Ilaignarkal Education Centre
Ilaignarkal has an anytime school for Auroville workers of all ages and their wards, providing further learning programmes and courses in essential life skills. It also conducts regular workshops on personality development and leadership training for young people, both men and women.
Ilaignarkal has been in operation since 1977 in the field of educational and vocational training.
Approach, Methods and Curricula
From its inception, Ilaignarkal has been helping village workers and their children around Auroville to learn and enhance their basic skills and knowledge base. The school has been reaching out to the most difficult cases in society, such as school drop-outs, slow learners and illiterate village workers who are forced to go out and earn early in life due to economic pressures during childhood. The school has already touched the lives of more than 6,000 students since its inception, by giving an appropriate space to improve basic skills in language, math and the arts, plus gaining simple skills like typewriting, computer know-how, tailoring, gardening etc, leading to a qualitative improvement in their lives.
The school has a free-progress customized style of education designed to fit the special requirements of its students. With only two full time staff, most of the teachers and office staff are voluntary workers from neighbouring schools, ex-students, visiting lecturers and other specialists in their field and profession.
The present school building consists of three class rooms, one library and an office room plus two open halls with kitchen and dining area, open-air centre square, shower and toilets, dormitories to temporarily shelter trainees and staff. The school has a good protected water supply, a kitchen garden, waste water recycling plant, rain water harvesting system and a small multipurpose open play ground for outdoor games and large gatherings. One spacious room has been allocated to house SEWA (Small Employer Welfare Association) to bridge employer – employee relationship that is very close to the objectives of Ilaignarkal Education Centre from the beginning. All the rest of the activities, such as mass classes, are held outside in the open areas, usually under trees.
Ilaignarkal hosts an annual Children’s Book Fair, Tamil literary workshops, teachers training programmes, youth and children exchange projects and other cultural activities.
Aspirants to Auroville and new Aurovilians join the special classes on Sri Aurobindo, The Mother and The Ideal of Human Unity. Certain interest groups attend personality development courses conducted annually three to four times i.e. for taxi drivers, household workers and teachers.
Ilaignarkal has started a mobile (bi-cycle) library for the benefit of Auroville workers and their children living in remote areas. It’s called BHARATHI Mobile Library with a wing of Readers Forum in hamlets, at the close proximity of Auroville city, taking advantage of existing Youth groups and night schools supported by SAIIER.
The target population being reached is living in circumstances of illiteracy and earning capacity of only INR 2,000 to 3,000 per month. Most of the workers who have benefited from the school’s day and evening programmes are wage labourers, women workers, school dropouts among the youth, and difficult children for the day school, and staff of various units of Auroville who aspire for further learning and sharing their experiences.
ஆரோவில் செய்திமடல் / Auroville Seythimadal
To reach out to the students and their families and friends of Auroville, 12 issues of the monthly Tamil newsletter "ஆரோவில் செய்திமடல்" (8-10 pages) are published every year. This newsletter has completed 15 years of its continuous existence. It is well received by a wider circle of readers increasing every year. Most articles are on Tamil culture, history, the words of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, – bilingual language programmes, literary letters, extracts of biographies on great personalities. Creative writing, research articles, children’s corner, book reviews and focus on Auroville regional news is included as well. In addition, two or three special issues are released as supplements.
Books and booklets
Ilaignarkal has published more that 10 booklets on various cultural and heritage topics. These include:
- The Bullock Cart Wheel
- Kolam - The Traditional Floor Drawing
- மொழி வளம் பெற: Translations of literary creations of poetry - Tamil, English and Bengali
- Palmyra Tree and the Native People
- புனிதச் சமையமல் - பாகம் I: தென்னிந்திய மரபு சைவ உணவு; பாகம் II: மூலிகைச் சமையல் முறை (Sacred Cooking - Part I: South Indian Traditional Cooking, Vegetarian Recipes; Part II: Herbal Cooking)
In 2013 Ilaignarkal brought out a special issue on Perumukkal petroglyphs, rock drawings from the ancient civilization of the Perumukkal hillock, 20km from Auroville.
- Phone: 0413-262-3773
- E-mail: tamil (at) auroville.org.in
- "Ilaignarkal Education Centre: Towards 40 Years in dedicated service", 2013