In the English Education Act of 1835, Lord Macaulay launched a scathing attack on the native Hindu culture and learning. He debated that 'Western Learning' was superior and through the medium of English language, western knowledge should be imparted in the country. Unfortunately, Macaulay's education model was followed largely across the nation, first by the British regime and later by the Indian government. Today's education system is churning out a skilled labour force which is ready to cater to the market requirements but in reality lacks capacities and caliber for innovation and invention. In the course of time, we have even lost the nexus with our rich ancient 'knowledge tradition' which was rooted in building characters and value education.
Understanding this need to transform the existing educational context and establish a connect with the glorious Indian past, Siddhagiri Gurukulam was established in 2016 at Kaneri Math. Swamiji believes that goal of education is to seek and spread happiness. In this sense, he thinks that the educational journey should be sufficient unto itself. Earlier, in this country, the amalgam of over 7 lac villages and 16000 universities were relentlessly producing liberated minds that were ready to surpass the challenges of time.
The Gurukulam is first of its kind educational initiative in India where 300+ students, as a part of residential prograame are pursuing and cherishing the learning experience free of cost. Students here are engrossed in mastering, 4 Vedas, 6 Shastras, 64 Kalas (Arts) and 14 Vidyas (Techniques) of ancient India. Mastering them is all about the creation of cultured and liberated minds which is the need of the hour.
Besides, the Gurukulam also endeavours to imbibe the Indian values among the students by exposing them to the age-old tradition of barter trade, Indian sports, weaponry arts (Lathi Kathi, Dandpatta, Dhanurvidya), Vedic mathematics, Yoga and Sanskrit language. With exposition to Vyakran (Grammar) and Chhanda (Rhetoric), students here also master various linguistic skills. Many of the students have won laurels in sports like horse riding at the state and national level. To make them walk the path of self-reliance, students here are also introduced to organic farming and made to toil to yield crops and also sell them in the adjacent markets.
A day @ Gurukulam:
As a student, being at Gurukulam is all about embracing life in its true essence and colours. As one roams around at Gurukulam, he will meet number of students who are engrossed in various activities such as, playing musical instruments, mastering weaponry arts, learning manifold techniques of wrestling, decoding mysteries of Vedic Mathematics, engaged in craftsmanship (Charmavidya, Loharkam, Sutarkam, etc) and so on. As a student, Yoga is an integral part of their lives. They are raised here not just as students but as responsible and self-reliant citizens. At an early age, they understand that they need to feed themselves and for the purpose they learn various techniques of organic farming. At Gurukulam, they become the carriers of the age-old legacy of Indian craftsmanship. Here they learn how to manufacture artifacts. They are involved in making and selling of shoes, pots and food products. These students from different economical and social backgrounds work with an aim of becoming successful entrepreneurs and not the regular job-seekers in the market. Through the Gurukulam, Siddhagiri
Foundation aims to revive and strengthen the tradition of Gurukul where life itself was built on the pedestal of values and virtues.
Siddhagiri Education: Vidyachetna
With the market forces playing significant role in shaping up the approach of the government towards the education, number of vernacular-medium schools being run by the civic bodies are facing closure... unfortunately students are bearing the brunt most.
A model school always operates in the best interests of the child. At any model school, educational environment is always safe, healthy and protective. At such school, children must be provided with trained teachers, adequate resources and appropriate physical, emotional and social conditions for learning... to put it simply in a child-friendly school, children’s rights are always protected and their voices are always heard.
Unfortunately many Zilla Parishad schools, today, are lacking even in providing the basic amenities. Consequentially students drop out ratio in government schools is 60%. Parents too are helpless and they are more eager to get their child enrolled in private schools. In villages too, apathy for government schools is continuously increasing.
Understanding the current educational crisis, Siddhagiri Foundation, with an objective of improving the lives of the students, started sowing the seeds of quality education among the government run schools in 2013 in Karvir Taluka of Kolhapur district. The seed that has grown up into a sustainable model of quality education is called Vidyachetana.
The model decided to lay thrust on improving students' comprehension of the subjects like Math, English and Marathi and Science. Thoughtfully designed activities with studied rationale were carried out. An average student, who had lost his confidence in his academic life, soon started gaining it, as his understanding of numbers and letters improved. As the classroom teaching became more interesting, students became communicative and inquisitive. The Zilla Parishad schools that were facing the challenges like 'dropouts', retention and enrollment soon got rapidly improved.
Vidnyan Sancharika - Mobile science lab:
ZP schools in villages have always faced the dearth of resources and lack of exposure to science learning. To encourage hands-on learning experience and inculcate scientific temperament among the children, Siddhagiri Foundation reaches out to students through its Vidnyan Sancharika, a mobile science lab. The Mobile Science lab provides counter-intuitive science experiments and projects; promotes peer to peer learning along with hands-on experience of science education. Today more than thousands of students from 150+ villages are availing the benefits and pursuing their passion for science.
