Dharamsala, April 21 (IANS) More than 50 years after India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru took the initiative to open schools for Tibetan refugees, the Tibetan administration in exile is now all set to take over the 71 institutions functioning across the country.
The transfer process, which began this month, will take at least three years.
The schools were set up after the first Tibetan refugees came to India in 1959. They are currently being run by the Central Tibetan Schools Administration (CTSA), an autonomous body under the human resource development ministry, will be handed over to the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), an official said.
The move comes after their Tibetian spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, expressed a desire to impart modern education while preserving Tibetan culture and heritage.
Currently, about 10,000 students are on rolls of these schools, from pre-primary to class XII. The schools are affiliated to the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE).
Tibetan Prime Minister Lobsang Sangay said education is one of the top priorities in the domestic programme and policy of the government-in-exile. “It’s true that the Tibetan community has done relatively well over the past five decades (in exile). While we started out from very humble beginnings, we need to learn to gradually stand on our own feet,” Sangay told IANS.
“In fact, self-reliance is one of the three main policies of my administration,” Sangay said.
Sangay himself is an alumnus of a refugee school in Darjeeling. He then studied law at Delhi University before moving to Harvard for doctoral studies.
“His Holiness attaches great importance to educating Tibetan children. Whenever, wherever he gets an opportunity, he loves to interact with them. He wants to make them bold enough to face the world,” Thubten Samphel, director of the Tibet Policy Institute, a think-tank under the CTA based here, told IANS.
Tenzin Dorjee, a class X student of Tibetan Children’s Village already run by the Tibetan administration here, said he was really moved by one of the audiences he had with the spiritual leader.
“I have seen lots of Chinese professionals all over the world but very few Tibetan professionals… So, you must put in more focus and effort,” he quoted the Dalai Lama as saying when the Nobel laureate visited the school last year.
“You should study everything. I started when I was young and although I’m nearly 78 today, I’m still studying,” says a post on the Dalai Lama’s website, quoting the Nobel laureate while interacting with students of Tibet Institute, which works to preserve Tibetan culture, in Switzerland, April 17.
Some 140,000 Tibetans now live in exile, over 100,000 of them in different parts of India. Over six million Tibetans live in Tibet.
(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at [email protected])