Education  India Project #23787

Help Create A Revolution In Education

by NEEV (New Education & Environment Visions)
Help Create A Revolution In Education
Help Create A Revolution In Education
Help Create A Revolution In Education
Help Create A Revolution In Education
Help Create A Revolution In Education
Help Create A Revolution In Education
Help Create A Revolution In Education
Help Create A Revolution In Education
Help Create A Revolution In Education
Help Create A Revolution In Education

Dear Friends,

We have closed down NEEV Vidyalaya permanently as this academic session came to an end. In it's place we are go establishing NEEV Centre for Self Inquiry - a space for library, dialogues and retreats for individuals truly interested in finding truth and freedom through transformation of consciousness.

NEEV was started in the year 2006 with the vsion of creating a transformation in the world. As part of this journey of transformation, NEEV kept on changing and taking different forms aligning with the progress in our understanding of what would actually create a transformation in the world.

NEEV started as a charitable organization trying to identify the needs of poor and giving them direct assistance. We worked with slums, farmers, women and children provding them with assistance in health, livelihood and education through different projects.

After some years we realized that we are just treating the symptoms of the problems. Our efforts were akin to bandaging wounds and sores of society. As we banadaged some, new sores would develop. So we shifted our attention from badaging wounds to finding the process which creates these in the first place.

Almost all people amongst those who think beyond personal advancement seem to get quite contented with bandaging wounds. There is a reason for this. These people draw a lot of respect from society for the mere fact that they are thinking beyond personal gain. A closer look however would reveal that people who bandage wounds are still working for personal gains albeit not strictly in economic terms. Such people thrive on respect and approval lauded to them by society. A subtle self identity of being saviours, martyrs, do-gooders and reformers is created. And becuase such people thrive on the plaudits bestowed on them by society, they shall never question society. Social workers and society form a symbiotic relationship. The society creates wounds, the social worker heals them without questioning and the society lauds the socia worker in return. Both thrive, doing their well rehearsed roles.

We got our share of plaudits from society but did not want to bask in them. Discontentment seethed and made us go beyond addressing symptoms to searching the roots of diseases in society. With this began our study of feudalism, capitalism, socialism, globalization, nationalism, class conflicts, caste divisions and religious antagonisms. Suddenly, the lenses through which we viewed the world changed. Actually even more fundamentally, we realized that we were viewing the world through lenses, through layers of unquestioned conditioning gathered through education, society, religion and science. The study was revealing and at the same time deeply upsetting. The Newtonian world with definte laws and orders and an unquestioned stability disintegarted into the chaos of the quantum world under the changed lenses. In fact the same world appeared differently under different lenses. There was a crumbling of social values; what was held as sacred and pious by society was revealed to be carefully designed ploys of capitalism, feudalism or religions to subjugate and control humans and society. We discovered that we were enslaved to different isms without knowing that they ever existed. The capacity of these isms to exert influence on our lives and society can be judged by the fact that we do not even see them operating.

With the discovery of al these isms and lenses, it became imperative for us to find a solution to these problems. It wasn't about running health camps and giving livelihoods and wiping tears. It was about finding a solution to vast forces of capitalism, consumerism and nationalism because these were the diseases that caused symptoms like poverty, environmental degradation and terrorism. It was not about sharing sob stories of human misery and eliciting pity of society to help the needy. It was about illuminating society about how it was trapped by isms. It was about disturbing rather than healing. Thus began our search for a systemic solution to these problems.

After a careful study of various solutions like communism, socialism, environmentalism we settled for two solutions that we thought would address these problems fundamentally. The first was social entrepreneurship and the second was education. With the zeal of discoverers and pioneers we went about trying these solutions on the ground. This was when we started encountering the hard crust of human reality, the squalor, the dirt and greed that lies behind the veneer of respectable society. Cold intellectual analysis of capitalism, consumerism etc. melted into a molten living reality making it's effect felt in all our relationships. Suddenly strongly held polarities which stood strongly opposed to each other seemed to dance in the play of opposities. Rich and poor, developed and undeveloped, right and wrong, good and bad, friends and foes, heroes and villains, saints and criminals all started losing their boundaries and seemd to fade into each other seamlessly.

