When Sakina Bharmal started teaching Cambridge Global Perspectives™ eight years ago, she could not have predicted the impact it would have on her students - or her.
From supporting the visually impaired to raising funds for people living with HIV, the course has made a real impact on the community around the Galaxy School - Wadi in Gujarat, India’s westernmost state.
Such a positive impact, in fact, that the subject is now compulsory for the school’s students at Cambridge IGCSE and is being extended to younger year groups too.
‘I used to teach geography, and I still do, but I started exploring Global Perspectives when it was a new course. As a school we wanted to bring in something which was not just limited to a textbook.
‘We wanted to train our students to be part of the thinking community which brings solutions to global problems and widen their perspective, not limited to India but across the globe, because we are trying to make them global citizens.’
Encouraging collaboration, creativity, and empathy
Sakina believes Global Perspectives helps students develop the 21st century skills that will help them in the workplace. Galaxy chooses to teach the programmes alongside an emphasis on community service, bringing a softer benefit too: empathy.
‘In school we definitely focus on 21st century skills so collaboration and creativity are the two important things that the kids are really gaining.
‘I now have students coming back after they have gone to college and saying thank you for taking us through this journey, because they realise that the skills we taught them are helping them now.
‘One more important thing that I'm observing is that students are developing empathy. That is the key thing that is required today - I may not be part of a particular problem, but when I see things around me at least I am empathetic, and I am helping the communities which are less privileged.’
Practical solutions for global problems
Sakina's students have covered hundreds of topics over the years, but she is particularly proud of two projects that started in the Global Perspectives classroom but took on lives of their own. The first started with a research project looking at HIV.
‘The students were researching HIV and AIDS, and the lives of people who are HIV positive around the globe.
‘They found some people who agreed to publish their work as a book, which was sold, and the money went to support students who are HIV positive or have parents who are HIV positive.’