What is the Alice Project?
An educational proposal for a pluralistic and multiethnic society.
The Alice Project is a Non-Governmental Association (NGO) recognized by the Indian Government, registered under Indian Act in September 1994, in Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh), as Awakening Special Universal Education, with the following purposes:
1. Realizing experiences and research of an integrated Education in the primary, secondary and Senior High School in the rural villages of the two most problematic States of India: Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.
2. To offer to education and instruction of high-quality to the less well-to-do categories;
3. To answer to the requirements of the modern multicultural, multiethnic, and multi-religious societies. The basic concept is related to the search for the Unit. We teach our students to both look beyond the divisions created from the multitudes of nationalities, traditions, and religions, and how they can cohabitate in multicultural and pluralistic societies.
The objectives are not limited to the social sphere, for they also involve the Person in relation to him or herself. Hence the search for a psychological Unit, which lies beyond the divisions created by the inconsistent mind that prevents our realization of our potential harmonic personality.
The project was born from the intuition of two Italian teachers, Valentino Giacomin and Luigina de Biasi. They worked for more than ten years researching and defining the contents and methods of a new educational paradigm for all schools (1980 – 1990). After conducting considerable research, the results were quite encouraging, and made the researchers wonder if they had in fact stumbled onto a possible solution to the problems plaguing modern societies in relation to student behavior and academic achievement.
However, further confirmations were necessary to validate the results of the investigators, who decided, therefore, to repeat the experiments with greater scientific rigor, in a different cultural context. They chose to work in India for the impoverished children, coming from the poorest rural area of Sarnath.
Sarnath is found in the state of the Uttar Pradesh, 12 kilometers from Benares, the city on the Ganges. It is a sacred place for the Hindus and Buddhists of the world. Based on the experience accumulated during the numerous years of research and experimentation in Italy, the two teachers – first – organized a teachers’ training course lasting a few months in length, and then prepared and adapted a didactic program for the particular culture of the place where they were working. Their intention was to create an alternative educational program, for the Primary School children, based on their past experiences. In doing so they also implemented a more systematic and scientific form of research than the experimentation that was carried out in Italy.
This is how the Alice Project started.