The UK – India Education & Research Initiative (UKIERI) seeks to establish long-term learning partnerships between educational institutions in India and UK in the areas of education, training and research. Under this initiative, 24 Clusters have been funded. Each India – UK cluster comprises of minimum 4 schools in the UK and 6 schools in India. Don Bosco School belongs to Rhino Cluster ( India) and its counterpart is the Angels of the North in the UK.
It aims to increase the interaction between students of both countries to enhance their work skills through experiential learning, cultural awareness and creativity and to provide opportunities for continuous development of teachers and head teachers. The UKIERI School Cluster Partnership Programme supports collaborative curriculum projects, exchange visits, professional development and intercultural exchanges between the schools participating in the project in India and UK.
The Rhino Cluster in India comprises of Don Bosco School, St. Stephen’s School, Modern English School, Sarla Birla Gyan Jyoti, South Point School and Pragjyotish English School in Guwahati, Assam and the Angels of the North from Durham comprises of Crook Primary School, Hunwick Primary School, Our Lady and St. Thomas Primary School and St. Cuthberts RC Primary School. The collaboration will last for three years. The title of the project is “Sharing a Cup of Tea.” It focuses mainly on the development of the children’s understanding of their impact on the environment and their rights and responsibilities to the environment as well as understanding each other’s cultures and traditions.
In the first activity, the children of the Angels of the North Cluster in UK and Rhino Cluster of India made cards and posters about themselves and exchanged them with their UK counterparts. They also sent photographs of Diwali/Kali Puja festivals. Some children made CDs of their life at home to show the children in UK.
In the second activity, recipes were exchanged and the children along with their parents made the food, which was tasted by them and their friends in school. They took photographs of their feelings in tasting the food and sent them to their friends in UK.
Recycled materials kept from Christmas and other festivals were used to make collages of traditional gardens and compounds as the third activity.
As the fourth activity, the children used fabric pens and paints to draw on white T-Shirts reflecting which environmental issue most concerns them. They signed their names on them and these T-shirts are being exchanged with the UK schools on a class by class basis. The children, expressing their concern of the environment through art was something different. The activities have helped sensitize the children regarding the importance of the environment and our inter dependence. It has helped to project that we are all members of the global community and that we are brothers and sisters together.
Finally, each school made a DVD with an environmental theme. These were exchanged and a film festival was held in each school.
All the activities were planned and carried out well. Children have become aware of the environment as a result of the painting on the t-shirts and the film making. The schools have regular classes on environmental studies wherein the projects were incorporated and studied. The children got in touch with the local community while they made the DVDs on environment.
In addition to UKIERI, the teachers, who had not worked together previously, now communicate and talk about other areas of teaching and learning processes. UKIERI has contributed to the process of developing creative approach to the curriculum. The Indian students liked the work of their counterparts in UK. The Indian teachers who went to visit their counterparts in UK have brought back the planning and assessment techniques of the schools in UK, which has been discussed in their schools. It was an excellent experience for the Indian teachers to work with the UK teachers. During their visit to Durham, they learnt a lot about the teaching methodologies, the assessment techniques and the ICT practices of the UK schools. Parents/families/wider community has been involved in the project. All the children from class one to class six use laptops for all school works. There are no textbooks and only worksheets prepared by the teachers are used. Most of the information in various subjects in the higher classes is obtained from the Internet. The children don’t bring any pencils, erasers, etc. from home. Everything is kept in school neatly arranged on their own tables in small baskets where they sit in groups of six. There is group level learning where children are divided into three groups – high, middle and low. They are assessed according to their mental capability of learning. Active boards are used extensively in each class. There is a cross curricular target for experiential learning and thematic learning where children display the themes of the term in the display boards, act out the lessons, make models and charts of the topics covered and also make observations outside the classrooms. One interesting thing was – story telling classes and recitations were conducted under the trees in the playground. The coordinators also attended the North East Teachers’ International Conference on Global Links in New Castle. The Project Coordinator of Don Bosco School had the privilege to speak on the topic “What do you want from an international partnership?”
Most of the parents have taken keen interest in the projects and have also helped the teachers in getting the work done with the students. We have been able to acquire knowledge on methods of learning, teaching and other activities as well as administration from our partner country. Our link with UK has not only brought us closer but we have also been able to learn about their culture and traditions and promote community cohesion.
The Project in the second year will concentrate on understanding each country’s traditions and culture through exchange programmes of activities by using ICT tools as well as the children’s own handwriting and drawings in order to promote community cohesion both nationally and internationally. Awareness of the rights and responsibilities of the children will be discussed in the respective schools and the report will be exchanged through email. Developing the children’s ideas of historical culture and resources and sensitize them to bring about a spirit of community cohesion. It is hoped that videoconferencing will be used to bring the children together for communicating and sharing ideas. With particular reference to this project, each school will contribute to and benefit from the partnership by sharing expertise in ICT, developing and learning together about the culture and traditions of each community, awareness of the rights and responsibilities of children, to learn that we are all members of the global community and that we are brothers and sisters together, to learn about the resources each community is rich in, to develop entrepreneurial skills amongst young children so that they can be business leaders of the future and ensure that traditional crafts are protected by providing a reason and market for selling these traditional crafts. Each school will explore their own traditional culture and promote this with the partner cluster in the spirit of community cohesion.
As part of the first project in the second year, the children made a Photo Story on a traditional game of Assam – Dhokhel. An ancient game, it is closely related with the development of the state. The game requires absolute physical fitness – speed, stamina and acrobatic skills. Dhop is a seasonal game, played during the state’s Spring Festival, known as Rongali Bihu. The game really flowered under the royal patronage of the Ahoms. The children of Class IV learnt and played this game, which was photographed and sent to the schools in UK. Some photographs of the costumes of the various tribes of the North East were also sent as a PowerPoint presentation. The second project is on the dances of Assam. A few students of Primary and Middle School have performed a Satriya Dance – Krishna Nritya, which was recorded and sent to the schools in UK.
We have excellent link with the Angels of the North and our communication is excellent. We share similar ideas and perceptions of the project. We are well organized and committed to the partnership.