneself in a professional manner, and learn how to formulate and achieve their career goals.

The programs would be rolled out across multiple locations in India commencing June 2009.

Academic Institutions | Silicon City School | Indira Nagar | Bangalore

Given the name, you might find more than one school with similar name in India's 'silicon city'. We are talkingSilcon City School, Indira Nagar, Bangalore about Silicon City Public School in Indira Nagar. Established in the year 2000, the school started with a strength of 8 students!  Started by The Sal Sabeel Trust, the school's main aim was to impart quality education to the socio-economically and educationally backward classes within the community. After much testing times the school today has a strength of 530 students. The Trust has extended facilities such as fee concessions, free uniforms, books and stationery to needy students.
What captured the attention of JA Bangalore program management team was the eagerness of the school administration and academic staff in developing their students. One cannot escape the positive attitude that the school's ambience exudes. Little do we get surprised that JA India today conducts all its school programs in this school -- with active support and participation from the school adminstration and teachers.

JA India volunteers conducted JA Careers with a Purpose program for Class IX and X students.  Niranjana (MphasiS) conducted this program for 70 enthusiastic students. Additionally, JA Success Skills program was conducted in  November 2008 for students in Class VII and VIII. More recently, in January 2009, MphasiS volunteers and JA Program Management team jointly conducted JA More than Money program for Class V and VI students.
JA India review meetsJA India review meet 18 Apr 2009 @ Bangalore
As a part of our review and feedback process, JA program management team conducted its second volunteer review/feedback session in Bangalore on 18 April 2009. The review and feedback process seeks volunteer feedback on various dimensions such as program quality, program content, volunteer induction and training process, school engagement process and many more. The feedback from these meets helps the JA team recalibrate current efforts and identify areas for improvement.
The meet also provides an opportunity to update the volunteers on planned future initiatives and also seek suggestions for expanding student and program impact.
Creating the 21st Century classroom experience
In recent years, IDEO has spent a lot of time and effort thinking about education. The firm's work with Ormondale Elementary School, in Portola Valley, California, helped pioneer a special "investigative-learning" curriculum that inspires students to be seekers of knowledge. Sandy Speicher, who heads the Design for Learning efforts at IDEO mentioned the following powerful lessons for architects and designers, creating the schools of tomorrow:
  1. Pull, Don't Push: Create an environment that helps students ask questions and translate that into insight and understanding. Real learning happens when students feel the need to reconcile a question he or she is facing-and can't help but seek out an answer.
  2. Create from Relevance: Engage kids in meaningful and relevant ways, and you'll capture their attention and imagination. Allow them to have first-hand experience, with concepts and then discuss them (instead of relying on explanation alone).
  3. Stop Calling Them "Soft" Skills: Talents such as creativity, collaboration, communication, empathy, and adaptability are not just nice to have; they're the core capabilities of a 21st-century global economy facing complex challenges.
  4. Allow for Variation: Evolve from the past idea of a 'one-size-fits-all mentality' and permit mass customization, both in the system and the classroom. Too often, equality in education is treated as sameness. The truth is that everyone is starting from a different place and going to a different place.
  5. No More Sage Onstage: In this interactive environment, the role of the teacher is transformed from the expert telling people the answer to an enabler of learning. Step away from the front of the room and find a place to engage with your learners as the "guide on the side."
  6. Teachers are Designers: Let them create. Build an environment where your teachers are actively engaged in learning by doing. Shift the conversation from prescriptive rules to permissive guidance. Even though the resulting environment may be more complicated to manage, the teachers will produce amazing results.
  7. Build a Learning Community: Learning happens through the social interactions with other kids and teachers, parents, the community, and the world at large. Schools should find new ways to engage parents and build local and national partnerships which brings new resources and knowledge to your institution.
  8. Be an Anthropologist, not an Archaeologist: An anthropologist studies people to understand their values, needs, and desires. If you want to design new solutions for the future, you have to understand what people care about and design for that. Don't dig for the answer-connect.
  9. Incubate the Future: Allow children to see their role in creating this world by studying and creating for topics like global warming, transportation, waste management, health care, poverty, and even education. It's about being in a place where we learn ambition, involvement, and responsibility,
    not to mention science, math, and literature.
  10. Change the Discourse: We need to create new assessments that help us understand and talk about the developmental progress of 21st-century skills. This is about measuring 'outcomes' as well as 'processes'. We can't just have the measures. We actually have to value them.

