Tricity schools build glocal connect
New horizons: Most schools vouch for exchange programmes, while some see parents funding such foreign trips simply as a status symbol.punjab Updated: May 25, 2018 14:27 IST
International school exchange programmes are on the rise in the tricity. Though most schools insist such programmes give students and teachers an insight into education patterns and lives of their counterparts in different countries and broaden their horizon, some are treading the path with caution.
They believe such trips hold value only if organisations sponsor them else they’re another instance of parents using their money to build a status symbol.
“As the world turns into a global village, jobs and assignments take students all over. It is imperative they understand different work environments and cultures,” says Atul Khanna, the director of Strawberry Fields High School, Chandigarh. Strawberry Fields has had exchange programmes with schools in France, Italy and Poland over the past five years.
Meeta Gadhia, the mother of Manthan Gadhia, 18, who was a part of the student exchange programme in Poland, says, “We hosted a Polish student, Daniel, for two weeks in November 2017. It was an enriching experience for the entire family. Getting to know people from different cultures helps children learn to adjust.
Earlier this year, my son went and stayed with Daniel’s family in Poland and they took good care of him. My son has found a friend for life in Poland. Many of us don’t get a chance to move places throughout our lives. Such experiences are important, not just for the child but for parents as well, as they broaden up their minds.”
Vineeta Arora, the principal of Bhavan Vidyalaya, Chandigarh, agrees and terms such exchanges an eye-opener. “If visiting another school within the city itself enriches students, imagine how fulfilling an experience of an absolute new country and environment would be for them,” she says.
Bhavan Vidyalaya has had exchange programmes with schools in Germany, Singapore and the US in the past five years.
Exchange programmes broaden the horizon of teachers who are a part of it, too. Harsimran Kaur, the principal, The Gurukul, Panchkula, has been to Baring Primary School, London, twice as a part of a staff exchange programme organised by the British Council.
Vouching for them, she says, “I had an amazing experience last year. Their classrooms and methodologies are far more interactive than ours and the children grow up in an informal learning environment.” Teachers from the London school visited The Gurukul recently.
WORD OF CAUTION
Komal Singh, the principal of Learning Paths School, Mohali, strikes a note of caution. “If a programme is sponsored by an organisation, it has great value. Otherwise, it is just a matter of who has the money to afford the same. If parents have to bear the expenses, which is generally the case, such trips are more of a social status,” she says.
Learning Paths has had one teacher exchange programme sponsored by the British Council, where two teachers spent 10 days in schools in Birmingham.
Schools undertake such initiatives either based on personal recommendation by a parent or a faculty member or via participation in forums such as Round Square, which connects more than 70 schools across the globe.
However, considerable amount of work goes into making these programmes a safe and enriching experience.
Renu Puri, the principal of Vivek High School, Chandigarh, says, “The background checks and welfare of the incoming and outgoing exchange students is assured. We are constantly in touch with our counterparts in the other school. Students have host families and live with them.”
Vivek High has been actively involved in students’ exchange programmes for the past 15 years.
About 20 students from Vivek High go for these programmes every year and the same number of foreign students visits the school in Chandigarh. Written consent with detailed medical reports is submitted by parents. Students are coached extensively to equip them for the country they are travelling to. Details such as food preferences and pets in the home are also taken care of.
“I was in touch with the school throughout the two months I stayed in the US last year. Initially I was homesick but pep talks and guidance from my teachers helped me adjust. Once you step out of your comfort zone, you learn so much about yourself,” says Harnoor Kaur, a Class 12 student of Vivek High School, Chandigarh, who visited The Athenian School in California last year.