What the school in PM Modi’s hometown will teach

Prerana project upgraded PM Modi’s former school in Vadnagar, Gujarat, into an experiential residential school with help from IIM-A, IIT-Gn, ASI.

Pilot batch of Prerana Scheme. (Image: Education Ministry social media)Pilot batch of Prerana Scheme. (Image: Education Ministry social media)

Shradha Chettri | February 23, 2024 | 05:15 PM IST

NEW DELHI: Making Swami Vivekananda’s portrait with 625 Rubik’s cubes, Mahatma Gandhi’s portrait with 10,000 pushpins, developing a charkha that can generate electricity and learning about Hemchandra Shankaracharya, the Indian Jain saint and mathematician – these are some of the activities students have been engaging in at Prerana in Vadnagar, Gujarat.

Launched by the education ministry, Prerana is an experiential residential school, which used to be Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first school in his hometown Vadnagar in Mehsana district. The ministry describes it thus: “Picture a journey that transcends the boundaries of conventional education, a journey that ignites your curiosity and leads you along a captivating path of exploration.”

Children from Classes 9 to 12 from over 750 districts of the country are being selected to visit the school in batches of 20. The registration portaI of Prerana was launched on January 3 and so far, total number of registration is 3,74,479, as per the report of the ministry.

The selection process is underway but the ministry is already running the programme with pilot batches. In the pilot phase from six states/union territories such as Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Haryana, Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli. As part of the pilot batch started on January 15, 100 students from 50 districts will be attending the program.

Numerous premier educational institutions were involved in developing the curriculum and structure for the school. The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Gandhinagar, Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIM-A) and the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) worked together for over three months to design the project.

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PM Modi’ school, history

The institution dates back to 1888 and is located in the heart of Vadnagar, a small town in the Mehsana district of Gujarat, states the Prerana portal.

“There is already an existing government college at Vadnagar which is being used for now. A new premise has been created and it is under construction. The initial batches are visiting the old school and some of the halls are being used for residential purposes,” said Jay Thakkar of the Centre for Creative Learning (CCL) at IIT Gandhinagar.

CCL came into being in April 2017 as a space that nurtures scientific temper and creativity in students and teachers. It was started by Manish Jain, the IIT Gandhinagar professor who has also spearheaded the Prerana project.

A model school

One batch of students spend five days at the model school and they are accompanied by a guardian.

“The vision of the prime minister was that the school should be a mesmerising experience for the children and become some sort of an aspirational programme for students and parents alike,” said Thakkar.

The activity of making portraits aims to explain to the students the philosophy and teaching of various leaders and national heroes.

“The concept of swabhiman (self respect) and garv (pride) is what we want to explain to the children through portraits of Gandhi. Charkha will be used to explain Gandhi’s philosophy and teachings. The creative way of making the image of Shaheed Bhagat Singh with bindi has been devised to tell them about the sacrifices Bhagat Singh made at such a small age.

The most important idea behind these activities is not to preach to the students, but to engage them and help them understand and interpret the ideas and philosophies of our national heroes,” added Thakkar.

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Heritage and culture

Keeping Vadnagar’s rich history and culture in mind, curated field visits to archaeological sites have also been planned for the students.

The ministry website states: “The Prerana stands as a tribute to Vadnagar’s indomitable spirit, a living city that has triumphed over challenges like earthquakes and natural calamities.”

Thakkar added, “The idea is to help students visit the spaces and imbibe the notion of pride about the rich history of the place and the country,” added Thakkar. Sharmishtha Jheel and Tanariri garden are two of the listed visiting sites.

prerana-scheme-Gujarat-school-education-ministry-featuredStudents at a historical site visit. (Image: Education Ministry social media)

Apart from national heroes, the teaching and learning for the students have also been drawn from Gujarati folk lore.

“The story of Tana and Riri will also be shared with the students. They were two sisters born in Vadnagar who were invited to sing in the court of Mughal emperor Akbar. Eventually, they decided they cannot sing for the king as their devotion was only for the lord. As they were forced, they killed themselves by jumping in the well. Children will learn about the Indian sanskriti through such stories,” added Thakkar.

Children will also be taught about the situation which led to the surgical strikes against Pakistan in 2019 and also about scientific advancements through projects like Chandrayaan.

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Teacher training

Teachers from schools of Kendriya Vidyalaya (KV) and Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya (JNV) were selected for the project and they were trained at the IIT Gandhinagar campus. These teachers are only working as facilitators as different batches are attending the programme.

There are nine themes which will be spread across eight classrooms. The themes include swabhiman and vinay (self respect and modesty); shaurya and sahas (valour and courage); parishram and samarpan (effort and dedication); karuna and sewa (compassion and service); vividhta and ekta (diversity and unity); satyanishtha and shuchita (truthfulness and uprightness); navachar and jigyasa (innovation and curiosity), shraddha and vishwas (Faith and belief); and swatantrata and kartavya (independence and duty).

Each day will begin with yoga and pranayam for mindfulness and meditation followed by breakfast. The breakfast session will also include some life mission activities to help focus on sustainable development.

“During the training of teachers, all these activities were carried out. They even made their own clocks and took them back,” said Thakkar.

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