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Volunteer or Apply for Teacher Fellowship at Adharshila Learning Centre for the session 2017 – 18 Beginning October-2017 We ...

Adharshila Learning Centre is a unique school for adivasi children in Madhya Pradesh that views education as a tool for liberation...and a place of fun.

The Adharshila Learning Centre was started in 1998 by the Veer Khajiya Naik Manav Vikas Pratishthan.

The children have an active role in running the school.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Annual Report 2016-17

Adharshila Learning Centre

Monsoons are a good time to start...

The dusty landscape becomes darkl green connected with clear dark brown lines. Tar roads shining black with green borders, leading ahead with every turn. The gushing water in the stream like veins, gives a much needed adrenaline rush to the farmers, waking them from their slumber of lazy summer afternoons. Shoving them in rickety, wet, overcrowded jeeps which take them to the dirty towns to look for cash loans, seeds, fertilizers, ropes. Back home, a plough has to be repaired. The leaking roof has to be mended. The rain facing wall is to be repaired. The list is never ending.

To this hectic schedule another ‘to do’ topic has been added on the list of more ambitious Barela adivasis - looking for schools, hostels to ‘put’ the children.

The bad breath of the year, washed off and forgotten. Hey, let’s start afresh!

Monsoons, in fact, are a very good time to start.

New Admissions

Like every year a meeting of parents seeking admissions was held on 25th June. 24 new children were admitted taking the total strength to 123. This year the proportion of girls was better than last year – almost 20%. All of these are adivasi children. Three children from the slums of Bhopal also took admission but went back soon after. One homeless child from Indore is still with us. He has jelled completely with the local children here.

The first fifteen days were spent in making the newcomers comfortable. They learn the ways of Adharshila through teachers, meetings and senior students. They tag with seniors from their villages or relatives.

Setting the School

The first month is hectic for us too. We have to get the school and teachers back into gear. In the summer vacations we have all become different persons. We have to re-member ourselves. Or is it vice-versa?

Teams of students and teachers divide tasks to set up the school - cleaning, finding charts, books, games. Putting things in place. Making the monthly schedule. Working on the farm. A team of Karyakartas is made from the middle school children to take responsibilities of the various aspects of the school work. From the mess, TV, animals, cleaning…. there are karyakartas for as many as 15 tasks. The Karyakarta team works with the teachers to run the school. Planting trees, consolidating the green fence of the open campus. Making the mess functional.

For us personally this was a very trying year. It was one of those nasty years, which becomes a special chapter in a biography. At the time when all this action was happening; our minds and bodies were totally engrossed in pouring over the net to research some weird disease which had befallen on someone very close. Meeting doctors. Ayurveda treatment or not? How long. Tantrums. Depression. Why us? We were lucky to have good friends and family which helped us tide over this very difficult and emotionally sapping time.

It was also a learning experience which started by Ayurveda challenging all the urban middle class notions of nutrition and health. This was the most difficult part. There is extremism even in health systems. It is surprising that we couldn’t find a single allopathic practitioner who was willing to incorporate the learnings of natural healing/ Ayurveda. Although ‘nutrition,’ sounds such a mainstream health concept, it has absolutely no space in the allopathic treatment. Surprisingly, lot of American doctors are recommending, body cleansing, diet control, yoga and meditation, lifted straight from Indian health systems.

           Adharshila Organic Farm

It’s a tradition at Adharshila that all children work on the farm. The work is allotted according to their age. While the elder 7th – 8th class boys help the teachers in ploughing with bullocks which were trained by the slightly younger lot. Yes the bullocks have to be trained at a particular age. If not trained at the right time they become lazy. This is a fun job for the boys who make a wooden ghisra to sit on while the bullocks run on the road.

They help in watering whenever there is electricity, carrying the manure to the field, weeding, mulching, plucking vegetables, weighing, writing everything. In the end they calculate the per guntha yield of each vegetable.

In the process they learn to make Jeevamrut, pesticide from leaves and organic growth promoters. They learn that lot of weeds are edible and we should leave them in the field to be used in the kitchen later. Most importantly they learn that things grow without bringing in chemical fertilizers and poisonous pesticides from the market. And the sheer joy of harvesting basketfuls of vegetables is unforgettable.

This year besides vegetables we left two plots for fodder for the animals. Our cow gave birth to a she-calf. Thanks to her the children got to eat khaato, a source of lactobacillus, all year round, made of curd from about 210 litres of milk and urine to feed the soil bacteria.

The children and teachers ate more than 40 quintal vegetables - gourds, tomato, pumpkin, ladyfinger, various types of beans, brinjal, spinach and fenugreek. Besides this we got pulses to last for about 2 months.

