What Global Schoolroom Does

Our Vision

Education helps eradicate poverty, promote economic development and build sustainable communities.

Our Mission Statement

Global Schoolroom brings teachers from Ireland together with their global counterparts to build each partners capacity through the sharing of educational experience, expertise and good practice.

Our Five Guiding Principles

  1. Education has the power to enlighten and expand each individual’s scope for opportunity.
  2. A primary education for every child is essential.
  3. Sharing good educational practices enriches the collective educational experience and widens the cultural horizons of everyone involved.
  4. Forging respectful links between educational partners works to their mutual benefit.
  5. Working directly with teachers is the best way to build a strong framework for high standards of teacher education, which, once in place, can be delivered by sustainable local networks.

At the heart of what Global Schoolroom does is the forging of respectful links between educational partners to their mutual benefit.  This sharing of good educational practices enriches the collective educational experience, widens the cultural horizons of everyone involved and expands each individual’s scope for opportunity.  Children in the communities involved receive a better quality education, which ultimately leads to greater economic development and higher standards of living.

Since 2006, we have brought over 1000 Indian teachers together with more than 200 of their Irish counterparts to share their educational experience, expertise and good practice.  Since 2008, Global Schoolroom has facilitated a UCD Collaborative Programme with approximately 600 Indian teachers progressing to a Level 7 award.  Following on from this success, the Global Schoolroom programme is now expanding to also work with partners in Kenya and Sierra Leone.

“About Us” by our CEO Garret Campbell

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Our Guiding Principles

Our Mission Statement

Global Schoolrom is dedicated to sharing educational experience between communities worldwide to help eradicate poverty, promote economic development and build sustainable communities.

The power of education

to enlighten one another and expand each individual’s scope for opportunity.

A primary education for every child

to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goas, in particular SDG4 for equitable quality education for all.

to enrich the collective educational experience and widen the cultural horizons of everyone involved.

Working directly with teachers and communities

to build a strong framework for high standards of teacher training which, once in place, can then be delivered by sustainable local networks.

Forging respectful links

between educational partners to their mutual benefit.

How it all started

Global Schoolroom has its origins in 2005 when two Dublin teachers, Gwen Brennan and Garret Campbell, traveled to India, not solely as tourists but rather with the intention of getting a little under the skin of the sub-continent and learning more about the challenges faced by teachers in that part of the world. Both Brennan and Campbell had considerable travel experience and had done short periods of aid work in Africa, South America and Mongolia. They had also been involved in teacher education both at home and abroad. Through a series of contacts in Ireland they were introduced to the Northeast of India.

The geographically isolated Northeast of India is socially and philosophically a part of India which is almost utterly separated from the rest of the country. It is ‘precariously linked’ to the rest of India through a narrow corridor, in places only 20 kilometers wide (Guha, 2004). It is a confluence of approximately 350 tribes with more than 200 languages and dialects. While the guide books refer to India’s best kept secret, the reality is widespread poverty despite the apparent economic growth further south. According to the Planning Commission’s estimates of 1999 to 2000, over 40% of the rural population of the region were below the poverty line. This compares with 7.47% of the region’s urban population.

Education in the various states which make up the Northeast is of particular concern as many schools operate with class sizes in excess of 50 pupils, some with more than 100, in very cramped conditions and with very few resources (Singh, 2004). In fact, the pupil-teacher ratio has increased in many northeastern states in recent years (Kumar De, 2004) and there is a very high drop-out rate (Singh, 2004). Added to this is a curriculum which leaves little room for child-centred activities.

The problems in education do not end there as teacher training, where it exists, is often inadequate, with many teachers having no formal training whatsoever. Most of the teachers at higher secondary schools are trained but the teachers in high schools and middle schools are mostly untrained (Kumar De, 2004).
The same can be said for primary schools. There are some notable exceptions, with the state of Mizoram having a very high percentage of trained teachers and a higher than national average literacy rate, while the state of Tripura has the lowest percentage of trained teachers. The 1991 Census of India revealed that the national literacy rate was 52.2%. By 2004 this was 65.4%. In 2001 the states of Assam and Meghalaya displayed the lowest literacy rates in all of India, 64.26 and 63.31 respectively. Another major concern is the overall low level of involvement in education amongst females across all the states in the Northeast (Ghosh, 2004).

