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Theosophical Order of Service International Newsletter
EN 39 Special Edition, April 2016
Olcott Memorial Higher Secondary School 

Dear members and friends,

For over 120 years, the Olcott Memorial Higher Secondary School (OMHSS) has been providing a solid education for underprivileged boys and girls in Adyar, a suburb of Chennai in India.

The need for English as a medium of instruction is increasingly felt. Plans are now underway for the school to look at this shift in a phased manner. Another area of transformation being studied is to orient the teaching style toward the theosophical education model outlined by Vic Hao Chin in his book Establishing Theosophical Schools. These steps forward bring with them additional costs, and the school needs our help in order to continue on the road to imparting its goals of providing a first class education based on theosophical values and principles.

In 2013 the decision was made to turn the school into a ‘Higher Secondary School’ by adding classes at eleventh and twelfth year levels.  An Arts and Commerce Stream was added in 2013 for year eleven students. In 2015 a Science stream in the English Medium was added for both eleventh and twelfth years. With their studies completed, students will be able to apply either to a university or for entry to a vocational training programme.  It is hoped that some of them will join the Vocational Training Centre, set up on TS land, which expanded in 2014 to include such skills as electrical and carpentry. 

We are also happy to announce that at the other end of the spectrum, a Kindergarten class was started in consultation with the Chennai Montessori Training Institute, and that 17 OMHSS teachers began training from the British Council in English Language Teaching and English Proficiency Building. This year will see the beginning of educating the staff and children on theosophical values.

As we can imagine, the administration and staff are very proud of these steps forward in providing needy children with superior educational and sound employment opportunities.

  Some of the administrators and teachers at the Olcott Memorial Higher Secondary School
  "Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of true education."
                                - Martin Luther King, Jr 
Olcott Memorial Higher Secondary School
Assembly of children on Olcott Day 2016

An Olcott Memorial Higher Secondary School student assembly on Olcott Day 2016.

Started by our TS co-founder, Col. H.S. Olcott, in 1894, the Olcott Memorial Higher Secondary School is located in the south-eastern part of Besant Gardens, land belonging to the Theosophical Society.  It provides free education in Tamil (transitioning to English Medium), along with textbooks, school supplies, school bags, uniforms, a nutritious breakfast and lunch, regular medical check-ups, and guidance and counselling for the children and their parents. A dental camp was also organised this past year. The government pays for the meals of the children in classes one through ten, the school adds a nutritional supplement (milk and a banana) and provides the meals for the new eleventh and twelfth classes and for the Kindergarten. 

Classes XI and XII were added in 2015
Assembly Olcott Day 2016 - In 2013 OMHSS added classes at the eleventh and twelfth year levels.
Children at desks 2016
Currently (2016) OMHSS is providing a free education to 476 underprivileged children from Kindergarten to level twelve.  
Given the economic environment, the rapidly spiralling cost of living and the forward looking changes the school has made and is making, there is urgent need to augment the funds.  The Olcott Education Society (OES) – the entity that runs the school – has a ‘corpus fund’ (also known as an endowment fund) which brings in enough income to cover about 22% of its running expenses, including teachers’ salaries.  For all the rest, it depends on donations.  Since donations fluctuate from year to year, those in charge always take a risk when taking new initiatives requiring financial stability. 
  Ms H. Sripriya, Secretary, Olcott Education Society
  Ms R. Lalitha, Headmistress, OMHSS

Ms H. Sripriya, Secretary of the OES and Dr Chittaranjan Satapathy, Vice-President of the TS, say that the help of the TOS, and others, in building up the corpus fund would be greatly appreciated and is necessary to sustain the recent increase in teachers’ salaries and to attract competent English Medium teachers. 

TS and TOS members around India and the world are not the only ones who support the school. Computers, medical health check-ups and educational trips were supplied in 2015 by other donors. Sports Day and academic prizes as well as the cost of festivals and celebrations have been sponsored by others.  And recently, a patron came forward to rebuild the science lab at a cost of Rs 1 million (US$15,000)!  This is excellent news, isn’t it? All of this goes a long way to help. Yet more is needed to reach the school’s goals of providing a superior English Medium education based on theosophical values and principles.
Olcott Day celebration
Sports Day
Students participating in a cultural performance during the TS-Adyar convention in December 2014
Some TOS groups donate regularly to the Olcott School, of course, but in addition to efforts already being made, can some of us make an extra response to this special call?

TS and TOS members and others are all invited to consider donating to the Olcott School. 

The OES website provides information on the school’s vision, history, curriculum, etc.

For details on how to donate click here.

A child without education is like a bird without wings.
                 - Tibetan proverb