The smaller children invariably make their own small plots of bhindi, brinjal, tomatoes and methi. They just like to sit there, water the plants, put a drip and keep doing something.

One of our aims was to create a residential school model which is Sustainable on its own as far as possible. This year we spent much less on milk and vegetables. In terms of cash it would mean a saving of at least Rs. 50,000/- .

     Fence and Forest

This year about 200 plants of trees and bushes were planted. Hopefully they will be cared for. This was done on Independence Day with involvement of parents and college students mobilised by Adivasi Chhaatra Sangathan. Tree planting of late is becoming a ritual. It needs to be taken seriously and done systematically. One thing which we were not able to do is to make a new tree plot for fuel wood.

During the term end holidays at least 40 children planted about 500 trees in their villages but on a rough estimate about 140 are still going strong.

Aloe Vera was planted to re-enforce the already existing Green fence. More work needs to be done on the fence.

Water Conservation
Teachers and the 8th class children dug trenches on the border of the farm to catch rain water and planted thorny plants on the bunds. 8 - 10 trenches - 8'x 3' x 2' - were dug during the morning shramdaan time. The Middle school children also learnt to make contour line using an A-frame. Making the farm furrows along the contour lines is also a very nice way to stop water from flowing out of the field.

Why should children be made to do work of adults?

A question came up on face book about making the children do adult work. Some urban people are not comfortable with the idea of children being made to work in a school. A lot of people have grown up thinking that education and schooling are synonymous and the only link of children and work they can think of is child labour. 

We are very clear about this from the very beginning. Work constitutes an important part of our lives. This is a residential school where children have to do all their personal work like washing clothes and take part in community work like keeping the campus clean, helping in cooking, taking care of trees, grazing the animals, helping on the farm and teaching, maintaining the library....There is no shame in doing physical work. All the children belong to households whose parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters are engaged in hard physical work to earn a living. When we go by urban society’s value of looking down on physical work we learn to look down on our parents. And the only path of emancipation we see is to get out of this world of physical labour. In fact to neutralise the low value given to physical work by society, at times we glorify it. In a sense it is true also. Everything we desire or consume is the result of someone’s labour. 

Some work is voluntary, some is compulsory. We strongly feel that everybody should be doing physical work. Schooling totally alienates children from physical work. And we feel this is not right. For us it is not just about ‘learning by doing’. Work in itself is an important component of the curriculum. Children use their hands and bodies to explore their surroundings right from birth. But somehow the schooling is designed in such way as to make them physically useless

There are values attached to physical work – dignity of labour. There is this issue of the inequality of payment for physical and intellectual work. 

There is a very different attitude towards work as far as farming communities and urban middle class is concerned. The discourse on work has to be rethought. A child being forced into work due to poverty is something which has to be fought tooth and nail. But this should not translate into not making children do any physical work except workouts in gyms. 

The challenge is that all that is needed to be done should be done by personal initiative. This is only possible if their is a feeling of attachment with the place and a sense of ownership and this doesn't come easy.

A Class in Progress

Now that the planning is done and the farm, animals and other things have been taken care of let’s get to the schooling part.

This year we had 11 adults to look after the 125 children divided into 9 groups from 1st to 8th class and one extra group of children who have joined after passing 5th or higher class from other schools. This group works like a bridge course. The 1st to 5th groups are based on their official class but their level is taken into account and their groups are changed after 6 months if needed.
The Teachers – Like most schools of the country, getting energetic and committed teachers, who also know the subject, is the biggest problem. Though we have MA and MSc, BSc teachers but their subject knowledge is not up to the mark. Also one needs to put in a lot of effort to help children learn. Mostly for committed teachers, sharing of experience is the best way to learn, how to teach.

To improve their subject knowledge, like every year Dinesh and Shersingh attended a one week middle school science teacher training programme conducted by the NGO, Eklavya in Hoshangabad.

?? We wonder how they can become facilitators, mentors and not just subject teachers??

Initiatives by Teachers

We tried to motivate the teachers to take initiative and do some activities. But many more miles to go on this road.

  • Evening discussion was organized with middle school children on social issues such as changes in the traditional marriage system, unemployment, crises in farming.
  • Shersingh, who is also an ex student, formed a youth group in his village, Jhiri Jaamli. The group meets once in a month to discuss the village problems and ways of improvement. This group has stopped sale of liquor and gambling. During the process the group even had a tiff with the police as they had taken bribes from shop owners. The group was successful in getting the money back from the police.
  • One teacher participated actively in general knowledge competition organized by a local adivasi Sangathan, about 120 children participated. Teacher was in charge of collecting questions and conducting the exam in one centre.

The Children
Like everywhere the children are much more lively and enthusiastic than the adults. At Adharshila, besides studying the text books, children do a lot of activities like making toys, observing nature, collecting things.

