Education for 13,000 Children in the High Himalaya

 
$6,332
$14,668
Raised
Remaining
Jul 19, 2009

Congratulations and thank you. All 136 Alternative Hubs established!

Thank you for your very generous support which has contributed significantly to improving the livelihood prospects of these children as well as allowing them to maintain their cultural identity in a rapidly changing world.

The past twelve months have contained significant milestones in the delivery of education to the children of this remote region. There has been a perceptible change in attitude towards education among the children attending the Alternative Learning Centres (ALHs) as well as in the surrounding local schools.

The inclusive nature of the program along with the delivery of the curricular supplements and the locally relevant courses has enhanced the value of education perceived by parents.

The opening of 13 Resource Centers and wider exposure opportunities offered through various competitions, debates and socially relevant activities are also reflected in the willingness and commitment of the parents to encourage participation.

All 87 ALHs planned to be set up during the year have been established, bringing the total to 136 and activities are in full swing throughout them all.

The entire set of 12 different courses comprising computers, book-keeping, personality development, basic enterprise skills and eco-tourism, photography, electronics & crafts and ecology, health & sanitation and first aid have been developed and rolled out.

The vocational courses on Photography, electronics, crafts and Eco-tourism have been very well received by the target audience and the demand for these courses alone has enabled 228 individual students to benefit.

The three Eco-Tourism centres set up last year at Joshimath, Tawang and Nubra have gradually strengthened in their services of promoting and enabling the uptake of ecotourism as a potential vocation in the area, and have opened avenues for the youth to explore this set as a career option. 4 new centres have been established this year at Leh, Kinnaur, Kaza and Keylong. Tourism and vocational information have been provided at these centres, making them a hub of community interest and tourist interaction.

The remoteness of the villages still creates a significant challenge to deliver activities especially in winter months and the out migration of educated community members, including much needed teachers are an ongoing obstacle to be overcome. In spite of this, significant progress has been made and the fact that the local communities are embracing and taking ownership of the initiative gives us confidence that the project is both essential and sustainable. Key Achievements

87 new Alternative Learning Hubs (ALHs) established, brings total to 136.

1467 girls and 1589 boys now benefitting from project.

All ALHs are operating for 2 hours each day throughout the year.

136 Village Education Committees formed.

304 teachers trained including 35 government teachers.

25% increase in boys of remote villages attending school.

35% increase in girls of remote villages attending school.

Case Study

Classroom in the clouds At 17,000 feet an encampment of rough woollen tents huddled together on an arid, windswept plain surrounded by mountain peaks is home to a nomadic tribe known as the Korzokpas. The tribe lives by grazing their herds of goats and yaks on the high-altitude pasturelands of the Chantang Plateau.

This community of 700 men, women and children move camp 14 times a year, making it extremely difficult for the children to receive an education.

Until a few years ago there was a government school five km away in the town of Korzok, but in winter the whole area is completely snow-bound and the school was forced to close down because the Government couldn’t find teachers willing to work in such extreme conditions. Now the older children go to a boarding school more than 60km away, while the younger children travel with their parents – helping to tend livestock as they move from place to place in an annual cycle, across an area covering more than 60sq kms.

For the past two years our project partner, Pragya has worked with several of these nomadic communities to provide primary education for the younger children.

Pragya have developed mobile learning centers: simple primary schools staffed by members of the nomadic communities that provide basic education for the children as they migrate with their parents from place to place.

These learning centers are housed in large canvas tents and equipped with books, wall charts, chalkboards and educational toys and games that can all be folded, stowed away and carried on the back of yaks to the next grazing ground.

The whole school collapses down into robust, red plastic crates, which also serve the children as desks. During the summer months classes are held at 17,000 feet – making this perhaps the highest school in the world.

The classes run for two hours every morning, giving the children enough time to help their parents with milking and shearing the animals in the early morning and late afternoon.

The children love the classes because the mobile center has a range of toys and games designed to enable them to learn through play – bright-colored jigsaws, board-games, puzzles, counting boards and skittles.

Thondup Tsering is the main teacher in this mobile school. He has lived with this community all his life and is passionate about ensuring the children gain as good a start as possible, helping to safeguard the future of this community and its traditional nomadic lifestyle. “These children are our future. It’s crucial they get an education, that they can read and write a little bit and have at least basic numeracy. Otherwise they’ll spend the rest of their lives being exploited by traders from other communities and end up picking up other people’s rubbish.”

