Home > Education, India 2012 > Visits to Schools

Visits to Schools

We spent Wednesday (July 4!) visiting two schools in Bangalore. Blossom School was first. It’s a “low cost private school,” meaning that parents who are laborers or owners of very small businesses can afford to send their children to it. This young man was one of two who met us at the main street and conducted us through some alleys to get to the entrance. His orange name badge identifieshim as “student police.”

The principal/owner spoke to us as a group, and he told us that the school has about 700 children and 25 teachers. There are more boys than girls (60-40) because families still place less importance on educating their girls. Though the school appeared to be entirely Muslim, he claimed it was secular. This notice on the bulletin board made us dubious.

The principal claimed to have Smart Boards and computers available in large numbers, but we saw very little of that. What we could see was a closed captioned TV operating in his office–the princiapl has installed video cameras in every class so that he can see what’s going on! Our Teacher Foundation guides were guessing that this investment in surveillance is intended to impress parents (and obviously enhance his control). The school is a private, for profit organization, and it became clear that there was not a lot of investment in the educational methods or infrastructure in classes like this. I counted 63 children here! They had slate boards, chalk, and handkerchiefs, and they were supposed to be learning to write their ABC’s. There wasn’t much real instruction going on.

In a middle school class, my colleague Linda Yaron and I happened upon the end of a lesson on the events of 9-11-01. The young teacher, Sabiya, welcomed us, and we offered to share our stories of the experience. Both teacher and students were rapt. “Hearing you tell all this makes me feel as if I’m there,” Sabiya said. She then asked us how we work with struggling students t help them do the reading or writing assignments. Linda and I ended up doing an impromptu lesson to model the concept of group work. This teacher wanted very much to learn, but she clearly had no training whatsoever.

The other school we visited was a “government school,” the kind attended by those who have no other options. There was a little more evidence of instruction, and there were slightly better facilities, but nothing that gave you a sense that these children’s education had a prayer of improving their lives.

Part of the purpose of visiting these two low end schools was to give us a sense of the range of Indian education. For the next week, all of us in the TGC program will be observing and participating in classes at elite private schools. That’s because it’s only the elite school teachers who have the ability to apply for and participate in international programs. My assignment is to a school in Rajkot. I start the placement on Friday.

Categories: Education, India 2012
  1. Deborah Marion
    July 5, 2012 at 3:12 pm

    wow Tina, keep these stories coming!

  2. Bhardaker
    July 5, 2012 at 3:34 pm

    Does Sabiya have access to the internet? Surely there are ideas there that she might grab for helping those who struggle. Why are there not international UN programs that teachers could access? Youtube could give “real” stuations that would model the way. Bill Gates where are you? High school kids could make this happen and would love doing it! Fascinating to imagine your experience in Rajkot.

    • July 5, 2012 at 8:32 pm

      Sabiya does have access to the internet (though not in classroom, and who knows what computer and how many people share it). Her English is good. I don’t know if one could communicate with her on a regular basis. Maybe. My colleague Linda got her email address, and I’m going to send her the picture. She might be curious and enterprising enough to get some training someday.

  3. July 5, 2012 at 10:29 pm

    I’m glad you have the potential for future communication with Sabiya. If she was asking questions then perhaps she is interested in learning more and will take the initiative to keep in touch and allow you to help get her plugged in with other resources.

    Unfortunately the caste system is still alive and well within India regardless of the laws “banishing” it. This might complicate her ability to connect with others within India who have resources and training which could help her and others in her situation.

  4. Stacy Markowitz
    July 5, 2012 at 10:59 pm

    Wow, Tina. Your description is quite eye opening. So many implications for India. In addition to what I already know, your blog helps me understand why the inequities in Indian society continue.

  1. August 4, 2012 at 10:41 pm

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