A team of experts is working on weaving Hindu religious elements into the government-prescribed national curriculum that will be taught in Britain's first state-funded Hindu faith school.
Krishna Avanti Primary School is scheduled to welcome its first intake of students from September 2008. A 'register of interest' has been launched for parents of prospective pupils. According to Nitesh Gor, director of I-Foundation, all major Hindu groups in Britain have expressed support to the school, including the Hindu Forum of Britain, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Chinmaya Group and Hindu Council.
"The primary school aims to give Hindu parents a choice of school consistent with their faith. At present, voluntary aided schools exist for every other major religion in the UK and it is right that the Hindu community is not denied this option in the education of their children," Gor said.
The school will be located in Harrow, which has the largest population of Hindus in any borough in Britain (40,000 or 20 per cent of the population). Its design is intended to have minimal impact on the environment.
Gor said: "It will have a strong environment aspect, including teaching outdoors, in accordance with traditional Hindu ways of teaching and learning. The requirements will also meet the norms of the department of education and skills."
Gor added that I-Foundation was an independent charity and will be advised on the faith aspects of the school by a range of Hindu and non-Hindu groups including Chinmaya Group, Swaminarayan, ISKCON, Church of England and Board of Deputies of British Jews. However, ultimately its independent board of governors will take decisions. He said teachers for the school would be recruited from within the Hindu community in Britain.
As a charity, I-Foundation's aim is to 'establish sustainable projects that further the advancement of vedic culture and philosophy'. Its board of directors includes Gor, Pradip Gajjar, Shailesh Govindia, Paul Murphy and Prashun Popat.
The I-Foundation's advisory panel includes Anil Agarwal (chairman, Vedanta Resources), Geoffrey Allen (academic), Rasamandala Das (education consultant), Shaunaka Rish Das (director, Oxford Centre of Hindu Studies), Krishna Ghosh (teacher), Idris Mears (director of Association of Muslim Schools UK), Bhakti Charu Swami, Radhanath Swami, Sivarama Swami, Sandra Teacher (education officer of the Board of Deputies of British Jews) and Reverend David Whittongton (national school development officer of the Church of England).