Category Archives: Education

NEEV Vidyalaya – Hurlung : A Small Monument Created by the Large Heartedness of People

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Shikha and Anurag at the NEEV Vidyalaya, Hurlung Construction Site

Dear Friends,

Usually schools are created by governments, businessmen or politicians. Very rarely are they created by common people who have a passion for education. This is because building a school involves massive capital as initial investment. Unlike a business, the returns are very slow. And to compensate for the returns, schools have to charge high fees. The result is that all good schools are built for the rich, by the rich. Not only that, the education system belted out by these schools have to cater to market demands of mere skill development rather than the total development of children – body, heart and mind.

Meanwhile the poor are relegated to an inferior education system with poorly qualified, disinterested teachers and a languishing environment. For generations they suffer a life of inferiority complex and disempowerment. Of course there are always exceptions, the few who flower in the barren wastelands of educational institutions catering to the poor.

It took almost two decades of personal journey and a decade of NEEV’s journey to come to a point where we could materialize our dream for opening a small English Medium School for children of Hurlung Village. This could have in no way been possible without the unimaginable support we received from all our friends of NEEV over the years. I would like to especially mention our college mates – T G Sathish and Vivek Gahlaut – who have helped us with Rs. 30 Lakhs and Rs. 13 Lakhs for helping us in the school construction. Of course there are several others who donated us to the tune of I lakh rupees and many more who have donated in thousands. By not mentioning them I am aware of the injustice I am causing to them. I hope I shall be pardoned, considering that it would become untenable for me to mention all the names. Thus NEEV Vidyalaya, Hurlung is a small monument that embodies the large heartedness of common people; people who are not businessmen, politicians or corporates but people who have a passion for creating a just society on the basis of good quality education.

Following are the costs involved in the school construction.

Purchase of Land                                                                                               : Rs. 16,25,000 Lakhs

Design and Construction of First Floor                                                      : Rs. 34,80,400

Furniture, Electrical and Plumbing Fittings and Fixtures:                  : Rs. 4,00,000

Total Estimated Cost for the first floor                                                 : Rs. 55, 05, 400

We have received Rs. 47 lakhs as donation from various donors for the school construction. We are falling short by Rs. 8 lakhs. The costs have kept on escalating since we initially conceptualized the school. This is because we wanted the school construction to be based on indigenous materials. But considering the  long term stability and maintenance issues we had to go for more conservative and modern constructions as we went along. We are still trying our best to minimize the costs, so hopefully we may be able to shave off some expenses.

I would be really grateful if all our friends who have come together to bring NEEV to this point can help us with the remaining amount of Rs. 8 Lakhs.

You all may know that we have stopped the Rural Kids Sponsorship Scheme because we would like the school to be self – sustainable, at least in its operations. However we would require help from our friends for further construction and planned expansion of the school.

For the sake of meeting our operational expenses and contingency, we have created a Contingency Corpus Fund of Rs. 50 Lakhs and would like to increase it to Rs. 60 lakhs depending on future plans. The interest from this along with the nominal school fees we shall receive from the village school children would help us meet the operating expenses as well as my monthly honorarium of Rs. 10, 000 per month. Shikha, who would be teaching the school kids would be giving her time and energy totally on a voluntary basis.

We are planning to take admission of around 50 kids this year from Nur to Std. 3. The total monthly fee we are charging from them is Rs. 200.

I hope this gives a fair picture of the finances involved in the construction and operation of NEEV Vidyalaya.

Following is a plan of the school prepared by our Architect

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The school shall prepare the children in English Medium for NIOS (National Institute of Open Schooling) Board Exams. It is the same board from which my daughter too passed her 10th Std.

At present we have finished with the boundary wall construction and foundation work. The roof for the office block and the first room is ready to be casted next week.

Shikha in her daily inspection visit of NEEV Vidyalya, Hurlung construction

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Looking Back – Beginnings of  NEEV Vidyalaya in Aug 2016 – (8 months back)

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We could take this unbelievable journey only due to the support we got from all of you. I hope we can continue to take forward this dream of by the continuation of your support. All those who would like to make a donation of any amount to NEEV to help us with the remaining 8 lakhs, can write to me or donate in our bank account

Bank Name – IDBI

Branch – Telco

A/c Name – NEEV

Savings Account

A/c No. – 903104000120197

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Looking forward to blessings from all of you 🙂

Madhu: The Head Mistri who is constructing our school: asking for God’s blessings before the staircase casting. His son Raja would be studying in our school in UKG

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Relationships are more vast than the earth : thank you all for your birthday wishes

