Today was another full day in school with an early start. Our taxi took us to school in time for the Primary Sections assembly at 7.45. The children led the assembly as usual to over one thousand of their peers. At the assembly they shared Hindu stories, poems, and an amazing Gujerati stick dance (this is a traditional dance of India). Children stood in their classes outside in the playground; their assemblies always take place here. Even though it was so early we were still very hot. The assembly finished with the Indian National Anthem and the children quickly and quietly moved to their classrooms (Can you sing ours?).
We visited a Year 5 class first this morning where we got to work straight away with our activity. The children worked extremely hard and were proud of their work. We noticed that, in this class today, there was just one teacher with forty children.
Next on our tour we visited the dispensary. The doctor who works full-time at Sir Padampat Singhania Education Centre told us that she is a very busy lady. Not only does she look after children who are unwell and administer medicine but also she checks all of the students’ height and weight every six months. Can you imagine how much time it must take to do this for over three thousand students?
As in all classes, all of the children in the Year 6 class we visited stood to greet us as we entered their classroom. They also stood up whenever the teacher asked them a direct question as a mark of respect. The children were in a maths lesson learning about triangles and quadrilaterals. They calculated missing angles using a formula. What do the angles of a triangle add up to?
Our journey through the school took us to a Social Studies lesson next. Here the children were learning about climate and temperature differences around the world. The children were keen to answer their teacher’s questions and to share their knowledge. The teacher asked them to close their eyes and imagine themselves in a desert; she described the heat, sounds, weather and animals that would be there.
Harpreet was keen to take us to their extensive library next. We were amazed to learn that you would find a book to help you answer any question, over fifty thousand in total. How many books do you think are in our library and what differences do you notice?
We then made our way to Harpreet’s class where there was a substitute teacher. When we went into the class they were very keen for her to teach them. She was delighted to do so and not only taught the children but also us all about the French Revolution and its’ aftermath. We were learning so much and the children were so knowledgeable that we pleaded with her to continue, want to come and work at Pakefield Primary School, Harpreet?
All of the children except the very youngest started their playtime at 11am. The children mixed on the field and played happily together. There were games of volleyball, cricket, football and basketball being played and children were also buying their snacks from the outside canteen. Harpreet took us to the nationally acclaimed botanical gardens which were situated on the edge of the field. Here there were species of rare plants that featured in the life of Buddha.
To finish off our time with the children today we observed a music lesson, an art lesson and a textiles lesson. We noticed from these that boys and girls were in separate classes for art and sewing and then they swap.
We met with Bhawna and Harpreet in the school museum to present them with the wonderful artwork from our school. Both Harpreet and Bhawna loved the art work and said they would have all twelve pictures displayed in the school. Bhawna promised us that she would send us a picture of this when we are back at school.
When school had finished, Harpreet drove us to her mother’s house for lunch. Her mother and sister-in had spent all morning preparing a delicious lunch for us to enjoy. As is traditional in many Indian families, Harpreet’s brother and his family live with her parents. The food that we ate included; homemade, roti, homemade pickles, soya curry, vegetable curry and kidney beans in a special gravy – these were all really tasty! After eating, we enjoyed playing schools with Harpreet’s niece and talking to her family about the similarities between life here and in Lowestoft.
Our next stop in our busy day, was to meet Aarkarshan at the Sir Padampat Singhania Temple, near the school grounds. This was amazing, we were privileged to be allowed to visit parts of the temple that were out of bounds for visitors and the Library where there were more than five thousand books all on one topic – Hinduism. We were not allowed to take photographs in here.
To finish off our day, Harpreet drove us to her local Gurdwara that she attends with her family. All of us had to cover our heads as a mark of respect. We enjoyed seeing where Harpreet and her family spend their time. Do you know what a Gurdwara is?