During the monsoons, rain and water are natural themes for discussion in the science class. Different groups did a variety of projects based on the theme - Rain. Two groups made instruments to measure rain and kept a record of the daily rainfall. Some children observed insects of their own interest and some learnt to make Jeevamrut and organic pesticide. Different groups record some daily observations, like – temperature, birds, sunrise, sunset, and diet etc. - a part of the science curriculum.
Making a rain gauge

Making Methane from dung

Art, craft and singing are also routine activities of the day.
Some workshops and projects done during the year 

Mask making from waste paper and mud, and soft board making from waste paper which helped children to understand the concept of zero waste. We are trying to make recycling into a regular activity by incorporating a Recycling Day in the time table besides using waste material for craft activities.
  • Conducted training to make mufflers, woollen caps, ear bands, hand bands, and bags from waste plastic. Importance was given to develop psychomotor skill of children.
  • Children interviewed elders to identify medicinal plants in their area. According to the information collected from elders, children planted medicinal plants in small herbs gardens.
  • Children also identified 120 edible wild leaf vegetables around Adharshila and surrounding and also made gardens. We routinely put these 'wild' plant leaves in the daal and we know that they are not to be removed while weeding.
  • Origami and Kirigami workshops were also held this year.
  • A workshop to learn to repair the spinning wheel was held.
  • Group activity was organized to understand how much fuel is being used in hostel mess and children also discussed how to reduce the expense for fuel and concept of clean fuel.
  • Organized discussion on environmental pollution and possible solutions,
  • Conducted debate on Samoohik Vivah following Hindu marriage ceremony being propagated by government.
  • Conducted discussion on adivasi culture, struggle to retain culture and process of sanskritization being pushed by government and other religious forces.
  • Painting competition was organized, 120 children participated.

Children’s creative writings - Some write-ups by Adharshila children were selected and published in Chakmak, a leading children's science magazine

Computer Class

Thanks to our well wisher, Vibhor who brought two laptops and agreed to install the politically incorrect windows as there are hardly any politically correct computer nerds in Sendhwa, the middle school children learnt some basics of computers and Hindi typing. Hopefully this year they will take these skills forward and will be able to do some real work like documentation, slide shows etc.

Important Days

Premchand Jayanti - Although reading books from the library is a routine feature but Premchand Jayanti gives an opportunity to focus on the theme of storytelling. Children wrote and narrated stories in class - folk, self written and from the library. The children also wrote essays on various topics. A special assembly was held where the teachers told the children about the style and contribution of Premchand in Hindi Literature.

Chandrashekhar Azad Jayanti - was also celebrated where children read his life story and made his sketch.

Independence Day - Parts of the film, Bharat Ek Khoj by Shyam Benegal were shown besides the regular function where children sang patriotic songs and did skits based on the theme of Independence struggle.

The flag hoisting is always done by important local people. This year the village patel was invited. He is a traditional healer and known to be a good person in the village.

Sharaab Mukti Diwas – Discussion followed by essay writing on use of alcohol in the village and problems created by its abuse.

Republic Day - Children delivered small speeches on various topics

Teachers Day was celebrated on 5th September.

Hindi Diwas was celebrated on 14th Sept. Children wrote an essay on the topic - मेरी प्रिय पुस्तक।

Sports festival - apart from in-door and out-door games, school organized fun games for both children and teachers.

Social intervention by children

One of the main reasons for starting Adharshila, an adivasi school was to inculcate a sense of pride in the children about their culture and history and to keep them connected to the various peoples’ struggles. We feel this is important to develop self esteem and confidence in the adivasi children.

Singing of folk songs, celebrating local festivals, telling and documenting folk stories, talking in the local language even during class all these activities are encouraged and are part of the school curriculum.

Middle school children went to two local markets –Sendhwa and Palsood for four days and interviewed Shop keepers, farmers and wage labours to understand the impact of demonetization on market, agriculture and common man. After that there was a discussion on demonetisation’s reason and effects. Children also wrote essays on the same topic.

One social intervention project to figure out ways of reducing fuel wood usage for which the children calculated the fuel wood expenditure in the school mess.

Children’s theatre group (Naatak India Company) performed a play Two Wheels of a Cart about the problems of Adivasi women in Mahila Samelan, organized by Jagrut Adivasi Dalit Sangathan in Pati block of the district.

To give children and teachers an exposure about the adivasi cultural movement in the country, 20 children and 4 teachers participated in Vishwa Adivasi Divas function (World Indigenous day) held in Barwani, the district head-quarters. While children performed the dance based on the song Gaon Chhodab Nahi. They were awarded Rs 2000 by viewers for encouragement. Teachers Majli and Sher Singh got a chance to give a speech in front of a big audience.

