TMNP (India) https://www.tribalmensa.org operates exclusively for the underprivileged sections of the society. It aims for talent identification and nurturing for students coming from remote tribal communities, slum areas and underprivileged socio-economic strata who lack adequate educational and financial opportunities. This visit to talent points in Europe (Hungary and Netherlands) was aimed at understanding how different talent centers and talent points operate. The main objective of this visit was to share learning experiences from other talent centers from a functional and operational view point and to discuss possibilities of future collaborative research.
Visit to Prof Albert Ziegler Working Group; Nürenburg
At Nürenburg University we visited the working Prof Ziegler’s working group. We visited their talent research center and met his PhD students and fellow researchers. It was informative to visit the counselling facility and to interact with the staff there. We gained insights about Prof Ziegler’s 10 resource program and its facilitation by a tool (questionnaire) used at the counselling center. We discussed possibilities of collaborative research pertaining the Panchakosha Model (Nurturing Program) and our data sample with Prof Ziegler’s doctoral students. Dr Desai gave a lecture introducing TMNPs work to the working group. Later, we were shown the technical laboratory and the studio which hosts training workshops and activities for gifted students. At lunch, we had an interesting discussion about future collaborative works and possibilities to work on research from TMNP data set with Prof Ziegler.
Visit to Radboud: Prof Lianne Hoogveen’s working group
We were warmly welcomed by Prof Hoogveen and her working group at Radboud University in the Netherlands. We were shown around the campus and were invited to join a meeting which discussed about application of RITHA program at different educational institutions around Europe. Conversations with members from other educational institutions about giftedness identification and nurturing were enriching. It was interesting to see the wide spread application of RITHA program and was motivating to see their work with talent identification and teachers training. On the next day we were given the opportunity to visit a public Gymnasium (school for the gifted) and interacted with the supervisor of the school. He very kindly explained us about the identification and selection criterion of the school and the way teaching programs run. It was interesting to see how students are taught to take responsibility by letting them choose their curriculum and devising an allied research project. We also discussed the working differences of public schools and private schools which cater for children who are gifted as well as children with special needs. On the following day, we visited Prof Hoogveen’s working group. We had a chance to interact with many of her research colleagues and discuss research ideas pertaining TMNPs student database. At dinner, we met the Prof Monique and Prof Lianne, and discussed about possibilities of getting RITHA program to India. We discussed possibilities of how the program could be tailored to Indian needs and for being suited for teachers working in tribal settings.
Hungary; Visit to Talent points and Centers:
Dr Desai and Dr Shetti visited different Talent Points from Hungary for an exchange of ideas and to see how other Talent Points operate. The visit was arranged by the colleagues of the European Talent Centre, which Centre is part of the European Talent Support Network.
The visits to the Talent Points was coordinated by Csilla Fuszek, the director of the ETSN.
The first visit was to György Bessenyei Secondary School and Dormitory – Kisvárda.
Here, there was a detailed interaction with the director of the school Bíró Gábor, who very kindly spared a lot of time and insights about the school administration. György Bessenyei Secondary School provides high-quality education for gifted students who have varied set of talents and coming from different backgrounds. The school also caters for students coming from underprivileged backgrounds (especially to the Roma community). The school and its staff have brought about a very significant reform in education standard with staff evaluation process wherein educating the educator is addressed. This has rendered in a very high-quality standard education of this institution. Periodic staff evaluation has made education a very iterative and evolving process. Dr Desai also took a lecture about Indian philosophy and Dr Shetti spoke about environmental topics with high school students. The school staff very warmly showed the school, the campus and students training facilities and dormitory. Director Bíró Gábor is doing extensive work to address students from Roma community (an underprivileged ethnic minority all over Hungary) for making education easily available and motivating parents from Roma families to educate their children. It was a very enriching experience to visit this school and dormitory.
The second visit was to Nóra Ritók – Igazgyöngy Alapítvány (Realperl Foundation)- Berettyóújfalu:
Nóra Ritók, the founder of Real Pearl foundation works for the betterment of the underprivileged Roma community in Hajdú-Bihar County. Using art as a medium to create bridges between ethnic minorities and mainstream communities Nora uses art (painting) through an after-school academy to bring children from Roma communities together. Dr Desai and Dr Shetti visited her NGO and one of her work sites in Hajdú-Bihar county. Her approach of art and creativity to break socio-cultural barriers has brought about a remarkable reform in the local Roma community. With her pioneering work, Nóra has started self-help groups in the community which now produce local handicrafts which include paintings, sauces and locally produced food products. With this initiative, she has been successful for motivating parents to educate children and find a livelihood. Local with products are available at her NGO and on their online portal. Many paintings done by children and women from this community have received international awards. This experience was very key to understand how work with talent and giftedness in underprivileged communities has resulted in new coping and thriving mechanisms for societal uplifting. This was a very nice model to see how non–academic education and creativity can bring about change in society.
The 3rd visit to a school in Hejőkeresztúr:
170 km east of Budapest is the village of Hejőkeresztúr. Dr Desai and Dr Shetti from TMNP with Csilla Fuszek visited a school for underprivileged gifted students in Hejőkeresztúr. The special pedagogical program of the school was started by Dr K. Nagy Emese. As a director she was the pioneer in the institution to introduce the so called Complex Instruction Program (CIP) with the aim of educating students coming from low income families – many times from Roma communities- in the area. Besides the CIP, by using other various educational approaches students from this school rendered national and international excellence. Looking at the progress, students from higher socio-economic status were also attracted to this school. Started as a single school program by Dr K. Nagy Emese, this school is now a benchmark for other schools for gifted students in Hungary. Her relentless efforts have caught the attention of the Hungarian education system and is now taken as a protocol for other intuitions. The educational program follows the baseline of complex instruction program designed initially in the US and then modified K. Nagy Emese and her colleagues. We saw examples of the instruction program by attending a Math class and History class. The approach had collective and individual work for students in a classroom. This enabled every student to identify his or her own role in group work as well as stimulated him to focus on individual work. The teaching pattern was very a novel approach which seemed to make learning experience much interactive and stimulating as compared to normal lecturing in class.
The entire trip was a very enriching experience, with interesting discussions with academicians like Prof Ziegler and Prof Hoogveen who are working at the front for sensitization to giftedness to interactions with institutional heads like Dr Bíró Gábor and Dr K. Nagy Emese to social reformers like Nora Ritok who are working with underprivileged sections of the society. There are many common as aspects and differences in education system that we could observe from an Indian context. Certainly there was a great learning experience we had from this trip. We see that future collaborative work with academicians and NGOs alike would pave a constructive way for Tribal Mensa Nurturing Program.