SAIIER 2019:Arulvazhi Education Centre
|Arulvazhi Education Centre|
In Tamil language, Arulvazhi means ‘Path of Grace’. This Education Centre, situated near the Promesse community of Auroville, caters to the educational and cultural needs of the children between age 2.5 to 18 yrs. of the neighboring village, Morattandichavadi, 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.
Activities of the year:
1. Crèche and Kindergarten
In this group 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.
There are eleven children in the group between the 2.5 yrs. to 4 yrs. They are provided with clay materials, picture identification cards, puzzles, charts, and other materials to develop the sense faculties. They are taught rhymes, to draw pictures and play games and also simple basic words in Tamil and English.
They are given supplementary nutrition also. The classes are from 9am to 12:30pm, 5 days in a week. The mothers are encouraged to come along with their children (this is not mandatory), so that they learn how to better take care of children and provide a good ambience at their homes.
The children are growing in a caring atmosphere without coercion. Some children who do not speak in their houses (due to domestic circumstances) get to express freely in words and rhymes; they are very happy to come to school. The parents even would like us to start offering primary class sections. The children also participate in celebration of festivals and functions in the school, we take them on outings to places like Matrimandir, Ashram, etc.
2. Primary school group in the evenings
We offer extracurricular activities for about 40 children from 1st to 5th standard of the village govt. primary school from 4:00pm to 6:00pm, 5 days a week.
Apart from games and yoga they are taught dance, songs and basic computer knowledge.
Twice a month we take them to places connected with education, including farm visits in Auroville and visits to the Planetariuam and science exhibition in Pondicherry. They are provided healthy supplementary nutrition and stationary items and uniforms every year.
Sports day and Arulvazhi's annual day are celebrated each year with great enthusiasm, where students showcase their proficiency in each activity.
The final year (oldest) students are given mementos and certificates of participation. The government school teachers appreciate that these students participate in interschool competitions and win prizes. The parents of the children also feel very proud. Through involvement in our centre these children get a more all-round education, not just academic education.
3. Computer class
Basic computer knowledge is taught to students of age group 9 yrs to 15 yrs. Resource persons Ganesh and Muthukumari conduct these classes according to the children’s requirement. Children learn with great enthusiasm.
Benefits of Yoga asanas and meditation are so well-known that they do not need any reiteration. The daily activities are conducted from 6am to 7:15am for about 35 students from 5th to 12th standard, 6 days a week. This takes care of the overall wellbeing of these students. They practice meditation, Pranayama, Asanas, Kriyas and Mudras.
As part of the exposure to other yoga centres an educational tour was arranged this year to Vethagiri Maharishi Yoga center in Pollachi, Kundalini Yoga center in Udumalapet, and Kodaikanal nature camp with visits to Palani Hills and Trichy en-route. 15 students, 3 captains and 1 yoga teacher participated in this trip over 4 days, from May 26 to May 30, 2018. Children experienced series of practices like Kayakalpa, concentration exercises, Pranayama, and trekking.
Children gave several yoga demonstrations for different events including: Auroville's 50th year Tamilnadu Seminar in Auroville, International Day of Yoga in Bharat Nivas, Auroville's birthday celebration in Promesse, and Women’s Club Sports Day in the Morattandi community hall.
5. Summer camp
A summer camp was held for about 40 students for 10 days in May 2018.
The resource persons Syamala, Varadharajan, Bhuvanasundari, Sudarshan, Thillai Ganapathy, Velmurugan, Nimila, Muthukumari, Anandou, and Saravanan from Aranya shared their experiences and knowledge through various activities.
This summer camp created space for children to learn and express their inner talents, and also experience different educational activities including: education about physical awareness, life history of Mother and Sri Aurobindo, flowers’ spiritual significances given by Mother, twelve psychological qualities in the Mother’s symbol, traditional healing with local herbs, history of Aranya forest, aims of Matrimandir and of the Ashram.
6. Wellbeing programme
Wellbeing classes integrate concepts of the functioning of the body systems, principles of primary health care, nutrition, the body’s energy system and healing. This programme is conducted for village women every Tuesday. It includes education about natural healing therapy, yoga therapy, massage, acupuncture, nutrition, health education and awareness program sessions for children, caring and nutrition support for old age women in the village, and Stewardship/Leadership training in Auroville for women participants.
This year 15 women were regular participants. The beneficiaries feel the loving care and healing energy. Most of the women who attend are exposed to this knowledge for the first time.
After one year of classes, participants felt the difference in their health conditions: diabetes, blood pressure are maintained within the accepted parameters, normal mensural cycle without pains, body felt less heavy, and obesity reduced (data documented).
Every year in all areas of activities we are progressing step by step and there is overall general improvement. But still we have to move forward, as our beneficiaries are going to outside schools and coming to us on a part time basis. We are always fine tuning our efforts to suit the day-to-day contingencies.
When there is the holistic approach comprising young and old, there is a lot of goodwill generated between village and Auroville.
The outstation delegates coming from Sri Aurobindo centres from the length and breath of Tamilnadu for Tamilnadu seminars held in Auroville are highly impressed with our centre, and often invite our team members to visit their centres for sharing knowledge for mutual benefit.