In the News:
Britain Set To Get Its First Ever Hindu State School


Posted November 16, 2005

In a significant development, Britain is set to have its first ever Hindu state school, which was announced as part of more than one billion dollar grants for new school buildings across the country.

Despite the fact that there are more than 6,000 state-funded Church of England and Catholic state schools, 45 Jewish, five Islamic, two Sikh, one Greek Orthodox and one Seventh Day Adventist school, there was no Hindu state school, so far in the country. The school will be built in Harrow, which has by far the largest concentration of Hindus in the United Kingdom -- about 40,000 out of a total population of around 6 lakh Hindus in the country.

The force working behind the project is the I-Foundation, a group of British Hindu businessmen, working closely with the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), commonly known as Hare Krishna Movement.

''In recent years, we have seen a slow but steady deterioration of cultural and spiritual values in the Hindu community. In the 1960s and 1970s, when Hindu communities were establishing themselves in the UK, there was a concentration on material endeavour, and our values were not the prime focus,'' says Mr Nitesh Gor, Director of the I-Foundation, emphasising the need for the school.

Like other state schools, it will also teach the full national curriculum, but in an atmosphere where Hinduism is prominent for much of the day. Every morning there will be an assembly with Hindu prayers. Mr Gor said.

''Even within the national curriculum, we will be looking to intertwine Hindu values and messages,'' he added.

The school will have a practising Hindu as head teacher. However the same criteria will not interfere with the central pursuit of academic excellence, Mr Gor pointed out.

''If we find it difficult to appoint a very good maths teacher who is a Hindu, we will just appoint a very good maths teacher,'' he observed.

Apprehensions had been raised that such a project could destabilise the local education landscape as it would draw children away from other local state schools in the borough where there is a surplus of more than 2,000 primary places.

Also, the Department for Education and Skills' rules for the allocation of grants for new schools require that there be a 'pressing need' for the investment.

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