“Good afternoon teachers.”
A chorus of tiny voices erupted in South Delhi’s Vinay Nagar Bengali School when a group of teachers entered one of the primary classrooms.
“This is what we can only dream of,” said a beaming Carolyn Penfold (50), a French teacher at Manor High School Oadby, Leicestershire, UK.
Penfold is part of a group of teachers from the UK that is visiting schools in the capital. The group of 15 teachers has come as a part of a programme organised by the British Council.
“During our tour of schools in Delhi, we found students here have very good manners. Unfortunately, in our schools, students are often rude to teachers and sometimes even swear at us,” she said.
The British teachers are here as part of the Teachers International Professional Development, a programme that enables them to experience alternative educational practice in different countries.
And they are impressed with what they have seen in Delhi in the last two days.
“The teachers and students here are very pleasant to talk to and they definitely know their stuff,” said Christopher Tongue (33), a science teacher. “I asked a student what I thought was a complex question but the answer came promptly.”
All the teachers in the group are from Leicestershire, an area know for its multi-ethnicity.
“A large number of students in our schools come from different backgrounds and belong to ethnic minorities who don’t have English as their first language,” said Gaynor Laverick (41), a teacher from Holywell Primary School.
“We have come here to learn more about their roots, culture, history and values.”
The British teachers are also impressed with the standard of education here and how passionate teachers here are about their work in spite of minimal resources. “Compared to here, schools in UK are much well resourced but we have seen here what you can do with basic good teaching,” she said.
The teachers have been divided into three sub-groups as they visit a range of Delhi schools, including Kendriya Vidyalaya, Rajkiya Pratibha Vikas Vidyalaya, Sarvodaya schools, St. Mary’s School, Guru Nanak Public School and Ideal Public School.
“The students are really happy to host an international delegation of teachers and we would like to be part of similar exchange programmes,” said Sukanta Bhattacharjee, principal of Vinay Nagar Bengali School, a government-aided community institution.
“We got to learn a lot about their system of education and they too were impressed with the way our students promptly answered their questions.”
“The programme allows teachers in the UK to come here and explore. This year the theme is cultural diversity,” said Rittika Parruck, Regional Manager, British Council India and Sri Lanka.