Fourteen students from the University of New England are about to embark on an adventure that will see them contributing to the education of children in India while preparing for their own careers as primary school teachers.
On Friday 13 November the students – eleven women and three men – are leaving for Kolkata (Calcutta), West Bengal, where they will undertake a four-week professional experience placement at the Pailan World School before returning to Australia on Wednesday 16 December.
Yvonne Masters, the Director of Professional Experience in UNE’s Faculty of The Professions, said this was the first time that UNE students electing the “International Placement” unit as part of their teaching degree had gone to India. “Three members of the current group have never been out of NSW or on an aeroplane,” Mrs Masters said, “and only one of them has been to Kolkata before. But they’re all looking forward to the experience.”
This will be the first experience of India for Mrs Masters herself. She will accompany the students to the Pailan World School, where she will do some teaching in the junior secondary section of the school while her students teach – in pairs – in the primary section. “They’ll be teaching mainly literacy and numeracy, but also some geography, history and science,” she said, “and have been working in pairs as part of their preparation.”
“While some of the students think they might teach overseas in the future,” Mrs Masters said, “they all believe that this experience will help them in dealing with multiculturalism in the classroom.”
“We’ve been talking about cultural differences,” she added, “and they’re all very much aware of being ambassadors for Australia and UNE.”
As well as the daily teaching, the students and Mrs Masters will conduct a weekly workshop for the school’s teachers. And, on the 12th of December, they will conduct a workshop for teachers from throughout Kolkata.
Kolkata World School is a residential/day-boarding school for primary and secondary students. The school’s Principal, Mr Ken Jarman, is an Australian, and it was he who invited the UNE students for their professional experience placement. “He’s hoping that they will help to invigorate teaching at the school,” Mrs Masters said.
Clicking on the image displayed here reveals a photograph of Yvonne Masters.