Our own solutions started to come under the lens of inquiry. Suddenly, pardoxes started rearing their heads. Were our own solutions, part of the problems? Was education solving the problems or creating them? Are the ideals we create, for instance, in social entrepreneurship part of the problem or responsible for creating the problems? At the deeper levels, I discovered that reality is paradoxical. The hard dualities that operate in the Newtonian world vanish. Light can be studied as a wave or a particle. Sub atomic realms are more space than matter. The limits to scientific thought are reached as the observer is seen to be the observed in the quantum realm.

The study of the world and it's problems finally brought us to something one least suspects - our self. Actually this is an oversimplification of sorts as I have to condense a journey of twenty years in a few thousand words. I was doing self inquiry all along. It was an inner inquiry probing the nature of mind and thought which started way back in my college days in 1998. What really happened through all our work in NEEV was that finally the inner inquiry fused with the inquiry about the world. The wave that went out was the wave that came in. There was a realization that one's self is the world. The consciousness of an individual was the consciousness of whole of mankind. And what needed tranformation was consciousness. For this world is the content of human consciousness. The observer is the observed. We are the world. The root of all problems in the world is that we are caught in a dualistic consciousness. The ancients called it Maya, which means we are caught in an illusion of reality.

There can be transformation in the world only of there is transformation in the consciousness of every individual. No systems, no isms, no reformations, no schools and no science/technology can alleviate human suffering because all of these have the same underlying root - a dualistic consciousness of Maya which fragments the world into parts, which divides people into individual selves and which veils the nature of reality. Any movement born from this consciousness is dualistic, partial and divisive. Whether it is education, social work, governance or spirituality it does not matter. As long as they springs from the consciousness of duality, there is bound to be conflict and suffering.

Having seen this as clear as daylight, it only made sense that we close down NEEV Vidyalaya and devote all our remaining life to transformation of consciousness through self inquiry. So we are converting NEEV Vidyalaya to a centre which shall house a library and video room to subjects related to self inquiry. It shall also be a place where people really interested in self inquiry can come for a silent retreat for having dialogues with me on self inquiry.

Warm wishes,

Anurag

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Shikha with the kids in the zoo
Shikha with the kids in the zoo

Even though the children of Village Hurlung are residents of the city of Jamshedpur, none of them had visited the Tata Steel Zoo in the city. Rural parents, unlike the uraban ones, do not take children for an outing. Thus their world is the village they grow up in.

Hurlung village is not located deeply in the interior. It just borders the town, and yet none of the children ever went to the zoo. So when their teacher, Shilkha decided to take them for a picnic to the zoo, they were are beamng with excitement.

The children were accompoanied by their other teachers Priyanka, Sunita and Jasomati. Handling a pack of 30 kindergarten children is like taking a zoo along with you :-)

In an age where man has lost contact with nature, the zoo serves as a medium to conect with animals of the wild. Even as an adult of 42 years, the zoo always holds an interest for me. Seeing different life forms sharing planet earth alongside us, albeit in very different ways, always sparks a wonder and mystery for creation.

Industrialization has made man's consciousness akin to a machine where the intellect reigns supreme. The intellect with its penchant for classifying, naming and acquiring reduces all life to objects, either to be acquired or put at a distance. When man lived in the wilds, hearing the chirping of birds, the calls of cows, goats and roosters, bathing in the ponds and rivers, ploughing the fields with bullocks, he shared an unameable kinship with all creation. There was a sense of sacredness for life. Mystery, rather than knowing and knowledge was the beat of his exisence.

True to man's march towards industrialization, education in today's world has come to prize the intellect and it's obsession with knowledge. Children today can calculate the distance bewteen the earth and the moon through equations of physics. They can dissect flowers and name their parts. They can define the chemical and physical properties of water. And we fawn over all this knowledge and the control it gives us over nature.

