Catholic Free Press

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  • Sep
  • 2

Superintendent visits schools in India

Posted By September 2, 2011 | 5:00 am | Lead Story #3, Local
Delma L. Josephson
Delma L. Josephson

By Tanya Connor

“What did you do on summer vacation?” returning students may have been asked this week.

If you ask the diocesan superintendent of schools that question, she might tell you about continuing her education – on an educators’ trip to India.

Delma L. Josephson said she went to Delhi, New Delhi, Jaipur and Agra Aug. 7-16 with People to People, a movement founded by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956 to promote cultural understanding and world peace through direct interaction between ordinary citizens. She said she was planning to go to Africa on her own, but was invited to join this group of eight other school administrators and college professors.

She decided to try to increase her knowledge of education in other parts of the world “because we are a global society and a global Church.” She’d like to share what she learned with administrators and students here.

“Children truly are the same the world over,” was one thing she observed on this trip, and previous trips to China and Thailand. “Good people are doing good things with students to try and educate them,” she said.

Every administrator the group spoke with was able to talk about best teaching practices in light of current educational research, she said. She said she did not know whether the schools they visited were representative of India overall.

They visited schools that were called “public,” that were privately-run but not religious, she said; government schools are really the public schools.

One of these non-religious schools, Subodh, had posted this thought for the day: “Prayer is when we talk to God. Prayer is when we listen to God.”

This school in Jaipur had an elementary school, high school and college on the same campus, she said. There were 3,500 students and tuition was about $600-650 U.S. annually.

The visitors were told that 100 percent of the high school graduates go to college there or to a four-year university. The group conversed with teachers, administrators and students, and, upon leaving, were shown a video of their arrival.

In a slum in Delhi, they visited Deepalaya, a school built in 1992 for children in poverty, where about 20 percent of the students go on to higher education after high school, Superintendent Josephson said.

“They had some severely disabled children and they were working beautifully with these children,” she said.

Teachers there make $200 U.S. per month, she said. Most of the students are Hindu or Muslim, but they celebrate all holidays, including Christmas.

At the United States Embassy the group got briefings U.S. governors get on education, science and technology and USAID, Superintendent Josephson said.

A briefing from the India Council for Technical Education informed them that India has more than 12,000 technical institutions, mostly high schools, but each must have an affiliation with a university. The government encourages women to take more technical courses; the goal is that they make up 33 percent of such students. “There’s a huge teacher shortage,” because the goal is to educate all children and there are more than a billion people in India, she said. It is estimated that one million teachers will be needed by the end of the decade. Because of the demand for teachers they are looking to supplement education with technology, so their national networking goal is to bring the Internet to every village, she said.

They are also trying to add more teacher colleges and to assign teachers near their homes, to make it easier for them. They want to improve the quality of their teachers, because “a bad teacher can destroy a generation,” she said.

“No matter where you go, children are such signs of hope,” she said.