The aim of the India Platform is to bring Europe and India closer to each other by building relationships at different levels and with different actors in society (more information can be found in the vision note). Education is identified as one of the domains where fruitful collaboration between Europe and India can take place. This ‘Ventures Visit’ was a way of exploring opportunities for collaboration between European and Indian teachers, researchers, schools, companies and other institutions or actors working in the domain of education.
Where can India and Europe help each other?
Established and implemented during the British colonial era, the Indian education system is very similar to the European systems. It provides education to a very large population and confronts many challenges in doing this. The dynamic and living body of European educational ideas could help to deal with these challenges. Especially in areas such as teaching methodologies, guiding students, early childhood care, teacher training, youth work, … India could learn from the European experience. Vice-versa, European education could learn from the Indian experience in multilingual teaching, in going about with diversity in general and with the local culture and traditions. When visited carefully, Indian schools have interesting things to learn from, both on the traditional side (e.g. from mnemo-technical and other traditional Indian teaching methods) and on the modern side (in the realm of STEM skills development and ICT-supported education).
The first Education Ventures Visit focused on early childhood care and primary and secondary school education. The India Platform guided the participants through the opportunities and challenges of the South Indian education sector – including visits to different schools and educational organisations – and brought them into contact with potential partners that match their interests.
Brecht Degeyter, Bachelor in education, secondary education: Biology, English and Advanced bachelor in education: remedial teaching and specific needs:
Here I came in touch with a form of thinking I did not know of earlier. The conversations I had with fellow participants, the kind of questions I heard for the first time in my life, the kind of considerations, the kind of discussions in this group,… that is something I was never exposed to. In our teachers education, we were taught to teach, not to think about teaching.
Kim Huyge, Teacher at Don Bosco Zwijnaarde (B) to 17-18 years old and former researcher in linguistics at the University of Antwerp (B):
In this Ventures Visit I spoke to people whom I never could have found on my own. These conversations gave me not only knowledge but also a lot of satisfaction. (…) Concretely, I would very much like to go back to Swaroopa. The high level of self-empowerment of the pupils was astonishing. Although in many cases they are drop-outs of the normal system, they regained the pleasure of learning. They use what we call mnemotechnical tools that are non-existent in Belgium. While amongst Belgian pupils there are children who show, just like my daughter, a spontaneous inclination towards similar techniques, they are not being stimulated and this deadens them as well as their love for learning. (…)
For India, the introduction of the ‘education-learning-conversation’ could be a big gain for many schools. I myself was not aware of the fact that I use this method very often (to talk to the pupils with questions and build something in that way by using comprehension) until another participant of the Ventures Visit, who had observed my guest-class here, pointed it out.
Ms. Gayathri Devi, Researcher, Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Humanities and Social Sciences (CIRHS):
As an Indian I grew up in the existing educational systems. I went to school in both a government school and a private school. But what I saw and heard from the other participants think about during this Ventures Visit, was completely new to me. I did not know many of the contexts we have seen. I did not know schools like Mangalo Jyothi or Swaroopa exist. It was a first experience to think about the existing teaching methods in India and in Belgium. Being a part of the system as a student did not help me in seeing what the delegates were seeing. I learnt a lot not only by visiting various schools and also by listening to the discussions by the delegates. I would also like to go back to Swaroopa and be part of it for a longer period. It is really interesting what is happening there.
Mrs. Stephanie Verplaetse, Geography Teacher at Don Bosco Zwijnaarde (B) to 17-18 years olds and former researcher Geography at Ghent University:
The professionality with which the India Platform organises the Ventures Visits gives participants unseen opportunities. They succeed in bringing one very closely to the Indian culture in a natural, informal way, because of which contacts do not remain superficial.