University of Turku visits Indian partners

Collaboration in Thousand Schools programme between the University of Turku, Tata Steel Foundation, and ASPIRE

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A delegation from the Department of Teacher Education of University of Turku had the pleasure to visit India in the end of September 2022. The visit was part of the University of Turku’s (UTU) GINTL activities, a collaboration with the Tata Steel Foundation and ASPIRE in the Thousand Schools programme. The Thousand Schools programme was initiated in 2015 and is working towards equal and quality education for all the children in India. UTU joined the programme in 2021, at the same time with the start of the Global Innovation Network for Teaching and Learning (GINTL).

Visits to Thousand Schools programme bridging schools

UTU´s delegation visited in the Thousand Schools project areas in the state of Odisha and Jamshedpur city. Odisha is a state with rural villages and tribal communities where, due to social reasons and long distances, children’s access to school has been limited in many parts. The Thousand Schools programme is working towards making schooling possible for all the children. They have established bridging schools for the children who were formerly out of school. The bridging schools are an opportunity for children to access a school and learn basic skills before moving on to public schools.

Photo: Mika Tirronen

In the cities, like Jamshedpur, the socio-economic background of the children highly affects schooling. The bridging schools are working on addressing social injustice, like reducing child labour and human trafficking as well as making sure that children are safe and getting education. In residential bridge schools the children can get education but also accommodation, get meals, and other physical care. UTU´s GINTL team was able to visit these schools and interact with the children and the teachers working there.

Enabling school attendance is one part of the programme. Another important aspect of the programme is the development of teaching quality, in which Tata Steel and ASPIRE are working actively. They are ensuring a high quality of school education by training and empowering the teachers and local communities. Through various educational programmes, the initiative is reaching large parts of the villages’ population. The GINTL team from UTU is involved in the development of the schools inside the thousand Schools programme by participating in the training of the teachers in the field.

Perspective of the UTU delegation

For many of us in the GINTL team of UTU, this was a first time visit to India and the experience gave us a deeper understanding of Indian culture and Indian education and schools as well as all different aspects of the Thousand Schools programme. Our experience from the trip was that the team members, teachers, and trainers, working in the programme, are highly committed to their work and the development of education. It was wonderful to see the children’s joy in learning and to see the participation and commitment of the entire village communities to the children’s education. The team from UTU is happy that we were able to visit in India and see face to face all the lovely people we have met only online so far as well as to interact with the children, teachers, and local community members. The visit created a good foundation for cooperation and strengthened the goals for future.

Author

Mirjami Jeskanen
Training Expert, Department of Teacher Education (Turku) | University of Turku
mirjami.jeskanen[a]utu.fi

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