In part 9 of the series ”Voices from a Path Breaking School” find out what an incredible offering the teachers, parents and helpers made for the students. Over the course of this series, we will present you with the insights and experiences of an Isha volunteer intent on sharing the stories of transformation brought about through Isha Vidhya.
“Education needs inspiration, not just information. Only inspired human beings can transform their own lives and lives around them.” - Sadhguru
Isha Vidhya Erode students bagged an impressive average score of 92% in their 10th grade board exams last year. It was undoubtedly a great academic success for them, but even more noteworthy is what lay behind these high scores…
An Unforgettable Six Months
“Those were the golden days of my life!” – Jyotilingam, a residing teacher, exclaims about the six months he spent with students in preparation for their board exams.
This year, Isha Vidhya’s first-ever 10th standard class wrote their State Board exams. Performance in these exams is usually the barometer for testing if a school is really worth studying in. For Isha Vidhya, the students’ performance was not just a testimony of academic rigor but also a test of their non-conformist education model. As the exam day drew near, the management, teachers, parents, helpers, donors, all began to show signs of nervousness.
Since over 60% of students live in conditions that are not conducive to follow a focused study schedule: i.e., an alcoholic parent; many people crammed into one room including toddlers and young children; a TV on at all times; no academic support and no motivation; not even an adequate diet, etc. For many children, the mid-day-meal at the school is the first and only proper meal of the day. Seeing this, the Isha Vidhya management provided for the children to stay back at school for an extended time in the evening, for six months prior to their board examination, pro bono. All 30 children, irrespective of their economic background, opted to make use of this offering. The teachers, parents and helpers all joined hands to create the best possible arrangements for them to study without stress.
Two teachers, Jyotilingam anna and Sundar anna, stayed back with the children every evening throughout six months along with the subject teachers. Parents took turns to be with the children in these late evenings, for safety and emotional support. A few parents also visited during the day to serve food and help the administration. Helpers cooked three meals for all, and took care to keep the premises clean and hygienic.
A carefully devised daily schedule included yoga, games, impromptu dancing, singing and cultural events to ensure that the children remain joyful and stress-free.
The Big Day
The test day came and went, and finally the results arrived – A perfect pass rate! And, not just that: In addition to the 100% pass result, the aggregate score of all the students was a whopping 92%. The school ranked 4th among 420 private schools in Erode district!
Students Share their Gratitude
“My parents pushed me to study all the time when I was at home on weekends. I used to get restless and would just want to get back to school with my friends and my teachers.” – Raja Raajeshwaran
“The atmosphere was truly inclusive and enjoyable. No visiting parents brought snacks only for their own child; they brought for all 30 children! Many parents came to serve food to us and the teachers. If one of us fell sick, instead of sending us home to fend for ourselves, teachers would take us to the doctor, and provided us with the care of loving parents until we were better.
We studied like siblings – brighter children helped the slow ones to catch up, the naughty ones troubled the reserved, the healthier took care of the weaker – we shared everything. The support and love of the helpers was overwhelming. The whole space was charged with profoundness, joy and love. It was truly an offering of our teachers and helpers. Those six months will remain etched in my memory for a very long time.” –Barath S
“During my six-month study period in the school last year, I was overwhelmed by the way our helpers cooked and served us so joyfully and lovingly – just like our mothers do. They would come at 5 am, and often leave only after 9 pm. I later found out that they didn’t even take any money for it. I feel very fortunate that I am among such wonderful people.” –Anand R
And, the Reward:
“What magic are you doing in Isha Vidhya?!” exclaimed the teacher of another school to the Principal of Isha Vidhya.
“Once, along with another teacher called Sujatha, I went to attend a meeting being held in Nanda College in Erode with the principals of nearly all the schools in Erode district. As I entered the hall, principals of two schools in which some of our first 10th grade students had joined, gathered around me. They asked me quizzically, “What magic are you doing in Isha Vidhya? How is it that your students bond with you so well and are so well behaved?” They also enquired if they could visit Isha Vidhya to bring some of its aspects into their schools as well.
We actually went there to receive an award for achieving 100% pass rate, but I think this was the real award!” –Principal, Isha Vidhya Erode.
Editor’s Note: “Innovating India’s Schooling” is a conference, designed and conducted by Isha Vidhya, Isha Home School and the Isha Leadership Academy to bring together concerned individuals and thinkers from the fields of education, government and industry. Through a series of lectures, debates and discussions, the conference seeks to redefine education as a tool to not just create a highly productive workforce, but also shape an inclusive, responsible and joyful society. The event also marks the tenth anniversary of Isha Vidhya, the rural education initiative of Isha Foundation. Learn more. Follow #10YrsOfIshaVidhya on Facebook and Twitter for the latest updates.