Gar Schools Projects
Education is a cornerstone for peace and freedom. The nomads of Tibet have a strong tradition of natural world knowledge which they pass through informal educational sharing. As the need for written literacy arose, community members requested the construction of formal schools, and four were built. These schools have graduated over a hundred students, about half of whom continue on to middle and high school, the other half choosing to become monks, nuns or nomads. Without these local schools, students have to travel to Chinese-language boarding schools, where they are taught none of their traditional knowledge. The Chinese government has recognized the benefit these schools bring to nomadic communities, and has asked us to continue our work educating nomad children.
The schools empower the children with knowledge of 3 languages (Tibetan, Chinese and English), while teaching math, science and P.E.. We offer 2 meals daily along with books, clothes, soap and toothbrushes.
Our intention is to support traditional nomadic lifestyles and to give value to indigenous knowledge systems, while offering the skills students need to pursue higher studies and follow their dreams.
GARGON has been a historically significant site ever since the 8th century when Yogini Yeshe Tsogyal sat a retreat in a cave above the village. The cave still holds tremendous energy and sits above the newly renovated upper monastery (YarGon) where Gar Mingyur Rinpoche resides with his 70 monks. The lower monastery (MarGon) was originally built in the 12th century and is now predominately a place of practice for lay practitioners (ngakpas), under the guidance of Garchen Rinpoche.
There are about 700 semi-nomadic community members. This is the first generation of youth to attend formal schooling and has been especially difficult for the families of young girls who depend upon their daughters labor in order to survive. Yet Rinpoche has made it clear that going to school will have beneficial effects, so today around 95% of youth attend the village school, about 70% of the graduating class of 2010 continued on to middle school. The others will continue their studies in the monastery as a monk or at home as a nomad. This August 84 children enrolled for the 1-6 education provided by 2 private teachers and 4 government teachers. Thanks to Tara Tsokpa for building the kitchen, school meals are provided to all students, many of whom would otherwise be severely malnourished. Due to the severity of poverty in the region there are high rates of stunting, anemia, maternal and infant mortality. Since the donation of 2 greenhouses by Lori’s Natural Foods to Pureland, vegetables are served along with local meat. Properly nourished, the children now test competitively against public school students in all subjects, especially Tibetan.
GYALSUM school has been cared for by a Lama in Germany since 2012! TAJUK school has been cared for by a sangha in Singapore since 2012!