Continuity is so much a part of sustaining a successful course here in Bangalore. We are in a delightful period at present of having a cohort of students who are just handing in their final dissertations, a group undertaking research methods training ready to begin work for their dissertations, and another group who will begin their first module on Monday. This progression and engagment with students at different stages along the route towards the MA in Special and Inclusive Education is particularly rewarding for tutors.
The period of gestation leading up to the beginning of this course was long. It started with a meeting of colleagues and friends in a Bangalore coffee shop, with a simple discussion about the need to provide more training for teachers in respect of children who were being marginalised within the education system. As a result of these initial informal discussions we progressed to providing professional development for teachers in schools in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala and gradually gained the confidence to move towards an accredited course. Having established the courage to move forward towards a more clearly defined proposal, it took two years of planning through more formal meetings and university committees in order to reach a point where we could recruit our first cohort of students.
Earlier this week I had delivered into my hands the first ever completed dissertation written by one of our initial intake of students. I must confess I had not expected to feel so emotional as I did at this moment. Seeing the fruition of the commitment and dedication of my hard working colleagues and students in this tangible form was a moment to treasure.
In the sessions this week, students addressing issues and approaches related to educational research that are new to their experience, have demonstrated confidence and professionalism. When I think back to the apprehensions that many of them had expressed at the outset of the course, taught in a manner so different from their previous experiences, I feel a genuine thrill for the progress they have made. Each day they arrive in the classroom prepared to question and challenge, debate and participate with great gusto and expertise. The workshops activities we provide are grasped with enthusiasm making our lives as tutors so much easier.
As our first cohort comes to the end of their formal studies on this course we are already aware of the difference they are making in their schools. As they report the changes they have made in their classrooms, and the impact they are having on the lives of children and their families, we become increasingly convinced that we have colleagues here who will be important leaders in the development of inclusive education in India. Some will return to their classrooms and apply learning for the benefit of children, others will assume leadership roles as school principals and will hopefully be able to steer their schools towards more inclusive ways of working. At least one student has already decided to continue her studies with us and to conduct research for a PhD.
Wherever their paths may take them it is our intention to keep them together as alumni of the university and to share in their anticipated accomplishments in the years to come. I look forward to Monday and meeting our new group as they begin this journey.