The Janwaar Castle Summer Camp

From June 1-30, 2015 we will run our first summer camp at Janwahr Castle.

Janwaar Castle is a project of we_school and can briefly be described as a learning environment with a skateboarding park in its core. It’s located in Janwaar near Panna, a small buzzling town in Madhya Pradesh, Central India. In the village there are about 250 – 300 kids.

The summer camp is the first activity of its kind in Janwaar. Three of us – Yogesh, a local scholar from Khajuraho who speaks good English, Vivek, a Teach for India fellow, and me. We will run daily early morning sessions (until 10 am) with the kids and late afternoon sessions (6 – 7.30 pm).

The main goal of the camp is to teach the kids English – so the camp language will be English! The kids of course can answer and talk in Hindi or their local dialect.

And we’ll have guests joining us:

Laura, a friend from Bombay who is native Scottish and an excellent violinist. She will conduct music sessions and hopefully give a concert in front of the Khajuraho Temples.
Mamaji (a local tour guide, actually the best you can find in Khajuraho) will join us for Indian mythology and history sessions.
Children from Kunderpura – an Adivasi village close by – will visit us.
The Maharaj of Panna will come and tell stories of the past.

The kids will learn English in face-to-face session with Vivek, we have tablets with English learning programs, we have dictionaries, English books and we hopefully will have one or two whiteboards. Besides English learning we organize nature walks, we will build dustbins for the skatepark and pillars for two swings, we paint, play and dance and we will take the kids to Panna National Tiger Park which is close by but the kids never had a chance to go there. And of course there will be lots of skateboarding ! 

The entire endeavor is calculated with 2,30.000 INR or 3000 Euros and I do need your help !

Here is a list (things_we_need_mit) where you can see what we need and how we will spent the mn see what we need and how we will spent the money – it includes very precise donation packages such as:

– 5 English books for either 1000 INR or 1500 INR or
– 3 dictionaries for 3000 INR or
– paint and brushes (1000 – 2000 INR)
– paper (2000 INR)
– a jeep for the Tiger Safari (6500 INR) or
– costs for skateboarding teachers (5000 INR) or
– snacks, milk and fruits (from 1000 – 2800 INR) or
– transportation

1000 INR are app. 14 Euros, maybe a little less.

Just let us know what you like most to support!
100% of the money will be used for the case you mention.

Please make transfers payable to:

Account name: Ulrike Reinhard
nature: we_school summer camp / case you’d like to support
IBAN: DE63700222000071631281
BIC: FDDODEMMXXX

If you are not donating from Germany and want to avoid unnecessary banking fees please use transferwise.

Thank you!

A few weeks ago we started our first activities with the kids from Janwaar and – as you can see – the kids really enjoy it!

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Excursion to the Khajuraho Temples, at Mamaji’s organic farm

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Skateboarding sessions at Janwaar Castle, our skatepark

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And if you want to know more about our activities please visit our website or read below or send an email to

we (at) we-magazine (dot) net

Goals of Janwaar Castle

– to improve the children’s and the women’s health 
– and their standing in the community
– to bring hope and show possibilities for all the villagers and 
– to enable and guide them to solve their problems by themselves and even
– make a decent living out of it.

for the kids

– we provide many things they don’t have at school
– things they don’t even know of (like skateboarding)
– a space where all are the same (no caste and gender issues)
– we make them capable of communicating with “outsiders” (virtually and real)
– this is why learning english is so important ….

Its Impact

on an individual level

– physical fitness because of skateboarding and other sport activities (volleyball)
– exposure – learning YES, I can >>> self esteem
– health >>> extra food (fruits) on 2 days in the week
– learning new things / skills which broaden the horizon
– learning to “imagine”
– connect with foreigners 

on the village and community level

– connect the village with the outside world
– establish small businesses
– create a community culture
– clean(er) village

“I can” – Riverside School in Ahmedabad, India

Kiran Bir Sethi founded Riverside School in 2001. Riverside is the amalgamation of an approach to learning that is embedded in common sense and a vibrant research centre for school education. There, insights from cutting-edge research are turned into working models of pedagogical practices with a single-minded focus – student well being. Over the last 11 years, Riverside has developed, implemented and shared a unique curriculum that is proving to be the benchmark for providing a no-compromise school education of the highest quality.

In the following interview Kiran tells the story of Riverside – which is her personal story as well.

What I liked best was the open and “light” architecture. Riverside is truly a space where it can be fun to learn. The environment is right for the kids to grow.

A Far Cry: Scaling Good Education in India

Charly Adler, an American educator with great experience in Big Picture Schools spent the last few month in India. His plan was to work as the principal at Riverside School – but for some reasons this didn’t work out. During our visit to Riverside we had the chance to talk to him.

He makes some very interesting remarks comparing education in India and America and struggles while defining a strategy how to scale good education in India.

“Schools are no good …”

… says Choke from Ethopia. He is one of 43.000 Hamer living in southwestern Ethopia. They are a tribe with unique rituals such as a cattle-leaping ceremony that men go through in order to reach adulthood, whereupon young Hamer women get whipped to prove their love for their kinsmen. Most of the Hamer make their living as successful cattle herders and farmers.

Choke’s grandchildren are the first generation in their family who have the opportunity to go to school and he himself – being part of the council of the eldest – says clearly that school is no good. This really made me think.

School as we understand and practice is – starting out with learning how to read and write – doesn’t make any sense for him. Knowing how to read and write doesn’t give the child anything in his/hers hand. It neither helps him/her to get feeded nor does it help to find a job in the city since the schools aren’t really providing qualitative education. So the kids who go to school most likely end up in a situation in which they no longer belong to their tribe – because the skills they learn aren’t helpful for the community – and they aren’t qualified enough to make a living elsewhere. Being asked what kids should learn at school Choke answered: how to deal with goats and cattle, learn how to repair a bike and to cultivate land … very, very practical things which do make sense in this specific environment.

I think this is a common understanding among many people living in rural areas in the world: school doesn’t provide the right benefits for the community. Since we can’t “adjust” easily the people we should rethink and adjust the schools we provide. I am not saying that reading and writing aren’t helpful, but I truly believe that very practical skills needed in such communities should be taught at school. The kids should learn how to solve local problems and how to survive better in their environment. And this is an important part of our thinking at we_school.