Education of migrant children is a big challenge. HT file photo
It's an Indian school that's been in Iran since the 1930s. It shifted to its present location in Tehran in 1952, became a Kendriya Vidyalaya in 2004 and teaches five languages. On Wednesday, it received a Rs.2 crore boost, the third such grant in the past four years.
Gursharan Kaur, wife of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who is here for the Aug 30-31 summit of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), announced the grant amid thunderous applause during a visit to the central government run school here. After that, she prayed at the adjacent gurdwara.
"We're so thankful to her for coming here," an emotional Narender Kaur Sahni, in her mid 60s, told IANS after the function. Narender Kaur was born in Iran and her husband, Santokh Singh Sahni, is a prominent businessman.
The origins of the Kendriya Vidyalaya Tehran (KVT) go back to the southeastern province of Zahedan when the first Indian settlers established a school in the 1930s.
"At that time, there were some 15-30 Sikh families in Zahedan and the school had about 30 students. It was then affiliated to the Pubjab School Education Board," KVT principal Jugal Kishore told IANS.
As the Indian families shifted to Tehran, the school also moved and was resumed in a rented building by Bhai Makhan Singh, a stalwart of the Gurdwara Management Committee.
"He collected donations going from door to door and exhibited a lot of devotion and commitment to the construction of the school building, which was completed in the late 1960s. The Hinduja brothers also gave a big donation for the school," said Jugal Kishore, who was earlier principal of a Kendriya Vidyalaya in Jalandhar Cantt in Punjab.
At its height, KVT had 350 students and was affiliated first to Punjab University and later to the Delhi-based Central Board for Central Education (CBSE).
However, following the 1979 revolution, the number of Indian families dwindled to just 60-65 and enrolment plummeted. It was then run by an ad-hoc panel of the Gurdwara Management Committee, with the head of the Indian mission being its patron.
In 2004, the embassy decided to hand it over to the Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan (KVS).
The school was hit by a major financial crisis in 2009-10 and would have gone under but for a Rs.81 lakh grant from the Indian external affairs ministry, to which visiting Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar added a Rs.2 crore grant in 2011. The KVS has been picking up the salary tab since 2012.
"Today, we have 189 students on our rolls from LKG to Class 12. Fifty-one of these are non-Indians. I am happy to tell you that our class 10 and 12 result has been 100 percent in the past two years," Jugal Kishore proudly said.
"We go by the CBSE curriculum and also teach five languages: Hindi, English, French, Persian and Punjabi. Persian is taught more as a language of communication," the principal added.