In the heart of Viluppuram district, Tamil Nadu, the Auroville foundation claims to educate around 800 children through different models of schooling. From outreach schools, to transitional schools and skill based learning centres, Auroville aims to create a holistic education system for the children of locals and the foreign residents. “Our vision is to promote the overall development of children which is guided by the Mother’s (Mirra Alfassa) vision,” Antim Singh, an Aurovillian under the foundation, told FE Education Online.
According to the residents FE Education Online met and spoken to, Auroville has different kinds of schools based on the needs of students and the vision of the community. Much like other parts of the country, the town follows a primary, secondary and higher secondary education system. However, each school seems to be dedicated to a purpose. For example, the transition schools in Auroville aim to convert students into mystic beings. Similarly, the Deepam schools in the town are meant for students with special needs. Auroville further offers regular learning to students through the New Era Secondary School (NESS) – a Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) affiliated school. The school follows the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) syllabus. “Students who wish to study outside the town under the state board, are free to do so,” Parthasarathy, working committee member, Auroville, said.
Further, the town which runs in the form of a socialist economy, claims to offer free education to children upto a certain level. However, formal education is not compulsory in Auroville as per the residents. Parents can home school children. Nevertheless, the town has the arrangement of pre-schools such as crèche and kindergarten for the early development of children between 2.5 to 7 years of age. Besides, Auroville is said to have a higher education system in place which is claimed to be funded by the Ministry of Education, Government of India, among other international bodies. In addition, Auroville has several research bodies such as Auroville Consulting which works towards building policies of sustainable development.
The medium of instruction in schools in Auroville is said to be multilingual. According to the foundation, teachers in Auroville use Tamil, English, French, or Sanskrit depending on the language diversity of the classroom. Special efforts are made to remove the language barrier between the locals and the foreign residents to facilitate learning as well as community living in the town, the foundation said. “Earlier, the education system here was not so developed. However, now they have all sorts of arrangements which are further getting better,” Jaya, Auroville Town Development Council, said.
Auroville is an experimental township in the state of Tamil Nadu founded by Mirra Alfassa, a spiritual guru, occultist and collaborator of Sri Aurobindo referred to as ‘The Mother’ by the followers. The town houses around 3,000 residents from around the world including France, Germany, Italy, among over 50 other countries. Educational development is claimed to be an important aspect of this community which aims to raise the spiritual consciousness of students along with imparting general education. “Auroville is based on the philosophy of unending education, be it spiritual or skill based. And we are tirelessly working for it,” Muriel, researcher, content creator, Auroville foundation, said.