    Detailed article available at this LINK
From JA India Forum
How to teach Business Ethics to someone who does not even understand business?
In response Manjiri, a career HR professional and now consulting for some of the big business houses says,
"When we use the term "Business Ethics", it gives the impression as if there is a different set of rules of Do's and Don'ts that apply to Business and that these are somehow different from the ones that we follow in "life". The thesaurus defines ethics as principles, morals, beliefs... the purpose of these is to guide us in our day to day life without "getting into trouble", when faced with a dilemma, it is expected that our sense of belief and values will help us choose the course that causes least conflict within ourselves and helps us to choose right over wrong.

So when faced with a possible parking fine is it ok to bribe the cop with fifty bucks but not ok to bribe the babus 50 lakhs for evading fine for environment pollution? Is it ok to pay over 25 lakhs to secure admission to a college of your choice but not ok to pay 25 crores to get clearance for a power plant? What determines the ethical stand point, the scale of unethicalness, the scale of impact, the stage it is played out on....?"

Read more on what Manjiri and others have to say, make your responses known at JA India Forums on The First Acquaintance

Turf Talk

On Transforming Education | By Mrs. Avnita Bir (Principal, R.N.Podar School, Mumbai)Mrs Avnita Bir, Principal, R.N.Podar School (Mumbai)
My resume is lavishly sprinkled with a host of big names from the world of schools across the globe. Though I harbored no concrete ambitions of becoming an educator and my getting into education was more circumstantial than planned, today thirty years down the line, I can unequivocally say, there are no regrets. I describe myself as a rolling stone that has hopefully gathered no moss. Armed with a postgraduate degree in Economics from Delhi School of economics and a degree in education, I found my calling in this profession where one got paid for being youthful and in the company of growing minds. My strength as an educator was always my strong 'youth connect' and my 'genuine' concern for the youth. 
Interacting with students has been an extremely rewarding experience for me. Not only is it energizing and invigorating, it also gives valuable insights into young minds, hearts and emotions. As Principal of R.N.Podar School, Mumbai, I have succeeded in creating a school that values the power and potential of the youth and seeks to provide it the support it needs.

During a face-to-face session, I was surprised when a new student who came for an interview, walked into my office, and stretched out his hand for a handshake as I asked him to take a seat. His self-assured stance was a far cry from the intimidated youth of yore, who shuddered at the thought of entering the principal's office. A lot of this of course has to do with the fact that as a principal I am accessible to my students and do not believe in authority stemming from ivory towers.
Despite my liberal thinking, it was a staggering revelation that the DNA of learners we are dealing with is fast changing. The incident set me thinking. Are we educators living in blissful ignorance of reality? In a self created cocoon that shuts out the dynamics of our profession, from the reality of a fast changing, globalised, 'flat' world that these children are a product of? These children have never known a pre-globalised world, and seem to us, as taking many things for granted, but they have actually not known any other world.
In such a scenario, what challenges do we educators face and what are some of the imperatives we need to consider before we completely lose connect with our children. I am sure among our generation many of us are concerned and fascinated by such change.
Last year I had the privilege of attending a short course at the prestigious Harvard Graduate School of Education. The first session was conducted by Chris Dede, Professor in Learning Technologies at the institute. His presentation reminded me of what my son, a product of this technology age, constantly talks about. As most parents, I had always made light of his obsession with the latest technological advancements and what they meant to educationists. As I sat in the Amtrak train from New York to Boston, going through Chris Dede's readings, I felt enlightened. A whole new perspective and dimension of education dawned on me and I felt excited and eager to learn more.
The term Web 2.0 was not new to me, but what exactly it meant and how different it was from the earlier World Wide Web, I understood only when I delved into Chris' readings on transformative education; and how technology is changing the way our children think, reason and learn.  I believe the wealth of learning I gained could of immense value to all adults who deal with generation next, either as parents or as teachers.
Some interesting insights that should reshape the way schools, parents and society view education for the 21st century: 
  • The learning community is becoming more collaborative and interacting with each other across the flat world created by Web 2.0. As a result, the format of learning is changing rapidly. 
  • Interactive media like social bookmarking, wikis, podcasts, blogs, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Flickr, RSS feeds, search engines are becoming popular hangouts where the youth is sharing opinions, values, beliefs, points of view.
  • There are paradigm shifts in the knowledge and skills society expects from graduates of education today.
  • Since almost any piece of information can now be found online in less than a minute, what core knowledge does every student need in order to prepare for the 21st century?

