How can we ensure that students are aware about the latest happenings around the world?
Are they armed with the tools to distinguish between fact and opinion; between evidence based statement and empty rhetoric; between solid journalism and sensationalism.
The best way to do all this is through practice. Here are the top ways to help teachers bring current happenings into the classroom.
Reading and Writing
Recommend students to read today’s news headlines and find what interests them. You can also ask students to pick one article each week and write about why they selected it.
Find the news that can help you improve your life.
You can ask students to write an editorial as well on the issue that matters the most to them.
Help students perform world news analysis from different sources instead of relying on a single source.
The most powerful way to engage students is to make them write articles or opinion pieces as a student journalist.
Speaking and Listening
The debates can be organized in the classroom so that students develop arguments and support a point of view on current events.
Students can also be asked to generate a question on the issue they are reading about and then conduct a one question interview to their classmates.
You can also ask students to brainstorm solutions to the world’s problems.
A news inspired theatrical performance is also a great way to spur thinking and discussion about current events.
Games and quizzes related to current events, photographs, illustrations, infographics and videos related to latest news will also keep the students actively engaged.
Help them identify the reliability of the news sources and distinguish facts from opinions.
How Social Media Users Discover Latest News
Facebook is a chief source of website referrals for numerous news outlets; however, the users who arrive via Facebook spend far less time and consume lesser pages than those who arrive directly.
This is true also for users who arrive via online search.
Thus social media is gaining importance in preferable mode to check news on different topic areas.
On Facebook, users generally see entertainment news while twitter distributes the news breaks.
The Mid-day Meal Rules, 2015, notified by the Government of India (GoI) puts forth certain stipulations pertaining to the meals served to school children as a part of the Mid-day Meal Scheme.
Among other things, it stresses on the nutritional standards and quality of mid-day meals; the latter being given due importance this time around.
Mid-day Meals Quality Guidelines
As far as the nutritional standards are concerned, it is stipulated that mid-day meals should provide 450 calories and 12 g protein for primary students and 700 calories and 20 g protein for upper primary students.
The implementing bodies, i.e., government schools, partnering non-profit organisations, etc., have to plan the menu accordingly.
They can rotate the food items, or vegetables that are used in preparation of these food items, on a daily basis to ensure that the children get necessary nutrients in prescribed quantity.
Now, the personnel from an accredited lab can evaluate hot cooked meal samples as and when deemed necessary to ensure its nutritional value and quality.
These new guidelines bring about a much-needed change to the ambitious scheme.
The quality of meal served to children deserves more attention, considering that the number of beneficiaries of this programme runs to the tune of over 100 million.
Thus, not taking the quality aspect seriously will mean putting millions of children at risk and any untoward incident will affect the whole programme.
The authorities need to ensure that such incidents do not occur; implementing stringent quality check regulations is one way to do this.
The notification makes it mandatory for every school to have a facility for storing raw materials and cooking meals without compromising on the hygiene.
Additionally, it’s important that the cooking staff maintains personal hygiene and wears gloves, masks, caps, etc., while cooking in order to avoid contamination. Also, there should be a proper arrangement of clean water and a waste disposal site in the vicinity.
The notification of new rules is a crucial step that will help in improving the quality of Mid-day Meal Programme.
When a programme is being run at such a grand scale, it has to be constantly evaluated to minimize problems and make it more effective.
One of the non-profit organisations, the Akshaya Patra Foundation’s handling of Mid-day Meal Programme is an apt example of the same.
How Akshaya Patra is Showing the Way?
The Akshaya Patra Foundation started serving meals to children in 2001-well before MDMS in its current form came into existence-and joined the Government to implement this programme when it was started.
At the Foundation, elaborate measures are taken to ensure that the quality of food served as a part of the Mid-day Meal Programme in schools is up to the mark.
The Food Safety Management System (FSMS) is implemented in Akshaya Patra kitchens and the entire staff is trained in this aspect.
Even in the decentralized kitchens in Baran, Rajasthan, and Nayagarh, Odisha, where women self-help groups cook mid-day meals, due importance is given to quality.
The staff at these kitchens is trained and monitored by a team appointed by the Foundation.
In fact, Akshaya Patra’s expertise on this aspect has even prompted several State Governments to ask the organisation to organise workshops on food safety, quality, and personal hygiene for cook-cum-helpers in their states.
Personal hygiene is also given utmost importance at Akshaya Patra kitchens. Both, kitchen staff and visitors are provided caps, masks, gloves, and disinfectant to avoid contamination of food.
The raw materials that are to be procured are done only after taking food safety standards into consideration and are accepted only after thorough inspection.
Vegetables are sanitized in chlorine water before they are cut and vessels are sanitized with hot water before the cooking process begins.
Even the menu is based on regional palate, keeping in mind recommended nutritional standards.
Thus, the kitchens in the North follow a wheat-based menu, while those in the South follow a rice-based menu.
In order to ensure that the nutritional standards are met, a variety of vegetables (E.g., beetroot, carrots, pumpkins, brinjals, etc.) and pulses (E.g., lentils, soybeans, kidney beans, etc.) are used and the cooked food is subjected to Theoretical Nutritional Value Calculation as per the National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) and lab analysis.
Food is packed in steam-sterilized vessels and dispatched only after its taste and texture are checked.
Before loading the food in delivery vehicles, their cleanliness is also checked.
Even school authorities are advised to check whether the food vessels are clean, covered tightly with a lid, food is warm, etc.
The adoption of global quality practices, such as Kaizen and Six Sigma, has helped the Foundation improve the efficiency of the entire process, thus ensuring that they reach out to over 1.5 million children with nutritious meal.
A lot goes into ensuring the quality of mid-day meals; right from careful selection of menu to proper hygiene.
Having said that, all these efforts are worth taking because the mid-day meal is at times, the only meal many of these children afford.
In a country, where malnutrition is a chronic problem, the mid-day meal comes as a blessing in disguise.