When students from Whitecross School in the UK visited Mumbai last month as part of an exchange programme, Pooja Gaikwad (16) most vividly remembers introducing them to samosa pav.
“We had to teach them how to hold and eat it,” laughed Gaikwad. “We did a lot of masti, there was no language or national barrier at all.”
Kamla High School in Khar where Gaikwad studies has had a ‘partner school’ in the UK, for some years now, with students and teachers moving between the schools.
It’s one among 30-odd Mumbai schools participating in the British Council’s ‘global school partnerships’ programme between schools in the UK and India.
With a total of 290 participating schools, India has the largest number of such partnerships among the 56 participating countries. South Africa has 266 and Ghana is third with 260.
“In the UK there is a lot of interest in India, as it is an emerging economy,” said Ruchira Ghosh, head of global school partnerships and school communication for the British Council in India. “With our historical connections and education systems being similar there are linkages.”
This year, 200 more Indian schools will find partner schools in the UK for student and teacher exchange programmes, including 22 of the state government-run zilla parishad schools in other parts of the state. “The government is keen to use this as an opportunity for students to improve their English and computer skills as a lot of the interaction is online,” added Ghosh.
Students from both countries interact on a range of topics, from methods of recycling to the revolt of 1857 to exchanges about local culture and folk tales, both online and through visits.
“It’s a wonderful programme, both sets of students love it,” said Rekha Jagasia, principal, Kamla High School.