To encourage hands-on learning experience and inculcate scientific temperament among children more than 150 scientific experiments are being carried out at mobile science lab which covers the science syllabus from 1st to 8th Standard.
The Foundation has always believed in the holistic development of a child and to achieve the goal, it has been consistently promoting sports and Yoga culture in the schools. The Yogagram (Entire village performing Yog on a daily basis) and various Vidyachetana sports initiatives make it sure that sports talents are groomed and cheered. Sports ground facilities are being prepared and nearly 10000+ students benefiting from sports facilities
Connecting students with the current digital era is utmost important and the Foundation has been endeavoring to close the digital divide by running e-learning centers at the schools. Keeping up with new edge technology, the Foundation has digitally empowered over 100 schools with all requisite hardware and software along with interactive digital content for all the grades. Teachers have also been trained to use the digital tools for effective learning. Every year, local Ganeshotsav Mandals and the villagers are encouraged to sponsor an e-learning center at one school and if Ganeshotsav Mandals or villagers do agree to shoulder the responsibility, the Foundation reciprocates and sponsors another e-learning center in another school.
The Foundation's innovative initiative, 'Padyapujan', has been helping in strengthening an emotional bond between the pupil and his parents. The event is carried out twice in a year and during the event, parents take a pledge to remain alert and aware towards the emotional needs of their kids.
Today, the total 222 schools and more than 10,000 students are reaping the benefits of various initiatives being carried out under Vidya Chetana. Over 200 (earlier Vidyachetana journey had begun with just 22 teachers) teachers from these schools have found the new pedagogic approach to make the learning meaningful and enjoyable. Earlier, the initiative which was confined just to Zila Parishad schools has now reached to Municipal schools of Kolhapur. A sea-change has occurred at the level of the local parents who used to consider private schools and private tuition as the necessity in child's educational journey. Now, parents' faith towards the government schools has been restored.
Throughout the last decade, Siddhagiri Foundation has been careful in reaching out to the students belonging to the lower social-income groups and orphans. Through its initiative called Anandashram, over 400 students from Meghalaya and more than 100 orphans are cherishing their school-life with courage and tenacity.
Siddhagiri Ananda-shram…Not anatha-shram (home of happiness and not an orphanage)
Every child is a seed and has a full right to grow and turn into a tree up to its maximum potential amidst its family. Every child wants a safe, loving family to grow up in. 80% of children have living parents but due to poverty and incapability of parents to bring them up, these children are struggling in every facet of life. Parents can’t feed, educate and provide medical facilities to them.
Siddhagiri Anandashram is an attempt to provide these children the infrastructure to grow up and it helps them to become a responsible citizen of India with character. With the help of crowd funding and donations by society, Siddhagiri is managing facilities for these increasing number of deprived children. This is a humongous task and it needs many helping hands. We are seeking our partnerships with national governments, civil society organisations, international agencies, corporate donors and committed individuals, we are helping to build a global movement that will eliminate orphanages in our lifetime.
AS IS of Siddhagiri Anandashram"
Shri Kadsiddheshwar Swamiji not only believes in Indian pledge, but he took a strong move to implement the words and notions in it, which mentions India is my country and all Indians are my brothers and sisters Shri Swamiji travelled to Meghalaya and brought around 150 suffering children from Meghalaya to Kolhapur, Maharashtra. It cost Rs. 4000/- per child just to travel from remote villages in Meghalaya to Kolhapur. These children were in a situation where they did not even get a food once a day in Meghalaya. There were no facilities of education and basic hygiene at all for them. There are around 250 children in Anandashram as of Today. 180 of which are from Meghalaya residing at Siddhagiri Math, Kolhapur. 50 from Maharashtra in Parali Sajjangad area and 20 in Khopi, Konkan region. The basic facilities by the ashram include facilities like food, shelter, clothing and education.
A Day at Anandashram:
The day begins with shanti prayers and Stotras at a dawn. Chanting followed by Yog practice provides the energy to start off the day with full of enthusiasm and excitement. After the nutritious breakfast, English and Mathematics subjects are taught by the experienced tutors. Later they are sent to the Shri Kadsiddheshwar Highschool for further studies. In the evening, children finish their homework and play Indian games after that.
Weekly twice, they are trained by the traditional music teachers. The day ends with prayers and children go to sleep. The domestic Indian skills are taught to them like pottery, carpentry, electrician courses, etc. so that they can become entrepreneurs. They are taught value-based education. Shramdaan – children perform seva (voluntary work through physical effort for a certain cause, be it social or otherwise) during the leisure time. This gives them feeling of social responsibilities.