As part of the efforts to revitalize New Vrajamandala, a beautiful 300-hectare farm near Guadalajara, Spain, devotees are set to open a primary school affiliated with the renowned Avanti Foundation in the UK on January 8th, 2018.
New community president Yadunandana Swami, who formerly served as principal in Belgium’s Bhaktivedanta College, had seen many families leave Spain over the years due to lack of spiritual education for their children.
“I also saw that ISKCON communities who prioritized establishing a school developed nicely,” he says. “So I thought that to create real change here at New Vrajamandala, starting a school would be the turning point.”
The plan is to start as a nursery school, caring for three-year-olds, and then to add a grade every year.
There are already classroom facilities at New Vrajamandala, while for the curriculum and ethos, the school is partnering with the Avanti Foundation and will take on the name of its new brand, Little Avanti Nursery School.
The beautiful New Vrajamandala temple
The Avanti Foundation is a sister charity to the Avanti Schools Trust, which runs five successful “Krishna Avanti” primary schools in the UK. Avanti’s ethos is made up of educational excellence, character formation, and spiritual insight, drawing on the teachings of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
As far as curriculum, New Vrajamandala’s Little Avanti Nursery School will adapt it to its own needs under the Avanti Foundation’s supervision.
New Vrajamandala’s Little Avanti is also applying to get official recognition from the National Association of British Schools in Spain (NABSS). British schools are well-regarded in Spain, and the Little Avanti Nursery School, like all of them, will teach in the English language as well as in Spanish, a great convenience for ISKCON devotees.
Serving as director of the school will be Caitanya Candra Das, a university-educated and capable manager who is moving to New Vrajamandala from Malaga with his wife and child. Yadunandana Swami, drawing from his experience as principal of Bhaktivedanta College, will assist him in the beginning stages. And Mani Manjari Dasi, who has a decade of experience teaching in a British School in Madrid, will be the head teacher. Other devotees with professional experience as primary school teachers are waiting in the wings to step in when the school expands.
Already, several families have moved to New Vrajamandala, attracted by the school as well as the beautiful Deities of Sri Sri Radha Govinda Chandra, the goshala and gardens, the sunny weather, and the inexpensive standard of living.
Little Avanti Logo
Discussions are currently underway to also develop a Masterplan for New Vrajamandala, which will include housing for families and some kind of business co-op to help them earn a living. An increase in over-the-internet jobs these days also means more possibilities for devotees who decide to move.
In the future, Yadunandana Swami plans to raise funds to construct a purpose building for the school. Until then, Little Avanti could be a big draw for devotee families all over Europe and beyond.
“If by Krishna’s mercy, and our hard work, we succeed in establishing the school, I foresee it being a very important factor in the growth of New Vrajamandala,” says Yadunandana Swami.
He hopes that a dynamic community, with features including an eco-village, grows up around the school too.
Although schools usually start in September, the Little Avanti Nursery School will start on January 8th to allow for teacher Mani Manjari’s prior commitments.
In the first year, children will be admitted as late as April to facilitate families making their plans to move.
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For information and admissions, please contact Caitanya Candra Das at firstname.lastname@example.org or +34 634 53 03 16.[ spain ] [ vrajamandala ] [ yadunandana-swami ]