IPL 2021: Knights make Capital gains

Five dot balls brought about a well-set Shubman Gill’s dismissal and a wicket-maiden for Kagiso Rabada. Then, Ravichandran Ashwin made one hang a bit more in the air and spin away to settle the score with Eoin Morgan. The two had got into a heated exchange after Ashwin was dismissed during the Delhi Capitals innings. The latter bellowed a ‘come on’ in the Kolkata Knight Riders captain’s face after getting his man.

KKR’s run rate suddenly slipped below six runs per over, but chasing 128 for victory they basically needed two good overs from thereon. Nitish Rana hit two sixes in a Lalit Yadav over and although the excellent Avesh Khan (3/13) saw off Dinesh Karthik, Sunil Narine laid into Rabada with two sixes and a four to take his team to a three-wicket victory, which consolidated KKR’s position in the top four.

Rishabh Pant’s bowling selections – not using Anrich Nortje’s pace straightaway against Narine and using up his spinners early – was questionable. At the same time, the DC skipper didn’t have enough runs to defend.

The Sharjah sticky dog, or sandy-dog based on one’s preference, was an antidote to DC’s cricketing style. The ball never came on to the bat and the slowness of the pitch took the sting out of their fast bowlers.

The Powerplay was the key for DC to build the platform for a big total. Without Prithvi Shaw, out injured, they missed aggression upfront. Steve Smith’s conventional cricket held up one end, but it didn’t put the KKR bowlers under much pressure. Shreyas Iyer could have raised the tempo, but Narine had reserved a beauty for him.

Building more inclusive, welcoming schools for LGBTQ+ children

Earlier this month, while speaking at the Shiksha Parv conclave, the prime minister emphasised the need for inclusive and equitable education. In the same week, the Kerala High Court brought attention to medical textbooks that described non-binary gender identities as “offensive perversions” and “mental disorders”. This had continued despite Kerala becoming the first state to adopt a transgender policy six years ago. A similar concern over “queerphobia” in medical education was raised by the Madras HC earlier this year.

As children come back to school, they will need both time and patience

While the pandemic and associated school closure has affected us in many ways, loss of learning among children is emerging among the most explicit and worrying aspects. This learning loss comprises two dimensions — one is the learning that has not happened due to school closures. To this loss of curricular learning is added the “forgetting” of what they already knew. This forgetting is not unusual — it is clearly seen after long holidays, and is generally made up during the first few weeks of schooling. However, when this loss is of foundational abilities like reading, writing and basic arithmetic, it deeply hinders further learning.

Loss of learning due to school closure during the pandemic has been seen the world over. Quantified in terms of months that children are “behind” their class, it varies from less than a month after 11 weeks of school closure to four years after 57 weeks of school closure. According to the report, “What’s next? Lessons on Education Recovery” by UNICEF, UNESCO, World Bank and OECD, among measures taken to alleviate this loss, 41 per cent of countries reported extending the academic year while 42 per cent reported prioritising certain curriculum areas or skills. Over two-thirds of countries reported implementing remedial measures to address learning gaps for primary and secondary school students when schools reopened.

Our primary schools have been closed for about 500 days, which translates to over 70 weeks of schooling. Given the amount of time schools have been closed, as we reopen now, we cannot start with the regular curriculum as if it is the beginning of a regular academic year. We need to think deeply about what should be done. This question is particularly moot for primary schools, where the foundations of later learning are established. To answer this question, it is necessary to examine how children learn in primary schools. Children learn not only through interaction in the classroom but also through observation, dialogue and exploration through unstructured experiences. Thus, given that we have to make up for over 70 weeks of school closure, we must not hurry children into the learning process. Not only the learning associated with the current class but relearning from the previous classes must be in focus.

The next question is — what is important to learn? The learning outcomes for each class have been clearly indicated by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), which is the nodal academic institution for school education at the national level. These learning outcomes focus on the abilities children have to acquire as opposed to the content of textbooks. Thus, reading a poem is important, memorising the content of the poem is not important. Being able to add is important, not adding all the problems at the end of the chapter in the textbook. And language and mathematics are most important, since they enable the learning of other subjects. Thus, learning outcomes of specific subjects must be prioritised, and the curriculum reset for at least a couple of years.