Over the last number of years, missionary orders have worked in this part of India and have built a large number of schools. These missionary schools are generally held in high regard (Lahiri, 2004) with some schools having a 95% non-Catholic school community. In some places, the missionary orders have gone on to develop technical schools and adult education programmes, offering whole communities educational opportunity. While they have had general success in the bricks and mortar issues, the difficulty of untrained teachers is theirs too. The religious orders generally recruit their own teachers and pay them out of their own funds. While they teach the state curricula, their salaries are less than state salaries. Despite this inequity, the bonus for these teachers is that they are working in a good environment with the possibility of further training.

Having met and listened to the voiced needs of almost 300 teachers in 2006, Brennan and Campbell decided that any efforts to address the shortcomings in teacher education would need to include the presentation of content and a space for both personal and group reflection. They also found that the level of confidence amongst many teachers was extremely low and many voiced the concern that they were not being supported by the school. Brennan and Campbell believed that a formal training programme was needed with full university accreditation and the possibility to achieve a recognised qualification. This they believed, would provide an exposure to international best practice in education, give teachers an opportunity to reflect on their own professionalism and a method by which their efforts could be rewarded. These considerations eventually lead to the Global Schoolroom Diploma in Teacher Education.

Some issues were yet to be addressed concerning the movement of personnel from Ireland to India as volunteers. From 2006 to 2009 this was done with tourist visas, which prevented any meaningful engagement with the state education boards and restricted the work of Global Schoolroom to missionary schools. However by 2010, we had received recognition from the Indian Embassy in Ireland and had developed a very good working relationship with the Ambassador and his staff.

In 2009 we began recruiting from Northern Ireland, in an effort to make this an all-Ireland initiative. This year we are recruiting from the rest of the UK as well to further develop the global dimension. In the coming years it is hoped that teachers from the USA may be involved.

Meanwhile one of our core goals is to make the programme sustainable locally and ultimately see it adopted and facilitated by teachers living and working in their own communities. As soon as practicable we would like to be in a position to enrol volunteer teachers from countries such as India – not just Ireland the UK. This goal will come a step closer in 2011 when five Global Schoolroom graduates from India will spend a month in Ireland where they will receive additional training and support from Global Schoolroom and UCD. They will then join with the teachers from Ireland and the UK as part of the Global Schoolroom tutor team. This will strengthen the involvement and engagement of the teaching profession in all 3 countries.

What makes us different

While many NGOs working in development education adopt an approach which is general and generic, Global Schoolroom is a more focused initiative. The programme seeks to harness the social conscience, critical mindset, professional expertise and newly acquired skills of Irish and UK teachers and bring them together with their counterparts in the developing world.

The Global Schoolroom programme creates a different paradigm in education through its teacher-to-teacher sharing of educational experience.

This real and meaningful sharing not only helps improve teaching standards but also ensures real engagement with development issues.

This process is non-threatening, collegial and respectful, leading to a new way of thinking about development issues and education more generally.

The professional recognition and academic rigour provided by the involvement of University College Dublin and University of Limerick add value and credibility to the Global Schoolroom programme. The methodology involved means it can be replicated in educational communities worldwide.

The Global Schoolroom Expert Panel with representation from Ireland, the UK, India, and the USA ensures that the Programme is based on best practice and is continually reviewed and enhanced.

Our strengths

The Global Schoolroom programme is a focused response to voiced needs and is designed specifically to address the difficulties faced by teachers in the areas where it operates. It harnesses the professionalism and goodwill of teachers in Ireland and the UK and their colleagues in India, Kenya and Sierre Leone  and across the world. These needs are being addressed, not from outside the profession, but from within in a spirit of peer sharing.

The fact that the Programmes are driven by the demands of academic and professional best practice ensures that energy is not dissipated or wasted on peripheral issues. The programme actively and consciously avoids a patronising, service-delivery approach. Instead it creates and fosters a real and equal partnership between educators worldwide.

The arrival of four Global Schoolroom graduates from India in April 2011 was testament to this philosophy. Following additional training and support from Global Schoolroom and University College Dublin these teachers joined their colleagues from Ireland and the UK as part of the Global Schoolroom tutor team. Since then, we have continued this exchange and were delighted to welcome three members of the Khasi Jaintia Deficit Schools Teachers’ Association to Ireland in April 2014.  We hope to welcome more Global Schoolroom alumni to Ireland in 2017.

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In practical terms this involves...

The first stage of the process is the recruitment of experienced teachers in Ireland (both North and South) and the UK each Autumn to travel to India, Sierre Leone and Kenya in the following July to work with their colleagues as part of the four week face-to-face element of the Global Schoolroom programme.

For the volunteer teachers, this is typically a once off experience with preparatory training and preparation provided to them in Ireland over 5 weekends (including one residential weekend) prior to July and an independent debrief and evaluation session following their return.

