Gordon Gibb publishes article on experiences in an English-medium school in India
Gordon Gibb, of the Department of Counseling Psychology and Special Education, published an article describing lessons he learned during a year spent organizing and directing a school in India for children whose parents or grandparents suffer from leprosy. The article, titled “Organizing an NGO-sponsored English-Medium School in South India: Lessons Learned,” was published in The Journal of International Education and Leadership. Gibb included Indian cultural background, the nature and status of leprosy in India, the role of an English-medium school in Indian society, and six different lessons learned while running the Peery School in India.
In 2008-2009, Professor Gibb took a professional development leave to help direct and organize the Peery School located in India. An English-medium school like Peery uses English as its primary language, even though it is not the first language of the students. This school is run by The Rising Star Outreach of India program, which provides education, finances, and healthcare for people with leprosy. Leprosy affects the lives of millions of people in India. Though today it is readily treatable, some people continue to maintain traditional attitudes about leprosy and isolate people suffering from the condition in colonies or institutions. The children at the school do not have the disease, but it is not easy for them to get an education because of the prejudicial treatment of their famillies. The Peery School serves children from 34 colonies and four cities in the state of Tamil Nadu.
Gibb has written about the lessons he learned in order to assist others who may want to participate in founding schools for marginalized populations. “[In order] for someone outside India to understand and utilize what was learned during this school experience, knowledge of the context of leprosy colonies and the social and economic situations of children born in these colonies is important,” Gibb said. The paper addressed the educational efforts specifically targeting children of parents or grandparents with leprosy. “An English-medium education allows people to counteract the effects of caste, and is invaluable to the life of the student,” Gibb said.
Gibb’s article discusses six different topics reviewing the lessons Gibb learned during his time in India:
- Difficulties in gaining government recognition and accreditation for the school
- Processes of school governance with state and local authorities and leadership
- The influence of local school culture, particularly with other education agencies
- Challenges of hiring and training teachers with the right fit for the school
- Issues of instructing with an English-medium curriculum
- Relationships with family and parents and their involvement with the students’ education
“I learned much in the first full year of Rising Star’s efforts to establish an English-medium school for children from leprosy colonies in south India,” Gibb said. “Lessons learned in these six areas may serve as examples to others who are endeavoring to establish schools for marginalized populations.”
Recalling his experience in India, Gibb said, “If I had the chance, I would go back in a heartbeat.”
July 31, 2012