But education does not teach a child to look at the splendour of the crescent moon, the miracle of colours exploding in the flowers, the joy of feeling the river water trickling under your feet. These do not make a child successful in the world. They do not help him get a job and earn any status, reputation or standing in society. For unlike knowledge, these feelings cannot be measured, weighed on scales and prized. Like knowledge and certificates, these cannot be bought and sold on the market.

So a visit to the zoo was an occasion for children to become one with the wildreness, to the vast immeasurable mystery of creation, even if it wwas for a few moments. The claws of modern civilization would claim them back again. Hopefully this chance encounter with the simulated wild would linger in their consciousness and perhaps one of them would grow up and have the intelligence to turn his back to this civilaztion and live the mystery of the immeasurable.

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That's a picture perfect pose for all of you from
That's a picture perfect pose for all of you from

Rains have soaked Jamshedpur. Under the usual overcast sky today, I handed my camera to Dinesh, a class 8 student of NEEV Vidyalaya to take some snapshots of our new school so that I could share them with all of you. Since construction is still on, I cannot treat you to squeaky clean pictures. Nonetheless there is always more life in imperfection that in perfection. So despite Shikha asking me to wait till things are gleaming, I decided to go ahead and share with you life as it happens in NEEV Vidyalaya – unedited ! 

Inside the Classroom

Since it is raining, I guess Shikha thought it proper to educate children about umbrellas by making paper umbrella collages. Please take a look at the snaps

Tiffin Break

Children of NEEV Vidyalaya find an unlikely but interesting place to have their tiffin. Staying in Hurlung has got me in close proximity with many animals. One of them are goats. Often I pause in my tracks to observe their behavior. I am always intrigued by the way animals behave. For instance I have noticed that goats always have a penchant for walking on walls or anything that is raised above ground level. Perhaps the children of NEEV Vidyalaya, Hurlung have borrowed some of their characteristics.

The Classroom

The classroom, according to me, is the most boring, most anesthetizing place on earth. As you shall see in the pic of Raja, a student of UKG

The Studious Teacher

So what if the children don’t take to studies and classroom as a duck takes to water. Teachers do: because they have been schooled like our assistant teacher Sunita. Please take a look at the snap

The Anxious Teacher

For Shikha education is a journey into understanding herself. Just today she was sharing during lunch that she had not known herself as an anxious person. Being a teacher has shown how much anxiety she has? Well Shikha, welcome to teaching ! Take a look of her photo that was taken by Dinesh. I am not sure whether he had intended it to be this way 

The Smiling Teacher

 But the clouds of anxiety do not hang all the time. They usually tend to get dispelled when the Kindergarten leaves at 10:30. And then it reins peace and smiles, as you can see in her pic taking a class with the elder kids

 Outside the Classroom

 The Assembly Hall

The assembly hall is a favorite haunt for all of us – Shikha, myself and the kids. After all who does not like space. The Assembly hall has been designed to have the benefits of both being an open space and yet being protected by extremes of weather. It is a blusecope roof erected on about 15 feet high pillars. The back of the assembly hall has been purposely been grilled instead of being walled so that the great farming lands of Hurlung are visible. Who knows how long we shall be treated to this view, before the jaws of civilization devour them. But for now it is a great experience to go and sit there in the silence, listening to the mayhem created by birds or the silent fluttering of leaves in the wind. You may get a taste of this by seeing the pictures of the assembly hall.

And Most Importantly

Bearing in mind the directive of our honourable Prime Minister for cleanliness, water and sanitation, I end this photo essay with the view of our washrooms area and water pump. As you may see in the picture, we gave all attention to details. Because of ongoing construction, I am still unable to give the best shot. For that we have to wait till the construction completes.