Some ground realities for educators:

  • As educators we use far too narrow a range of pedagogies in schooling students.
  • We have psychological, cultural and political barriers to accepting curricular changes and resist them.
  • The largest challenges in changing schooling are people's emotions, beliefs, assumptions and values.
  • Education needs to go beyond what students should learn as determined by textbook information and high stakes tests.
  • Students who excel academically do not necessarily fare well later in life; work challenges do not resemble the multiple-choice tests schools administer.
  • Tomorrow's workers must be prepared to shift jobs, be flexible and adaptable in acquiring new skills, integrate knowledge to business, have science and mathematics skills, creativity, fluency in information and communication technologies and the ability to solve complex problems.
  • More students will become entrepreneurs and run their own businesses rather than work for others. On the other hand, schools may be preparing them for jobs that will become obsolete in the future.
    Plenty of food for thought!

About Mrs. Avnita Bir

Mrs. Avnita Bir, Principal, R.N.Podar School, Mumbai, is a post graduate in Economics from the prestigious Delhi School of Economics. She graduated from Lady Shri Ram College and has got a degree in education from Central Institute of Education, Delhi. She has also qualified the UGC (Net) Examination for Lectureship in Economics.
Besides her academic qualifications, she has made a conscious effort to upgrade her knowledge and skills through professional development programs on Leadership at IIM-Ahmedabad, Harvard Graduate School of Education as well as workshops on teaching-learning transactions. Besides getting the obvious expertise in such programs, she has gained insights into the learning process by stepping into the shoes of a learner and come out enriched.
Her dedication to the cause of good education propelled her to author two books on Economics in her early years in the profession and she was appointed to give special coaching in Economics to the children of the late Prime Minister, Mr. Rajiv Gandhi. It is her fervent desire to provide a dynamic and conducive environment for the growth of every individual in a manner that would in itself transform the institution into a centre of learning for not just students but also facilitators of learning. 

From the horse's mouth
If numbers and statistics did not convey the intensity to you, perhaps this story will. This is from Afroz who is part of our Bangalore program management team. He joined our Bangalore office in July 2008. We are glad Afroz chose to be part of the JA India team. We assure you we have not even edited the article. We wanted our readers to read all of it unadulterated!
I grew up in a middle class family. I am the second one in the siblings of four to my parents. After completingAfroz Khan | At "Big Cotton Bazaar" my schooling from Bareilly (U.P.), I went to Aligarh Muslim University for my graduation and post graduation studies because it is the only university I could afford due to its low cost education. I gave tuitions and associated with some N.G.O.s in order to earn some money during my university days.