No silver foils, no tinsel, no spangles and no glitter bedecked my birthday. What deluged me though was a huge wave of wishes and love from people across time and space. The forty and one years I have lived on earth kind of resembles an archaeological site where I can find all layers of my past, delicately preserved, as well as relationships attached to all these layers, right up to the time I was born. As I was sifting and responding to all the birthday wishes on internet, phone etc. I was replaying all the moments I have had with people who wished me. They stretch from times when I was born, crawling on all fours and learning to take the first baby steps to walk in this world – to the times when I started going to school, college, job, teaching, principal-ship, NEEV and my spiritual journey – to becoming a teacher of children who have started bearing kids 🙂

J Krishnamurti, the philosopher, seer and my life’s inspiration had once remarked – relationships are more vast than the earth. Like so many of his cryptic, mystical and poetic utterances, this one reverberates in my mind and grows over the years to reveal its sublime beauty. Life is all about relationships. No money, no material can ever provide me with the richness relationships have poured in my life. Yes, I have seen pain, sorrow and suffering in relationships. But equally, in fact more so, I have seen the human capacity to love, to break boundaries, to reach out to the other.

I would have remained bitter and skeptic had it not been for NEEV. It got me in touch with all of you. It got me in touch with this resilient human goodness that lies buried under all the violence, brutality and competition that animates the world. No, I am not a romantic. I would not make haste in saying that humankind is redeemed; that we have made the kingdom of God on earth. We are far from it. But what I can say with confidence is that if we extend the hand of love, there is an answer from the other side. LOVE WORKS. But one has to move through sorrow. When we deny real sorrow in ourselves, we can never see the blossoming of love.

I am just pasting a few pics of some gestures by my school kids as well as a lovely video by my friend Eva along with her adorable friends from Bulgaria. Of course doing so is kind of unfair. It does not do justice to all the love that was showered through mails and messages. I am sure my friends shall pardon me for this act of omission. I post the gestures of the school children because these are the children all our friends of NEEV have been supporting. I am sure they shall find joy in their tender expressions.

Thank you all for making the panoramic landscape of NEEV, for creating a network of relationships that one day shall truly live up to Krishnamurti’s words of being vaster than the earth. For then only, we shall wake up to a new dawn of humanity.

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By my students of NEEV Vidyalaya – Std. 8, 9 & 10

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My students are very fond of flowers. These are delicately perfumed flowers of the Indian Siris Tree. The Peepal leaf and the flowers capture the environment and mood of nature during this time of the year. These exquisitely scented flowers bloom only during this time of the year. The peepal tree at this time has shed off it’s old leaves of last year and looks resplendent with shapely and shiny green leaves, with the younger ones having a beautiful tinge of red.

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The Indian Siris Tree, inscrutably also called the Woman’s Tongue was one of the many trees planted by us in NEEV Vidyalaya ten years ago when we moved into the school campus bereft of all trees. Today it graces my birthday with flowers. It is one of my senior children 🙂 looking after the nursery and junior school kids who frolick under its shade during school dismissal.

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A card made by one of my Std. 10 students

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And finally a cute, little video of my friends from Bugaria. The video can be watched at

Visit of Hill Top School Children to NEEV Vidyalaya (School)

Last Saturday, following close on heels the KSMS (Kearala Samajam Model School) children who visited our NEEV Herbals Unit a fortnight ago, we had another batch of 90 six graders from Hill Top School visit NEEV Vidyalaya, as part of their value education program.

It gave me the opportunity to address the Hill Top School children about the true purpose of education; which is not about securing a high paying job, but finding out what one loves doing in life, and following that. When a person finds out what he loves doing, he does not compare like what is – beautifully – portrayed in the OLX ad (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sv2rH5DitOI). I really request all of you to see this ad. In less than a minute it manages to capture one of the most basic emotions that fuels human behaviour under all skies, since all time, and in all kinds of masks – the urge to be better than the other.

This ad also brings home a powerful message – all happiness gained through external objects is relative. I am happy with my car until my neighbour purchases a bigger car. True education tecahes that a life based on love – rather than comparison – brings about true happiness. Have you ever noticed that when we truly love (if we really do), we never compare. For instance we never compare our Mother ;  we love her for what she is. So would not the true function of education be to help children find out what they love doing in life – whether it is gardening, painting or engineering and help them do that – rather than forcing them into the carcinogenic mould of expectations engenderd by society? That way we shall not be an ambitious lot, leading insecure lives based on comparison and envy. Ambitious people harm the earth and exploit the environment while people who love heal and nurture the earth.

On their part the Hill Top School children performed a play, sang some songs and displayed charts to bring home the message of environmental awareness. And there could have been no better setting for delivering a message on the environment than under the shade of the mighty old Peepal tree that stands sentinel at NEEV Vidyalaya. Their visit ended on a warm note as they presented our school children some handmade gifts. We heartily thank Hill Top School for coming over and spending time with our children in the school. They have been very constant visitors too.