That's Mohit surrounded by a bevy of girls
That's Mohit surrounded by a bevy of girls
Pooja - the mother goat with all her kids
Pooja - the mother goat with all her kids
Laughing Raja. It is obvious where his interest l
Laughing Raja. It is obvious where his interest l
Sunita - Assistant teacher : always serious
Sunita - Assistant teacher : always serious
Shikha - The Anxious Teacher
Shikha - The Anxious Teacher
Shikha : The Smiling Teacher
Shikha : The Smiling Teacher
Assembly hall roof
Assembly hall roof
Assembly Hall - Back view overlooking the farmland
Assembly Hall - Back view overlooking the farmland
Washroom area
Washroom area
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NEEV Vidyalaya - A new world for these children
NEEV Vidyalaya - A new world for these children

Even as the construction of new NEEV Vidyalaya at village Hurlung continues, classes have begun at the NEEV Herbals unit with 25 children on board. Thus sails out the ship of NEEV to the scarcely chartered lands of true education. Not only that, NEEV Vidyalaya becomes a center of enrichment in an environment bereft of anything ennobling for the children of Village Hurlung. Given the class distinctions that prevail in our world, for the child are reserved only the material, moral or intellectual resources of the family into which he/she was born. And if in his family there are no such resources, the child has to develop in material, moral and intellectual misery. With NEEV Vidyalaya, a whole new vista opens out for the children of Hurlung.

Education as it is today

Most of us think education to be a trivial affair – a routine affair of transferring skills like the 3 R’s, passing examinations, getting degrees and becoming subsumed in the vast socio-economic machine of society. Educational institutes are well oiled organizations clanking out mass stereotypes. Our economic system must create men who fit its needs; men who cooperate smoothly; men who want to consume more and more. Our system must create men whose tastes are standardized, men who can be easily influenced, men whose needs can be anticipated, men who will fit into the social machine without friction.

We are concerned to the degree of obsession with what we will make of our children and begin engineering them at an increasingly early age. Not content with school at six years of age, we have continued the logical regression into preschools, early learning, infant education, pre-natal music, ultra sound screening and what not. We are certain that we will create the perfect child through all of this, but would we recognize perfection if we came upon it through all our manipulation.

For those who see the child as born failed and broken, in need of repair and redirection, education will mean a revamping of the child that is, into the child that “should be”. We are all adults who "should be", and we are never enough with "what is". We can easily implant this essential dissatisfaction in our children and induct them into the cult of unhappiness that looks to materialism for its solace.

What concerns most parents is that their children should pass the examinations and learn their lessons as quickly as possible, so as to save time and money. It is not learning in itself, the attainment of a loftier culture that concerns the families, but the response to the summons of society, to the obligations imposed, an obligation which they find burdensome and which cost money nonetheless they consider it important that their children should acquire their passport into the life of the society in the shortest time possible.

The Effects of Today’s Education on Individuals and Society – Repression

In all discussion about how best to teach children, we don't often hear about the purpose of education from the children other than a social obligation and preparation of the child for the adult world of work. We don't hear much about the child, and almost nothing from the child.

Perhaps all that education aspires to be is the preparation of the young person for their role in the larger society. This is certainly a good idea for society, but in the efficiency of producing citizen workers, are we missing the deeper meaning and higher purpose of learning? Have we forgotten about the spirit of the child, the unique and fragile expression of a passionate and integrated life?

Perhaps we are a little afraid of happiness. We were educated (away) from that state long ago, molded into a set of skills and a catalog of information. Our education was not to fulfil us but to fulfil the needs of productivity in the market place. But children are born knowing the creative life, and fortunately creativity is hereditary - we can easily inherit it from our children.

Psychoanalysis shows that memories evoked from the subconscious are sufferings that occurred in infancy and lie latent in the consciousness, shaping and guiding human behaviour outside of his volition. These sufferings were caused by repression of spontaneous activity of children by adults who wielded authority over them. And the surprise of surprises is that the person who does wiled the maximum authority in early infancy is none but - the mother. The next wielder of authority is of course the school.

So society as a whole is populated with repressed adults who are driven by extrinsic motivations like money and power, chasing a chimera rather than fulfilled individuals led by intrinsic motivators like love for work, nature and humans.

At NEEV Vidyalaya we have a story telling time – A very special activity for the growth of children. The stories told are not from textbooks or history. Rather they are spontaneously made up on the spur by observing intimately the behavior of each child during the day. The story every day centres around a particular child in the class and talks about how that particular child faces some challenging situation. It is an effective way, a psychological tool for catharsis of the child, relieving him of his/her repressions and boosting self- esteem.

