The Mission Office of the SVD Australian Province recently responded to a request from the SVD missionaries of Central India Province to send some much-needed financial assistance to support the Mahatma Gandhi High School in Khurda - a school which helps educate the poorest of the poor from India’s Tribal peoples. This school, run by SVD missionaries, not only educates those who would otherwise remain uneducated, but also promotes their human dignity as people made in God’s image. This is just one way in which our Mission Office, thanks to the continuing generosity of our benefactors, works to bring about God’s Kingdom. A full breakdown of the overseas projects funded during 2011-2012 can be seen on page 7 of this edition of Society Matters.
Mahatma Gandhi High School in Khurda, is located about 60km from Indore city and about 8km from Manpur, on the way to the Mumbai-Agra Highway.
Situated in a village in a rural area, it is surrounded by beautiful mountains and is the only Christian-run school in the local area, providing education to children from lower kindergarten to senior high school.
Most of its 1130 students (800 boys and 330 girls) belong to India’s Tribal Societies, and are drawn from 40 local villages. Their families are mostly very poor and depend on agriculture for survival.
Mission Secretary for the AUS Province, Fr Henry Adler SVD, says the request from the SVD Central India Province to the SVD Australian Province Mission Office seeking support for the school gave an indication of the school’s great need.
“The needs of the school are very basic,” he says. “Mainly they need things like chairs, blackboards and playground equipment. These are things that many school children in the world take for granted, but for these children, for whom an education has, up until now, never been a certainty in their lives, these basic tools can make a real difference in their lives.”
Despite the challenges of providing basic equipment and learning tools, the school presents a rigorous curriculum, which is also flexible enough to keep abreast of the latest developments in education. The school is equipped with 10 computers for its 1130 students, who the teachers say are “greatly benefiting from this endeavour”. It also provides an extensive array of extra-curricular opportunities for its students, such as the creative arts and a wide range of sports.
Every Saturday is set aside for activities including:
- Games and sports such as volleyball, cricket, football and kho kho (a popular Indian game of tag);
- Cultural activities such as dance, singing, skits, fancy dress, drawing and Rangoli-making (an Indian form of pattern-making folk art);
- Literary activities: speech competitions, debates, quizzes, essay writing, caption making and slogan making etc.
Besides the annual sports events, the school has a regular cricket team that participates in inter-school championships. Mahatma Gandhi School has produced some of the finest athletes in Indore.
The school says that “discipline and hard work have been the hallmark of the teachers and students”.
“We believe that education is not preparation for life, but education is life itself. We emphasise quality education, as quality is the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction and skilful execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives.
“We want the students to follow the school motto: Truth, Love and Non-Violence.”