Twelve school principals from across the state of Victoria visited India late last year, through the 2023 Women in School Leadership (WISL) professional learning program.
Paired with twelve principals from schools across the Delhi/NCR region in India, they participated in a two-week immersive program.
Spanning from August 2023 to May 2024, the program engages school leaders with a focus on ‘Leading schools for social change’.
Reflecting on the WISL India program, Sally Webb, Principal of Cranbourne Carlisle Primary School, shared, “The Delhi experience helped me better understand Indian culture, which was my hope, given the high percentage of Indian families enrolled in our school. The highlight of the trip was time in schools.”
Swarnima Luthra, Principal of ASN Senior Secondary School, Mayur Vihar Delhi spoke about the collaborative efforts during the immersion program, stating, “During the school immersion program, we have developed a strong connection and exchanged ideas for holistic development of the learners. We created a plan wherein Social, Emotional, Physical, Intellectual wellbeing of learners could be taken care systematically, and at the same time nurturing requisite attitude, values, and life skills in the learners.”
Writing about the experience later, Tania Sorbello, Principal of Fitzroy North Primary School observed, “Spending time with vocational educational leaders through the 2023 Women in School Leadership Program has left me inspired and energised. What I thought was going to be a Venn diagram exploration of the similarities and differences between the Australian and Indian education systems, soon revealed itself to be an overlapping circle, as we explored the deep commonalities we share as we strive to improve the academic and personal and social outcomes for the children entrusted in our care. Looking forward to the next steps of undertaking a collaborative action research project with my Indian partner principal, Asha Prabhakar. My deepest gratitude for the honour of representing the Victorian Department of Education and the Asia Education Foundation. “
The Indian principals will visit Australia for a reciprocal immersion in May 2024.
In the interim, all participants will continue collaborating, engaging in online workshops, masterclasses and participating in coaching sessions, laying a strong foundation for future collaboration and cultural exchange.
The WISL program, aligned with Victoria’s India Strategy: Our Shared Future, is part of a trio of school education initiatives enhancing engagement between Victorian and Indian schools by the Victorian Department of Education. The unique initiative has fostered connections between exceptional women principals in Victoria and in Delhi/NCR.
Meanwhile the Victorian Principals marked the Hindu Festival of Lights Diwali at their respective schools last year.
The celebrations were diverse, featuring special assemblies, captivating performances by Indian-background students and staff, rangoli and candlelight holder making, and a delectable spread of Indian cuisine. This festive extravaganza provided an opportunity for the Victorian schools to embrace and appreciate the cultural diversity of the second fastest-growing community in the state.
The Women in School Leadership (WISL) Program, an initiative by the Victorian Department of Education, is developed and delivered by Asia Education Foundation (AEF) in partnership with the Australia India Institute and Melbourne Graduate School of Education at The University of Melbourne in Australia, and the National Progressive Schools’ Conference (NPSC) and O.P. Jindal Global University in India.
For those interested in learning more about the WISL program, additional information can be found on the Asia Education Foundation website here: https://www.asiaeducation.edu.au/professional-learning/wisl. Follow #WISLVicIndia on social media for program updates.
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.