Two ex students participated in the National Adivasi Rally and cultural programme held in Delhi in September.

What are some of the Ex students up to

Kamal Dudwe, doing PhD, Economics in the Allahabad University was selected for the Rajiv Gandhi Fellowship. He was also selected for the National Fellowship for Higher Education. (JRF)

An ex student, Suresh Dudwe got admission for PhD, Hindi Literature, in the Tamil Nadu Central University.

Vijay Kharte, who did ITI after 10th from Indore, got a job in Dubai.

Two ex-students are taking active part in the Adivasi Mukti Sangathan, while working on their farms.

Vijay, passed 10th with 85% from Excellence School, Barwani and has been selected to study in Indore.


Vaibhav (Ashoka Fellow) came to see the work of children and presently he is helping the organization in documenting the curriculum.

Vibhore (Phd scholar from US) came for a week and brought two laptops .Children is learning typing and also watch films related to curriculum.

Shwetha (TISS, Hyderbad) came for 15 days took English class while writing a report for her project.

Two groups from two NGO working in the field of education have visited to observe the teaching practices in Adharshila. One was a team from Shivpur district who runs school for children of Paardi tribe who have been displaced has visited Adharshila. Three day workshop on education was conducted with them. The other team was from Ekalavya working in Tamiya block, Chindwara district also came for two days .Workshop was organized on project based learning. Both the schools have started some activities and projects in their institution which they learned from Adharshila.

Teachers and supervisors from Eklavya came for three days .Children showed them school and work done over the years by putting up an exhibition.

Shuchi, from Azim Premji University joined the Adharshila team and she is looking after the English language development of children and management of library

Trustee Meetings
Two Trustee Meetings were held this term to sort out administrative problems. All these years the trustees were passive observers. This year we thought of involving them in the growth of the school. It was decided to continue this practice.

How We Survive 

Right from it’s inception it was decided that Adharshila will not take institutional funding for running costs. 

For the last 19 years we have been standing by this resolve. Barring two major costs of purchasing the land and building a pucca library we have not taken institutional funding. All the rooms and equipment have come from the funds raised from parents, local community and friends or through the work and theatre of children.

We are trying to raise vegetables, milk and pulses and fuel wood from the six acre plot of land.

The parents contribute towards fees by giving grain, pulses and cash. The Adivasi Mukti Sangathan, one of the founders of the school decided not to give free service. The school was visualized as an

Organization funded by the community.

About 60% expense is raised through local contributions. The rest are raised through donations from friends or through sponsorships @ Rs. 10,000/year/child.

Some funds are raised through crafts made by children and by staging plays prepared by Naatak India Company in mass programmes.

Volunteers also help in teaching regular classes and to take special workshops like origami, spinning, English speaking etc.

This year some friends who helped the school financially were Sayani Dasgupta, Anjali Dhamija, Joe John, Nataasha Badwar, Autar Kaul, Raj Dulari Kaul and Sanjeevani Wanchu, R. Ravi and S. Srinivasan.

Thanks for the patience.

Adharshila Learning Centre 

Run by 

Vir Khajiya Naik Manav Vikas Pratishthan 

The Veer Khajiya Naik Manav Vikas Pratishthan was set up in 1997 to promote the all round development of adivasi society. The main focus of its work until now has been in the fields of education, organic farming and youth awareness. 

The VKNMV Pratishthan is registered under the Societies Act and Sec 12A of the Income Tax Act. 



09685843272, 08889289196 

Look us up on the web www.adharshilalearningcentre.org 

Sponsor a Child @ Rs. 10,000/ year 

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Volunteer or Apply for Teacher Fellowship

Volunteer or Apply for Teacher Fellowship at
Adharshila Learning Centre for the session 2017 – 18
Beginning October-2017

We are inviting volunteer and Teacher Fellowship applications for the session of 2017 - 18.

You qualify for a Teacher Fellowship only if you spend one full term – 3 months – or more at Adharshila. (The term is slightly shorter than 3 months but you will be expected to prepare for the term and write lesson plans based on your teaching experience in the remaining time.) For this you get a small stipend, food from the mess and a shared space on the campus.

For shorter periods you are a volunteer for which you don’t get a stipend, just food and lodging.

Since, we have already found fellows for the first term, those who are interested can select either of the following terms for the fellowship-
1.                                                         Term 2: October 2017-December 2018
2.                                                         Term 3: January 2018-April 2018.

Expectations – As a volunteer you will be required to assist in the regular subject classes. In the remaining time you will be expected to help in office, farm, mess, engaging students who need extra help or any other activity where there is a need. If you have some special skills like art, music, dance, craft etc. then you can do these regularly for the time you are there or in a workshop mode.

