SAIIER 2019:Ilaignarkal Education Centre

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SAIIER 2018-19
Ilaignarkal Education Centre


Started in 1976 as the first experimental prototype Outreach school for the workers of Auroville and their families, Ilaignarkal Education Centre has grown into a centre for overall education. We promote research on preservation of the language, local heritage, history, and lifestyle of the Tamil culture, always striving to be a bridge between Tamil speaking and non-Tamil speaking residents and developing sustainable communities.

Ilaignarkal harmonises internal and external development through an integrated working with children, young people, adults and communities. Its activities can be categorized into three Faculties:

1. Faculty of Humanology:

Ilaignarkal is a place of unending education, of constant progress, providing overall development to youth that never ages. It offers:
a) Primary English classes, vocational skills, hard and soft skills, adaptive and leadership skills, life skills, and personality development courses for the people of the Auroville region and collaborating and leading other youth centres.
b) Education on ethical practice in early childhood; courses for bilingual early learners in primary schools, alternative schooling, learning from children what to teach them.
c) Promotion of holistic education – Yoga for all ages, healthy cooking classes, development of herbal garden, health and healing courses.
d) A nodal centre for the promotion of traditional medicinal practice (Siddha), integral healing.
e) A place for counselling of children, adolescents and family.
f) Community and human resource development.
g) Scholarships for students from economically backward families.

2. Faculty of Tamilology:

Ilaignarkal is a site of cultural researches for a living embodiment of an actual human unity.
a) Research centre – research on Tamil Language, culture, healing techniques, demography, anthropological studies and organising workshops, seminars and international symposia.
b) Preservation and promotion of heritage with an educational approach through celebrations of festivals as well as arts and culture.
c) Publications – Newsletters and research article exposing young children to creating writing and encouraging young authors to write.

3. Faculty of Futurology:

Ilaignarkal acts as a bridge between past and future, taking advantage of all knowledge from without and from within, reaching and teaching diverse populations.
a) Pedagogy for teaching staff – innovative educational methods such as involving parents in their children’s learning, outside classroom methods, and method of Joyful learning.
b) Home, school & community collaboration; creation of sustainable communities.
c) Young creators and thinkers of tomorrow.
d) Managers and leaders of tomorrow, educational leadership, eco-system-based leadership.
Our vision is to strive to be a pioneer in providing overall development for students who will become beacons of progress, human unity and harmony, following the Mother’s Charter and guidance. Our core values are human unity, worker’s welfare and co-evolution of the neighbourhood.

Activities of the year:

April 2018:

  • Annual summer camp for girl students began. 20 students participated.
  • Annual Day of Ilaignarkal Education Centre was celebrated. Best Youth Award was conferred upon Ms. Muthukumari from Arulvazhi Education Centre. Best Staff Award was conferred on J. Ayyanar. A cultural programme was presented by the students of the classical dance workshop and summer camp.


Ilaignarkal 2019 - Best Youth Award 2018.jpg


May 2018:

  • Summer camp for girl children continued. The participants were taken to New Creation to participate in their annual day. An arts & crafts workshop was conducted by Mr. Selvam from Jwala Home, Pondicherry.
  • Mrs. R. Meenakshi conducted a session for Newcomers (soon-to-be Aurovilians) as a part of the Aspiration Programme, creating awareness about the history of Tamil culture and its integral part in Auroville.

June 2018:

  • World Yoga Day was celebrated. Around 100 participants attended the programme including students from in and around Auroville. A non-stop Akanda Yoga was performed and introductory sessions were conducted. The health benefits of yoga were explained and yoga sessions were conducted for children.


Ilaignarkal 2019 - International Day of Yoga.jpg


August 2018:

  • International Youth Day was celebrated in collaboration with Mohanam Cultural Centre.
  • We hosted 20 students of the Swadharma programme.
  • Four sessions of Management and Leadership Training were conducted by volunteering consultant, Sean Antonie. Staff from Oli School, Svaram, Kinisi, Yatra Arts, Mohanam Cultural Centre, SEWA, and Paavender school participated and benefitted from the programme.

September 2018:

  • Teacher’s Day was celebrated by the students. The event coincided with the celebration of Rabindranath Tagore anniversary celebrations. Teachers were felicitated.
  • Sri Aurobindo Birth Anniversary & Krishna Jayanthi celebration was held together.
  • Oli School teachers attended a workshop to learn folk and cultural songs, how to teach kids and to learn more about our culture.

October 2018:

  • Gandhi Jayanthi celebration.
  • Festival of Evolution – The concept of the theory of human evolution, transformation and divinity is well depicted through this doll show which is traditional and part of the Hindu culture. In the modern times there are interesting dolls that are so real and lively and give each Kolu a new dimension. The themes are chosen within the frame work of evolution. Students of Oli School, Vigneshwara School Sedurapet, Yatra Arts, Deepanam, Nandanam, Paavendar School, Aikyam School, Udavi School, Arulvazhi Education Centre, Isai Ambalam School, Rayaputhupakkam evening school, Kottakarai evening school, and World Peace Centre, Salem visited the exhibition and enjoyed the display learning the history and science behind the festival. Auroville Radio and Auroville OutreachMedia documented the event.
  • We celebrated Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam's birth anniversary initiating science and technology.

November 2018:

  • Children’s Day was celebrated with the students remembering the First Prime Minister of India, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.

December 2018:

  • Christmas was celebrated at Ilaignarkal. The students put together the nativity and recreated the birth of Jesus by hanging star and lights.

