Elementary School RSV

The founding of the Rolf-Schoembs-Vidyashram (RSV) in 1996 meant breaking new ground in the education and schooling of Santal children. This day-school (elementary), which consists of 5 school years, provides the intensive academic and pedagogical support of these children in small classes of a maximum of 15 pupils. Lessons take place in circular buildings which are open at the sides, and - weather permitting - in the open air. 

Educational Concept
In keeping with the holistic educational concept of Rabindranath Tagore the children learn mainly through song, poetry, nursery rhymes, art and dance. Such classes correspond with the mentality of Santal village children.

In the first two classes - the pre-school class and year 1 - the children are taught in their mother tongue, Santali; in the following classes a gradual switch to Bengali as the language of instruction takes place. In the last two school years Bengali teachers who do not speak Santali take the lessons. After year 4 the children attend state schools.

The school was conceived and developed by Gokul Hansda and Boro Baski, two Santals with degrees from the Visva-Bharati-University in Santiniketan. Gokul Hansda was headteacher up to 2010, when Boro Baski took over his predecessor's position.

What is the idea behind an independent Santal elementary school?
Children from Santal villages have a hard time at state schools. They are taught, not in their own language Santali but in a language which is foreign to their ears, for example Bengali or Hindi.

When they arrive as 4-year-olds at a school in which nearly all the teachers are not Santals it takes months, sometimes years, before they can even begin to communicate correctly with their teachers. They rapidly lose all interest in learning and frequently drop out of school.

Their parents can neither help them nor give them any advice because these children are first-generation scholars. They get little support from their parents, who tend not to recognize the advantages of a school education. This means that children are often used for farm work or domestic tasks.