For the volunteer teachers, University College Dublin (UCD) offers an M.A. in Education in Mentoring built around their Global Schooroom experience in pace with best standards internationally.

In-Country Support

The volunteer tutors are accompanied by a Global Schoolroom Programme Manager and support staff from Global Schoolroom. This In-Country Management team is made up of experienced tutors who have travelled multiple times previously and who receive additional training to support the volunteer tutors. They physically visit each of the centres twice during the four week programme and are available 24/7 on the phone in-country.

In addition to this, we have 24/7 access to an Irish doctor by phone who can speak to the tutors if they have any medical concerns or questions during their time away.

All those who travel with Global Schoolroom are also covered by the Global Schoolroom Travel Insurance policy.

 

Local Teachers

For the Indian or African teachers involved, the sessions each July form part of a 3 year Diploma in Teacher Education accredited by UCD. Local teachers are recruited on a voluntary basis often following a visit by the Global Schoolroom team to explain the benefits of taking part in the Programme.

The are hubs in 8 locations across three states in India’s North-East stretching from Guwahati in Assam to Shillong in Meghalaya and Kumarghat in Tripura. Two hubs in Makeni and Kono and Sierra Leone and one centre in Kenya. Typically local teachers from several surrounding schools attend the sessions in each hub. Anywhere from 30 to 50 local teachers attend at each hub with a team of 3 tutors facilitating the programme (usually made up of 3 visiting tutors or whenever possible two visiting tutors and one successful local graduate of the Global Schoolroom programme).

The sessions each July include 2 weeks of intensive seminars and workshops during which the teachers share their educational experiences with one another. Following the seminar sessions, the visiting tutors travel with the local teachers back to their schools and over the remaining two weeks of July, work with them to apply in the classroom the techniques and methodologies developed together during the first two weeks. In basic terms, the first two weeks of the programme are spent in workshops and tutorials within the hubs while the second two weeks are spent in local schools on teaching practice.

There is no charge to local teachers for participating in the Programme. Where local teachers attend for the first two weeks on a residential basis (due to the distance from their homes), Global Schoolroom meets the cost of food and accommodation. Likewise Global Schoolroom pays the local hub school for the food, accommodation and travel costs involved in hosting the three visiting tutors who are facilitating the Programme.

What happens after the 4 week Programme?

On the last day of the programme in India, the tutors are required to fill out a “hot debrief” to capture their evaluation of the programme in-country. At the beginning of September, each tutor is contacted by the CEO by phone for an individual debrief.

Following this, the tutors are invited to attend a one day debrief and evaluation which is carried out by an independent consultant. This is designed to provide these teachers with an opportunity to input their ideas and suggestions for enhancements to the programme.

For the Indian teachers, further application and implementation is required throughout the year to help complete assignments for formal assessment in Global Schoolroom workbooks. Local tutor/mentor system and ‘critical friend’ groups have been set up locally to facilitate this process.

In October and February each year Global Schoolroom undertakes Mid Year Reviews with local teachers in India. During this period, experienced tutors travel back out to India to conduct check-in clinics with the Indian teachers and tackle any issues or questions they may have about completing their assignments.

At the end of May, the Indian teachers are required to submit their workbooks for correction. Assessment of the local teachers written work is done each June by a team of UCD staff who travel out to India to conduct this.

A Global Schoolroom ‘Development Education’ doctoral programme in University of Limerick is putting in place a strategy to ensure that tutors are encouraged to maintain links with Global Schoolroom after their return and to involve their pupils in the experience. Some tutors travel again to India with the programme in subsequent years, others remain involved on the various committees and support groups.

At the end of the third year those local teachers who have successfully completed the programme are invited to a conferring ceremony in their local hub at which the diplomas are presented.

In consultation with the local school management, an exceptional local teacher is chosen from each hub and appointed to work alongside the visiting teachers as a tutor on the next 3 year programme. These local teachers are provided with an opportunity to travel to Ireland to attend week long tutor training programme at UCD and the spend three weeks working with Irish teachers in both urban and rural schools.

Each year an expert panel comprised of 5 academics India, Ireland, the US and the UK meets to review course materials, strategy and ensure that the programme continues to stay in pace with best standards internationally.

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Our strategy

In India we have had numerous requests to expand our programme from both our educational partners and from teachers in regions adjoining those where we now operate. In addition, we have been requested by Self Help Africa to consider launching our programme in other African countries which are Irish Aid (the Irish Government’s programme of assistance to developing countries) Bilateral Partners.  This year, we are embarking on this pilot initiative in Sierra Leone and Kenya.