I am presenting the whole function through a photo essay. I am proudly splurging on the photos this time because all of them have been taken by an upcoming and budding photographer –  a student of our school, who is under my training 🙂

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Explaining the Vision of NEEV School to Hill Top School Students

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Source of Eternal Values in Education : Talk at South Eastern Railway School, Chakradharpur

Almost two decades back in 1998, I got ordained as a teacher in the temple of education. This was an event which was not foretold by any singular event in the life I had lived earlier as a student of a public school or later as a college graduate pursuing engineering.

Looking back through all these intervening years, I can certainly see the skilful hands of a divine architect shaping, nudging, moulding and at times even compelling me through a matrix of circumstances to stay put in this temple. I had entered the field of education not so much by choice but by a process of negating all I did not want to do in this world. More than anything else it was my love and passion for the teachings of J Krishnamurti that made me accept a position as a teacher in the The School, Krishnamurti Foundation India, Chennai.

What initially started perhaps more as an avocation gradually started becoming an all consuming compassion. There is something in children, especially when they are brought up in an atmosphere of love and care, that refuses any sensitive soul to withdraw from them. As my personal life started blending and tracing the same path of myself as a teacher, education was no longer a profession, a job. The boundary between life and education started thinning over the years till after almost two decades I can say that education and life has become one for me. I am reminded of a quote from J Krishnamurti,

If one becomes aware that there can be peace and harmony for man only through right education, then one will naturally give one’s whole life and interest to it. (J Krishnamurti)

The search for truth in life became the search for truth in education for me. For years I wrestled with a system of education that seemed so alien to a deeper sense in me. Something was wrong, terribly wrong with life and education. I could see how modern life was so faithfully mirrored in our education system. I could see how education had become beholden to the powers of greed, acquisitiveness, ambition and competition that authors the movements of modern society. NEEV Vidyalaya became a smithy for me where I started hammering one problem after the other so that they could yield a solution.

To change society, one had to change education, find the truth of education and liberate it from vested powers and interests. And only then can there be “peace and harmony in the world” as J Krishnamurti says.

As I plumbed into the depths of education through my varied experiences as a Teacher, Principal and Management, as I looked deeply into the minds of my children and as I poured through all the literature on education models and the history of education in India, the pieces of jigsaw puzzle started coming together. Slowly, a story started revealing itself.

By a fortunate turn of events I was invited by the South Eastern Railway Schoool, Chakradharpur for their Zonal Teacher’s Conference on 18th May, 2015 attended by about a hundred teachers. I got an opportunity to present the story of education that had unfolded in my life. I particularly thank Ms. Leena who invited me for the talk and all the teachers of the school who so affectionately attended to me every single moment of my stay.  I am sharing some photos and the Power Point Presentation below.

I hope this presentation presents you all with some keys to unlock conundrums that confront you as individuals, parents, teachers, educators, facilitators, entrepreneurs and leaders because education is life, it is something all of us are doing almost every moment of our life.

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Please click on the link http://www.slideshare.net/AnuragNEEV/value-education-2015 to view the presentation.

Shikha Nominated for Femina Women Awards 2015 on behalf of NEEV for Education

Femina 1Shikha has been nominated for the Femina Women Awards 2015 on behalf of NEEV for it’s work in Education. The details can be found at http://femina.in/lifestyle/in-the-news/femina-women-awards-2015_-3462-1.html#descArticle

I am reproducing below the relevant excerpts from the Femina website.

I thank all the friends and supporters of NEEV whose relentless support has made it possible for us to carry out the mission.

Some of our friends have asked me in the past as to how various organizations spot us and approach us for awards. Well the answer is that it is as much a mystery for us as it is for all of you (except in one case). A typical work day at NEEV is just relentless work in our small world of rambunctious kids at school and giggly women in the quiet rural settings of the NEEV Herbals Unit.

There was the time when we had just started NEEV and with a penchant used to fill out forms for many awards. After some years, as maturity dawned, we gave all this up to focus all our energies in doing our work with the greatest possible sincerity. We adopted Karma Yoga. All the work we do is not for ourselves. The work and its fruits are all dedicated to God. The work and the awards are all His. We are instruments for his work which are still imperfect and who need to attune more and more to His Will.

The challenges that NEEV faces in its ultimate mission remain as daunting as ever. We only pray to God that he bestows his power, knowledge and grace so that we unflinchingly serve Him and never deviate from His path despite our imperfections.

Excerpt from Femina Website

It is that time of year again when Femina, India’s first and largest read women’s lifestyle magazine in association with iconic beauty brand L’Oreal Paris, recognises and honours women who have been continuously and selflessly striving to make this world a better place. Through L’Oréal Paris Femina Women Awards, Femina has successfully shifted the spotlight on lesser known women of worth who have been silently working for various causes and issues concerning the society. And now with the 4th edition of the awards, Femina promises to once again introduce to the world women with extraordinary accomplishments, outstanding leadership qualities and exceptional commitment to their careers and communities.

