What We Do
Providing comprehensive, pluralistic education of the highest academic standard free of charge to disadvantaged families in Varanasi, India, while fostering a safe community.
How We Do It
— Encouraging intellectual curiosity, spiritual growth, selfless service, and rich relationships between students and teachers of all backgrounds.
— Integrating STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math), traditional Indian disciplines, and meaningful, responsible conduct as productive members of society.
For many families in the community we serve, Anjali School is the best and only option for children’s primary education.
How We Started
The Anjali School was founded in 2005 by the Aghor Foundation on the bank of the Ganges River in the ancient holy city of Varanasi, India. In its first year, Anjali enrolled 25 students, many from lower caste migrant families from the state of Bihar, and some resident boys at the Bal Ashram, an Aghor Foundation initiative providing a safe home for 21 young boys. Many of Anjali’s students would become the first in their family to receive a primary education.
Provided with new school uniforms, the students were taught how to sit, how to study, how to think for themselves, and how to respect and love everyone, regardless of gender, caste, wealth, religion, or family background.
Meeting the Needs of Disadvantaged Children
We witnessed overcrowded classrooms, ineffectual teachers, and inequality in educational access. where memorization and government test results are valued above creativity, original thinking, problem solving, and innovation.
Economically, socially, and educationally disadvantaged families living in the urban slum communities do not have access to a government or private schools, or are motivated to involve their child in income generating activities or marry off their daughter at a young age. Though primary education in India is compulsory, and sometimes free, at least half of all children (35 million) between the ages of 6 and 14 throughout India do not attend school. It is young girls in particular who are most often left behind.
Education Options for Our Community’s Youth
Tens of thousands of students apply to these two schools every year, often competing for one of a mere 100 spots (half of which are reserved for the children of government employees). Most students entering Anjali are raised in homes with no books, and are many times the first in their family to receive formal education.
Expensive Private Schools
There are several prestigious private schools in the locality, but annual fees for primary education classes exceed 20,000 Rupees (285$) - more than the annual income of many of our students’ families.
Anjali provides a comprehensive, pluralistic education; is more affordable, with fees decided on a case-by-case basis (and many students attending free of charge); has a far lower student-teacher ratio (12:1), compared to the government schools’ 60 student classes; and never turns away any child.
Anjali Curriculum and Special Programs
Our students’ education includes Hindi, English, Math, Science, Social Sciences, Arts, and Computer Skills, as well as Yoga and Meditation. Students are also given periodic medical check-ups free of charge at the local hospital.
Anjali School uses the innovative techniques of the Alice Project to foster self-respect and independent thinking, and empower students with life skills in addition to a traditional education.
Emphasis is placed on developing an awareness of the interdependence of one’s inner and outside worlds. A good education is not complete without giving students the ability to keep their inner environment clean and safe. With such a foundation, students can approach the troubles of the world from environmental degradation to intercultural understanding.
At Anjali, an emphasis is placed on developing an understanding of the relationship between the student and the teacher. Our teachers are involved in the students’ lives outside of the classroom, and join their students for frisbee and tag during recess.