Rajni Kumar (born 1923) came to India with her Indian fiancé to join the freedom struggle, and made the country her home. In 1950, she set up a school for girls displaced by the partition. This work led her to conceptualize an institution that would link the process of education with life itself, and Springdales School was born in 1955. Her many innovative school programs–incorporating peace and human rights education in the curriculum, literacy projects, the "adopt a gran" project, and many others–have altered India's outlook on education.
At 16, Rajni Kumar (born Nancie Joyce Margaret Jones to British parents) became an activist in the antifascist resistance movement in England. She also joined the India League and the India Relief Committee for the sufferers of the 1942 Bengal famine. In 1946, with her costudent and fiancé Yudhister Kumar, she moved to India to participate in the freedom movement. Once there, she changed her name, married Yudhister in 1948, and made India her home. From 1950 to 1955, Rajni set up and ran a Hindu middle school for the girls of families displaced by partition. By 1955, brimming over with ideas on education, she wanted to set up an institution that would interweave the process of education and life. She established Springdales School in her own home, with 24 children on the roster. Among the many innovative and path-breaking initiatives she introduced were peace and human rights education integrated within the curriculum, partnering with deprived children in state-run schools under the "twinning program", an Africa Club to support the antiapartheid movement, programs for women in urban slums, and the "adopt a gran" project with HelpAge India. She retired in 1988 at the age of 65, but continues to be active as chairperson of the Springdales Education Society. She is also voluntary coordinator of the Delhi Schools Literacy Project under the National Literacy Mission, motivating students and teachers in more than 60 schools to become involved in the eradication of illiteracy. Rajni's vision for the future is to find ways to make educational systems more humane, equitable, and relevant to the changing world scenario, using technology to link schools and youth globally, and to incorporate education for peace, communal harmony, and international understanding into the curriculum of all schools.