Tibetan School Draws International Students


2006.02.21
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Students practice their computer skills at the Dogga School in Dharamsala, India. Photo courtesy Rinchen Tsering

A North India-based adult education center for Tibetan refugees has proven popular with a wider community, drawing students from as far away as Thailand, South Korea, and Japan.

Rinchen Tsering, founder of the Dogga Adult Education Center in Dharamsala, cited “a few European students as well, but not many.”

Some of Dogga’s students learned of the school from friends who had traveled through the area—home to the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama—Tsering, 27, said in an interview.

“I think when they’re traveling they notice and go home and tell their friends, maybe, about this [school].” he said.

Tsering said Dogga offers training in English and computer skills. Most of Dogga’s teachers are volunteers, and student numbers vary.

This year, Tsering said, the school has about 430 students, most of them from historically Tibetan areas under Chinese control.

Since I was a child, I tried to fight to get an education for myself.

Tsering himself left the northeastern Tibetan region of Amdo as a refugee in 1997.

Dogga School founder and director, Rinchen Tsering. Photo courtesy Rinchen Tsering

“Since I was a child, I tried to fight to get an education for myself,” Tsering said. Because of this, he said, he dreamed from a young age of helping to educate others.

Classes are free

The Dogga Center itself is almost entirely self-supporting, he said.

“We don’t take fees from the students. We don’t take anything. We have a computer section which has an Internet café open to the public. So that’s the main source for the school.”

Though individuals—“quite a few, in the past”—sometimes make donations to the school, they are allowed no influence in the running of the school. “We make that clear, in advance.”

Ngodrup Tsering, former education secretary for Tibet’s India-based exile government, said the education of Dharamsala’s refugee community is otherwise provided by the primary and secondary schools of the Tibetan Children’s Village.

As many as 3,000 Tibetan children attend these schools, Ngodrup Tsering said.

They are supported individually through sponsorships or by nongovernmental organizations. This support depends “on the needs of the school or the project you submit to them,” Tsering said.

Referring to the Dogga Center and other, similar efforts, Ngodrup Tsering praised those who serve the “specific needs of the Tibetan community.”

The Dogga Center has now graduated four classes, each lasting about a year. Rinchen Tsering said the school has plans to expand “as far as we can.”

“There’s no limit. In the near future, we have plans to increase our staff. So, based on that, it would be very nice if we could extend the school to other [locations] as well.”

While many Tibetans remain permanently in India, thousands, including monks and nuns, also make brief visits to India through third countries and then return to China.

Most who transit Nepal to India are young and in search of Tibetan-language and religious education, RFA's Tibetan service has reported. Others leave to escape China's heavy-handed rule in Tibetan areas.

Original reporting by Richard Finney. Edited for the Web by Sarah Jackson-Han.

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