Ichhapur is a small village in the Indian state of Odisha, most of its inhabitants are farmers. The school itself is private and based on the principles of Sri Aurobindo’s Integral Education, giving equal importance to the education of body, mind, life and spirit. Boys and girls are treated equally without any discrimination in regard to caste, religion or social background. The school is recognised by the government.
At present about 200 children attend the school from kindergarten to grade 10. Fifty children room and board at the school with more on the waiting list wanting to join. Parents pay a small monthly fee for tuition and boarding which covers the expenses for teachers??? salaries. Free education is offered to children of very poor families.
The first school in Ichhapur was built in 1989 by Prasant Parija, his brother Sarat and several friends. Prasant had inherited the land from his grandfather. They founded the charitable trust Sri Aurobindo Seba Sanstha and named the school Sri Aurobindo Centre of Integral Education in Ichhapur. The school was much like all other buildings in the area: a mud hut with a roof made of coconut-leaves to keep the heat out. A number of unemployed teachers were hired, while education materials remained scarce.
In 1999 a super-cyclone hit the east coast of Odisha, completely destroying Ichhapur and the school. However, this disaster marked the beginning of a new future for Ichhapur.
Since 2011 the school has offered education through grade 10. After completion, the Ichhapur children take the official state educational assessment and they routinely achieve higher rankings than other rural schools in Odisha. The children then have the possibility to continue their education at a college.