The Only Way for the World to Change is through Education

We look forward to science, technology, politics or economics to change the world. However, it is education that may point the way to the normalization of the adult world. Such a social reform would not come about through theory or the energies of a few organizers, but through a slow constant emergence of a new world in the midst of the old - the world of the child and the adolescent.

From this world the revelations, the natural guidance necessary to the normal life of society, would gradually evolve. It is truly absurd to suppose that theoretical reforms or individual energies could remedy so colossal a void as that made in the world by the repression of the child. No one can remedy the ever growing evils of which the first roots lie in the fact that men are all abnormal because their infancy could not develop along the lines traced by nature, who therefore suffered irremediable deviation. Every good thing comes to a naught with deviated men who seek to possess it for themselves and seek to make of it a means of power. Then every good thing is destroyed before it can be of service, and thus becomes a danger to human life. That is why every good thing, all progress, all discoveries, can increase the evil afflicting the world as we have seen in the case of machines, which represent the most tangible form of social progress for us all. Every discovery that might mean elevation and progress can be used for destruction, for war, or for self enrichment. The progress of physics, chemistry and biology, the perfecting of means of transport , have only magnified the danger of destruction, wretchedness and the appearance of a cruel barbarity. We have therefore nothing to hope from the external world till the normalization of man is recognized as a basic achievement of social life. Only then will all external progress be able to lead to welfare and a higher civilization.

The unknown energy that can help humanity is that which lies in the child.

We need a reorientation of education, a radical and fundamental realignment of the purpose of education. Can education shift from it's current model of shaping children into components of economic production, into an active experiment in optimizing the creativity of the whole child? We have been so busy educating our children that we have missed the heart of education, the creation of a happy child.

A happy person, fulfilled in their connection to their friends, family, and community and in the expression of their vocation, is likely to be useful and productive in their life and to help weave the collective fabric of a functional society. What else should a society need from education other than the happiness of its people?

According to the 5 S philosophy of NEEV – Education is no longer about people taking exams and proceeding on that verification from that secondary school to the university, but of individuals passing from one stage of independence to a higher one by means of their own activity, through their own effort or will, which constitutes the inner evolution of the individual.

"Precious things are conveyed to the younger generation through personal contact with those who teach, not - or at least not in the main - through text-books. It is that which primarily constitutes and preserves culture - Albert Einstein

Taking an Unknown Journey Along with the Child in Education

If we don't see children as broken at birth, then what are they if not a mystery. Can we join them in exploring the unknown in their life and have strength to reveal that we live in the unknown too. In that, we are not trying to change them, or ourselves for that matter, but rather we are revealing in the amazing discoveries that life holds for all of us. We cannot teach our children to drink deeply of life because the knowledge of life is not transferred by will. But children can understand so easily if they are not stopped, more so if they see that the adults in their life are continuously learning.

We heartily thank all of you who have supported us so far to create this unique journey of NEEV possible, and who have joined hands to create a transformation in human consciousness through education. The journey is long, relentless, back-breaking but at the same time an adventure of a lifetime. We sincerely look forward to all your support for this journey which is always just beginning…………..

The ship of NEEV Vidyalaya sails out - Shibu, LKG
The ship of NEEV Vidyalaya sails out - Shibu, LKG
Story Telling Time in NEEV Vidyalaya
Story Telling Time in NEEV Vidyalaya
Children with their drawing
Children with their drawing
Personal care of children
Personal care of children
Jaya of Nur - Beginning her life's journey
Jaya of Nur - Beginning her life's journey
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Shikha and Anurag in front of new school site
Shikha and Anurag in front of new school site

Usually schools are created by governments, businessmen or politicians. Very rarely are they created by common people who have a passion for education. This is because building a school involves massive capital as initial investment. Unlike a business, the returns are very slow. And to compensate for the returns, schools have to charge high fees. The result is that all good schools are built for the rich, by the rich. Not only that, the education system belted out by these schools have to cater to market demands of mere skill development rather than the total development of children – body, heart and mind.

