Welcome to Vidya Vanam, a school for rural and tribal children in Anaikatti near Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu.
Vidya Vanam is a school with no prescribed textbooks. The children learn their subjects in themes. Last year, for instance, the theme was ‘Rice’ and their learning included cultivating five micro-plots of paddy themselves. Two teams of first-generation English speakers even had a debate on genetically modified crops: Debating rice in the forest of learning
It is a school where children learn to speak their minds and explore their talents. And they do this at their own pace. Some of the smallest children are clearly born ‘leaders’.
Suzanne ter Haar is a journalism student from Ku Leuven University, Brussels, and founder of the Gutz Foundation that works on HIV testing among youth in Tanzania. The photostory is a part of her 10-week internship with PARI.