May 13, 1997
MUMBAI, May 12: Several Japanese junior high school teachers are coming together in Nagasaki to have a unique `across the seas’ conference with educationists in Mumbai to discuss where Indian education stands today internationally.
On May 22 at 12.30 pm Indian Standard Time (4 pm in Nagasaki) over 20 Japanese teachers of social studies will send an e-mail to their counterparts in Mumbai elaborating on what they perceive of India and her educational system. On the same day, our teachers will flash back their views on the subject using the same route of information superhighways.
Dilip Mirchandani, director of St John’s School in Goregaon, is the man behind this interesting tete-a-tete on e-mail. “About two years ago, we at St John’s had started a school programme to develop human potential using emerging technology. In fact we were the first to use the Education Research Network (ERNET) here,” he said.
The idea of having this conference took shape over a month ago when a member of the international body, Moral Re-Armament (MRA), Suresh Vazirani, approached Mirchandani with a letter from the Japan MRA wanting to know of a school in India that could participate in this e-mail conference.
“I grabbed this offer with both hands. And soon we contacted Hiromi Matsuo and Eileen Pennington of the `Prefecture Education Centre’ in Nagasaki in order to fix a date for the conference,” said Mirchandani.
When asked why the Japanese wanted to discuss Indian education, Mirchandani said: “It is just an experiment to see how similar or different we are from each other. I have already contacted around 30 teachers and principals from Mumbai to deliberate on the subject on May 22.”
Some of the participating teachers are Principal Abha Dharampal of Utpal Sanghvi School, Elizabeth Mehta and Kavita Anand of Agha Khan Education Service, Journalist Viral Majumdar of Samantar and Principal M Amin of the Birla Public School, among others.
Some 30 Indian participants, divided into three groups, will come up with three different viewpoints. “The thrust will be on social studies, or as the Japanese have put it Creative Approach to Social Studies through Education for International Understanding. We shall have a better insight into the topics discussed only after the conference unfolds,” said the 60-year-old director of St John’s School.
As an afterthought, Mirchandani stated that soon he will initiate an e-mail interaction between the school students of Japan and Mumbai.
Interestingly, the teachers from Nagasaki will also throw light on a novel teaching tool called `Material World Photo Language’ by way of which they shall study the socio-economic situation of a distant place by looking at its photographs.
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