R. Sairam

Gandhi Niketan School near Madurai among five schools selected from across the country

MADURAI: The Gandhi Niketan School at T. Kallupatti near here is among the five institutions across the country chosen by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) for a project to revive heritage schools.

It is the only institute in south India to be selected, Gandhi Niketan Ashram secretary V. Ragupathy told The Hindu. Sevagram Ashram, established by Mahatma Gandhi in Maharashtra, has also been identified for the project, along with institutes in Bihar, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh. “NCERT wants to revive the alternative system of education, particularly the Gandhian system of basic education that is craft-based,” he said.

Advisory group

A high-level advisory group headed by former University Grants Commission chairman Yash Pal approved the Gandhi Niketan School after a delegation from NCERT visited it last year.

It noted that the programme had the potential to free school education from the drudgery of the existing system of rote learning espoused by National Curriculum Framework 2005.

The NCERT would help the schools develop an organic farm, craft centre, a resource centre to train teachers in the alternative system of education and organise training programmes and seminars.

“A token amount of Rs.3 lakh was given in April. NCERT has promised assistance for the next 20 years,” said Prof. Ragupathy.

Ashram president R. Venkataswami said skill training had begun for students of Classes VIII and IX from the current academic year. This included training in the basics of electrical and electronic appliances, plumbing and welding.

Girl students would be taught tailoring and embroidery. Preparation of bio manure and vermi-compost would also be taught as part of organic farming.

Started in 1946 by Venkatachalapathy it was the first school in Tamil Nadu based on Gandhian vision of basic education, Prof. Ragupathy said.

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