Auroville, the township of Utopic in Tamil Nadu and its education system

In the heart of Viluppuram district in Tamil Nadu, the Auroville foundation claims to educate about 800 children through different schooling models. From neighborhood schools to transition schools and skill-based learning centers, Auroville aims to create a holistic education system for the children of locals and foreign residents. “Our vision is to promote the holistic development of children which is guided by the vision of the mother (Mirra Alfassa),” Antim Singh, an Aurovillian under the foundation, told FE Education Online.

According to the residents met and spoken to by FE Education Online, Auroville has different types of schools depending on the needs of the students and the vision of the community. Just like other parts of the country, the city follows a system of primary, secondary and upper secondary education. However, each school seems to have a purpose. For example, the transition schools in Auroville aim to convert students into mystical beings. Similarly, the city’s Deepam schools cater to students with special needs. Auroville further offers regular learning for students through New Era Secondary School (NESS) – a school affiliated with the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE). The school follows the curriculum of the National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT). “Students who wish to study outside the city under the state council are free to do so,” said Parthasarathy, a member of Auroville’s working committee.

Additionally, the city which operates as a socialist economy, claims to provide free education to children up to a certain level. However, formal education is not compulsory in Auroville according to residents. Parents can welcome children to school. Nevertheless, the city has pre-school institutions such as crèche and kindergarten for the early development of children between 2.5 and 7 years old. Furthermore, Auroville is said to have established a higher education system which would be funded by the Ministry of Education, Government of India, among other international bodies. In addition, Auroville has several research organizations such as Auroville Consulting which works on the construction of sustainable development policies.

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It is said that the language of instruction in Auroville schools is multilingual. According to the foundation, Auroville teachers use Tamil, English, French or Sanskrit depending on the linguistic diversity of the class. Special efforts are being made to remove the language barrier between locals and foreign residents to facilitate learning as well as community life in the city, the foundation said. “Previously, the education system here was not so developed. However, now they have all kinds of arrangements which are getting even better,” said Jaya, from the Auroville City Development Council.

Auroville is an experimental commune in the state of Tamil Nadu founded by Mirra Alfassa, a spiritual guru, occultist and collaborator of Sri Aurobindo called “The Mother” by followers. The city is home to around 3,000 people from all over the world, including France, Germany, Italy, among more than 50 other countries. The development of education is claimed as an important aspect of this community which aims to raise the spiritual awareness of students while giving them a general education. “Auroville is based on the philosophy of endless education, whether spiritual or skill-based. And we are working tirelessly on it,” said Muriel, Researcher, Content Creator, Auroville Foundation.

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