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Indus International Community SchoolDuring a recent trip to India, I gave workshops at seven schools in various parts of the country. Each of these schools offered great resources to their students, with facilities that rival those in many schools in the United States. For the most part, teachers are well trained and caring. And even though many teachers and administrators feel restricted by curricular requirements, they want what is best for their students. And they put forth a great effort to provide for these students.

The students in most of these schools are part of a select group of privileged children and youth. They are smart and capable. They look forward to their futures with anticipation and sometimes a little confusion or trepidation. But their parents have economic resources and have provided them with sound educational opportunities.

along the train tracksMany children across India don’t have similar privileges.

One day as I was leaving the guarded gates of one of India’s top schools, and I glanced through the back window of the car and saw a tin shack next to the majestic wall. In the doorway of the shack was a small child asleep in a makeshift hammock fashioned with an old blanket.

In another new, impressive, and beautiful school, I looked through a third-floor window as I was coming down a staircase. Out across the back wall squatted a dense cluster of shacks, many of which were inhabited by children who would never walk the halls of such a well-endowed school nor perhaps of any other school.

Children near streetIn many intersections of India’s busy roadways, when cars and rickshaws are waiting for the stoplight to change, ragged children knock on car windows and beg for food or money. In some cases, the children perform a dance or a trick in hopes of getting a few coins before the lights change to green. These children learn to survive; often they learn words in multiple languages. But many never learn to read.

In many areas of India, the literacy rate is less that 75 percent. Some people estimate the percentage is far less than that. What is being done for these children? The future of India depends on these children catching a vision of their own potential and finding the resources to achieve that vision.

Many people are unsure of how to respond to these problems. But instead of shrugging their shoulders and turning away, instead of handwringing about the problem, some educators are taking visionary action. One of the best examples is the Indus International Community School. Although this school has few of the resources of the top schools I visited, it was the most dynamic and most hopeful.

The Indus International Community School is the result of the visionary leadership of General Arjun Ray, the compassionate enthusiasm of Principal Anuradha Ghulati, and the dedicated work of many teachers and other community stakeholders.

Indus International Community SchoolAmong the many strengthens of the community school approach are the following:

  1. The school enables community mentors to nurture the interests of students and encourages the students to find their interests and build on their strengths. For example, a professional jockey who had grown up in a local community mentors several young boys who would like to be jockeys some day. They dare to dream because they have a living example that success is possible.
  2. The school provides educational opportunities to whole families and communities, not just children. Administrators have created remote learning centers in surrounding communities, which provide learning support for students and learning opportunities for parents.
  3. The school encourages self-reliance, building ways for the students and their families to do what they can to be accountable for educational opportunities and providing a structure for the school itself to become economically self-reliant.
  4. The school integrates the learning efforts of students in the nearby Indus International School; students from economically privileged families mentor students in the community school and learn with and from them.

The Indus International Community School shows one clear path forward in providing educational opportunities to children in India. The first campus of the school has been established in Bangalore and has quickly found its footing. Similar schools are planned for Hyderabad and Pune.

Learn more about the school and its educational approach. If you wish, you can sponsor one or more students and contribute to their educational success.