Bringing the Internet into Tibetan Classrooms

Historical Background

Tibetan Education in Exile owe a huge debt of gratitude to HH The Dalai Lama and the early Tibetan leadership in exile for their vision, dedication and commitment. Over the past sixty odd years in exile, as a community we have invested a great deal in the education of our children. As a result, Tibetans in exile have been able to build close to a hundred schools  and so much of the basic education infrastructure is already in place.

Current Trends and Issues

Most Tibetan educators feel it is critical to focus on improving the quality of education in those schools. Unless we dramatically improve the quality of education in our schools, the schools themselves are not going to survive. Current enrollment challenges clearly show such dangers.

For starters, the Tibetan population in exile in India and Nepal is shrinking due to interesting social and economic pushes within the Tibetans in Diaspora. While the influx of escapees from Tibet has slowed to a trickle, there is a persistent push for Tibetans in the subcontinent to find ways to migrate West.

Many Tibetans in the subcontinent are happily moving ahead economically. Families that can afford it are now seeking admission for their children in quality Indian private schools.

The Way Forward for Tibetan Education in Exile

While migration trends of Tibetans might not be in the control of Tibetan educators, we can and must try to raise the quality of education in our schools so that Tibetan schools continue to be first choice of all Tibetans. We cannot stress enough how important this is – not only for Tibetan schools in exile, but also for the transmission and survival of our culture. Tibetan schools have been sanctuaries of our culture, a place for Tibetan children to learn about our history and spiritual heritage. If the cream of our children are not in our schools we lose the opportunity to teach them our culture and we may possibly lose them as cultural Tibetans.

Improving the quality of education is going to take a multi faceted effort – involving quality teacher training, building an exception cadre of Tibetan education leadership and then transforming Tibetan classrooms with education technologies. And right here – transforming Tibetan classrooms is where we feel TCEF can make a vital difference – maybe not for all Tibetan schools, but at least in a few select schools.

At TCEF, we feel strongly that is high time we bring the internet and related technologies into Tibetan classrooms in exile. Sara Tellman Veloz, TCEF board member, also an education consultant who works with the states of California and Arizona point out that the use of internet and related education technologies has increased dramatically in American classrooms. She has no doubt that this in indeed the way forward for Tibetan Education in Exile.

TCEF will partner with select schools to implement this. Participating schools will commit to this program, offer relevant training to teachers, explore available Open Education Resources (OERs) resources and procure ‘smart classroom’ software developed specifically for the curriculum taught in the Tibetan schools in exile.

TCEF’s role will be to help build the ICT infrastructure in the schools – bringing the internet into schools, procuring tables, laptops, monitors, printers and projectors.

We started fundraising for this project last year and made a great start. However, we had to revise our funding and project goals. At that time, we are planning to implement this as a pilot project in just one school, the Tibetan Nehru Memorial Foundation School at Clement Town. We’ve helped this school with a computer lab in the past. We hope to build on it and greatly improve Information and Education Technologies in this school.  If this pilot project goes well, we will try to implement this in other schools.

Students in the Computer Room at TNMF School

After several discussions with this school, here is a summary of what we hope to achieve:

Junior Section: Kindergarten and Classes 1 through 5

  • Procure large smart monitors for all seven classrooms in this section
  • Provide best available internet services. This applies to all other sections too.
  • In the Tibetan schools in exile, till grade 5, Tibetan is the medium of instruction. The Tibetan Government in Exile at Dharamsala and other Tibetan organizaitons have developed a number of interesting teaching software for children in this age group. TNMF School will procure all those educational softwares.
  • Bringing the internet and the smart monitors will allow the children to access and learn from all those teaching aids. Plus, they can also access all other teaching/learning material available on Youtube and other educational channels.

Middle Section: Classes 6 through 8

  • Purchase one overhead projector for each classroom.
  • Procure tablets and lap tops

Senior Section: Classes 9 through 12

  • Create a Multi Media or Smart Classroom. The plan is to remodel one of the available rooms into a Smart Classroom or a Multi Media room.
  • Purchase one over head projector and multiple lap tops computers.
  • Procure Educational Software. The children follow a curriculum prescribed by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE). This room will have SmartClass software compatabile with the CBSE curriculum for all subjects and for all grades.

Thanks to donations received last year, we have most of the funds for this project. At this time, we need an estimated $7,000 to implement this project. Recently, we got a huge boost, when a very kind TCEF donor committed to a matching donation of $3,000. So at this time, we need to raise $4,000 and we are requesting TCEF sponsors and supporters to help with whatever they can. Together, let us make this happen!