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Greenacre teachers India experience

PUBLISHED: 14:19 16 October 2008 | UPDATED: 09:15 11 May 2010

Sandra Sullivan's visit to India

Sandra Sullivan's visit to India

A GREENACRE Primary school teacher has described her “unforgettable” experience of teaching in a deprived part of southern India.

Sandra Sullivan, 37, from Great Yarmouth, took up the temporary post at Nandi Layout school, in Bangalore, during a summer placement.

Photo of Sandra Sullivan's visit to India

A GREENACRE Primary school teacher has described her “unforgettable” experience of teaching in a deprived part of southern India.

Sandra Sullivan, 37, from Great Yarmouth, took up the temporary post at Nandi Layout school, in Bangalore, during a summer placement.

She said the hours were long, and teaching was eight lessons between 8am and 4pm with only half an hour for lunch, and the work did not finish with lessons.

“We were divided in to five school groups and were working in pairs. The children would receive medical attention, sometimes a haircut and if necessary, delousing treatments.”

She added: “There were also courses for parents as many fathers living in the slums were addicted to alcohol. In fact, there was more alcohol abuse then drugs. Sometimes it would be down to the fact they couldn't find work, so depression sets in and the alcohol takes over and they wouldn't be able to keep a job. So it becomes a vicious circle.”

And Mrs Sullivan revealed: “A number of the children came from snake-charming families which means they were up very early in the morning. Some of them, who were aged between four and 14, were left to their own devices.”

Mrs Sullivan taught most academic subjects including art, music and literacy at the multi-faith school and she enjoyed watching the children take pleasure from drawing and painting and their work included a colourful “hand-print” tree.

Her dream experience came about after seeing a report in the Mercury's sister paper, The Advertiser, earlier this year asking for teachers to undertake temporary teaching assignments for deprived areas of India. She followed it up and was selected to go to Bangalore.

The scheme known as Travelling to Teach is a summer placement programme for UK teachers to assist in some of the world's poorer regions during the school summer holidays. It is organised by the company GapGuru.

Mrs Sullivan had to raise £2000 to undertake the visit. She said: “If I could afford it, I would certainly do it again. I was accommodated by a host family and got to know the families and their children well. We have bonded and I will be keeping in touch with them all.”

GapGuru has previously encouraged gap year students to undertake assignments during their gap year but Mrs Sullivan said there was a need for qualified teachers to help out in the urban areas.

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