Project Awake and Shine

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Awake & Shine Primary School

The School is located at the village of Samthar, in District Kalimpong. It lies in the tangle of mountains between Siliguri and Kalimpong in a relatively remote area. The school has been developed, as an experiential rural primary school, with philanthropic funding. ‚ÄčTourists guests are helping to support the school by providing scholarships. We are working towards the goal of empowering the local community to manage the school. 

A second school is under development at the remote village of Chota Suruk, on land donated by the local community. The School will open with the nursery class in February 2019.


To develop the personality of rural children and to empower them through ability to communicate in English.


To enable admission to English medium schools, after completing primary education. 

What has been achieved ?

  • We have created a rural school of the future, with a unique curriculum, on a “shoe string” budget. The school is providing education to 150 children. Our model of involving tourist guests in providing scholarships enables the school to provide quality education. Parents have been motivated to contribute 40 % of the expenses.
  • Our unique curriculum designed to build personality and enable the child to create a level playing field” with urban children, has borne results, towards empowering children at the foundation level to become “change makers of the future”. Our innovative experiential  teaching methodology is showing positive results. Children are confident and fit, proficient in English, sharp in mathematics are learning to think for themselves. They are keenly interested in creative skills, and hobbies. They are capable of seeking admission to any English medium School, after 3 years Pre Schooling or 3 + 4 years primary education.
  • Our innovative and imaginative methodology of “on the job”, training of our teachers, have enabled the empowerment of local non- qualified teachers, to deliver positive results, which are  better than existing rural schools in the area.

The awake and shine school can now be a role model for rural schools of the future and is in a position to train rural school teachers in our innovative experiential teaching  methodology.

How did we do it ?

Over 10 years we have researched , experimented, and looked for “out of the box” solutions, to evolve a innovative syllabus blending together elements of the conventional with activity based experiential learning. Our current syllabus is given below :-

Inovation 1:Included Personality Development as part of the syllabus hand in hand with conventional learning

 In addition to Academics, we are attempting to strengthen  positive personal traits through physical development, nature walks, inquisitive hiking, camping, projects, hobbies and value education.

Innovation 2: Evolved innovative methodology to teach English to rural children. 

We have devised a methodology for teaching English to Children coming from non- English-speaking community, by introducing learning through verbalizing actions, phonics, Role play, Conversation, word building games and puzzles, one act plays, public speaking, long hand exercises, compositions on the computer, reading and story- telling.

Dispensing with text books, we created our own English readers with the assistance of Benalla Rotary club and Margot Sherwill. Our ongoing story book project  is developing story books with local content. These are authored by the teachers, helped by Maureen Blake from the UK, and illustrated by the children 

Innovation 3: Evolved practical methodology to make learning of mathematics fun

We have focused on findings the means to make children shed the fear of mathematics and start enjoying the subject. We believe that Children learn mathematics best by doing practical activities and then understanding the logic by discussion, and practical application 

Innovation 4: Introduced Experiential learning to develop personality, and original thinking.

Experiential learning means learning by doing. It is an effective tool for personality development, apart from reinforcing academic learning. After 8 years of experimentation, we have evolved an interesting, practical curriculum The methodology devised by us is to first provide children with an experience, which they enjoy. Thereafter children are guided to record what they did in text and drawings. The experience now becomes a story in its retelling. The children are encouraged to tell the story, write it on the computer, illustrate the story with drawings and photos, and point out the new things they have learnt.  



Innovation 5: Enabled computer literacy 

Our computer literacy teaching methodology is based on allowing children to handle computers independently from Day 1. The syllabus comprises a total of 180 hours of “hands on” practice, spread over 4 years. 



Innovation 6: Included Physical development, in the syllabus,

and created innovative learning tools like confidence course, Nature walks, Inquisitive hiking, and camping.

Innovation 7: Expanding horizons through children’s experiential projects

Like sowing of Paddy, Millet and Maize, cultural panorama, Kitchen garden, mud oven baking, Rangoli, Baitik, Flowers, flora and 


Innovation 8: Eliminated learning by rote.

Replaced tests based on text book recall with voice response and activity based tests, to create a responsive assessment system.

Innovation 9:  Creating a non traditional teaching team and providing for child care

We have strictly implemented zero tolerance to violence against children. Our policy is: No scolding, no punishment, no vindictiveness and No favoritism – only love and affection. This has brought about amazing results in the learning process and is visible in happy children who are cheerful, obedient, and keen to learn. In 2010 the school was awarded The Telegraph School Award for excellence, for “a school which cares”

We have selected and trained our teachers in house to create a team of child friendly teachers. Who are dynamic, innovative and open to new ideas. The school has established a training program for school leavers who are selected on the basis of their ability to speak and understand English.  Transparency has been maintained by taking parents into confidence about all policies and the school budget.


Innovation 10: Involvement of tourist guests for providing scholarships to make the school sustainable

By interlinking with village tourism, and encouraging the active participation of tourist guest in sponsoring individual children, the school is now near- sustainable, without ever having taken recourse to funding from government or financial institutions. For details about funding the school and how donors can help please click here ( Link to page funding.)

Story of Awake & Shine School at Samthar
Interested in more details and pictures ? Ciick here for the full story of Awake & Shine Primary school at Samthar



Has the school been able to create a model for Primary rural education?

The school has demonstrated how a change in the foundation level education can be brought about, through a village school of the future. Post Primary experiences have validated our concept. It is significant that Children completing their primary education at Awake & Shine Primary School, were able to get admission in English medium schools in Kalimpong, on merit. Some are topping their class whilst most are in the first ten. We feel satisfied that we have laid a sound foundation.


Our Address: Project Awake and Shine
Project Awake and Shine , Gurudongma House, hill top, Kalimpong, 734301, West Bengal, India

Mobile: +91-9434047372, +91-7432900409, E-mail :;
For India wide Tours and Treks go to Mob: +91-94340-62100,