Aikiyam School in New Creation serves 260 children from the villages near Auroville, with classes from pre-crèche to grade 8. There are around 20 children in each class. Most children are from economically disadvantaged families.
Aikiyam School started in the early 1980s. It was then called New Creation School, and was later renamed New Creation Bilingual School as classes were given in both English and Tamil. Originally it was a small boarding school for children from the traditional and impoverished village of Kuilapalayam, where the only mode of transport besides walking was by bullock cart, or, for the better off, by bicycle. Today both the village and the school have changed.
Presently, Aikiyam School is a day-school under SAIIER’s Auroville Outreach School Board. The curriculum includes all of the standard academic subjects as well as art, music, dancing, physical education, computer education, carpentry and crafts. The school also has a program for children with special needs. Parents are expected to make a donation of between Rs2,000 and Rs3,000 per year to cover books, material and some of the other expenses. Auroville contributes by covering the maintenances of Aurovilians working in the school, plus a regular budget for some of the costs. For the rest we depend on donations.
Classes are small and the majority of permanent teachers are Tamil, with a few international teachers as well. The school relies partly on help from international volunteer teachers, especially for developing fluency in English. Since 2005 the school has a management team that works in close collaboration with the school’s principal and teachers.
In 2007 the school received provisional affiliation for a period of three years from the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE). Later this affiliation was extended until March 2016. The CBSE program promotes creative education at all levels through the application of learning by doing. Being a CBSE school means that the children will no longer have to sit for State Board exams based on rote learning in grade eight but will write exams approved by CBSE in grade ten at New Era Secondary School (NESS), an Auroville-run CBSE high school for children from both the villages and Auroville. For those children who want to go to a State Board high school instead of continuing the CBSE curriculum at NESS, Aikiyam School is entitled by CBSE to give a recognised school transfer certificate.
Thanks to some of our friends and the social service department (known as BMZ) of the German Government, the school has been able to make some significant additions and improvements to the campus. In 2008 we were able to build a kitchen and dining area. Two years later we completed a building which houses the library, science lab and two classrooms. One of these classrooms is used for children who need supportive learning. The other is for the 8th grade, which allowed us to turn the previous 8th grade classroom into an art room. Also in 2010 we renovated and enlarged our original “UFO” buildings. In 2011 we added an assembly space above the dining area, and created a special playground for the kindergarten block.
We are now in 2015 and are in the process of constructing a 2-building project which will give us more classrooms, more toilets, an office and a teachers’ resource centre. We feel truly blessed.