The school movement was founded in 2007 with the aim of opening at least 3 high quality low budget schools in each of the then 146 blocks in Chhattisgarh. It started with two schools one in Kumhari, a municipal town 20 kms from Raipur but administratively in Patan taluka of Durg district. Exact location of the school is in Rampur (Chorha) village inhabited by mostly economically poor people belonging to scheduled castes. Another school is in Kharora village in Arang block of Raipur district about 35 kms away from Raipur but in opposite direction. But this second school diverged from original philosophy therefore now it's not considered in this note.
Currently, the school in Kumhari has an enrolment of about 430 students. The school gets about 8-10 students annually allotted under Right to Education Act by the Government of Chhattisgarh. The children of staff and school help are not charged full fees. They also form good numbers. The school is not in a financial position to subsidise all these children at the current level of operation.
By keeping its aim of providing high quality low budget schools in large numbers the schools is learning continuously on the ideas of reducing the cost while enhancing the quality. While doing this it has gone through the phases of very popular but undisclosed shaky quality to utmost honest but perceived as poor quality school in this short span of time. This churning led to loss of enrolment for some time. But, as it is said, truth prevails. The academic year 2019-20 has seen substantial increase in enrolment. The school also became clear about its aimed rigour level during this period. Though a CBSE school, along with CBSE, it aims to provide Internationally Best Quality Education.
Reducing the Cost while enhancing the Quality
The VVS wants to reduce the cost of the Internationally Best Quality Education by introducing new pedagogy learned from government run rural international school in Maharashtra, deploying high quality resources, challenging the children for making higher level efforts, utilising the ingenuity of better performing students for the learning of every child, and training the teachers to facilitate these processes and work for higher order thinking.
VVS is also working on sustainability of these processes in the face of high attrition rates of teachers. For this, the VVS has formed the idea of Grade Leads. Grade Leads are prepared with rigorous handholding and daily feedback so that they become very high quality teachers as well as friend, philosopher and guide for other teachers. For retaining the Grade Leads so developed they are paid a higher salary than the teachers while they continue to work as teachers. Other teachers remain at the level of the market. This strategy will enable the school to deliver high quality with low cost. The cost of international education in metro cities is Rs 8 lakh per annum. In Raipur it's Rs 2 lakh while Vishva Vedanta School is trying to do it in the range of 30,000 to 50,000. It's an innovation totally new in India. A low cost International School in rural areas. Therefore, the society needs to support at least in the initial phase. There's likelihood that once the cost of outside resources goes down the model will become self sustainable.
Preference for Freshers as Teachers
Currently available experienced teachers in local area don't have the skill sets required for imparting 21st Century Skills. Therefore, for building the capacity of local teachers outside resources are required. VVS views this as an opportunity as training and capacity building is required for both experienced teachers as well as freshers. Also, senior teachers may require some unlearning. Thus it will be prudent to employ fresh people as teachers and then build their capacity by well designed processes. This will reduce the salary cost. But, investment has to be made on training and capacity building.
Replication of Internationally Best Quality in Government Schools
The school is well equipped in many ways with smart classrooms, rich library, science and computer labs. For all round development of students sports facilities for Football. For developing creativity among students, the school plans to set up Jugaad Innovation Centre. Science fair, Sports meet and a Democratic Annual Functions are hallmarks of this school. In the science fair students from government schools near VVS are invited to participate. It is after the third Science fair some teachers and principals of these government schools requested VVS to involve them in other activities also, including the teachers training. This matched with the vision of the Samiti. The work of Cluster development of Kumhari and Charaouda is being undertaken with the partnership of Leadership for Equity (LFE) a Pune based section 8 company.
VVS has followed this model for last 4 years. Lately, it's realised that capacity building and training of teachers require hand holding for considerable time. Earlier the school was having only one resource (Akshay) for it. Recently another part time resource, Mr Sajid Anwar, a Teach for India fellow is employed as Academic Coordinator.