Britain'sfirst state-funded Hindu school has been granted planning permission by the London Borough of Harrow, and the first intake of students is expected to start in September 2008.
Based on Camrose Avenue in Edgware, the 236-place, one-form entry, primary school is at the heart of the highest concentration of Hindus in Britain, with around a third of local residents of the Hindu faith.
The school, named ?Krishna Avanti Primary School?, will be built at a cost of 10 million pounds. The Department of Education and Skills had announced the Hindu faith school in November 2005.
The school has received overwhelming backing from the local community, with the council receiving over 900 letters of support from Harrow residents, as against fewer than 150 objections.
The school is being built by the I-Foundation, a leading Hindu charity organisation. Welcoming the borough'sdecision, I-Foundation director Nitesh Gor said: ?This is an incredibly exciting moment for the UK'sHindu community.
?It is the first time the choice of a faith-based education will be extended to Hindus alongside Christians, Muslims, Jews and Sikhs.?
Speaking in support of the planning application, Conservative party councillor Anjana Patil, said: ?I am delighted that our Borough will be the first to host a Hindu school. This is an honour for us and something of which our whole community should be proud.?
According to Gor, 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.
Gor said: ?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.?
?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'saim 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'sadvisory 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 Revered David Whittongton (national school development officer of the Church of England).
The Hindu Forum of Britain said it was delighted that the London Borough of Harrow had given final planning consent for the school.
Ramesh Kallidai, secretary general of the Hindu Forum of Britain, said: ?We believe that Hindu parents should be given an equal choice in the matter of education.
?So far Hindu parents who wished to send their children to faith schools could not send them to a school of their own faith. For the first time, Hindus in UK will be able to exercise this choice, thus paving the way for equality.
?We believe that parental demand for Hindu schools is so great that we need more Hindu faith schools in other parts of the country to meet this demand. We congratulate the I-Foundation on their remarkable achievement and thank the Department and the Harrow Council for their support.?