As a Teacher Fellow also, you have to do the above tasks. But as your period of stay is longer you can choose to do a project of your choice on your own or by engaging children/teachers with you, in addition to the regular work.

In both cases we will try to fit your skill set with the tasks.

The going at Adharshila is tough if you have never stayed in a rural setting. So be prepared.

You can read the experiences of volunteers at http://www.adharshilalearningcentre.org/p/blog-page_7359.html

Write to us on email – adharshila.learningcentre@gmail.com or contact us on phone – 9685843272/8889289196

Monday, October 24, 2016

The Seventeenth Monsoon at Adharshila

July - September 2016

A brief report of activities at Adharshila Learning Centre in the first three months of the new session. We have only written about the activities that took place outside the regular class room study.
Please read, give ideas, and share with friends. Volunteer to implement your ideas.

Happy Reading
Adharshila Team

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Nai Taleem and More...Vinoba's Thoughts on Education

Excerpts from Vinoba Bhave, Thoughts on Education. Rajghat, Varanasi: Sarva Seva Sangh Prakashan, 1996 fourth edition.


Boys are taught various bits of information in school nowadays, but they are not taught how to acquire knowledge independently for themselves. Many people would agree about the importance of self-reliance in education. Self-reliance, for me, has a very pro­found meaning. It is not merely that the child should be taught some handicraft, some manual skill by which he may support himself.

There must of course be manual labour, everyone must learn how to use his bands. If the whole population were to take up some kind of handicraft, it would bring all sorts of benefits—class divisions would be overcome, production would rise, prosperity and health would improve. So that, at the very least, this measure of self-sufficiency must form part of educational programme. But self-sufficiency as I understand it involves much more than that.

It seems to me that education must be of such a quality that it will train students in intellectual self-reliance and make them independent thinkers. If this were to become the chief aim of learning, the whole process of learning would be transformed. The present school syllabus contains a multiplicity of languages and subjects, and the student feels that in every one of these he needs the teacher’s help for years together. But a student should be so taught that he is capable of going forward and acquiring knowledge for himself. There is an infinite sum of knowledge in the world, and each one needs some finite portion of it for the conduct of his affairs. But it is a mistake to think that this life-knowledge can be had in any school.

Life-knowledge can only be had from life. The task of the school is to awaken in its pupils the power to learn from life. Most parents are anxious for their boys to complete the school course so that they can get a salaried job and lead an easy life. This however is a wrong way of looking at education.

Learning has value in its own tight. The purpose of learning is freedom—and freedom is another word for what we have called Self-reliance. Self-reliance means freedom from dependence on others, or on any external support. A man who has true learning is truly free and independent. The first and least part of this self-sufficiency is that the body must be educated and made skilled in a craft. A second, and a very important, part of it is the ability to acquire new knowledge for oneself. There is a third essential element in freedom, and this also is a part of education. Freedom implies not only independence of other people but also independence of one’s own moods and impulses. The man who is a slave to his senses and cannot keep his im­pulses under control is neither free nor self-sufficient. Tem­perance, vows and service therefore have their place in education, for it is by such means that this third aspect of freedom can be learned.

Self-sufficiency, then, has three meanings. The first is that one should not depend upon others for one’s daily bread. The second is that one should have developed the power to acquire knowledge for oneself. The third is that a man should be able to rule himself, to control his senses and his thoughts.

Slavery of the body is wrong. The body falls into slavery for the sake of the belly; therefore a free man must know how to earn his living through handicraft.

Slavery of the mind is wrong. If a man cannot think for himself and teach an independent judgment, his mind is enslaved; a free man must have acquired the power of independent thought.

Slavery of the emotions and the senses is also wrong, and it is an essential part of educa­tion to overcome their tyranny.

Patents ought to keep these three principles in mind when thinking about their children’s education. The parents’ whole duty has not been done when the boys have got jobs and a marriage has been arranged. They will find their true satisfaction in seeing their children happy, skilled and respected by all their neighbours.


It is about fourteen years now since our country was given the great idea of Nai Talim. In one sense it is not new at all, since no truth of experience is new. Truth is eternal,. and the seeds of this idea have existed for many centuries. But when some aspect of truth is lighted up for our own times, it seems to us that we have got hold of a new idea, and for us it is new. Its newness lies in this, that we draw inspira­tion from it.

This idea of Nai Talim has been working stead­fastly among us for many years ; it has been tried and tested; its reality, its strength, and its abiding truth have been estab­lished beyond doubt. The time has come for this Nai Talim to stand up and summon the nation like a trumpet call. It puzzles and saddens me that three years should have gone by since we gained our independence, yet we have not found the courage to take a decision about this. What dearer proof could there be of our failure to understand the essentials, than that the very system of education. which was in use before in­dependence as a means to keep people in subjection, should be allowed to continue after independence has been won?

