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January 07' 2007
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January 07' 2007

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Home > 2007 Issues > January 07, 2007

London Post

Britain?s first state-funded Hindu school

By Prasun Sonwalkar

LONDON: A team of experts is currently working on weaving Hindu religious elements into the government-prescribed national curriculum that will be taught in Britain?s first state-funded Hindu faith school.

The school, named the ?Krishna Avanti Primary School? in the borough of Harrow, is scheduled to welcome its first intake of students from September 2008. A ?register of interest? has been launched for parents of prospective pupils.

According to Nitesh Gor, director of I-Foundation, all major Hindu groups in Britain have expressed support to the school, including the Hindu Forum of Britain, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, the Chinmaya Group and the Hindu Council.

The Department of Education and Skills had announced the Hindu faith school in November 2005 and had earmarked 10 million pounds for the project. ?The primary school aims to give Hindu parents a choice of school that is consistent with their faith. At present, Voluntary Aided schools exist for every other major religion in the UK and it is right that the Hindu community is not denied this option in the education of their children,? Gor told newspersons.

The school will be located in the borough of Harrow, which has the largest population of Hindus in any borough in Britain (40,000; 20 per cent of the population). Its design is intended to have minimal impact on the environment.

Gor said: ?It will have a strong environment aspect, including teaching outdoors, in accordance with traditional Hindu ways of teaching and learning. The requirements will also meet the norms of the Department of Education and Skills.?

Gor added that the I-Foundation was an independent charity organisation and will be advised on the faith aspects of the school by a range of Hindu and non-Hindu organisations, including the Chinmaya Group, Swaminarayan, ISKCON, the Church of England and Board of Deputies of British Jews.

However, ultimately decisions will be taken by its own independent board of governors. He said teachers for the school would be recruited from within the Hindu community in Britain.

As a charity organisation, I-Foundation?s aim is to ?establish sustainable projects that further the advancement of Vedic culture and philosophy?. Its board of directors include Gor, Pradip Gajjar, Shailesh Govindia, Paul Murphy and Prashun Popat.

The I-Foundation?s advisory panel include Anil Agarwal (chairman, Vedanta Resources), Geoffrey Allen (academic), Rasamandala Das (education consultant), Shaunaka Rish Das (director, Oxford Centre of Hindu Studies), Krishna Ghosh (teacher), Idris Mears (director of Association of Muslim Schools UK), Bhakti Charu Swami, Radhanath Swami, Sivarama Swami, Sandra Teacher (education officer of the Board of Deputies of British Jews) and Reverend David Whittongton (national school development officer of the Church of England).

(The writer is a UK-based journalist)

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