Research on the education of India's slum children, a Fulbright Scholarship project by Margaret Solomon, professor, Administration and Leadership, School of Education
On Aug. 10, Dr. Margaret Solomon will fly to India to embark on the second phase of her Fulbright Scholarship project aimed at educating the country's so-called "untouchables."
On Aug. 10, Dr. Margaret Solomon will fly to India to embark on the second phase of her Fulbright Scholarship project aimed at educating the country's so-called "untouchables." These children live in India's slums and frequently do not attend school. Her ultimate goal is to create in India a movement of professional learning communities comprised of teachers and educators of teachers toward achieving educational justice for India's slum children.
Between August and December last year Solomon carried out the first phase of her Fulbright project, living in India and providing lectures to teachers and educators of teachers, including talks at some of India's public schools. Her topics included literacy strategies that help students understand what they read in textbooks and how to process the concepts presented there. She discovered that teachers in India generally lack resources in implementing the country’s "Education for All" policy that is similar to the "No Child Left Behind" legislation in the United States. During her research visit, Solomon interviewed and observed teachers, administrators and students and collected qualitative research data in case studies of schools. She visited families living in India's slums and explored the experiences of students and teachers in the slum schools.
She discovered that when the children attended school they had a very positive educational experience and a wide range of achievement levels. Teachers also filled emotional support roles for the children as many came from homes where abuse occurred. However schools did not make special efforts to provide support and some schools did not provide lunches for the children, many of who arrived at school without food.
This extensive work has resulted in a second phase effort that will begin next month. Solomon will investigate how the education at selected slum schools is impacting students’ socioeconomic development, personal value change and extension of personal rights through democratization. She will interview teachers, students and parents in this process. Between Aug. 12 and Sept. 15 Solomon plans to visit schools in Bangalore, Mumbai and Chennai, prepare schools for intervention strategies related to the three human development processes, and collect more qualitative and quantitative data for a longitudinal study. She will also speak at a national education conference in Bombay called "InspireED," visit slum schools in that city and organize a team of educators to provide support for these schools utilizing a process she is developing.
Upon her return, Solomon will face another task, that of applying for a grant from the Obama-Singh 21st Century Knowledge Initiative, a combined $10 million grant pool that aims to strengthen collaboration and build partnerships between American and Indian institutions of higher education toward education reform, economic development and other goals. Shared activities between Indian and U.S institutions may include curriculum design, research collaboration and team teaching.