SAIIER Annual Report 2014-2015: Arulvazhi Education Centre

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Arulvazhi Education Centre


Introduction

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

Activities of the year

Arulvazhi has seven areas of activities:

  1. Crèche and kindergarten group for 12 children: Importance is given to the development and use of the sense organs. Along with this is added the cultivation of aesthetic sense, the capacity to choose what is beautiful, simple, healthy and pure.
  2. Primary stage children group for 32 children: Physical exercise daily, stories, songs, drawing classes in the evenings.
  3. Computer group for 8 children in the evenings.
  4. Special yoga asana group for 35 children in the mornings.
  5. Adolescent girls group for 10 children on Sundays and general holidays: training in asanas, cultural expression, health education, and social awareness, particularly in relation to gender problems.
  6. Special games and sports group for 10 children in the evenings.
  7. Savitri in Tamil and cultural education thorough slokas and stories on Saturday evenings.

Highlights of the year include:

  • An educational tour of 15 students, 3 captains, and one yoga teacher was organized to Maharishi Vethathri Yoga Centre in Pollachi, a Kundalini yoga centre in Tirumurthy hills at Udumalpet, where the students fine-tuned their knowledge. They also visited Kodaikanal and saw the flower show, and went to Palani Hills in May 2014.
  • Students gave yoga asana demonstrations at several events:
    • Moratandi village temple festival
    • Seminars in November 2014 and March 2015
    • Sports festival of Auroville at the New Creation sportsground
    • Sahitya Academy childrens’ writers’ workshop held at Ilaignarkal school
    • Inauguration of Morattandi Community Centre, sponsored by the Auroville Foundation
  • Festivals like Navarathri, Deepavali, Pongal, Christmas and New Year days were celebrated bringing out their inner significance. Independence Day, Sri Aurobindo’s birthday on 15th August, and Republic Day on 26th January were celebrated. On Sri Aurobindo’s birthday, the children gave a cultural demonstration in Bharat Nivas after the hoisting of the flag.
  • Children were taken to the Matrimandir inner chamber twice, and to Sri Aurobindo’s room and the Mother’s room, to experience the special atmosphere.
  • The students and teachers were invited by the Cuddalore, Chinglelpet, Trichy Sri Aurobindo Centres to give demonstrations and had useful interactive sessions there.
  • Our students performed a short Telugu drama during the celebration for Saint Thyagaraja Aradhana in Bharat Nivas on 1st February 2015.
  • The teachers and students participated in the various Auroville birthday week celebrations, and in the annual science exhibition held in New Creation.

In May 2014, a summer camp was held for about 50 children for 20 days - see separate report.

Outcomes

The beneficiaries of our programmes are children from the village, who go to outside schools, where they are not exposed to the idea of Human Unity, let alone experience Human Unity in practical life. These children are given the experience of the best of Auroville, at the same time without losing their roots. There is an improvement in their human experience index and this is quite visible when their relatives and friends visit them from other rural areas.

Among the Kindergarten children, two of them who were not speaking at all began to speak three months after they joined the classes; their parents were very elated with this progress.

We see a ripple effect among the peer groups of participating children, which spreads what is learned through our centre to others.

Reflections

In his “Renaissance in India”, Sri Aurobindo stated:

The method of India is to discover the spirit within and the higher intensities of the superior powers and to dominate life in one way or another so as to make it responsive to and expressive of the spirit and in that way increase the power of life. Its tendency with the intellect, will, ethical, aesthetic and emotional being is to sound indeed their normal mental possibilities, but also to upraise them towards the greater light and power of their own highest intuitions. The work of renaissance in Indian must be to make this spirit, the higher view of life, this sense of deeper potentiality once more a creative, perhaps a dominant power in the world.

But to that truth of itself it (India) is as yet only vaguely awake; the mass of Indian action is still as the moment proceeding under the impress of the European motive and method and because there is spirit with us to which they are foreign, the action is poor in will, feeble in form and ineffective in results, for it does not come from the roots of our being.

This objective is to be gained following the guidelines of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo on Education: “To love to learn is the most precious gift that one can make a child, to learn always and everywhere”; “...the finest present one can give the child would be teach him to know himself and to master himself”.

Future direction

Our goal is to perfect more and more our methods.


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