Students visited schools in India as part of the FINDIgATE project.
Seven Master’s degree students in different fields from Laurea visited India in January to study the country's education system, especially from the viewpoint of children’s well-being. During the two-week trip, the students visited local schools and day-care centres, where they interviewed pupils and their teachers. The purpose of the interviews was to collect data for the students’ theses.
The research carried out by the students in India was part of the CIMO-funded FINDIgATE project, which is coordinated by Laurea University of Applied Sciences. In this project, Laurea partners with the University of Turku and three Indian universities.
- The goal of the project is to study and compare the Finnish and Indian education systems, in particular for the part of pre-primary and primary education. The principal focus of the project is on children's well-being and developing methods that support it in both countries, explains Sanna Juvonen, who serves as the Project Manager of this project at Laurea.
Students from different fields
In Laurea, the project was launched last autumn, and Master’s degrees students of different fields were invited to apply to it. On the basis of their applications, students in such fields as service design and the management and development of social rehabilitation, and students in the English Master’s programme of Global Development and Management in Health Care, were selected to participate in the project.
- We hoped to involve students who were as different as possible, and one of the selection criteria was that the research in India could be part of each student’s thesis, says Sanna Juvonen.
- The starting point was the project’s theme, which the students could link to their own study and themes that they were interested in. The students thus focused on such topics as nutrition or digital applications in early childhood education in India.
Two groups, which consisted of Laurea representatives as well as students and teachers from the University of Turku, visited three destinations in India: Loyola College in Chennai, KIIT University in Bhubaneswar, and IIT University in Kanpur. Led by their Indian guides, they visited both public and private pre-primary and primary schools in these cities, including organisations maintained by the third sector.
- This was the first visit to India both for me and many of the students. Everything went well, however, and the locals looked after us well, Juvonen recalls after the trip.
- The Indian culture is totally different, and I now realise that you have to experience India to learn to understand it.
Indian project partners visiting Finland in May
Strong contrasts were typical of India, and during the visit, Juvonen also noted a great difference between slum schools and expensive private institutions. The common factor was an extremely communal culture, which impressed the Finnish visitors.
- The incomprehensible level of communality is an important factor in people's well-being in India. When people live so close to each other, they look after all children, both their own and their neighbour’s, and children are not left alone in the same way as in Finland, Juvonen describes.
After their return to Finland, the students continued analysing their research material. In May, the Indian project partners will come to Finland for a return visit. They will collect material for the Indian students’ theses and, among other things, familiarise themselves with the Finnish school system.
Read also Master's degree student Amanda Talmadge´s story about studying in Laurea and participating in the FINDIgATE project.