Mission Statement of Aikiyam School
‘Aikiyam’ means: “harmony, oneness and unity” in both Tamil and in Sanskrit.
The school’s mission is to provide an appropriate kindergarten, primary and intermediate education to children from Kuilapalayam and other villages, which are geographically connected to Auroville. This education is based on the principles of integral education, as defined by Sri Aurobindo, and the Mother, who founded Auroville in 1968. The school strives to maintain a creative and joyful atmosphere, where the uniqueness of each child is respected and nurtured.
The school’s aim is to provide quality bilingual education in Tamil and English, covering all of the standard academic subjects, physical education, and a wide variety of vocational options to prepare children for life in a rapidly changing world, while still maintaining contact with their Tamil cultural heritage.
History of the School
Aikiyam School, previously “New Creation Bilingual School” and before that “New Creation School”, was founded in the early 1980’s by André Tardeil, who had a vision to create a bridge between Auroville and the impoverished population of neighbouring Kuilapalayam and other local villages, by providing opportunities for informal education, training and skills for earning a living. In the 1990’s Roy Wicks, a retired British policeman, joined the school as principal, guiding its development for some 13 years, until he returned to the UK due to health reasons. In 2005, after a period without a permanent principal, a group of concerned Aurovilians formed a “Support Group” which took over the management of the school, and Shankar was appointed as the new Principal. The support group continues to meet weekly and guides the school.
The School Today
Aikiyam School is an Auroville outreach school for around 225 children from several rural villages near Auroville. It runs from pre-crèche until grade 8 (3 – 14 years). Most of these children are from economically disadvantaged families. The school’s aim is to provide quality bilingual education in Tamil and English, covering all of the standard academic subjects, computer training, physical education, dance, crafts, and a wide variety of vocational options, giving children a range of choices in the type of education they will pursue when leaving the school. Children with special needs are identified, and given a supplementary individualized program. The school also provides a nutritious mid-day meal and a morning and afternoon snack. All tuition, educational supplies, nutritious snacks and mid-day meals are provided free of charge.
Since 2007, Aikiyam School has an affiliation with the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE). CBSE promotes creative education at all levels through the application of learning by doing. The teacher’s role is “shifted from being a source of knowledge to being a facilitator”, while resources available in the child’s own environment are utilised as unifying themes for different subjects. Its general values and approaches are sufficiently consistent with the integral education philosophy of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, so the Aikiyam team decided to apply to CBSE for affiliation. The resulting accreditation is unique: nowhere else in India has a school in an underprivileged area become CBSE-affiliated and recognised.
Being a CBSE school means that the children no longer have to sit for State Board exams based on rote learning, but will take exams approved by the CBSE in grade nine at New Era Secondary School (NESS), earlier known as After School, an Auroville-run CBSE high school for both village and Auroville children. For those children who want to go to a State Board high school instead of NESS, Aikiyam School is approved by CBSE to give a recognised ‘school transfer’ certificate after grade 8.
A major challenge for the school continues to be finances. The school has limited regular income and opens its doors to children of the lowest income groups without charging any fees. While basic expenses, such as most teacher and staff salaries, maintenances, nutrition expenses, and some essential equipment and repairs come out of Auroville’s Unity Fund, it is insufficient to run the school properly and to keep up the strong momentum towards continuous improvement. The remainder of the school’s expenses are met entirely from donations from well-wishers across the world, including many in the UK.
AVI UK has been a channel for funds for Aikiyam almost since the beginning, and we continue to seek help from anyone willing to donate, either as a one-off donation, or on an on-going basis, by standing order. Please go to our donations page for more information on how to donate.