Why yes. How astute of you. I have been in Newcastle studying since November, but for part of my Masters course we were all encouraged to visit a developing country to carry out a small scale research project as well as collect dissertation data. I guess I should have posted about why I am in India before posting that I’m here, but hey, better late than never!
This trip is actually sort of split up into 3 sections in my head. Placement, dissertation data gathering, and shenanigans. Obviously the shenanigans category is the most exciting and consists of shopping for sarees, going to rooftop bars in Hauz Khas, riding elephants up to forts, gawking at the Taj Mahal, etc. but in order to justify all of the fun I’ll be having, I do need to fulfill the requirements of my course. Apparently investing in a graduate degree is only beneficial if you actually graduate.
What is placement?
This is one of the modules for our Masters course. Essentially it is the practical application of the skills and concepts we have been talking about in our first semester courses. You weren’t required to go abroad to complete this course, but it was an appealing option for me. Each of us will carry out a small scale research project while on placement. This blog is another part of the requirements for this course – a daily record of my time in India. We will also complete annotated literature, do a presentation of our small research project and complete an essay. Specifically regarding my time in India, I will be doing my placement with a great organization called the Centre for Civil Society (CCS).
They are a well known and established think tank based in Delhi that have a group of researchers specifically focused on education policy. During my time with CCS I will be looking at the Indian Right to Education Act (RTE) and how the RTE has impacted budget private schools in the area. My hope is to visit some schools that have been closed down or have received notices that they will need to shut down in order to gain a better understanding of whether or not the RTE laws are being implemented fairly.
Yesterday was my first full day in the office and it was great. Several members of the team I’ll be working with are currently in Malaysia for a conference so I won’t meet them until next week, but the staff that is here are very welcoming and helped me get set up. This week I’ll be focusing on background research and reading about the RTE and impending school closures before heading out next week for site visits to various schools in East Delhi.
How about that dissertation data?
Yea, there is also that. While I am here I will be spending the afternoons working with my classmates to collect data from several schools that I can use to write up my dissertation once I am back in Newcastle. I will be focusing on collecting data relating to ambitions. Specifically I am hoping to look the difference between students, teachers, and parents at three types of schools. Private, government, and low-cost/budget private schools. I want to know what their definition of success is, what they believe will help them be successful and if there are differences between the three types of schools regarding student achievement and optimism for future success. Feel free to say a prayer I get all the data I need!
It’s not everyday you get to be in INDIA. I fully intend to make the most of it. We have already spent a good amount of time taking in the sights of Delhi and I am SO excited to see more. I will be going to Jaipur and Varanasi with my classmates over the next two weekends. Then another friend is flying over during Newcastle’s spring break to join us for the final 10 days. We will be going to Agra to see the Taj Mahal, then Jodhpur and Bangalore, before flying back to Newcastle at the end of March. It truly is unreal to have all these opportunities. I am so aware that it is a privilege to be able to travel and I am grateful for an opportunity like this where I can study something I’m passionate about in a brand new context and see beautiful sights along the way.