SAIIER 2016: Arulvazhi Education Centre

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Green Playground Spaces
SAIIER Annual Report 2015-16 icon.jpg




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Well-being of adolescent girls through inner and outer means
Arulvazhi Education Centre


Introduction

In Tamil, Arulvazhi means “Way of Grace”. Arulvazhi Education Centre, situated near the Promesse Community of Auroville, caters to the educational and cultural needs of the children aged 3 to 18 years of the neighbouring village, Morattandi Chavadi, in the light of the teachings of The Mother and Sri Aurobindo. Over the years Arulvazhi has expanded its scope to include women’s education and also to serve as a platform for interaction with delegates from different parts of Tamilnadu and Auroville. Its aim is to provide value-based education in an atmosphere of simplicity, beauty, joy and harmony, wherein children develop naturally. Arulvazhi has a crèche and kindergarten in the campus; all other groups go to outside schools for their studies and come to Arulvazhi for the activities offered.

Activities of the year

Arulvazhi has seven areas of activities:

  • 1) Crèche and Kindergarten group where importance is given to the development and use of the sense organs, the cultivation of the aesthetic sense, the capacity to choose what is beautiful, simple, healthy and pure. (12 children)
A happy note from the crèche and kindergarten
This year, the crèche and kindergarten resource person, Nimila Arun, noticed that a pair of twins who were considered dumb started speaking after two or three months. Other parents reported that tiny tots who had been very quiet at home started blabbering some rhymes or words. The parents were very happy with this development.
  • 2) Primary school group with activities of daily physical exercises, stories, songs and drawing classes in the evenings. (33 children)
  • 3) Computer classes for beginners in the evenings, this year held from January to March 2016. (10 students)
Computer class syllabus (by R. Ganesh)
  • Windows: History of computer; Parts of computer; Switch on & Log off computer; Basic settings – change desktop background, screen saver etc.; Windows – Control panel, Accessories, Add or remove software; Up and running with MS-Notepad, MS-Paint; Keyboard shortcut keys; Unplug & plug computer cables; “My Computer”, “My Documents” and “My Pictures”; Basic typing skills using open source typing software – Klavaro
  • Microsoft Word: Create a new document and save it; Rename a document; Cut, copy & paste; Greeting card; Letterhead; Student registration form; Create a table; Mark list; Create a flow chart; Header and footer; Page setup and printing
  • Microsoft Excel: Create an excel sheet and save it; Rename an excel sheet; Cut, Copy and Paste; Page setup and print; Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication & Division; Create a mark list; Create a chart; Wages list; Sort and filter; Text wrapping; Insert & delete row and column; Typing skill practice
  • 4) Yoga asana practice in the mornings, facilitated by a qualified yoga teacher. (30 students)
  • 5) Adolescent girls' classes in the evenings, focusing on health education and social awareness, particularly in relation to gender problems and cultural expression. (10 participants)
  • 6) “Good Sportsman” programmes are held in the evening for a group of children. (10 children)
  • 7) Study of Sri Aurobindo's Savitri in Tamil as well as cultural education through slokas and stories.(20 participants)

Highlights of the year:

  • An educational tour to Maharishi Vethathri Yoga Centre was organized in May 2015, with 13 students and our yoga teacher M. Velmurgan as guide. There the whole group fine-tuned their knowledge of yoga practices. They all visited the Kodaikanal Flower Show and Palani Hills.
  • A summer camp with the theme “Wellbeing of adolescent girls” was conducted by M. Muthukumari from May 11 to May 31, 2015 for 20 girls. ([[SAIIER 2016:Well-being of adolescent girls through inner and outer means|See separate report.)
  • We celebrated the 1st International Day of Yoga on June 21st, 2015 at the Morattandi village community centre.
  • In September 2015, members of the Sri Aurobindo Centre at Chengleput visited Arulvazhi and enjoyed yoga demonstrations by the students.
  • Students visited the Matrimandir on October 19th 2015 and visited Sri Aurobindo's room on Siddhi Day, 24th November.
  • Students visited the annual science exhibition in February 2016, this year held at New Era Secondary School.
  • As part of our extension work, on February 14th 2016, members of our school visited the Sri Aurobindo Centre at Ottivakkam at their invitation. There they gave an asanas demonstration, demonstrated measuring the aura with a divining rod, and gave a talk on Mother and Sri Aurobindo and Savitri.
  • On February 28th 2016, Auroville's birthday, the students gave a yoga demonstration at Promesse community.
  • In March 2016 our students participated in the Saint Tyagaraja Music Festival.
  • In March 2016 the students ran a semi-marathon.
  • On March 8th 2016, during the Women’s Day celebrations at the Morattandi community hall, students gave a yoga demonstration.
  • On March 26th 2016, during the Tamilnadu-Auroville seminar conducted at Bharat Nivas in which delegates from centres in Tamilnadu, Puducherry and Auroville participated, the students gave a yoga demonstration.
  • Festivals including Independence Day, Saraswathi puja, Deepavali, Chirstmas, Pongal and Republic Day were celebrated and the inner and outer significances were highlighted.

Reflections

The most meaningful event of this year was the starting of regular badminton and volleyball games for children in May 2015 by Jothi Charles Rajan with the ideal of turning out good sportsmen. The Mother has enunciated the qualities of a good sportsman in the context of the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education in the Ashram. As the Ashram is the laboratory of Evolution created by Her, the code of good sportsman given by her is taken as the basis for sports activities for our centre. From the beginning of the games activities, every aspect has taken place with the active participation of the village children. A competition for “Good Sportsman” was conceived and first held in December 2015 for senior boys; two boys were given first and second prizes. In addition to the games, videos on volleyball coaching and documentaries on environment awareness and on the lives of great men and women of the world were screened weekly. It is proposed to improve this program further in the coming years.

Conclusion

All the programmes of the Centre were conducted with the collaboration of Varadharajan and Syamala, senior Aurovilians who had some direct guidance from the Mother on education. The beneficiaries of these programmes are children from the village who go to the outside schools, where they are mostly exposed to subjects of academic interest. Here the children are given the experience of values that Auroville stands for, at the same time connected to their roots. The impact on them and improvements in terms of human experience become quite visible when their relatives and friends visit them from other rural areas. We see a ripple effect of whatever they imbibe spreading among the peer groups of participating children, in their homes, friends and outside.

Our goal is to perfect more and more our methods in the light of the teachings of Mother and Sri Aurobindo.