If you still feel that our new education is as yet in the experi­mental stage—it is still cooking, it is not ready to be eaten, and we will eat it only when it is properly cooked—if that is your idea, then I must ask whether we are to eat bricks and stones in the meanwhile? Are such things fit to eat, or fit to be thrown away? Where would have been the harm if you had thrown them away at once, and then said to us: “We have not yet considered what the new pattern of education should be. It will take us a few months to think this out, and for that time we will stop all schooling.. As it is urgently necessary to increase production, all the children will go out and work.”

But we do not feel so keenly about our national edu­cation as we do about our national flag; that is what I mean by our failure to understand the essentials. We have named this education “basic education,” but we do not understand the meaning of the word “basic.” We imagine that it mcans merely the first stage of children’s education. It means far more than that.

It means that this is the found on, the base, upon which the whole of our education, from beginning to end, has to be built, whether you call it primary, or middle, or higher. It will not do to have one kind of education for the villages and another kind for the towns. It will not do to have one kind of education for the first four years of school life, and afterwards some other kind that is quite unrelated to it. It will not do to regard this as an experiment to be tried out on refugees while the rest of the country has something else. We have a right to use the word “basic” only if we are agreed that the whole education of the country should be built up on the foundation of Nai Talim.

Many even of those who are engaged in educational experiment, when asked what plans they have made for the towns, reply that this education is not intended for the towns, but for the villages. Nothing, in my view, could be a greater mistake. This education is for all, and in it there is no dis­tinction between town and village. If we are content that the atmosphere, the mental attitudes, which now prevail in our towns should continue, India will have no peace. The town must interest itself in the service of the villages on whose support it stands, and must educate its children with this end in view. It will not do to bring up village children to serve their country while town children are brought up to loot their country! Such a thing cannot happen in this country because the nation has awakened, and a wide-awake nation will never allow differences of that kind to arise. This then is the meaning of Basic Education.

I wish now to utter a word of warning about some of the dangers which confront us. Many people nowadays think of Basic Education as a new kind of system, method or technique of teaching, on a par with the various other teaching “methods” which have had their vogue in the past. This is a mistaken view. I am very much afraid of systems, especially in edu­cational work ; a system can make an end of all education. What a student receives from a Nai Talim centre such as Seva­gram is not a system to be practised but a compass to show him the direction. He is given a suggestion which he may keep in mind and think over, but he must make his own independent judgments and try out his own independent experiments in his own place. Nai Talim is not a. system, it is a far-reaching educational idea, it is a seed-thought, like the Brahma-vichar which was formerly so widespread in India and in which so many different systems of thought—advait, dvait, visisht-advait and so on—were all rooted.

I was once talking with a friend, and explaining to him that it is a fault in the western system of education that it lays so little stress on learning great lines by heart. I said that children ought to learn plenty of well-chosen couplets, and I cited my own case as an example. I said that I had got much benefit from it, and that it had stood me in good stead at a number of critical periods of my life. It is good that the exalted experi­ences which are recorded in our literature should be stored in our minds. Our traditions in this matter differ from those of the west.

The point of view of western scholars is analytical they break up the world into fragments and divide it into various “branches” for study; but we look upon the world as one, and study it as an integral whole. In this our approach differs from theirs, and for this reason there is in our tradition a place for the learning of great passages of literature. Other traditions give the foremost place to the intellect.

The im­portance of the intellect is recognized by all, but one must not ignore the feelings and emotions. The heart of man needs nourishment no less than the mind, and it is right and necessary to provide it by storing the memory with thoughts of truth. The friend to whom I was speaking agreed with me, but be at once had a question to ask. “The thing appeals to me very much,” he said, “but how can it be correlated with craft?” 1 said, “I too will ask you a question. Your children spend every night asleep in bed—what has this sleeping got to do with craft, I would like to know?” “It has this to do with it,” he replied, “that after they have slept they are fresh and ready for work, so that they come to the craft with the necessary eagerness.” “Very well,” I said, “look at it like this. Man has a soul, and it is only when the soul of man is strong that the nation can be strong. Strength is not merely of the body; a body without a soul is not a body but a corpse, and can be correlated with nothing but the burning-ghat. It is only when the body is informed by a soul that it has the strength for action. In my opinion, the learning of great passages of literature is a necessary aid to the maturing of the soul.”

I have described this incident because so many people are trying to turn Nai Talitn into a system ; and if this idea gets imprisoned in a system, it will be killed. If that should happen there will be no room for initiative, and people will spend their time contriving how this piece of knowledge can be correlated with that activity. We must steer clear of that kind of thing.