“I love teaching here. It’s wonderful to see the children playing with these toys; you can see how keen they are to learn! I feel a great sense of satisfaction that I’m able to contribute to the future of my community in this way. I only wish it was possible for me to do more.”

But Thondup is realistic about the future for his people. The nomadic lifestyle has continued here for thousands of years – maintaining a delicate balance with this most extraordinary of environments. But it is now slowly dying out, as people increasingly drift to the cities in search of a more stable income and more tolerable living conditions.

‘It may be that our nomadic culture won’t survive more than another generation. But without an education what alternative would these children have? We are giving them an education so that at least they will have some opportunities. The future belongs to them; they should be able to make a free choice about how they want to live.”

You are a valuable and appreciated stakeholder in this project. Please do give us any feedback you think will help you or the beneficiaries. Perhaps tell us why this project is important to you and what drives you to give.

Thank you for your generous on going support.

Dec 19, 2008

A Classroom among the Clouds

How your support is helping to fund educational centers for the children living in some of the highest altitude settlements in the World.

For Thondup Tsering, home is an encampment of rough woolen tents huddled together on an arid, windswept plane surrounded by towering mountain peaks nearly 17,000 feet above sea level. He belongs to a nomadic tribe known as the Korzokpas who live by grazing their herds of goats and yaks on the high altitude pasturelands of the Chantang Plateau, part of the Indian Himalayas close to the border with Chinese occupied Tibet.

The nomadic life is one of almost unimaginable hardship. In the summer months the nomads trek with their herds up to the high altitude pastures; in the winter retreating down to the lower slopes to escape temperatures that go down to minus 50 degrees. In all, the community of 700 men women and children move camp 14 times a year, making it extremely difficult for the children to receive an education.

Until a few years ago there was a government school five km away in the nearby town of Korzok but in winter the whole area is completely snow bound and shut off from the rest of the world. Eventually the school was forced to close down because the Government couldn’t find teachers willing to work in such extreme conditions. Now the older children go to a boarding school more than 60 kms away, while the younger children travel with their parents helping tend the livestock as they move from place to place in an annual cycle, across an area covering more than 60 square kms. . About two years ago, a Delhi based organization called Pragya started working with several of these nomadic communities, to provide primary education for the younger children - the result, mobile learning centres: simple primary schools staffed by members of the nomadic communities, that provide basic education for the children as they migrate with their parents from place to place. The learning centers are housed in large canvas tents and are equipped with books, wall charts, blackboards and educational toys and games that can all be folded up, stowed away and carried on the back of yaks to the next grazing ground. The whole school collapses down into heavy duty red plastic crates which are also used by the children as desks. During the summer months classes go on up to 17,000 feet making this perhaps the highest school anywhere in the world.

Thondup Tsering is the main teacher in this mobile school. He has lived with this community all his life and is passionate to ensure that the children get as good a start as possible, helping safeguard the future of this community and their traditional nomadic lifestyle.

“These children are our future. Its crucial they get an education; that they can read and write a little bit and have at least basic numeracy . Otherwise they’ll spend the rest of their lives being exploited by traders from other communities, and end up picking up other people’s garbage.” . The classes run for two hours every morning giving the children enough time to help their parents with milking and shearing the animals in the early morning and late afternoons. The children love the classes because the centre is equipped with a range of toys and games designed to enable them to learn through playing- brightly colored jigsaws, board-games, puzzles, counting boards, skittles, plastic cricket bats, footballs- the school boxes are like treasure chests to children who would normally not have access to any toys at all.

“I love teaching here. It’s wonderful to see the children playing with these toys; you can see how keen they are to learn! I feel a great sense of satisfaction that I’m able to contribute to the future of my community in this way. I only wish it was possible for me to do more.”

But Thondup is realistic about the future for his people. The nomadic lifestyle has been going on here for thousands of years-maintaining a delicate balance with this most extraordinary of environments and passing on traditional Buddhist values from generation to generation- but now it is slowly dying out as more and more people drift to the cities in search of a more stable income and more tolerant living environment.