Meanwhile the poor are relegated to an inferior education system with poorly qualified, disinterested teachers and a languishing environment. For generations they suffer a life of inferiority complex and disempowerment. Of course there are always exceptions, the few who flower in the barren wastelands of educational institutions catering to the poor.

It took almost two decades of personal journey and a decade of NEEV’s journey to come to a point where we could materialize our dream for opening a small English Medium School for children of Hurlung Village. This could have in no way been possible without the unimaginable support we received from all our friends of NEEV over the years. I would like to especially mention our college mates - T G Sathish and Vivek Gahlaut - who have helped us with Rs. 30 Lakhs and Rs. 13 Lakhs for helping us in the school construction. Of course there are several others who donated us to the tune of I lakh rupees and many more who have donated in thousands. By not mentioning them I am aware of the injustice I am causing to them. I hope I shall be pardoned, considering that it would become untenable for me to mention all the names. Thus NEEV Vidyalaya, Hurlung is a small monument that embodies the large heartedness of common people; people who are not businessmen, politicians or corporates but people who have a passion for creating a just society on the basis of good quality education.

Following are the costs involved in the school construction.

Purchase of Land                                                                              : Rs. 16,25,000 Lakhs

Design and Construction of First Floor                                              : Rs. 34,80,400

Furniture, Electrical and Plumbing Fittings and Fixtures:                  : Rs. 4,00,000

 

Total Estimated Cost for the first floor                                           : Rs. 55, 05, 400

We have received Rs. 47 lakhs as donation from various donors for the school construction. We are falling short by Rs. 8 lakhs. The costs have kept on escalating since we initially conceptualized the school. This is because we wanted the school construction to be based on indigenous materials. But considering the  long term stability and maintenance issues we had to go for more conservative and modern constructions as we went along. We are still trying our best to minimize the costs, so hopefully we may be able to shave off some expenses.

I would be really grateful if all our friends who have come together to bring NEEV to this point can help us with the remaining amount of Rs. 8 Lakhs.

You all may know that we have stopped the Rural Kids Sponsorship Scheme because we would like the school to be self – sustainable, at least in its operations. However we would require help from our friends for further construction and planned expansion of the school.

For the sake of meeting our operational expenses and contingency, we have created a Contingency Corpus Fund of Rs. 50 Lakhs and would like to increase it to Rs. 60 lakhs depending on future plans. The interest from this along with the nominal school fees we shall receive from the village school children would help us meet the operating expenses as well as my monthly honorarium of Rs. 10, 000 per month. Shikha, who would be teaching the school kids would be giving her time and energy totally on a voluntary basis.

We are planning to take admission of around 50 kids this year from Nur to Std. 3. The total monthly fee we are charging from them is Rs. 200.

I hope this gives a fair picture of the finances involved in the construction and operation of NEEV Vidyalaya.

The school shall prepare the children in English Medium for NIOS (National Institute of Open Schooling) Board Exams. It is the same board from which my daughter too passed her 10th Std.

At present we have finished with the boundary wall construction and foundation work. The roof for the office block and the first room is ready to be casted next week.

We could take this unbelievable journey only due to the support we got from all of you. I hope we can continue to take forward this dream of by the continuation of your support. All those who would like to make a donation of any amount to NEEV to help us with the remaining 8 lakhs

Architect's Plan of the new NEEV School
Architect's Plan of the new NEEV School
Shikha on her daily inspection visit
Shikha on her daily inspection visit
Madhu - Head Mistri seeking God's blessings
Madhu - Head Mistri seeking God's blessings
Shikha and Anurag at the site eight months back
Shikha and Anurag at the site eight months back
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Organization Information

NEEV (New Education & Environment Visions)

Location: Jamshedpur - India
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @AnuragNEEV
NEEV (New Education & Environment Visions)
Anurag Jain
Project Leader:
Anurag Jain
Jamshedpur, India

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