The Auro-Mira Vidya Mandir, Kechla – The journey so far
Set amidst numerous pockets of a rugged hilly terrain and an extensive reservoir is Kechla, a conglomeration of several hamlets inhabited primarily by a tribal populace. Nestled within these hillocks is the Auro-Mira Vidya Mandir, a school that is home to nearly a hundred and ten children. Blessed by the beauty and calm of nature around, the pristine surroundings lend a special hue to the school.
Back in 2004-05 when the Auro-Mira Service Society (AMSS) decided to work in this region, even the essential infrastructure for the sustenance of basic life needs was nonexistent. There were no roads, no electricity, no portable water, no health care and though a school was on the books of the government record, it was never truly functional.
The journey towards starting and setting up the school was anything but easy. Parents were generally not willing to send their children to school. After sustained efforts, some parents agreed to send their children away to boarding schools, their education totally funded by AMSS. However, the problem was that the children were overage in their peer group and parents were not too keen to send their children that far. As a result, Auro-Mira Vidya Mandir was set up in July 2008, with five teachers and thirty children. Based on the precepts of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, the school believes that “personality and character is more than a subject matter, not knowledge or information, but self realization is the goal.”
The teaching is done in a non-formal manner, an education that is need-based, follows no strict curricula or methods but the objectives are well defined. This kind of learning is life long, relevant and comes through practical experience.
Through these last few years our teachers have played a pivotal role in not just introducing the children to learning, but encouraged the correct use and maximum potential of resources. Our teachers at the school are a guide, a helper and above all a friend.
The motive is to train the pupil’s mind towards perfecting the instrument of knowledge. We also believe that teaching is simultaneously a learning process as well. In their intimate interaction, both the teacher and the student grow together, towards a new realization and a sense of fulfilment.
Every single child at the AMVM works with a system of education called the ‘free progress system’. Each child learns at his or her own pace. We are strictly against rote learning and discourage learning that is only bookish. We try to give a practical turn to all learning and many things are learnt with a hands-on experience. There are no exams or tests of any nature and the children learn with a beautiful amalgamation of freedom with responsibility.
The journey of the school might have been arduous, but it has been hugely rewarding too, as we persevered through moments of difficulties and disillusionments, and watched fresh openings light up and new paths paved. Today, the AMVM has a beautiful semblance of the untiring dedication of its teachers, the tranquillity of pristine nature and the robust energy of a vibrant & enthusiastic childhood.