The University of Worcester, one of Britain’s most innovative, most inclusive universities, with excellent provision in teacher education, health, biology, sport science, art, law and more, has partnered with Indian academics to launch a new diploma for teachers in delivering life skills to children. Renowned as one of Britain’s best universities for educating teachers, the University of Worcester has teamed up with Bollywood star and educationalist, Dr Swaroop Sampat-Rawal to offer the new in-service training programme.
Stoodnt.com got in touch with Dr. Sampat to find out how this partnership is going to strengthen teachers’ education in India. Following is an excerpt of the interview
How will this new diploma for teachers in delivering life skills to children benefit Indian children?
University of Worcester islaunching a New “Diploma in Personal Social Education” for Teachers in delivering life skills to children. They have teamed up with me to deliver this new in-service training program. This framework of life skills education was created with the conviction that we need to re-view education and create opportunities, so students and their teachers have the capacity to reflect, imagine and become ‘wide-awake’. The current policyspeak is ‘quality’ in education, and buzzwords are ‘more effective’ education, ‘excellence in education.’ However, there are no discussions concerning ‘equal education’. We try to address the needs of inequality and equity for female, marginalised, vulnerable and invisible children. This means we are working towards enabling their inclusion in the system, but we do not facilitate their retention in the system. We are concerned with the concept of giving a ’voice’ but we do not ‘teach how to talk’.
Expecting children to change their behaviour merely by providing information is impracticable (WHO, 1999), because life skills cannot be learned or enhanced on the basis of discussion alone. Learning life skills should based on a dynamic, learner-centred, participatory methodology. Additionally, taking it step further, life skills education should embrace an experiential approach to learning, to create the conditions for social learning of life skills in diverse contexts.
Life-skills is a part of most curriculums taught in India. However, the problem is that a large number of teachers do not know how to deliver life skills education.This new diploma in Personal Social Education is aimed at facilitating in-service teachers and enabling them to deliver a life skills curriculum effectively, using experiential learning. It is super diploma as it has a specific subject focus, incorporate lesson enactment in the training, and include initial face-to-face training.
The children will benefit:
- by learning life skills
- by experience a much neglected but effective method of learning –experiential learning
- life skills have been effective in re-engaging children in schools and also it ensures retention.
What are your expectations from this teaming up?
The University of Worcester, one of Britain’s most innovative, most inclusive universities, with excellent provision in teacher education is launching a new diploma in Personal Social Education for teachers in delivering life skills to children. I am an alumna of the University of Worcester, having studied for a PhD in Education at Worcester. My doctoral thesis was on the theme of using drama to enhance life skills in children with learning disabilities and I have devoted my life to educating young people in India.I am delighted to be working in partnership with the University of Worcester to deliver this new Diploma. My work in India aligns perfectly with the ethos at the University of Worcester. My work is based on inclusion and ensuring achievement for all, which is something the University of Worcester is really passionate about. I have dedicated myself to community development and advocacy, travelling across India training teachers, while also campaigning to get more children, such as those in tribal communities or street children, into the classroom.
I’m really excited about the Diploma. The University has a long history of excellent teacher training so who else would I want to work with. This new Diploma in Personal Social Education will better equip teachers to deliver life skills to children which are much needed in today’s world. The Diploma builds on the University of Worcester’s long history of teacher training and its commitment to inclusion.
This teaming up is going to largely help teachers. Teachers, like all professionals, require ongoing professional development opportunities to improve their skills. They get to learn life skills and will additionally get a diploma from the University of Worcester. SSA/ NCERT etc often to in-service workshops most are compulsory. However, the teachers do not get a diploma for the workshop. By getting a diploma from the University of Worcester their CV will get an upgrade. This in-service teacher-training diploma will work as an incentive to learn.
What do you think about the existing teacher training programs in India? What are the gaps in such programs?
Sadly, the teacher training programs leave a lot to be desired. The largest gap is created by the problem experienced world over –the insider-outsider problem. Most training programs typically follow the more standardized format with an emphasis on a top-down, more expert-driven methods delivered by ’expert’ who are not practicing teachers. Such methods do not guarantee adoption of best-practices with teachers.Some of the ‘experts’ may have been teachers but have forgotten the reality of the classroom. Current teacher education programs are outdated and over-theoretical. Additionally, mechanical curriculums deny the life experiences of the teacher, students and the community, it ignores the truth that people construct and live through in their daily lives.Most of the compulsory training programs are not designed to measure teacher professional development.
Effective teacher training is directly important and relevant to the SDGs. The World Development Report 2018: ‘Learning to Realize Education’s Promise’ argues that without learning, education will fail to deliver on its promise to eliminate extreme poverty and create shared opportunity and prosperity for all. Even after several years in school, millions of children cannot read, write or do basic math. This learning crisis is widening social gaps instead of narrowing them. Young students who are already disadvantaged by poverty, conflict, gender or disability reach young adulthood without even the most basic life skills.
How will the one who enrolls in the program under University of Worcester benefit as a professional?
This new diploma is aimed at facilitating in-service teachers and enabling them to deliver a life skills curriculum effectively, using experiential learning. They will not only learn life skill education but will also learn how to use experiential and Art education in the classroom not only for life skills education but also core-curriculum subjects. It is super diploma as it has a specific subject focus, incorporate lesson enactment in the training, and include initial face-to-face training.
Where and how can one apply for this program?
This is being worked out. We have a few teacher-training academies interested and also a University in Gujarat. The Diploma in Personal Social Education will be launched at a special event in Mumbai on Monday, December 3, 2018 and will be attended by education leaders and Government Ministers. The Diploma, which is subject to validation, will be delivered in both India and the UK and is aimed at supporting teachers to develop the needed strategies in both nations to confidently deliver life skills for all children.
What are the costs involved?
We are yet to figure out the costs involved but I will ensure that it is cost effective. This is not a money-making venture and hence we need support from the government as it will be in line with the skill development mission of India.
Where are the employment scopes after graduating from this program?
Currently, this is for in-service teachers and will enhance their skills. We have also created for teacher-training colleges.
Any other comment?
With a history dating back to 1946, the University of Worcester in the United Kingdom has established a reputation for world-class teaching and practical, purposeful research. University of Worcester is about Celebrating Inclusion – a truly inclusive university where each and every person counts as an individual. The University has a longstanding tradition of celebrating the achievements of their fellow students. The University of Worcester is planning to hold a ceremony in Mumbai on Monday, 3rd December 2018 to honour me for my contribution to education and inclusion.
When I proposed to teach life skills in the government primary school in my home state of Gujarat, its then chief minister, and now India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, instantly agreed to my vision and plan. At that point, my focus was on dealing with mental health issues among students, a much neglected and even lesser understood aspect of their academic and social life. I have come a long way with support of the state government, schools and teachers but a lot needs to be done. I am very excited about this new diploma in Personal Social Education as it will impact the lives of the teachers and students immensely.
Dr Sampat-Rawal is an alumna of the University of Worcester, having studied for a PhD in Education at Worcester. Her doctoral thesis was on the theme of using drama to enhance life skills in children with learning disabilities. Dr. Rawal has devoted her life to educating young people in India.