OU/BBC
02 Apr 2007

Term begins for Indian School

Indian School Girls

Indian School Girls

Indian School – a new, peak-time, ten-part Open University and BBC Four series which will broadcast in May – will offer a fresh perspective in one of the world’s powerhouse economies of the 21st century, through a focus on everyday school life.

The series is filmed by Lion Television Scotland, the makers of the award-winning African School, also an Open University/BBC co-production.

The series will also form a prelude to the BBC’s forthcoming season to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the independence of the Indian subcontinent.

Indian School aims to give a fresh perspective on life in India while highlighting some of the challenges faced by children, teachers and their families.

Indian School Boys

Indian School Boys

The series is narrated by Nikki Bedi, presenter of Desi DNA on BBC Two and host of the drive-time show on the BBC Asian Network.

The programmes will question what it is like to grow up in a country with the largest child labour force in the world, an ancient caste system and a bigger film industry than Hollywood. A place where the population grows by the size of London every year, new technologies emerge alongside the traditional industries and way of life.

Dr Giles Mohan, senior lecturer in Development Studies with The Open University, who advised on the series, said: "The series, based in two schools in the rapidly growing city of Pune, near Bombay (Mumbai), shows us modern India through the eyes of its teachers and students. We get behind the stereotypes of colourful spectacles and grinding poverty to see a fast-changing and contradictory society.

"One head-teacher talks about a 'bubble society' where the growing wealth of people in the information technology industry sits side by side with mass migration of poor workers to this burgeoning but polluted city.

"The students are aware of the opportunities that await them, but know this can only come through unbelievably hard work, which places huge pressures on their young shoulders. So, we see modern India in a new way. It's a picture of massive transformation, but one that builds on older traditions and one that looks set to change the world we all live in."

Taking a whole year to film, Indian School captures the events of daily life for students and teachers at two ordinary Indian schools across the school year. The highs and lows, dreams and disappointments of the characters will resonate - making the First XI at cricket, auditioning for the school play, coping with the uncertain excitement of first romance or the huge pressure of critical exams.

The similarities with the British education system only serve to accentuate the huge differences that also exist.

Dr Mohan continues: "The Open University is committed to delivering high quality and informative programmes as part of its remit.

"In a globalising world, it is vital to build shared understandings of distant and different places and people. From the perspective of development studies, it is important to open up understandings of economic, political and social processes occurring in other parts of the world, but which are affected by us and which also affect us.

"An example is the growing economic power of India, whose call centres we use. We interact daily with people we never meet and both our and their well-being depends upon these interactions.

"This is why we felt Indian School was worth making. Most people in the UK have a partial sense of what India is about. They may know it's changing, but changing from what to what?"

Editor’s Notes

Indian School is a series of ten 30-minute programmes co-produced by The Open University and the BBC. It is made by Lion Television Scotland.

The series will be broadcast in May 2007 on BBC Four.

The programmes form a prelude to the BBC’s special summer season of programming to mark the 60th anniversary of the independence of the Indian subcontinent which created independent India and Pakistan.

The Executive producer is Colin Cameron; the Executive Producer for The Open University is Emma De’Ath and the academic consultants for The Open University are Dr Giles Mohan and Dr Helen Yanacopulos of The Open University.

The Open University and BBC have been in partnership for over 30 years, providing educational programming to a mass audience. In recent times this partnership has evolved from late night programming for delivering courses to peak-time programmes with a broad appeal to encourage wider participation in learning.

All broadcast information is correct at time of issue.

For more information, interview requests, images and preview DVDs please contact Guy Bailey

For more information on the Indian 60th Anniversary season please contact Tim English of BBC Publicity.

Resources

Related Open University courses and awards:-
- ED840 Child Development in Families, Schools and Society
- U212 Childhood
- U213 International Development
- DU301 A World of Whose Making?
- F11 MSc in Development Management

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