“It may be that our nomadic culture will not survive for more than another generation. But without an education what will be the alternative for these children? We are giving them an education so that at least they will have some opportunities. The future belongs to them; they should be able to make a free choice about how they want to live.”

May 14, 2008

Trucking in the Himalayas

Working in the high altitude Himalayas is more precarious than most other areas. Weather patterns limit project implementation to 6-8 months per year, as these areas are cut off by heavy snows during the winter months. In addition, global warming is causing weather patterns to change. This has meant that in April work has been slower than expected due to unseasonable weather, such as heavy rainfall in the Western Himalayas, and snowfall in the Eastern Himalayas. The target for the Himalayan Education project this year is to establish 87 schools in remote villages, in addition to the 49 set up last year. So far 63 villages have been mobilized for school establishment and community buildings selected for the school. In 36 villages Village Education Committees have been set up of prominent community members and these have been trained in their roles: raising awareness of education in the village, maintaining the standards of the school, ensuring girl and disabled children are going to school. While this work continues in the mountains, at the head offices in Gurgaon (close to Delhi) procurement of education materials and furniture for the 87 schools is under way. Over the next few months these will be trucked out to the remote villages. Our partner has learned from last year's experience of sending trucks out with the supplies, but them not arriving for weeks or months, since some drivers got lost and some found it was a nice opportunity to take in the scenery. This year project staff will be traveling with the drivers to make sure they get to their destination as quickly as they can - sight-seeing can be done afterwards! Also in the Head Office, much work is being done to develop a curriculum that this culturally and environmentally appropriate to the Himalayas. It is hoped that this will be a key factor in building the confidence of Himalayan people, and result in greater education attainment since children will have greater interest in learning, rather than feeling defeated by a complex curriculum which isn't in their native language and is inappropriate to their lifestyles. To complement this, work is being done to develop vocational training courses to diversify livelihood options and provide alternatives to subsistence farming. These courses include eco-tourism, local crafts production, food and dairy processing, electronics, photography, among others.

Apr 9, 2008

A further 87 supplementary schools in the Himalayas

Children
Children's dance in Demul village, Spiti

Thank you again for your support for the Himalayan education project; below is some latest news on developments...

The coming year is an ambitious one for the project since we aim to establish 87 supplementary schools and 13 Resource Centers in remote Himalayan villages from Ladakh in the west to Arunachal in the far east of India.

The challenge is increased as our team has to implement their work during the summer season before the snows come and block the passes to high altitude areas for between four to six months.

However, our team are very used to working with such constraints, and the scale of the work will be made easier since a smaller number of facilities were successfully established last year: 49 supplementary schools and 5 Resource Centers. Presently in the Himalayas the snows are starting to thaw so most of the team are in place to begin working on this year's activities. In all areas the sites for the new schools have been selected and village education committees, comprised of prominent and interested community members, are being trained on their responsibility to maintain the new school's facilities and smooth functioning, and for raising awareness among the village about the importance of education and how local people should be taking advantage of the supplementary school. An innovative dimension to this project is that 10 of the supplementary schools this year will be mobile (3 mobile schools were set up last year). These directly address the nomadic lifestyle of many people living in the Himalayas. Instead of having to send children out of the community to get educated, the new schools and teacher will travel with nomads as they move during the year. This way children can receive an education whilst remaining in their community, and benefit from the curriculum which has been designed to be culturally-relevant and culturally-specific. Through the Resource Centers, a number of courses will be run to stimulate employment opportunities among youth and to raise awareness of social, environmental, and cultural issues. Courses will be run for youth in business skills and photography, with a view to earning income from the increasing tourist trade. Locally relevant courses will be held on first aid and reading and writing of bhoti, the local language which is a dialect of Tibetan. We feel confident that the coming year will be successful in delivering these aims and contribute to the education and overall wellbeing of thousands of children from remote Himalayan communities.

Mountains in Spiti
Mountains in Spiti
Girl in Rogi village, Kinnaur
Girl in Rogi village, Kinnaur

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Funded

Thanks to 95 donors like you, a total of $6,332 was raised for this project on GlobalGiving. Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.

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Organization

Karuna Trust

London, England, United Kingdom
http://www.karuna.org/

Project Leader

Steven Murdoch

Staff Member
London, UK United Kingdom

Where is this project located?

Map of Education for 13,000 Children in the High Himalaya