January 2019:

  • Celebration of Pongal festival, together with Mohanam Cultural Centre and the French Pavilion. It included traditional dances, games, stalls exhibiting overlapping cultural elements between France & Tamil Nadu, awareness talks, rituals, competitions and traditional health practice consultation (Siddha medicine). More than 500 visitors enjoyed the sweet rice Pongal and vegetable curry made from 28 native seasonal vegetables.
  • Republic Day celebration – Flag hoisting, rendering of patriotic songs and an experience-sharing session where the elders told stories of the liberation movement and constitution of India, marked the day. Siddha vaithiyar Thiru. Selvam hoisted the flag.


Ilaignarkal 2019 - Independence Day.jpg


  • We hosted a delegation of 16 students from the Swadharma programme for training in our Joyful Learning Programme, and shared research materials of our studies on tradition, history and heritage.
  • “Mahatma 150” – Ilaignarkal organised an exhibition during the last week of January, commemorating the 150th Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi displaying rare manuscripts, commemorative stamps, and documented moments of his final days which were beneficial to both students and teachers. The exhibition reached Ilaignarkal after travelling to 10 schools in Pondicherry.


Ilaignarkal 2019 - Gandhi 150 exhibition.jpg


February 2019:

  • As a part of the yearlong Golden Jubilee celebrations of Auroville, Ilaignarkal Education Centre organised an exhibition on Indo-Tamil-French cultural relations from 18th February to 28th February at their exhibition venue. The rich culture and heritage of both India and France are the highlights of the exhibition. Snippets of history in the form of vintage maps were displayed in both English and French. Images of handwritten correspondence of Napoleon Bonaparte, ancient French architectural landmarks and temples of Tamil Nadu were showcased in this exhibition. A detailed introduction to Tamil literary scriptures, the art and science behind Kolam, and the history of Pondicherry was displayed in French attracting a lot of tourists and visitors. More than fifty people visited the exhibition and were appreciative of the display. We express our gratitude to Shri. A. Arivan of Pondicherry National Museum for his efforts in organising the exhibition.
  • Mother’s birthday and Auroville’s birthday were celebrated with the staff and students, by revisiting the history of Auroville, its Charter and significance.
  • Project Vivekanandham was initiated by Ilaignarkal staff and visiting team of dHIVE, which included dHIVE co-founder, Krishna Thiruvengadam who received our Best Youth award in 2017. The sessions included facilitator training and introductory sessions with the students. The project is for 12 months duration.
  • Sharing Day was celebrated with our friends from far and near. Patrons of Ilaignarkal Education Centre from the bio region, literary circle, Voice of Peace group, participants of Project Vivekanandam and Aurovilians enjoyed a pleasant evening sharing their love and kindness.

March 2019:

  • The Executive, R.Meenakshi was felicitated as the editor of “Auroville SeydhiMadal” (which has been in circulation for the past 22 years) as a part of Women’s Day celebrations organised by the magazine “MagalirOsai” (Voice of Women) on the 22nd March, 2019 at the Puducherry Tamil Sangam.
  • Ilaignarkal Education Centre brought out their official brochure. Copies have been circulated to SAIIER, Outreach Board and other partners.

Miscellaneous activities:

  • Periodic interaction with nearly 20 female beneficiaries of BharathiEducare and their families, who receive support for education, health and social awareness.
  • Literary circles on Thursdays lectured by learned Professors, writers and poets, which completed 12 years.
  • Spoken Tamil classes to non-Tamil speakers.
  • Regular monthly visit of Siddha Doctor under health and healing project.
  • Monthly Voice of Peace gatherings at various centres within and around Auroville, where participants share their experiences.
  • “Auroville SeythiMadal” – the Tamil Newsletter successfully entered its 23rd year of publication. The newsletter has a wide reader base and patrons across India and even abroad.
  • “Vaasal” – the English Newsletter completed 11 issues successfully and looks forward to the new year to continue its fun-filled journey.

Outcomes:

We were able to spread the message of fraternity and harmony through our work. We believe in the ‘One world concept’ of Tamil leading us to the Universality.

Many residents of Auroville, workers, neighbours and friends of Auroville from far and near visited us and shared the experience.

Reflections:

Most meaningful this year was Project Vivekanandham. The project was initiated based on a request from the youth group of Vivekanandham community. The community consists of 25 families from socially and economically backward sections. The children of the community had no access to creative learning or extra-curricular activities and had approached Mrs. R.Meenakshi for guidance. Ilaignarkal Education Centre with the help of dHIVE designed a project aimed at instilling values, creativity, problem solving skills improving their confidence and team participation. The aim of the project is to come up with a productive result which will improve their lifestyle and make them independent socially, economically and politically.

It was a challenge to gain the trust and confidence of the children – to get them engaged. But the trained facilitators had many interesting tools that kept the children attentive and soon they were enjoying the programme. Many showed proactiveness and expressed keen interest to learn new skills.

This project highlighted how the the socio-economic situation of a community has is first impact on the children. It puts immense pressure on them and brings down the confidence level of the growing children. Therefore, the project was customised to bring the community together with participation from the parents and schools. We also included children from the other village communities, to create a more multicultural and inclusive environment.

Conclusion:

The past year 2018-19 was challenging in terms of financial support but was also rewarding in imparting knowledge. People of all walks of life, from far and near approached Ilaignarkal for guidance and support. This showed the trust and reputation of Ilaignarkal in the bioregion. The year also saw a growth in non-Tamil speakers showing interest to learn the language.