An international school is making a quiet statement of tradition and value, shaping the personality and character of young children in the sylvan surrounding in the grape-growing district of Rodney, about 20 kilometres Northwest of Auckland City.
The Hare Krishna School emphasises the importance of reflective and creative thinking, enabling tomorrow’s leaders to become proactive goal setters and solution seekers. As well as imparting ‘Sequential Thinking’ to children enrolled in Year 1 to Year 8, it also enable the students to learn the core values of cleanliness, self-discipline, honesty, responsibility, respect, truthfulness and humility imbibed from various cultures and practiced through the Vedic system of learning.
The State-Integrated School is located within the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKON) Complex. It perches in a pristine world, flanked by the prestigious Huapai Golf course on the South and an estuary of the Waitamata Harbour on the North and is just minutes away from the Sri Radha Giridhari Temple.
Principal Prana Dasa believes that children attending the School are privileged as they have a unique connection with the New Zealand curriculum.
“Teachers plan and deliver a cutting-edge interpretation of the Curriculum in the rich cultural context of their own tradition. The New Zealand Government has an extremely inclusive approach to education, one of the best in the world,” he said.
He said the School emphasises the importance of reflective and creative thinking, enabling the youngsters to become proactive goal setters and solution seekers.
The children are high achievers in academics, with 85% reaching the national average, and more than 30% above the expected level in Mathematics and English.
“Hare Krishna School must be the best place in New Zealand for children with a background of Indian languages to develop their English language skills, engage with the local curriculum and maintain their culture at the same time,” Mr Dasa said.
Children as young as five years of age recite pure Sanskrit verses from the Bhagavad Gita and ancient Vedic scriptures. Their typical day begins with roll call, followed by a short prayer and Aarti to their classroom deity.
Mr Dasa said music formed a part of the School curriculum, administered by a renowned music scholar and teacher. The children learn to play traditional instruments such as the Mridangam, Harmonium and Karatals, he said.
Dance and drama are also in the teaching process and children are trained to perform before small and large audiences in the Temple and other venues.
A combination of a supportive classroom environment, wide spread acceptance of cultural differences, targeted focus on language acquisition and professional training are among the best attributes of the students.
A Dedicated Guru
Mr Dasa joined ISKCON in 1985 and two years later obtained his Bachelor of Arts (Indian Studies and Sanskrit) at the Melbourne University. In 1988, he received his Diploma in Education.
Following an eight-year assignment as a teacher and a post graduation degree (Masters) in 1997, he travelled around the world developing the curriculum of ISKON schools, training teachers and promoting the Hare Krishna model of education.
Mr Dasa became the principal of New Zealand Hare Krishna School in 2000.
1. Principal Prana Dasa
2. Students learn Sanskrit
3. Traditional Indian music is part of the Curriculum