Vidyanagari - 'City of Knowledge'
There have been many exciting things happening on at Vidyanagari over the past few months, so we thought it was about time we updated everyone!
April saw the end of the school academic year, 2010-2011, and the children started their summer vacations. The last two weeks of April were used for staff training workshops with various working professionals. Workshops were run on a variety of topics including; personality development, spoken English, the importance of music and learning, using the internet as a vital teaching resource and how to become a better teacher. These sessions were run by Centrica, Gus Mendonca, a consultant for many educational institutes and a school committee member, also his wife Lynn Mendonca, who is a professional Music Teacher.
The teachers rejoined school for the first two weeks of June, before the children were due to start school, to plan their lessons for the first few months. Excitingly we now have a number of outside teachers who will be coming to school on a regular basis to teach additional lessons. They are specialists in their field and will be teaching Karate and also a variety of music lessons. The music lessons will be based around singing and classical music. To support this international volunteers are currently working on approaching established music schools to fund our music program at school to enable us to purchase musical instruments.
This June the new school year began with the Standard 2 students moving up to create the Standard 3 class, along with a few new admissions. The number of students registered at the school currently stands at 115.
In the last month there has been a lot of involvement of international volunteers with Vidyanagari. At the beginning of August, Claire Postles, who has been a part of the project since 2007, visited the school whilst on a holiday in India. Claire conducted a training session with the teachers, and whilst the training was happening, international Deep Griha volunteers held an activity camp with the students. Activities included; dancing, painting, singing, outdoor games, reading, Science experiments and audio-visuals - where the children were shown videos/pictures of England.
A week later, a group of students from the Accrington Academy, UK, spent a week at the City of Child and visited the students at the school where they conducted various fun activities. Shortly after we had a group of volunteers from France who spent time with the students teaching them about life in France. Also, in addition to these groups, Jackie Outka, an international volunteer from the USA, spent a day a week at the school helping out with the Standard 1 class. Through all of these experiences the teachers and children at the school have been able to learn a lot.
Corporate Social Responsibility
The site of Vidyanagari is gradually being developed through the generous sponsorship of Centrica. The construction of the Primary school building phase 1 should start in the very near future, and will be overseen by a new project manager. Centrica employees from WNS and EXL have also been visiting the school and taking part in the students’ learning. We also have an employee from EXL, who is a language trainer, and she has been running sessions to help our teachers with their English. We have also decided to include other applicants at these sessions to enable us to have teachers with the level of English we will require for the next academic year.
Another company who have been very supportive of this project is Cummins India Limited (CIL). Last year they provided a rainwater harvesting system for the Pre-primary school building and also provided a solar powered filter to make the collected water drinkable. This year we have been granted an award from CIL again, and these funds will be used for the renovation of part of the grain store to provide a Community Hall where we can implement other aspects of the Vidyanagari project. In the community hall we plan to have a computer lab available for school students and young people from neighbouring villages. Plans are in place to start work on this project in the next quarter.