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Headteacher brings back a taste of Darjeeling for pupils after a summer of volunteering

Date: 18 October 2016

Ruth Worswick teaches to uniformed Indian chidren standing at their desksPupils  at Headley’s Holme CofE Primary School are being given a first-hand account of education in North East India after headteacher Ruth Worswick returned from a summer volunteering in the Himalayan region.

Ruth spent almost four weeks volunteering as a trustee of the development charity, Mondo Foundation, which supports schools in the region through  grants and loans for buildings and initiatives such as teacher training and school agriculture.

While many teachers were leaving education behind, Ruth visited schools to check on progress and help the local Mondo management team and also delivered management training to headteachers, who often have no formal education in how to lead school improvement.

Back in Headley she is using the school value of 'Community' as the starting point to share her experiences with the children and to extend their knowledge of their wider, global community.   

Together with staff at the Good Shepherd Trust academy,  Ruth plans to encourage the values of 'Compassion' and 'Service' in a project to help provide much-needed resources, such as puzzles, books and posters for Indian children. 

She said: “It was my first visit to the region and I hadn’t known what to expect.  The teachers at the schools we support are enthusiastic and dedicated, but many have not received formal teacher training.

“Mostly they are villagers with secondary level education, who rely on text books to teach from and who don’t have access to broader ideas of what makes effective learning. In order to widen their skills, we run programmes to give teachers confidence and allow them to develop more interactive teaching methods.

“What struck me most was that the issues facing headteachers in these schools are similar to those I face here in Headley:  increasing the number of pupils of roll, embedding Christian values in our children both at school and in their wider lives, balancing the budget and always looking to enrich and improve our pupils’ lives and learning.

“The highlight of the trip was when I witnessed lunchtime at a school near the Nepal border; every child had a lunch brought to him/her from home and the mothers waited in the playground for the children to finish before taking their tiffin boxes home again.  For some it was a walk of over an hour; others would just wait for school to be over to accompany their child home again.  

“The commitment to education was palpable, yet it is not supplied by the government and would be unattainable for most families without the support from Mondo and the dedication of the teachers.

“At the end of my time in India as I took my last ride down the mountain, I contemplated how my outlook and understanding of my own school and profession had deepened and altered and how I couldn’t wait to return.  It’s been an inspirational experience and one I shall value as a highlight of my professional life."

Ruth became a trustee of the charity after volunteering with them for three months in Tanzania in 2007 and is now encouraging other volunteers to step forward and support the charity’s projects in NE India, Nepal and Tanzania.

She said:  “Mondo Foundation has a real focus on sustainable development through active community participation. For example, villagers are our partners and guides when it comes to building a school, and are involved in every step from planning and resourcing to construction.

“But there are times when there is a skill shortage and Mondo is appealing for volunteers who would like to spend time in our schools, supporting the teaching of spoken English and the self-improving systems that we are currently developing.  Even if you have only a week or two to offer, Mondo would love to welcome you and I guarantee that you will find it brings as much reward to you as you are able to offer to the schools.”

For more information visit http://www.mondochallengefoundation.org/ or email Ms Worswick at ruth.worswick@holme.goodshepherdtrust.org.uk

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