Nai Talim is a philosophy of living, it is an attitude to life that we have to bring to all our work. People talk of the growth of population in India, and there is no doubt that this is a serious problem and one that demands attention. But for my part I do not so much fear the growth of population as the growth of an unmanly population. If our people are manly, hard-working and skilful, I feel confident that this earth will be able to bear their weight. But because we lack the spirit of self-discipline, an unmanly and spiritless population is increasing in numbers. The books that are being writtea man to disaster ; it cannot profit humanity. Strength by itself is vain ; skill by itself is vain; they have value only when they are used for human welfare. Not enough attention is being given to this aspect of education.

When people discuss Basic Education, they simply recite this slogan of “education through craft” as if that one phrase described it completely. That is an entirely false idea. Our plan for education is a plan for discipline ; its main-spring, that is to say, is not self-indulgence but self-control. Our chief aim should be that our children should learn from their earliest years to keep their senses, minds and. intellects under control. Their speech must be imbued with the spirit of truthfulness ; we must train them to express their thoughts clearly, and to choose words for their fitness, not for fashion. I would like to invite your attention to this difference between fitness and fashion. I have one thing more to say. If we are to carry out this task of creating a spirit of discipline and self-control, basic education must be entrusted, so far as is possible, to women, and women must be trained for this work We ought to be keeping in touch with all organisations and institutions for women in India, and inducing them to come forward for this service.

The education of little children should be entirely in the hands of women. As the Upanishad has it, “matruvan, pitruvan, acharyavan” — education is to be received first from the mother, then from the father, and lastly from the teacher. That is the true order of education.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Newsletter: January - March 2016

We are happy to share pictures of various activities that happened at the Adharshila Learning Centre in the first three months of 2016. 

We also take this opportunity to thank you for your good wishes and support. 

Please scroll down to see all the pages.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

'Farming' Calendar 2016



Dear Friends

Hullo. As many of you know we publish a calendar every year to raise funds for the Adharshila Learning Centre, our residential school for adivasi children, in Madhya Pradesh.

We know you will be saying – "Calendar ?!! Now ? It’s February. You guys are real late."
Well yes. We are late, I guess. But better late than never, we thought.
The theme of the calendar this year is ‘Farming’. So we have an excuse – the monsoons were late and farmers are in real bad shape !!

OK. The ‘Farming Calendar 2016’ in it’s seven pages with colour photographs brings out the various major themes of concern related to farming – loss of traditional seeds, role of women in farming, erosion ofbiodiversity and it’s impact on our food and environment, struggles of farmers and the new innovative initiatives being taken up to improve the health of the farm sector and the importance of festivals around the agricultural cycle.

Besides being a delight to the eyes the calendar is a very good educational tool for workers of NGOs, school children and villagers
as it has short writeups on each theme in Hindi and English.

We are looking forward to you to distribute these calendars in your areas. The cost is Rs.100/calendar plus postage. Minimum order is 20 calendars. For less they are available in Delhi, Bhopal, Indore and Pune.
The images of the pages are attached. Regards and awaiting a positive response. Hope you will overlook the time taking into consideration the importance of the topic.
Jayashree and Amit
The Adharshila Team

Sunday, January 31, 2016

What We Were Upto - October – December 2015

Rooting the school curriculum in the local adivasi culture has been an important concern for us. Use of the local Bareli language for smaller classes, the freedom to talk in their own language, singing folk songs are a routine part of school life of children here. Anniversaries of adivasi freedom fighters are also celebrated to re-enforce a sense of pride in the children about their society. This is important because the text books hardly tell anything about adivasi history.
Birsa Munda Jayanti
Children participated in the Birsa Munda Jayanti celebration held in Sendhwa. Acquainting children with Adivasi history is part of the formal and informal curriculum at Adharshila and is one of the key themes of the education programme. In school also children sing songs and enact stories based on the lives of Adivasi Freedom Fighters.

Indal is an adivasi ceremony performed by an individual or village on completion of a vow. The ceremony lasts the whole night. Branches of the Kadamb tree are erected and the village pujaara performs the rituals. Goats and hens are sacrificed. Villagers from many villages come to participate in the ceremony.
For the last three four years the stated machinery and Hindu religious organisations have been trying to change the Indal ceremony by saying that this is the Indra devata and no animal sacrifice should take place. They bring Brahmin purohits who do havans. This year they declared a big programme to make a temple of the Indra devata where the Chief Minister was also coming as the main guest.
The Adivasi Mukti Sangathan and other adivasi organisations held a meeting to raise awareness about the issue. The adivasi children from Adharshila prepared a play to show how the actual ritual is supposed to be performed with songs for the meeting.