When schools reopen, differences in the learning levels of children will be starker than before. A solution that is deceptively simple is that of placing children in groups according to their current learning levels. Termed ability grouping, it seems like the perfect solution, with children starting with similar sets of abilities and proceeding thereon. However, the approach of grouping students based on their abilities often results in “labelling”, adversely impacting their self-esteem and worth; research studies have found students in “low” ability groups have significantly lower self-esteem than low achievers in mixed ability classes, and are also likely to have behavioural problems. This approach also neglects to take into account the fact that children learn from each other. It is not unusual to have children at different levels in the same classroom. Some schools use this difference as a resource, using sets of teaching-learning materials that children use in groups under the guidance of teachers. As children attain pre-set learning milestones, they move onto the next level. This approach using peer learning benefits all.

When we examine the available data from various studies on the learning levels that our children are at, it is clear that at the primary level, the focus ought to be on foundational abilities. For instance, Azim Premji Foundation’s field study in January 2021 across 44 districts covering five states indicated that nearly three-fourths of the children in Class II have lost the ability to identify a word in print; in Class IV, for instance, a majority of them have lost the ability to express the gist of a poem while in Class VI more than half the children lost the ability to write their views on various events happening around them. The recently released SCHOOL survey carried out across 15 states shows that overall 42 per cent of children in urban areas and 48 per cent in rural areas are unable to read more than a few words. These studies indicate that most children across the primary grades have lost the basic abilities required to continue their learning journeys.

The curricular priorities will have to be set specific to the stages of schooling. If the priority at primary level is on recovery of foundational abilities in language and mathematics, the focus in middle school should be an integrated approach to achieving learning outcomes across subjects, while at the secondary and senior secondary level, core learning outcomes must be identified and mapped to textbooks; and for this level additional material could be developed, given that students at this stage are capable of some independent study.

As persons closest to learners, teachers must be given the autonomy and support to determine what children learn and when, within the broad contours of the curriculum. Changes in curriculum and the approach to teaching-learning would require orientation of teachers, and materials to support their work with children. This material must be attractive and meaningful, related to children’s context, while encouraging them to speak about visuals, read small pieces of text, respond to interesting questions, and perform simple exercises. This material must cover a range of abilities so the teacher can use similar resources for the entire class.

To track recovery from learning loss, periodic assessment would be necessary — this must be done in a non-threatening way, by the teacher through observation and interaction with her students. The stress of regular testing must not demotivate children from learning.

Finally, it is important to acknowledge that school closure has resulted in more than learning loss. It has led to a disconnect from the processes of schooling. Children have experienced loss; some have entered the workforce while others have been given responsibilities within the household. The most important thing that must be done when schools reopen is to welcome them back — to listen to their stories, to give them time to settle back into routines, to involve them in activities that allow them to express themselves. Time and patience may help us find ways to compensate not only the learning loss but also to change our schools for the better.

No Ronaldo, no wins for Juventus after losing at Napoli 2-1

No Cristiano Ronaldo. No wins for Juventus.

The Bianconeri remained winless in Serie A and slumped to their second consecutive defeat since Ronaldo went back to Manchester United after losing at Napoli 2-1 on Saturday.

Napoli center back Kalidou Koulibaly scored five minutes from time after Moise Kean inexplicably headed the ball toward his own goal following a Napoli corner, setting up a tap-in for Koulibaly.

Matteo Politano equalized for Napoli near the hour mark following Álvaro Morata’s opener for Juventus 10 minutes in at Diego Armando Maradona Stadium.

“We need to change the way we play,” Juventus captain Giorgio Chiellini said. “When you have a superstar like Ronaldo you can’t not play for him. … We should be grateful to Cristiano for these years at Juventus but we need to move on.”

Juventus remained with just one point from a 2-2 draw at Udinese in its season opener. With Massimiliano Allegri having returned as Juventus coach after Andrea Pirlo’s unsuccessful tenure last season ended a run of nine straight Italian league titles, Juventus also lost at home to promoted Empoli before the international break.

The loss to Empoli came a day after Ronaldo’s transfer, while this defeat came on the day that Ronaldo scored twice in his first match and win for United in 12 years in the English Premier League.

