Create a program for Curricular Reform in India and Nepal that will promote inclusive education through teacher training programs at BA/MA levels by developing new courses in educational programs, faculty and Teacher workshops, student leadership training and student activities to
foster gender equality, democratic values and combat radicalism to be applied from early stages in the school.
The specific objectives of the AURORA project are:
- To enhance the quality of academic education for teacher training through the development and modernization of courses that tackle gender equality, respect for human rights and democracy and radicalism.
- To disseminate and sustain new courses extending them to other dept., HEIs and primary/secondary Schools.
- To establish AURORA Centres for inclusive education at HEIs and at Schools to enhance social inclusive and democratic values.
- To enhance cooperation between HEI with other educational centres.
Update – Work Package 1
With University College Cork as lead, an AURORA Survey was designed by Work Package 1 (WP1) partners (UCC, KISS and Tribhuvan) during the four-month period from September to December, 2020. It was administered (with the vital support of Edulab) via the sogosurvey.com application and all results were analysed and written up in the two-month period from January to February, 2021. The primary purpose of the survey was to critically examine existing ‘inclusion’ Work in Teacher Education Schools/Departments/Units across the Partner Institutions with a view to highlighting comparative strengths and informing effective policy and practice developments into the future. All 11 partners completed the survey: Savitribai PhulePune (SP) University; Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences (KISS);Babes-Bolyai University; Anugraha Institute of Social Sciences (AISS);University College Cork (UCC);Banasthali Vidyapeeth; University of Malaga (UMA);Tribhuvan University; University of Masaryk (MU);Pokhara University (PU);and National Law College. What follows is an overview of the thematic analysis of the survey, where we focus on a comparative picture (across the European Union, India and Nepal) of the diverse inclusion policies and practices in evidence in partners’ Teacher Training Units/Schools/Departments. In the full report (which is available on request), we summarise the different programmes for inclusive and citizenship education offered across the jurisdictions and highlight the key influential factors that either promote or inhibit further inclusionary measures for pre-service teachers. It is hoped that work from WP 1 will serve to define effective inclusion policies and practices and create a common discourse and understanding of what it means to work in inclusive educational environments. Moreover, it is hoped that this work will serve to provide key standards, guidelines and procedures on inclusion for partners in the EU, India and Nepal; and that these will support partners to critically reflect and act upon their own policies and practices. We are mindful of course that, while we can significantly learn from what others are doing by way of their inclusion arrangements, we must also tailor actions to the unique socio-cultural context of our own Units. In this way, we in AURORA acknowledge and affirm how each Teacher Training Unit is unique in how it focuses and delivers upon its own effective response to ‘inclusion’ in pre-service teacher education.
The following 7 themes were identified in the survey. While the scope of this article does not allow for all the key findings from each theme to be analysed (see the full report for a more comprehensive analysis), it may be useful for the reader to engage with just 1 key finding from each theme identified here:
Theme 1: The socio-cultural context of each partner’s Teacher Training Unit/School/Department is uniquely important. Key finding: It is clear that each Teacher Training Unit is unique and focuses and delivers upon its own effective response to ‘inclusion’ in pre-service teacher education. Inclusion measures are often directed at specific learner cohorts. For example, KISS caters for tribal populations (there are 62 tribes which includes 13 PVTGs – ‘Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups’ – that have 21 Tribal Languages and 74 dialects); UBB for learners with disabilities; AISS for rural youth (especially girls); and Banasthali Vidyapith provides solely for female learner cohorts.
Theme 2: The wider socio-cultural and political context is a key consideration. Key finding: There is a need to establish and sustain inclusion standards, standardisation and regulation measureswith: A common language/discourse around ‘inclusion’; regular research and reassessment of inclusionary provisions; attendance to Quality Assurance, such as TTU (Teacher Training Unit) self-assessment guided by a standardised framework and comprehensive inclusion strategies.
Theme 3: Adopting the principles of Equality, Equity and Diversity is good inclusive practice. Key finding: Partners were concerned that practising Inclusion is often inhibited by a lack of resources, funding, and access to ICT. They acknowledged opportunities to bridge theory/practice divides in inclusion work by implementing active learning methodologies through the lens of Global Citizenship Development Education (GCDE).
Theme 4: Curricular Responses to Inclusion in Teacher Training Units need to be considered. Key finding: Partners communicated the richness of Co-curricular activities highlighting the potential for deeper engagement with holistic development in learning through human expression and creativity, spiritual focus, personality development and wellbeing.
Theme 5: Innovative and Inclusive TLA (Teaching and Learning and Assessment) Methods are important. Key finding: Partners acknowledged the importance of variety in assessments and each partner contributed to a long list of potential evaluative methods, ranging from: Summative to formative; self to collaborative; final to continuous; as well as self-reflective projects and reflective journals; word action projects; teaching portfolios; school placement visits; design-based assessments; research projects; and oral and visual presentations. Partners also expressed the value of key skills development and their assessment. There was a common recognition of the transferable and holistic nature of skills such as organisational, presentational, collaborative, cultural, creative, and an acknowledgement of the importance of values education by nurturing respect and wellbeing in self and others.
Theme 6: The Challenges and Opportunities for Deeper Engagement with Inclusion need to be identified. Key finding: Partners highlighted the need for student teachers, newly qualified teachers (NQTs) and teacher educators (considering that not all professors are trained in inclusion) to learn from experienced ‘inclusion’ workers (e.g. special needs assistants, resource teachers and NGOs); as well as the need to engage in more authentic dialogue with members of minority groups.
Theme 7: Teacher educators’ knowledge, skills, attitudes and values around ‘inclusion’ are key. Key finding: The partners noted how teacher educators’ attitudes and values can be enhanced by actively challenging discrimination inside Teacher Training Units and outside in wider society, for example: By increasing leadership roles for women; improving support services for people with disabilities; and abolishing inhumane systems of detention for asylum seekers and refugees.