Shivirs of senior children are a regular feature to discuss general interest topics, subject topics and art and craft. It has been seen that children become free in workshop mode and like to change the classroom format of learning.
·      History Shivir – The main purpose of this was to counter the mainstream narrative being spread about Muslims and to avoid misinterpretation of the history lesson on Mughals.
·      Kheti Shivir – This was four day shivir. The children went around the village talking to elders and farmers. They understood the importance of maintaining biodiversity in farming. They also learnt about traditional practices and seeds which are now lost.
·      Portrayal of women in children’s stories – The children were asked to critically examine the portrayal of women and girls in school texts and also other stories from the library. They also reflected on the status of women in their society during the shivir.
·      Lantern Making

A lantern making workshop was held before Diwali. This is gradually becoming a tradition as this was the third consecutive year. The senior children and teachers transfer the skill to the younger children.
Craft and Drawing Workshops
Many other craft and drawing workshops were conducted - Origami Workshop, Rangoli Workshop and Drawing Workshop
Nasha Mukti Diwas
A two day programme was held wherein each class did different activity – learnt songs, did a survey in the village to find the expense on liquour, heard stories of struggles to stop liquor shops and learnt about the ill affects of habitual liquour consumption.
World Food Day
Discussions were held around the theme of food security. Children were shown various types of millets. A lesson was made about millets in Hindi and English. Children took interviews of elders and came to know that people dont have most millet seeds.
Children are involved in all the work of the campus. Cleaning, cooking, farm, tending the cows and bulls, maintaining the gobar gas plant, cleaning solar panels, masonary repairs. Mainly this term children were involved in farm work. Some groups made their own plots and planted methi. The older children constructed steps on the entrance slope to stop the soil erosion.
Ten groups have been made and assigned different duties. There is a long list of ‘mantrees’ to look after various.

Farming Calendar
We reaped a bumper harvest of Louki. >5quintal froma 3 guntha plot
Worked on the calendar for 2016 on the theme of Farming. It became very tedious as we were not able to get good photographs. Many photographers didnt respond. At one point we left working on it as we were not sure about its sale as we decided that this year we will make it only if we get assured orders. It is still under the process and not sure if it will be printed. ..

Exercise-Play at Naatak Shivir, Pushkar, Rajasthan

The Naatak India Company directors were invited to do a theater workshop with youth in Rajasthan on the theme of child marriage. We conducted a seven day workshop during which the youth narrated their experiences through skits. The issue of child marriage was explored from various viewpoints and finally a play was made.
We are developing a new pedagogy for exploring real life issues based on the experience of the actors through theater – Explorations Through Theater.

·        Attended the SRUTI meet in Uttarakhand
·        Two day meeting to frame a response to the New Education Policy being promoted by MHRD. The meeting was organised Nayee Taleem Sangh, Wardha

Pro Reservation Rally
Reservation is a big issue for adivasi students. After the anti reservation stir in Gujarat and other places the adivasi students and other organisations took out a pro reservation rally in Barwani, the district headquarters. Teachers and ex students participated in  the programme.

Recognition of Work
The year end was an ego boost time. We were awarded the Mary Patil Smriti Puruskar by Mukt Shabd Prakashan, Mumbai and the Nayee Taleem Samiti, Wardha. It was an honour to speak in the same hall where Gandhiji held the first teacher training of Nayee Taleem teachers in Wardha.

An article was published in LiveMint in the special Giving Issue on Diwali - http://www.livemint.com/Leisure/hrgTu2CmdYZERoR1TaBc0M/The-school-on-the-hill.html
As a response to the article Adharshila received almost Rs. 1 Lakh in donations.
Another article was published in the Deccan Herald - http://www.deccanherald.com/content/517100/brightening-lives-tribals.html
News reports of the Award functions were published in Marathi newspapers –

Volunteers and Researcher
Three MA Education students from Azim Premji Institute. Besides teaching English, Math, Social Science and Science subjects they engaged the senior students in discussion on depiction of girls and women in stories which led to a general discussion on women in adivasi society. Another volunteer was teaching the Mughal Invasion chapter in History. We realised that the chapter was adding to the mainstream anti muslim narrative . This led to a lot of discussion and a workshop on the issue with children and the volunteers.
Another researcher stayed with us for a month to observe the behaviour of children for his PhD.
A friend from Sendhwa is helping in English teaching in the primary classes.

·        Rekha and Anil Kumar, Patna – to understand the Adharshila model before starting a school in Bihar.
·        Adivasi Teachers from Bhagwanpura tehsil of Barwani district to buy adivasi literature.
·        Friends from Gwalior
·        Rakesh, filmmaker from Barwani

·        Adivasi activists from Gujarat and Maharashtra.