Tibet Foundation

Aid to Tibet Newsletter 40 - Vocational Education

Jul 1, 2003

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Aid to Tibet Newsletter 40 - Vocational Education

Aid to Tibet – Vocational Education. In May of this year, Tibet Foundation supporters received Aid to Tibet’s “Vocational Scholarships” appeal through the post. This appeal addresses the critical shortage of skills throughout rural Tibet. Rather than try to employ ‘outsiders’, Aid to Tibet’s strategy is to embark of a project to select and train students actually from the regions that we are helping. Thus, this is a long-term project, and it will involve the most promising school leavers from both primary and secondary schools. I am delighted to be able to tell you that the appeal is very successful. Over 100 of Tibet Foundation’s supporters have responded so far, giving over £6000 as well as a number of banker’s orders. These banker’s orders will be of particular importance to this project, since they will enable Aid to Tibet’s commitment to each student’s education to be as strong as the student’s own. Our original plans for the project were to select and enrol ten school-leavers – one from each of the schools that Aid to Tibet works with – to start in September 2003. Unfortunately, disruption caused by the SARS virus has meant that this has had to be put on hold for this year, since it was not possible to confidently identify the most suitable school-leavers from all these schools. However this will just be a minor delay to the project, and this year has by no means been lost! Instead, this year the Vocational Education Scheme has adopted two new projects: one to improve teaching at Gyalten School, and one to start training primary school leavers in Sertha County. Sertha County. In Sertha County, to the north of Kandze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, we are sponsoring 10 primary school leavers through middle school. These students are being selected on the basis of merit from the network of rural state-funded primary schools across the county. Aid to Tibet will fund all tuition and living costs for these ten students at the state-run but inadequately funded middle-school in Sertha Town. Sertha is one of the poorer counties in Kandze, geographically and socially similar to nearby Sershul County. Sertha – meaning Golden Horse in Tibetan – was renown for its resources of gold and lumber, but today both have been exhausted and Sertha is one of the poorer counties in the prefecture, with very limited educational opportunities. Aid to Tibet has been working in Sertha since spring 2002, and we hope that by training these students through secondary school, and ultimately sending 5 of them for further tertiary education, we will enable ourselves to significantly develop our work here in the future. Gyalten School. Gyalten School is Aid to Tibet’s original project. Set up in Kandze County by Gyalten Rinpoche, the private school provides free education to 240 students from the surrounding villages. Despite its rural location and minimal means, Gyalten School now receives widespread commendations from locals and officials for the quality of its education. The school has managed to retain staff by putting its own graduates forward for further training in tertiary institutions. This has been particularly successful with teachers such as Lobsang Tsultrim, who studied English in Lhasa for three years and for one year in London during 2002. Teaching of Mandarin Chinese has been a particular problem to Gyalten School. In the neighbouring villages, Tibetan is spoken universally, with few adults understanding more than a cursory word or two of Mandarin. Literacy in Mandarin is non-existent. However for the next generation of Tibetans, Mandarin will be an increasingly necessary skill. With the exception of “Minority Institutes” and “Nationality” departments, all tertiary education in China is conducted in Mandarin. This means that to receive education beyond secondary school, Mandarin is essential. Furthermore, government and private jobs increasingly require applicants to be fluent and literate in Mandarin. Gyalten School had been lucky enough to have a volunteer Chinese teacher from Guangdong Province (formerly Canton) for the past 2 years, but understandably she has now returned to the warmth and better food of South China! To fill this gap, Aid to Tibet is selecting two recent graduates from Gyalten School to send to study Mandarin for 3 years. Once graduated in Mandarin, these students will return to Gyalten School as teachers. To fill the gap while they are studying, Aid to Tibet has been trying to locate a Mandarin teacher prepared to go to Gyalten, but finding someone so committed has proven very difficult. On behalf of the beneficiaries of the project – the ten students from Sertha and all the students at Gyalten School – I would like to extend our thanks to you for your generosity. If you would like more information on the project, or would like to make out a banker’s order or other donation to meaningfully educate a future generation of Tibetans, please do not hesitate to contact me in the Tibet Foundation office.