A special event was held on Tuesday at Mumbai’s Palladium Hotel to announce the nominees for this year’s awards in the presence of Tanya Chaitanya, editor, Femina, Manashi Guha general manager, L’Oreal Paris and L’Oreal Paris brand ambassador and Bollywood style icon Sonam Kapoor.

This year, the L’Oréal Paris Femina Women Awards will have 12 categories including science, business and entrepreneurship, sports, art, and education, among others.  The nominees have been shortlisted after an extensive research process while identifying each one’s key contribution in their respective fields.

Click for the nominee list for L’Oréal Paris Femina Women Awards 2015

Sharing her thoughts, Tanya Chaitanya, editor, Femina said, “L’Oreal Paris Femina Women Awards 2015 will introduce you to women who keep the world going with their good, selfless work. Some have never visited cities, most haven’t been exposed to media frenzy and definitely not a single nominee here is in it for publicity–these are superheroes who believe in letting their actions talk. L’Oreal Paris Femina Women Awards 2015 are our way of thanking these unsung stars for saving the world, in their own big and small ways”.

Manashi Guha, general manager, L’Oréal Paris said, “L’oreal Paris through its brand philosophy ‘Because you are Worth It’, has always encouraged women to empower themselves and lead an extraordinary life while feeling beautiful from within. In our 4th successful year, the L’Oreal Paris Femina Women Awards have nominees who selflessly work for improving the lives of other women. We salute them for their unwavering and selfless commitment to make a difference.”

Kellyn’s Diary: On Education

Kellyn's Diary

A couple of days ago, I got the heartening news that Kellyn who was our intern from America, North Carolina University, last year, completed her graduation in Psychology and has decided to do a two year stint with Teach for America program. After a very rigorous process of interviews, recommendations and live demonstration classes she has been finally accepted as corps for Las Vegas Valley, 2013. Her experience of working with NEEV played a pivotal role in her taking this decision. This was, as is understandable, was not an easy decision for her to come by. In choosing to follow the call of her spirit, she no doubt dashed the expectations of few of her intimate ones. But such is the case with every soul who heeds the inner call.

Kellyn’s interest in education was sparked by what she observed in NEEV School. I am reproducing a diary entry she had written while in Jamshedpur, detailing her views on education.

July 22, 2012
In the United States, we are told that education is a right. That all people should have the equal ability to explore, to learn, and to develop their minds through schooling. That all people should be able to have a chance at a successful future. But here, in India, it seems that education is not a right. It is a privilege, and those who are not born into a particular status or class are, more often than not, deprived of this privilege.
In the United States, we are told that poverty is cyclical. Well until I came here, I didn’t realize just how cyclical poverty could be. The uneducated are poor. The uneducated have children. These children remain uneducated, because neither their families nor their culture seems to value their education. Because their environment does not value their education. And the next generation of the uneducated remain poor. So this cycle continues.
NEEV is one of the few institutions that I have seen so far in India that believes that education should be a right for all people. They believe that the poor should not be destined to remain poor generation after generation, caught in an environment of intellectual neglect. This is where NEEV’s approach is truly integral. Not only does the organization want to educate rural children, they want to enrich the environment in which these children live on both a local scale and, eventually, a national scale. They want to change society so that the nature of poverty is no longer to entrap people. Ambitious? Yes, definitely. Worthwhile? Yes, definitely.
Every day that I see the children at the NEEV Public School, I feel outraged at the fact that the educational system that is in place in India has failed to see the value in them. As if being born in a certain class should determine whether a person deserves to be educated, to receive an opportunity for a brighter future. The children here are vibrant and curious. Unmotivated, at times? Yes, but then again, who isn’t? The point is that no child should ever be told that he or she does not deserve certain opportunities simply based on the environment and the situation in to which he or she was born.
In the United States, this is understood to be a basic truth by most people. But here, it is not the case. It is often easy to simply accept the systems that are already in place in a society, because it appears to be an impossible task for one or two people to redefine an entire social structure. But NEEV cannot and will not accept this. Anurag and Shikha—just two people in a population of over one billion—have refused to accept the flaws in the environment around them. This refusal to settle for a society that is less than fair? It takes imagination. It takes guts. It takes education. And all of us should learn from their example.

Interview of NEEV in All India Radio on Occasion of International Literacy Day – Sept 8, 2012

 

On the occasion of International Literacy Day, NEEV was one of the two organizations in Jamshedpur city which was interviewed by Mr. Shahid Anwar of All India Radio, Jamshedpur for the organization’s efforts to provide education access to the underprivileged sections of the society.

The program was aired in All India Radio on 8th and 9th of Sept. It also appeared in the Radio FM 100.8 channel