Under History on the NIRMAN website you find out that NIRMAN was started as a confluence of three streams of activity: research with artisans, research into education, and research into work, including the unseen work of women. To this came to be added research on the arts, and on modernity.
How does all this produce an expertise in International Education?
NIRMAN’s interest in education is multi-dimensional. There is a problem of not only illiteracy but of a poor level of learning in Indian schools and universities. Similarly, developed countries like the USA need a good dose of exposure to subjects and experiences in developing countries for their students to be well-educated young people. India needs to learn better, but it can also teach those who ostensibly already have a good education. This teaching includes all the subject areas of the arts, languages, and the social sciences, and to some extent science, technology and management as well. As a result of this thinking NIRMAN has put its International Education programme in place in which students are invited from the developed world and everywhere else, to take courses that use the best methods and syllabi to experience and learn from India. These are imaginatively developed to combine the classroom with the street, lectures with field experiences, and library research with practicums. A course on artisans, eg., will include reading on the economics and sociology of artisanal work, and also long hours spent in artisans’ workshops and homes that will give substance to the readings. In short, the aim is “excellence in education,” whether for school children or university students, Indians or international students.
NIRMAN has also developed a strong component of internships and research projects within its course structure. One of its mottos is “Each One Teach One” which means (in its slightly carelessly rhyming way) addressing the importance of each and every one realising that we should not merely learn from those less advantaged than us but ensure that they learn from us too. We at NIRMAN feel strongly about the fact that while it is relatively easy for the well-educated and prosperous to travel internationally and participate in programmes abroad, there are some people in the world who never go anywhere. How wonderful if through their interaction with us they at least get to see, hear of, know and learn things beyond their daily lives (just as we are doing), and experience the freedom of roaming distant places at least in their imaginations. Add to that the contribution we can make in teaching all kinds of topics and subjects that are in short supply in India: gender, health and environment workshops, western music and dance, theatre, sports, colloquial English, reading and books-related activities, and a myriad other things. NIRMAN takes pride in merging such work with its college-level courses.
Finally, NIRMAN’s vision in its International Education programme is to intervene in the modernization and globalisation that is occurring all around us through it education and activism. Instead of accepting the world as divided up between the old and the new, the traditional and the modern, the developing and the developed, we can educate ourselves to perceive that the two sides are mixed up in each other, that there are indeed far more divisions than these that are more meaningful, and that there are important lines of connection that go way beyond nationality and civilisations.
Join us at NIRMAN for a unique journey in learning!