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DPS Ghana pips 50 schools to top Cambridge IGCSE exams

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Accra: The Delhi Public School Ghana left behind around 50 schools to top two levels of the 2015 Cambridge International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) examinations in the west African country.

DPS Ghana, which is part of the Delhi Public School system of India and is present in over 150 countries, came on top in both the 2015 Ordinary and Advance level examinations, school founder Mukesh Thakwani said.

Developed over 25 years ago, Cambridge IGCSE is one of the world’s most popular international qualification for 14- to 16-year-olds. It is recognised by leading universities worldwide, and its curriculum offers a variety of routes for learners with a wide range of abilities, including those whose first language is not English.

“The idea of the school in Ghana is to help build society rather than make money out of an educational facility,” he said.

Thakwani, who is also the owner of the B5Plus Steel company in Accra, said that when the school was established, his dream was to make it the best in west Africa.

Two years after it started, two students won the national mathematics and Spelling Bee competitions to represent the school in Hong Kong and the US.

One of the students, Vishal Thakwani, who won last year’s Spelling Bee, has now been named Ghana’s brand ambassador.

“It is not only the school that is winning laurels, I have been awarded the West Africa Personality of the Year by the West Africa magazine,” Mukesh Thakwani said.

He said the DPS Ghana which started in 2011 with students from the west Africa region only, now has students from 24 countries across Africa.

“This is fulfilling my dream of making DPS Ghana an educational landmark in west Africa to provide affordable education for all.”

When Thakwani arrived in Ghana, his desire, in addition to his steel company, was to build a top class school whose fees would be affordable to all, but with a high level of teaching.

He was able to establish the school 20 years after he arrived in Ghana.

“We took a loan of $16 million with my personal guarantee to ensure that the school is built to an international standard,” he said.

“One can describe it as part of B5Plus’s social responsibility in the country, but it is also my personal belief that when you want to build a society, you must develop the people through education and that is why DPS Ghana must be seen as serving society rather than an economic venture,” he said.

Thakwani attributed the school’s success to the way teachers were committed to their work by providing extra classes to weak students after school.

The school has also built an amphitheatre with a capacity of 2,000 as well as a sports complex as part of its efforts to provide holistic education to its students.

Ghana has a substantial Indian community, numbering about 10,000. Some of them have been in the country for over 70 years. Business activities of Indians in Ghana have led to the country being the second highest investor in Ghana in terms of number of projects.(IANS)(image: urbanpro.com)

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The Unconventional Way of Learning: Textbooks Come Alive in Gujarat’s Schools

Outdated teaching methods, lack of interest among students and teachers, and gender discrimination were some of the common problems.

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Outdated teaching methods, lack of interest among students and teachers, and gender discrimination were some of the common problems. Pixabay

 In a small school near Bhuj in Gujarat, a group of class five students sit attentively in class, their eyes glued to an LCD screen. The opened science books on their laps have come alive on the screen before them, as an animated character explains the nuances of the chapter in their native language, Gujarati. Efficient learning, experts say, happens when students enjoy the experience, and in hundreds of schools across Gujarat, digitised school textbooks are opening up children’s minds like never before.

Learning Delight, the hand that is turning the wheel of change in 10,000 government schools, mostly in rural and semi-urban areas across the state, has been digitising the state curriculum since 2011, and has the approval of the Gujarat Council of Educational Research and Training (GCERT). The idea is simple: use technology to aid classroom teaching to make the learning process more engaging, more efficient – and definitely more fun.

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This led the two to use technology and design, an e-learning tool that would aid classroom teaching.. Pixabay

So much so, that in a survey done in 350 schools where they have a presence, Parinita Gohil, co-founder of Learning Delight, said, “The dropout rate among children studying between Class 1 and Class 8 has come down by 6-7 per cent in the past five years.”

It all started a decade back when two friends, Harshal Gohil and Vandan Kamdar, who were doing their MBA, realised that there was a huge gap in education between schools in different settings. Outdated teaching methods, lack of interest among students and teachers, and gender discrimination were some of the common problems. This led the two to use technology and design, an e-learning tool that would aid classroom teaching.

“Harshal and Vandan began with a survey in five schools. Here they found that although there was no dearth in infrastructure – the schools had computers – there was scepticism about using them,” Parinita Gohil, who is married to Harshal Gohil, told IANS. The resistance mainly arose because “most teachers were not comfortable with the English language, were scared of using the computer, and apprehensive if the computers would replace their role”.

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There has, however, been an exception in this digitisation process – the language textbooks, be it English, Hindi, or Gujarati, have been left out. Pixabay

Therefore, the offline computer software that they developed was designed in such a way that a teacher’s presence was necessary in the class. The medium of instruction was Gujarati. “So be it any subject – science, math, social studies – the content was digitised in a way that through animation, riddles, puzzles, and stories textbook learning is made more interactive and fun,” Parinita Gohil said. The experts who designed the digitised content also had teachers on board.

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There has, however, been an exception in this digitisation process – the language textbooks, be it English, Hindi, or Gujarati, have been left out. “We don’t want children to leave reading their books. So, while we have digitised the grammar lessons, language textbooks have been left as they are,” she said.

Next in the pipeline is a mobile phone app being developed with a similar software and a foray into Rajasthan, for which software has been developed in Hindi and in tandem with the Rajasthan state education board. (IANS)