Education Training Camp, West Bengal, India

at Durlavpur, Bankura
Report by Didi Anandarama

The half yearly Education Training Camp was held at the Ananda Marga School in Durlavpur last December. The week-long major ETC is a well-established practice in Ananda Marga for the past fifty years. Teachers from far and wide come to attend these professional and inspirational programmes. Teachers who are from nearby schools, especially come in big numbers. The ETC venue is shifting to give a chance for local teachers who cannot afford to travel far distances to be able to take part. There are about 800 Ananda Marga schools in greater India, and 250 teachers and principals participated in this event.

ETC is neither a seminar nor a conference but as the name tells – a camp – a rigorous tightly packed programme that starts at 4am with showers or ablutions before the 5am singing and meditation and ends after 10pm with late dinner, walks and before-sleep meditations. The classrooms are transformed into mat-sleeping accommodations. The attendees are well accustomed to such camps and come well-prepared with their paraphernalia for such a camp. The atmosphere is of sharing, caring and inspiring each other.

Collective meditations are fully attended due to the melodious Prabhata Saḿgiita and Kiirtan chanting prior to the meditation. Mornings, afternoons and evenings are filled with presentations, workshops and sharing of songs, dramas and cultural programmes. Dr. Asit Dey gave a class on “Birds, Animals and Plants”, Danish Chandra Paul from Tripura who worked for 40 years in government schools, gave much-in-demand classes on Micro Teaching and Lesson Planning. Other classes were on ‘Play-Way Methods’, ‘Creative Expressions – Rhymes and Storytelling’ by Sukumar Nandi, ‘Multiple Intelligences’, ‘Rewriting History’ and setting up a STUVOL classroom with shelves of manipulative educational material. The decorated walls were painted with the help of pupils.

Sukumar Nandi is an experienced teacher at one of the oldest Ananda Marga schools at Vardaman that has 700 students. Besides attending the camp and giving a presentation he also ‘gave a hand’ during this event to the year-end children’s programme that was held during this event. Within three days he managed to organize a parade through the town and put 300 children on stage with a great variety of performances – a dance drama, plays, songs and many dances to the delight of a huge crowd of parents and camp attendees.

The matron Tanushree Chattaraj, widow of Partha Chattaraj, who donated this school, expressed her delight at the speed and dynamism with which this school took off only one year ago with Acarya Satyanisthananda as the principal. And this dynamism and enthusiasm was the most outstanding atmosphere of this ETC and certainly something for the participants to happily take home.