 

Longer Term Strategy

Expansion of Programme

July 2017 for the first time, will see the expansion of our educational programme  into Sierra Leone and Kenya.

Administration, processes and expertise

In 2015 Comhlamh, the Irish Volunteering and Development Workers Organisation, carried out an external audit on Global Schoolroom and confirmed that our operations and procedures are of a high standard. We attained Comprehensive Compliance under the Comhlamh Code of Good Practice.  We have appointed a part-time Finance and Office Manager and two Programmes Managers to spearhead the Sierre Leone and Kenya projects. We intend to expand our Board of Directors to harness additional skills and have set up a panel of experts with international reputations to ensure that all our curricula and methodologies measure up to best international practice. We are also establishing working groups made up of alumni and practitioners in certain fields of expertise to work with us on a regular basis as part of a voluntary management team, with responsibility for driving specific areas of the programme.

Accreditation

We place the highest importance on ensuring that our programme is accredited both in Ireland and in countries where we work with local teachers. We intend to keep accreditation to the forefront of our agenda and ultimately to ensure that our programme remains both internationally and locally accredited to reflect the professional qualification achieved by participants. Currently, the Indian Programme is accredited internationally as a Level 7 Diploma by UCD and as a Higher Diploma by Assam Don Bosco University. With this in mind we are building on the links already established with Don Bosco University in Guwahati and other universities in India’s North East in order to secure recognition locally for our Programme as a B.Ed.

Curriculum development and course content

In order to ensure our programme is reviewed to reflect changing local requirements a full review of the volunteer tutor training programme is taking place along with a consultation with those we are working with on the ground and with the relevant government bodies in India, Kenya and Sierra Leone.

Development Education

We want to see the hugely beneficial personal experience and skills gained by volunteers (and the opportunity they had to be immersed in the culture of the countries they visit) transferred to their fellow teachers in their staff rooms and to their pupils in their classrooms. With this in mind, we have launched a Development Education Programme in collaboration with the Department of Education and Professional Studies in the University of Limerick. This initially takes the form a research programme to inform the direction and detail of the development education strategy.

An analysis of the Global Schoolroom programme in India as part of a social research project in association with the School of Education, UCD, is also taking place.

All of this will assist our network of alumni to ensure that teachers who have participated become advocates for Global Schoolroom and ambassadors for development education more generally.

How we are funded

We are conscious of the need to ensure that we enjoy a secure pipeline of reliable funding in order to fund our programme as it currently stands, finance the building and on going cost of a permanent management infrastructure and make possible the expansion of our programme in the future.

Over the first 5 years of our existence we have expended resources equivalent to approximately €400,000, made up of direct funding from Cornmarket Group Financial Services Ltd. together with management and other related assistance provided by Cornmarket, and from contributions made by those teachers who have travelled to India and Uganda (former location of the Global Schoolroom Programme). This is not taking into account the educational expertise provided by these teachers on a pro bono basis.

Our funding is split into two streams. The first is volunteer contributions which volunteers make to become tutors on the July programme. Each tutors contributes €3000 which covers all their costs (pre-training, vaccinations, flights, insurance, food and board while in India etc). A break down of the €3000 is available under the “Apply” section. Secondly, we receive core funding (salaries, printing costs etc) through Corporate Funding.

Cornmarket Group Financial Services Ltd have continued to provide core funding to Global Schoolroom for which we are very grateful.

Irish Life, selected Global Schoolroom as its international staff charity and their support has allowed us continue the expansion of our programme in India (from 5 hubs to 8) and to appoint a CEO. Since this, Irish Life have come on board as a long-term Corporate Funder and have committed to three year funding.

We are also grateful to New Ireland and Friends First who came on board as Corporate partners in 2014 and have committed to part funding this three-year cycle (2014 – 2017).

We are also grateful to the three Teacher Unions (ASTI, INTO and TUI) who have also committed to three year funding for the current programme (2014 – 2017).

Finally, we have been grateful to receive smaller ad hoc contributions from Electric Aid, Folens and personal donations which have helped us in our Core Funding needs.

All of our accounts are publicly available on our website under the Governance tab.

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You can help improve the quality of the education received by children in N.E. India by donating to Global Schoolroom. To make your donation securely by credit card simply click ‘donate’ now.
If you would prefer to make your donation by cheque please make your cheque payable to Global Schoolroom Ltd. and post it to:
Global Schoolroom Ltd.
10 Lisadell Crescent
Malahide,
Co. Dublin
Ireland.
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