The Rishi Valley School is widely regarded as being one of the finest boarding schools in India. Out of every 100 applicants every year, approximately 10 get admission making this also the most selective boarding school in India. For us, Minnie’s admission in Grade IV (the normal entry level) in this school was a dream come true.
The School is run by Krishnamurti Foundation, India. It is located in a sheltered valley in the interior of rural Andhra Pradesh, about 15km from the nearest town, Madanapalle, and about 140 km north-east of Bangalore. The school has 360 boarding students studying in Grade 4 to grade 12. Students live in a sprawling 300 acre campus that has been declared by Government of India as a wild bird sanctuary and was cited by the International Council for Bird Preservation.
The site of the school, remarkable in its atmosphere of peace and serenity, is an undulating landscape of fields, rain-fed streams and scattered villages, surrounded by ancient granite hills with striking rock formations. The school cultivates a simple and down to earth way of living, a sense of social responsibility and existence in harmony with nature and tries to promote an ethos which believes that we cannot get any relationship right, unless we can get our relationship with nature, beauty, arts and aesthetics right.
The school has 60 highly qualified teaches and this makes and student to teacher ratio very high.
The Junior and Middle School, with round 190 students from Grades 4 to 8, provides a flexible curriculum, largely free from the pressure of examinations, text books and competition. This creates an atmosphere conducive to innovative teaching and a rich range of learning. In addition to lack of formal examinations, the school promotes an ethos of cooperation as against competition and dialogue, as against debate.
The Senior School, with 160 students from classes 9 to 12, is affiliated to the ICSE and ISC examination boards of India. The emphasis at this level shifts towards an in-depth preparation of students to meet the academic requirements of the prescribed syllabi. While developing the students’ intellectual faculties, there is a conscious effort towards creating a wider awareness of the world and giving space for the development of the aesthetic, moral and emotional dimensions.
The cultivation of a global outlook, a love of nature and a concern for humankind are all part of the educational aims. More specific goals of the educational philosophy of Rishi Valley School are:
- To educate students so that they are able to explore both the world and their inner being
- To inculcate a love for nature and respect for all forms of life
- To create an atmosphere of affection, order and freedom without either fear or license
- Not to condition the students in any particular belief, either religious, political or social, so that their minds may remain free to ask fundamental questions, enquire and learn.
Based on this philosophy, teachers attempt to create an atmosphere of space, freedom, care and security in which students are helped to enlarge their horizons and grow. In November 27, 2011 this school turned 80. Clearly it has survived the test of time.
I am sharing an album of photographs taken this January when Minnie and I visited this school. Taken in an ordinary digital camera, the photographs are rather ordinary. Nevertheless they capture the simple, modest and down to earth atmosphere of the school without walls – a learning centre that is characterized by an all pervading sense of balance, harmony and dignified restraint.