The Victorian government announced on 26 Oct that 12 school principals from across the state will visit India through the 2023 Women in School Leadership (WISL) professional learning program.
The principals will spend 10 days in October and November, learning from placements within Indian schools, and attending workshops alongside their Indian colleagues.
They will also attend the DIDAC Conference in Bengaluru, Asia’s largest exhibition for the education sector with over 34 participating countries.
Minister for Education Ben Carroll says the Victorian educators India tour will deepen Victoria’s cultural engagement and educational policy.
“This professional learning program gives some of our best and brightest school leaders the opportunity to collaborate with educators and school communities from across the globe – bringing back lessons that will help shape Victoria’s world-leading education system,” he says.
First run in 2019/20, the WISL program is part of Victoria’s India Strategy: Our Shared Future aiming to build intercultural understanding to support Melbourne’s growing Indian community. A subsequent visit from 12 Indian school principals is scheduled to take place in May next year.
Shashi Banerjee, Director of Education at India’s Shiv Nadar Schools, was a participant in the first iteration of the program, says the program made a huge difference to their school.
“The entire culture of the school got impacted beautifully by just their three-day presence on campus,” she said.
Doncaster Secondary College Principal Eva McMaster, who also participated in the program during its pilot, says it has changed her outlook on education completely.
“It was a huge eye opener, it debunked any preconceived ideas,” she said. “The generosity and the openness to learning from everybody, and the close relationship with our partner principals was a really positive way to balance the precious time we had.”
Minister for Multicultural Affairs Ingrid Stitt says the Victorian educators India tour program is a powerful chance to innovate to meet the needs of the growing Indian diaspora.y
“Creating strong ties with India is about sharing big ideas to make sure Victoria continues to be at the forefront of education in the nation – while embracing the cultural diversity that makes our state such a fantastic place to live.”
Alongside the continuation of the WISL, Minister Carroll has announced three schools in Melbourne will offer Hindi and Punjabi language programs from 2025, part of an additional $3.5 million initiative.
“We’re giving more Victorian students the chance to study Hindi and Punjabi to VCE level – building cross-cultural ties and connecting local students with the rich heritage of India,” he says.
VCE language study involves written, oral and spoken study, students being assessed on language proficiency as well as reflection on elements of culture.
The Government hopes creating these three additional Hindi and Punjabi programs will encourage other schools to implement their own Indian language program, boosting the number of students taking Hindi and Punjabi as a VCE subject.