Our vision for the education sector in India is to provide value-based holistic education in a stress-free environment to deserving children from vulnerable communities. Over the last three decades, The Art of Living has successfully executed educational projects with the objective of integrating values into the education system and providing livelihood options and a safe future for children. The Art of Living today operates 425 free schools catering to almost 51,000 children across 18 states in India. Our free schools fall under the following categories:
Schools for disaster victims
During the course of building and running these schools, the Art of Living teams have encountered and addressed innumerable challenges. We have learnt that teaching our children is perhaps the easier process in the entire cycle. Influencing the mindset of the surrounding community and helping them to see the value of education is significantly more challenging and this has been the unique value that the Art of Living has brought into the space of value-based education. The tangible impact of this is that today 90% of our students stay in the school against a national average of 37%.
“My school is the only pillar of hope for my sister, brother and me. I know education will help us. It will give our mother and all the poor people in our tribal village a better life.” - Geeta, a student from one of our tribal schools. She is one of the best performing students. She says that her motivation stems from her desire to help her single mother, who is currently struggling to raise 3 young kids.
Projects in Education
40% of the Indian population is under the age of 18. On April 1 2010, India joined the league of 135 countries that have made education a fundamental right of every child. Implementing the Right to Education and providing education to nearly 500 million people in India is a daunting task. The Art of Living shares this challenge with the government and other agencies in bringing education to the most deserving children and youth in the country. Some of our challenges include the following:
Parents do not enroll their children in schools because of various socio-economic factors
Children drop out after attending school for a while because of domestic pressures
Student performance decreases with time as they encounter personal, social and economic problems
Teachers may quit for better opportunities
Lack of qualified teachers for senior classes
We have found innovative solutions to overcome these challenges. Our risk mitigation strategy involves taking a holistic approach that involves the children, their parents, the community and the teachers.
It is estimated that nearly 96% of children start primary education in India. Off those who start only 72% finish class V, only 57% finish class VIII and barely 37% end up finishing class X.
We have a well-defined strategy for our education projects that has been developed and refined with time. This strategy is built on three pillars:
Providing Free Education: The children targeted for these schools come from a background of abject poverty and most of them are first generation learners. The Art of Living aims to provide free and value-based education to children from vulnerable sections while addressing the social, economic and cultural barriers that keep children away from school.
Engaging with Community: Even before the children can be educated, their parents and elders have to be educated on the importance of education. The Art of Living proactively sensitizes community influencers to ensure that the children stay in school. School teachers are chosen from the community and are trained appropriately to ensure that the bond with the community is strong. This helps to keep the dropout rate low.
Value Based Education: A major focus of our education strategy is to combine formal education with life skills that include building the child’s confidence, leadership and interpersonal skills and developing spiritual tools through meditation techniques and a foundation of human values. The Art of Living schools nurture the complete child taking care of his mind, body and spirit. Family values are strengthened and social and cultural barriers are replaced by progressive attitudes.
As the result of our sustained efforts in this sector, The Art of Living today operates 425 free schools catering to almost 51,000 children in tribal, rural areas and urban slums across 19 states in India. Highlights of these schools include:
Many of these schools are in areas where there are no government schools
Most of the children are first generation learners
These schools successfully deliver a holistic curriculum that is a balance of modern education and ancient wisdom
The gender ratio in these schools is 48 girls: 52 boys which is significantly higher than the national average
90% of our students stay in the school against a national average of 37%
We have trained about 1100 teachers so far
Please reach out to us to know more about our projects in the education sector and how you can partner with us to bring change.