Transforming the Culture of a High School the Neohumanist Way
Introducing NHE Curriculum at the Gurukula Vidya’piitha, Hazipur, India
By Ac. Kishan Sood
Gurukul Vidyapiitha is located in Hazipur in the Vaeshali district of Bihar, India, across the Ganges about 30 kilometers east of Patna. It is situated on a five acre plot of land, surrounded by a lush green mango and banana orchards. The school is managed by members of Ananda Marga and has 750 students enrolled. Fifty-six students and ten teachers and staff reside in the hostel within the campus. One outstanding feature of the school is that it is recognized by CBSC (Central Board of Secondary Education) of the Government of India. CBSC is the nodal agency controlling secondary education throughout the country.
Gurukula Vidyapiitha wishes to join the NHE movement and has begun a program of introducing NHE curriculum in all grade levels and transforming the culture of the school into a Neohumanist one. The new program is focused on:
1. NHE programmes: YES, STUVOL, ELF, SPROUT
2. Building on Universalism and Service spirit
3. Arts and crafts including music and painting
4. Ecology: Improving awareness of ecology and the environment; every student will be required to plant a tree and will also take care of a plant through their years of stay in the school
5. Methods of applied learning
Before embarking on this program a group of inspired teachers were assembled and their co-operation was solicited. After getting CBSC recognition the school has also gained financial stability. The enrollment of the school has increased and the additional income is being partially shared with the teachers and staff through increased remuneration.
So far, the NHE training program has been conducted with 6 sections of the school, from Nursery, LKG, UKG, and Grades 1 to 3.
We have introduced the concept of morning circle starting with Nursery and going up to grade three. Sessions have introduced students, supervising teachers and management representatives to the YES programme, (Yoga Education in Schools). The session lasts for 45 minutes and includes meditation and yoga asanas.
This is followed by a STUVOL programme utilizing rhymes and a new way of storytelling. Subjects addressed include awareness of natural cycles (of air, water, earth etc.), Brahmacakra or Cycle of Creation, and helping children acquire the ten values of love. The program focus is on imbibing the character building habits of Yama-Niyama. We are also planning to utilize the work done by Tang Taminga of Taiwan. Stories have been selected from NHE resources and Fairy tales, Paica Tantra, Hitopadesha, Akabar-Birbal and many similar other books.
A similar process will soon address grades 4 onwards. Afterwards we will also start training of our 35 teacher and staff members including the director and principle.
The Teacher – the focal point
Teachers training will begin after the above is implemented. We have delayed this process intentionally to ensure that the teachers see for themselves the benefit of introducing NHE. As time passes the teachers are getting increasingly interested in the NHE processes. This way it becomes possible for us to remove as many impediments as possible. The teachers who did not show any enthusiasm to begin with are now quite charged. The management is lending full support to the program to achieve the goal.
The management of the school has agreed to require NHE training for all teachers and as part of this they will be required to take the Introductory Certificate Program for Early Child Education. They will have to pass the examination in the next six months within the current session. After qualifying the examination, the teachers will receive an additional increment. For qualifying the examination the teachers will be required to pass written, verbal and practical tests. It is being planned so that this program gets completed in this current school session before July 2013.
The program has been devised such that the non- teaching staff will also have to undergo a training and assessment process. This has been prepared to suit the requirements of the staff. It covers the following:
1. 6 school bus drivers
2. 5 cooks serving food to the residents (students & teachers)
3. 6 administrative and accounts staff
4. All other miscellaneous staff who may or may not be in the employment of the school but who come in contact with the students and the teachers viz. suppliers, maintenance guys and others
The program is intended to improve communication with the children such that they are more understanding of mutual needs and are cultured in their interaction. The ten basic values of love will be taught to them and also the Painca-dash -shiila (15 cultured practices). The course will cover many elementary practices and programs of NHE which may be relevant in their day to day life. The process has just begun.
Simultaneously it is proposed to apprise the parents and guardians of the children about NH philosophy and practices of education. Several meetings are proposed to educate the parents through meetings in one year time frame. This is to update all of them on the changes that are being introduced in the school to improve the quality of the lives of their children.
This will be followed by parent teacher meetings at a certain predetermined interval to keep them apprised of their children’s progress and to register their support for helping their child to build his/her career through improving his or her academic and non-academic performance.
We will send an updated report after the program gets fully implemented.