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Posted 13 April 2010

Global Schoolroom delivers UCD teaching diplomas in India

Next July a group of 15 Irish teachers, accompanied by staff of Cornmarket Group Financial Services will head off to northeast India to deliver modules to local teachers as part of a tailor-made Diploma in Teacher Education designed by Global Schoolroom and accredited by UCD.

The diploma was the brainchild of Gwen Brennan and Garret Campbell, founders of Global Schoolroom. Having been involved in teacher training both at home and abroad, Brennan, Campbell and former director of Cornmarket Financial Services, Robert Power, linked up with the Salesians and a number of other Catholic religious orders who had built schools in this very isolated part of India. Their plan – to provide teacher training in an effort to eradicate poverty and promote economic development – was soon funded by Cornmarket Financial and in 2007 they brought 8 teachers and 2 Cornmarket staff out to India to deliver programmes to over 350 local teachers.

Through Professor Bairbre Redmond, Deputy Registrar and Dr Marie Clarke, head of the UCD School of Education, UCD became involved in the Global Schoolroom project and in partnership with Don Bosco Silchar, they developed a unique 60 credit Diploma in Teacher Education, awarded by UCD. Dr Clake travelled to India to oversee the organisation of the project and in July 2008, 15 volunteer Irish teachers and 3 Cornmarket staff travelled to India to deliver the first set of modules in this three-year programme.

“Moving into a more formal and accredited type of education setting required greater intensity.” Garret Campbell explains. “We took about 200 Indian participants on to the programme that year and have brought them along, step by step so that they will graduate in June 2011 with internationally recognised diplomas from UCD.”

Professor Redmond sees long term sustainability in the project. “A significant benefit of the project is that a number of the Indian graduates will be sufficiently skilled and confident to deliver the programme to their colleagues and hopefully, we will see some coming to UCD on scholarship to further their education and experience.”

Although Cornmarket Group Financial Services provides substantial funding to the Global Schoolroom project, volunteer Irish teachers generally raise around €1,500 towards the cost of getting to and staying in India each summer.

“The teachers who participate in Global Schoolroom come from all stages in their profession. We have had Principals with many years experience and teachers just starting out in their career. ” Gwen Brennan is high in her praise for those who travel.

“The area we cover is both isolated and poor, stretching from Assam, Garabada in the Garro Hills of Meghalaya and Mizoram, to Umswai, a jungle area out Guwahaiti and Silchar.

Class sizes can range from 50 to 100 and the curriculum leaves little room for child-centred activities. Teacher training, where it exists, is often inadequate, with many teachers having no formal training whatsoever. So, the modules we deliver and the personal interaction with Irish teachers has made an enormous difference to the local teachers – and to their pupils.”

“Our interest in Global Schoolroom initially formed as an outreach development project but through Dr Erik Lithander, UCD director of international affairs, we made a connection with the University of New Delhi and are now pursuing some joint research in the area of teacher education.” Professor Redmond talks about the potential for further projects to emerge from the partnership.

“UCD recently launched a Masters in Education in Mentoring. We are working towards enabling teachers from Ireland who work with Global Schoolroom in India to register on this Masters degree. The University of New Delhi is also currently piloting a mentoring programme in their local schools and we hope to carry out research comparing the roles and outcomes of both groups of mentors.”

“Global Schoolroom is a unique charity.” Garret Campbell believes there is potential for expansion. “Global Schoolroom’s teacher education programme could be part of a process to address local education needs in other countries throughout the developing world.”

Through Self Help Africa, Global Schoolroom has begun to investigate the possibility of introducing the concept to Uganda and Ethiopia. Both Global Schoolroom and Self Help Africa share a similar ethos of sustainability through local empowerment and it may not be long before Irish teachers are spending their summer holidays in these and other African countries.


(Produced by UCD University Relations)


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Global Schoolroom delivers UCD teaching diplomas in India
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