When I got associated with Junior Achievement India (Bangalore) I got to know from my friends in Delhi that many of his friends and acquaintances, who are mostly from Mahoba and Jhansi district of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh respectively, are running makeshift  readymade garments shop called "Big Cotton Bazaar" in the Gandhi Bazaar, Basavangudi  area, Bangalore. I used to visit their shop whenever I got time to learn & share with them. Above all, in the shop setting I got to meet different people and furthered my people skills.These boys mostly came from rural areas having features like assorted shapeless cluster of mud huts, roofed with thatch or Khaprail (earthen tiles) with hardly any sanitation, drainage  or lighting arrangement and narrow paths. Unemployment is the major challenge for the inhabitants of these villages. Most of them before coming to Bangalore engaged  in the unorganized sector like opening a small shop, broom making, hawking, carpet weaving, embroidery work, puncture repairing shop, automobile shop or working as a salesman etc. Most boys dropped out of school because their families' poverty forces them to start earning at a young age.Further, due to their poverty, parents are not able to afford the high cost of private tuitions for their children. In the agricultural sector labourers get employment for only 3-4 months in a year and for the rest of the year many of them have to migrate outside to do any manual work.
"Big Cotton Bazaar" is the makeshift shop selling ready made garments viz.work wear and uniform, leisure wear, sportswear, dresses, ladies suits, blouses, blazers, jackets, cardigans, pullovers, coats, sports jacket, skirts, shirts, ties, jeans, shorts, T-shirts, polo shirts, sports shirt, tracksuits, bathing shorts, bathing shirts, bikinis, underclothing, stockings, socks, pantyhose etc. These all are purchased from the local Bangalore wholesale ready made garments market. These boys are working as helpers, counter sales staff, and sales persons at this shop and possess no formal sales/marketing education. They just apply their commonsense to make more sales day in and day out. I thought to add-on some basic selling skills to these boys in order to make them run their shop effectively and efficiently. In today's economy sales personnel need to be equipped with the appropriate selling skills, following a proven selling system or sales process in order to succeed and meet their sales target. Today's economy demands engaging selling skills not telling selling skills. Engaging selling skills attract and engage prospects into personal and business conversations. Personal conversations to build rapport and trust; Business conversations to qualify opportunities to do business. And you have to smile with the customers and if he is not smiling then make him to smile by way of cracking jokes, humour etc. in order to arrange him to purchase something from the shop, without going empty handed at all.

I taught them that engaging selling skills starts with a desire to create relationship. Keep in mind that people buy from people, people they like and they trust. Once trust is established, a relationship starts. That is the sales skill foundation to sales transactions. To build that rapport, or trust, requires conversational selling skills focused on the prospect, not on you, your company or your products. The selling skills required here is to show a genuine personal concern in the person in front of you. You do that by asking questions, questions that they would like to respond to and talk about.And people like to talk about themselves, their families, hobbies etc.These are more personal conversations. The selling skills required here are asking questions, listening and using your body language to show interest. Your job is to get them to open up and to keep talking - the more they talk, the more you listen, the more you learn and the more they like and trust you. Then you will know when your rapport selling skill has been established, by way the prospect has opened up with you. when they get to the point where they can't stop talking, you know you got the rapport selling skill that would allow you to move onto the next step in the selling system or sales process. With rapport, trust and relationship starting, you can then move from personal to business conversations. The selling skill that is most required in retail selling is asking questions, listening, showing concern and taking the prospect through a self discovering qualifying process.
As Gandhi Bazaar, in Basavangudi is very popular with budget shoppers, in order to make more sales the boys should have the self-confidence, ambition, knowledge of the product, convincing skills and determination. So whatever I learned from JA India I transferred it to the boys who are working with "Big Cotton Bazaar". Mr. Haseeb and Mr. Shannur, the owners said that they gained from my visits and experience sharing and consequently their sales increased. In a nut shell, Like in every other field, making yourself understood is the most important factor for being successful in retail selling also .Therefore besides knowing their job. One should also know what the customers prefers, what makes customers respond positively, how to interact with them. Thus one has to be on ones toes all the time.

The secret to success is that there there is no secret at all.

Afroz with his friends at "Big Cotton Bazaar"

 Afroz Khan with his friends at 'Big Cotton Bazaar' in Basavagudi, Bangalore
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JA India Business Challenge

JA India Business Challenge 2009 | Update
More than 60 teams from 15 towns/cities competed in ROUND I of the competition. This round ended on 26 Feb 2009. 24 of these teams moved to ROUND II (3 March 2009 to 27 March 2009). Top 8 teams from Round II qualified for the finals.
These top 8 teams now compete over 16 business quarters making decisions on  Price, Capacity, Production, R&D investment and marketing spends. The finals commenced on 7 April 2009 and would end on 29 May 2009.
JA India Business Challenge is about intelligence and also about endurance. The best two teams would be competing on behalf of India in HP Global Business Challenge 2010 (HPGBC). Last year's Top 2 teams could not clear Round I of HPGBC 2009. The Global Challenge typically sees participation from 300+ teams from more than 25 countries. Only the best survive here!
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