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Shankar, Aikiyam's Principal

Each of our principals since the opening of the school nearly thirty years ago, namely André, Roy, Mike & Sue, and Anna, have contributed to the growth of the school both in numbers and in quality, and each has added some special characteristics to the overall program.  We remember them with gratitude and appreciation, even as we celebrate the qualities of our current principal Shankar Vengadesan.



Shankar was born in 1966 in the impoverished village of Kuilapalayam, in rural Tamil Nadu, where the only source of livelihood was seasonal agriculture. The houses had, with very few exceptions, floors and walls of baked mud, with roofs of overlapping palmyra leaves. The only mode of transport, besides walking, was by bullock cart, unless you were one of the very few, who could afford a bicycle.


When Shankar was three years old, the Auroville community of Aspiration started on the outskirts of the village with a few simple huts, although they were luxurious compared to those of Kuilapalayam, as the walls and floors were made of cement, and they had running water and toilets. The lives of the people of Kuilapalayam were irrevocably impacted by the arrival of this community of foreigners, at first mainly from France, but later representing several nationalities, right next to their village. Some families were more involved with Aspiration, as the new community was called, than others, sending their children to be educated along with children from many other countries, and working along with the new Aurovilians planting trees, and building up the infrastructure for their community. Shankar’s family had less contact with Aspiration than many, but Shankar remembers how he and other children in the village used to tease the foreigners, when they rode through the village on their bicycles. He also remembers envying some of his village friends, who were becoming fluent in English.


Principal Shankar explains how a teacher approaches Auroville's integral education by incorporating the body into the learning experience.

Principal Shankar shows how porfolios are used to map a child's development.

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