Everybody who has ever come here has got an introduction to our school. The very big majority of these visitors has also taken a tour through the school with one of us and got to know about the basic principles of our school: non-violence and equality.
Yes, our school is based on equality and it all started with the idea that the children should be all the same, no matter how poor they are. This thought went further though: we also never made a difference in castes, something which still happens in a lot of schools and all over India! And we also don’t make a difference due to religion.
Yes, we have children of priests, high Brahmans in our school but also children of the ‘untouchable caste’. We have Hindu children in our school and Muslims as well.
Poverty does not make a difference in religion or caste! We don’t refuse children of religious families just because we don’t agree with their views! We are providing education to all these children who come from completely religious homes. They grow up in the environment of hypocrite religion and obviously bring all these thoughts to school with them. No matter what their belief is at home however, the parents have financial difficulties sending their children to school and that is what is important for us.
So here, they learn most of all one thing: that they are all equal. They all sit next to each other and eat together, no matter which caste they are from or which religion their family belongs to. They play with each other and they walk home from school together. If they just get this seed planted at school, they will be ready to think differently at some point than what they have been told to think at home.
We have now started getting together with the kids of the bigger classes on every Saturday to just talk with them about different topics – atheism, of course, but also caste, superstition, gender roles, beauty ideals and more.
We had the topic of caste last week and children told of their homes, how their parents forbid them to play with kids of the lowest caste. How they sneak away anyway to play – because they don’t know any such difference.
Children have a limited understanding of this caste system because it is an illogical separation of people into groups that don’t make sense. With continuous input, they will behave like their parents and discriminate each other. We hope that we will make a difference in their future.
No, we actually don’t only hope, we strongly believe that we will! One day, these children will meet and remember their time in primary school. They will sit together at one table again, laughing and joking, remembering how they were eating together as small kids already!
Maybe they will stand up against the unfairness one day. Maybe they will act differently with their own children. In any way, they experience equality here, at our school, and it will make a difference!