Before the 1940s children were, as a rule, not permitted
to live in the Ashram. But when, during the war, a number of families were admitted,
it was found necessary to initiate a course of instruction for the children. Accordingly,
on 2 December 1943the Mother opened a school for about twenty pupils. She herself
was one of the teachers. The number of children increased gradually over the next
On 24 April 1951 the Mother
presided over a convention where it was resolved to establish an "international
university centre", and on 6 January 1952 she inaugurated the Sri Aurobindo
International University Centre. The name of this institution was changed in
1959 to the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education.
At present, the Centre of Education
has about 150 full or part time teachers and 500 students, ranging from nursery
to advanced levels. The curriculum includes the humanities, languages, fine
arts, sciences, engineering, technology and vocational training; Facilities
include libraries, laboratories, workshops, a theatre and studios for dance,
music, painting, etc.
The Centre of Education seeks
to develop every aspect of the child, rather than to concentrate exclusively
on mental training. A special emphasis is put on physical education. All students
(as well as many Ashram members) take part in daily physical activities, including
athletics, aquatics, gymnastics, games, combative sports and asanas. The department
of physical education maintains a fully equipped sports ground, a swimming pool,
a gymnasium, tennis courts, a judo hall, a playground and other modern facilities.
Instruction at the Centre of
Education is given according to the "free progress system", which
is, in the words of the Mother. "a progress guided by the soul and not
subject to habits, conventions or preconceived ideas". The student is encouraged
to learn by himself, choose his own subjects of study, progress at a pace suited
to his own needs and ultimately to take charge over his own development. The
teacher is more an advisor and source of information than an instructor. In
practice, this system is adapted to the temperament of teacher and student,
and some still prefer traditional methods utilising prescribed courses of study
with direct instruction by the teacher.
Sciences and mathematics are
studied in French, other subjects in English. Each student is encouraged to
learn his mother tongue and Sanskrit, and some study additional languages, both
Indian and European.
The Centre of Education does
not award degrees or diplomas, since it seeks to awaken in its students the
joy of learning and an aspiration for progress independent of outer motives.