Center for Further Learning and the beginnings of Future School
From an interview with Luk and Chali (by Sanjeev), 2010
Luk, in Auroville since age 8, grew up in an environment where schooling was non-existent or just being organized. He managed to study up to the 10th grade level with the help of teachers at Last School – Rauf Ali and some others. This was year 1987, and Last School was not organized to help beyond that. Luk enrolled for the GCSE ‘A’ level examination and found teachers for different subjects. He cycled to each teacher's home at a time convenient to them, and did his preparatory work all alone with whatever reference books he could lay hands on. Luk also saw that many Auroville kids had no option but to go to Kodaikanal International school or to the Lycee in Pondy. From this experience was born the idea to create Center for Further Learning.
The Center was conceived as a place where books and materials would be available and students could find tutors if available in Auroville. The idea was that it would cater to students of all ages.
Luk passed the building known as “curd-pots” every day, as it was between his house and Last School – it was an unfinished building, and he set his mind upon using it.
In 1992 Luk put his idea on paper and sought funding to complete the curd-pots. Chali joined him in 1994 or so, and together they saw that the building was completed. They opened Center for Further Learning (CFL) in 1995.
The school started as a facility available to all. It had a good support in the community. At the end of 1996, Peter Thurrell, a science teacher, opened “New School” with the help of some parents, and a lot of the high school students were there. But “New School” fell apart after about six months, and all its students, about 12 in number, moved to CFL.
It was at this stage that CFL took a direction quite clearly towards fulfilling the needs of high school students, in particular those wanting to sit for the GCSE, ‘O’ and ‘A’ level exams or the open school exams in the Indian system. The offer of ‘O’ levels by CFL created some tension with Last School, as some of its students also moved to CFL.
Luk left CFL in 2000. Chali continued as the coordinator after he left. At this time there was an offer from Gateway, a trust started by Ulli, to create a proper high school for Auroville. Gateway offered one crore rupees to build a new school.
In its initial conception, the new school was thought of as a facility to be used by different programs being carried out by CFL, Last School and After School. In particular a great need was felt to have proper science laboratories suitable for high school students. A big meeting of all those wanting to work in the high school was held. A wish list was made of all that was needed, priorities were set, small teams were created to work on different facilities (science labs, computer room, classrooms, etc.), and finally Piero was chosen as the architect. The foundation ceremony took place on January 1st, 2001.
Last School ended up opting out of the new initiative. After School (now New Era Secondary School) could not join either as it had become mainly an outreach school and did not have Auroville students. That left CFL to move into the new building, thus inaugurating Future School.