The Department of Education of the Central Tibetan Administration

We continue to provide our readers with the activities of the Central Tibetan Administration, focus on maintaining Tibetan refugees in exile and the Tibetan diaspora worldwide.

The Department of Education of the Central Tibetan Administration

Department of Education is one of the seven main departments of the executive organ of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) based in Dharamsala, India. It was established in 1960 to look after the educational affairs of the Tibetan administration and community in exile. After coming into exile in 1959, His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama had given top priority to education and requested the then Indian Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru for establishing separate schools for Tibetan refugee children.

The heart purpose of establishing separate schools for Tibetans in India was for provision of quality modern education and preservation of the Tibetan language and culture at the same time. This idea is commonly referred to as the twin-object of the Tibetan schools in exile and became the heart and soul of the Tibetan education policy. The overall level of success towards that object over the past 51 years has remained remarkably high. The Department of Education currently oversees 73 Tibetan schools – excluding the pre-primary sections and private schools – in India and Nepal under different autonomous administrative bodies. There are around 24,000 students and 2,200 staff members in these schools. The autonomous school administrative bodies include: Central Tibetan Schools Administration (28 schools), Tibetan Children’s Villages (18 schools), Tibetan Homes Foundation (3 schools), Sambhota Tibetan Schools Society (12 schools), and Snow Lion Foundation (12 schools).

The Department of education is one of the most important departments of the Central Tibetan Administration. It is responsible for educating Tibetan refugee children in both traditional and modern forms of education. His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s dream is to nurture Tibetan students who are not only sharp intellectually, but also responsible community members and world citizens.

Over the last fifty years, the Department of Education has done a commendable job of establishing various schools and educating thousands of Tibetan students who have successfully graduated from their schools and gone on to pursue higher education in universities around the world. Many alumni ofTibetan schools administered by the Department or recipients of Department scholarships are now serving the Tibetan community in various capacities—as parliamentarians, civil servants, teachers, doctors, journalists, activists, lawyers and so on.

The challenge now is to further improve the exile education system and provide access to higher education to all Tibetans. Education is a key priority for the current Tibetan administration. One of our goal is to significantly expand the base of Tibetan professionals holding advance degrees in fields such as medicine, science, mathematics, engineering, law, business, etc.

This group of educated professionals have a vital role to play in our struggle to restore freedom in Tibet. We are fortunate that His Holiness the Dalai Lama has kindly given us his blessing in this regard.

Whatever I have achieved today in life is because of the education I received first from a Tibetan school and then higher education in India and in the United States. I am well aware of the challenges and opportunities Tibetans students encounter on the path to receiving quality education and becoming a successful professional. As the Education Kalon, I am committed to bringing about much-needed reforms in our education system and creating an enabling environment where pursuit of learning is encouraged and quality education is available to all Tibetans.

I take this opportunity to pay my deep respect and admiration to His Holiness the Dalai Lama for his vision to educate Tibetan children both in the traditional and modern fields of studies. Without his leadership and guidance, the exile Tibetan education system would not be where it is today. I also thank all the dedicated staff, teachers, and donors of the Department of Education. Your hard work, sacrifice and support have played a key role in the Department’s work and success. 

Dr. Lobsang Sangay Kalon
for Department of Education




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