“We put in a worse performance against Empoli but today unfortunately we paid the price for errors,” Allegri said. “In soccer, when you don’t win, you can only shut up and work hard.”

Juventus doesn’t have much time to train, though, before traveling to Sweden for its Champions League opener against Malmö on Tuesday.

Napoli, meanwhile, has won all three of its matches under new coach Luciano Spalletti and moved three points clear of Lazio, Inter Milan, Roma, AC Milan and Fiorentina, which won at Atalanta 2-1.

“I’ve got to thank Spalletti for making the team solid,” Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis said of the former Roma, Zenit St. Petersburg and Inter coach. “I chose Spalletti because he’s diligent, orderly and handles things firmly, just the way I like it. You can talk to him and he doesn’t get offended if you ask for an explanation, because he isn’t haunted by his ego.”

The equalizer came when Juventus goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny didn’t do enough to control a long-range curled effort from Lorenzo Insigne and Politano slotted it in from near the ‘keeper’s left post.

Morata’s goal came following a defensive error from Kostas Manolas, who was attempting an ill-advised pass back to goalkeeper David Ospina. Morata took possession instead and beat Ospina from a sharp angle.

United States midfielder Weston McKennie played the opening 72 minutes for Juventus despite being banned from a pair of U.S. World Cup qualifiers for violating the national team’s COVID-19 protocols.

McKennis also missed Juventus’ derby against Torino in April after violating COVID-19 protocols in Italy.

Allegri needed McKennie’s services after deciding not to use South American players Paulo Dybala, Juan Cuadrado, Rodrigo Bentancur, Danilo and Alex Sandro because they had just returned from international duty.

ATALANTA STRUGGLES

Dušan Vlahovic converted two penalties for Fiorentina in a 2-1 win at Atalanta, which was expected to contend for the title but has only one win in three matches.

Duván Zapata pulled one back for Atalanta but Fiorentina goalkeeper Pietro Terracciano saved several potential equalizers.

VENEZIA’S BACK

Venezia earned its first points in Serie A in nearly 20 years after beating Serie B champion Empoli 2-1.

Back in the top division for the first time since 2002, Venezia’s goals came from two newly acquired players: French forward Thomas Henry and Nigerian striker David Okereke.

Major fire at plywood godown in Kolkata

A major fire broke out at a plywood godown in north Kolkata’s Nimtala Ghat Street area around 7.45 am on Friday. No loss of lives was reported.

Six fire tenders were initially deployed to douse the blaze, and later 10 more were dispatched, said officials, since the godown is located in a congested area and people rushed out of their homes fearing that the fire would spread quickly. According to officials, in the area, there are more than 300 plyboard godowns and warehouses that store wooden materials.

Both Fire Minister Sujit Bose, and Women and Child Development Minister Shashi Panja, the local MLA, visited the spot in the morning. Bose dismissed allegations that it took time to douse the blaze. He said the fire was brought under control with 16 engines in just two hours.

The amount of loss has not yet been ascertained. “The cause of the fire is yet to be ascertained,” said Panja.

Petrol to cost Rs1.50 cheaper

The Finance Division on Tuesday announced a reduction in the price of petrol by Rs1.50 per litre.

Consequently, petrol will now cost Rs118.30 per litre.

According to a notification: “Despite international price fluctuations in petroleum products and anticipated increase in future prices, the government has reduced the prices in order to provide maximum relief to the consumers.”

The government has also notified a change in price for high speed diesel (HSD), which has reduced by Rs1.50 to cost Rs115.03 per litre.

Similarly, the price of kerosene will also fall by Rs1.50, to cost Rs86.80 per litre.

Light diesel oil, meanwhile, will cost Rs1 cheaper, and will thus be available for Rs84.77 per litre.

The Oil and Gas Regulatory (OGRA) has suggested the Petroleum Division reduce the price of petrol by Rs3.5, of diesel by Rs5, of light diesel oil Rs2, and kerosene oil by Rs3, sources told Geo News on Monday.

In the last two weeks of August, the government, which revises the rate of petroleum products twice a month, announced that prices will remain the same for the rest of the month for petrol and high speed diesel.

On the other hand, the price of kerosene oil was increased by Rs0.81 per litre, while the price of light diesel had been increased by Rs1.10 per litre.