Neohumanist Education is an outgrowth of the philosophy of Neohumanism, which was introduced by Prabhat Rainjan Sarkar in 1982, offering an ecological paradigm for understanding humanity’s place in the universe. The goal of Neohumanist Education is to lay the foundations of the sustainable cultural practices that ready children for the social, environmental and civic responsibilities that lie before humanity in the 21st Century.
Sarkar (1921-1990) was a social activist, composer, educational innovator, and spiritual philosopher based in India. His life work centered on creating a rights-based society, not only for human beings but also for the entire ecological system. He worked for a caste-free, dogma-free, rational society, and focused on early childhood education as the critical period in which the human being’s basic world outlook is being shaped, and in which such a paradigm is most easily nurtured. It is much more difficult, he acknowledged, for adults, conditioned with many subconscious prejudices, and limited thinking – to break free of such conditioning, than it is for young children to preserve their holistic thinking and full human potential.
Part of the social programs that Sarkar initiated, beginning in 1963, included the opening of hundreds of kindergartens, primary schools, high schools and several higher education institutions to offer accessible education especially in neglected rural areas to the socially disadvantaged.
Even before Sarkar had fully articulated and developed the Neohumanist philosophy, he began to hold “Education Training Camps” for the principles and staff of the schools he founded. The “Ananda Marga Board of Education” founded in 1967 originally did the supervision and quality control of these schools. However, in 1990, Sarkar founded a new institution, Ananda Marga Gurukul (AMGK) to create and maintain standards of quality for NHE, to articulate and certify teacher training programs, to promote Neohumanist ethics, to facilitate research and dialogue, and publish pedagogical materials and instruments. The AMGK global liason office is Gurukul, Inc. in Ithaca New York and was established in 1998.
As Sarkar’s Neohumanist philosophy spread outside of India, schools inspired by Neohumanist Education were opened in many other countries, beginning with schools in Africa and the Philippines but extending steadily to Europe, USA, Australia, and South America. The practical application of Neohumanist principles to pedagogical methodology began to be developed and pioneered by pilot model schools and key Neohumanist pedagogues including but not limited to:
- Progressive School of Long Island, NY, USA www.psoli.com Founded in 1985 by Eric Jacobson
- Morningstar Preschool, Denver Colorado, USA www.morningstarpreschool.net– Founded in 1988, Mary Jane Glassman
- Zonnelicht, Den Bosch, Holland www.zonnelicht.nl – Founded in 1986 by Yolanda Koning
- Ananda Marga River School, Maleny, Australia, www.amriverschool.org – Founded in 1995 by Prabha Demasson
The pedagogical developments pioneered by these schools were then shared throughout a growing global network by means of “Education Training Camps”, seminars and the “Gurukul Network” (http://www.gurukul.edu/gknetwork/Issue31/ )– a biannual journal as well as online forum of educators and educational institutes applying Neohumanist Education www.nhe.gurukul.edu , www.gurukul.edu
International NHE conferences and trainings are regularly held in India, USA, Sweden, Netherlands, Taiwan, Thailand, Indonesia, Australia, Kenya, Brazil, Argentina and Haiti.