A Chance Reading About Pardada Pardadi That Changed My Life
By:- Gina Menon, October 2019
I am a primary teacher/teacher trainer from the UK who works half the year in India as a teacher trainer. I came across Pardada Pardadi quite by chance, when reading a book in which the writer mentioned the school.
After looking it up on the internet, I felt a definite interest in seeing and volunteering at PPES. My entire 46-year teaching career has been spent working with deprived children in London, and Pardada Pardadi seemed to be founded on that commitment to do the best for poor children to which I subscribe.
I arrived in Delhi from Bangalore, where my work is based, and spent that evening at the home of Sam Singh, founder of PPES. The following day, we embarked on the long drive to Anupshahr, somewhat hindered by lively Dussehra festivities in progress along the way.
My first morning at the school, I had the full tour of the primary and secondary sections, the medical centre and the I-village where local women (and a few gents) are engaged in textile work of very good quality. I was struck by the positive atmosphere which pervades the school, and the open friendliness of all I met: this included not just teachers, children and admin staff, but also the ayahs and gardeners whose hard work ensures that the campus is fresh, clean and noticeably free of mosquitoes and flies.
The girls’ commitment to making the very best of the wonderful opportunities they have at PPES is consistently in evidence. PPES offers a holistic approach, so not only are pupils taught by teachers who treat them with fairness and respect, and expect them to do well, but their physical, medical and emotional needs are also catered for through the provision of adequate and healthy meals, vaccination programmes, pastoral and health education, as well as free uniforms and books. The children are outgoing, confident, determined girls with high expectations of themselves, who are keen to talk to visitors, have many questions and are a joy to be with.
After discussions with senior administrator Mr. Jose and headteacher K K (Krishana Kumar), I then went off to observe classes. These observations were followed by lively discussions, conducted in a mixture of English and Hindi, in which teachers on free periods often joined. There is a keen desire by PPES teachers to try out new strategies and they are at ease talking about their practice in a group and asking questions about how best to implement ideas.
My afternoons were spent in delivering training in the interactive teaching of English to a group of teachers spanning classes 3 – 10. We covered a range of topics including the practical delivery of the process known as Talk for Writing (T4W), focusing particularly on the development of children’s oral English; aspects of grammar; reading skills; and the delivery of poetry lessons, drawing on texts from Indian textbooks.
Following on from the observations and the training sessions, I also conducted demonstration classes with classes 4 and 10, observed by the teacher and later discussed during the afternoon training sessions.
At present, though I am unable to commit to a long period of volunteering (I was only a bare fortnight at PPES), owing to my previous work commitments, I intend seeing whether I can combine my long-term work with possible regular short slots at PPES. If there’s a teacher of English reading this, who is at a stage where they could commit to a period of volunteering, or even of regular slots, then do consider offering your help. You’ll certainly not regret it, and the children and teachers would be delighted to work with you.