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The concern of Tibetan parents in Nepal for their children

September 11, 2010

By Lhamo Kyap (by email)
WTNN
September 9, 2010

Kathmandu, Nepal -- Tibetan parents in Nepal are
worried that they would not find Tibetan culture,
tradition and custom, the basis of which is the
Tibetan language alive in their children. They
are apprehensive  that their children would not
be as Tibetan as they are.  For the sole purpose
of  inculcating  their distinct
cultural  heritage to their children, they have
been sending their children to Tibetan government
schools.  Nowadays, there is a problem in doing
so also.  The problem lies in the fact that about
75% of the students in these schools are
from  peoples of the Himalayan region of Nepal.
We are not against those students studying in
Tibetan schools, but their presence in such high
numbers is detrimental to the  preservation of
Tibetan culture and tradition. Nowadays, because
of the majority of the students coming from the
Nepalese Himalayas, our children in those schools
also tend to speak the Nepali language which is
the lingua franca in Nepal, rather than Tibetan.
The situation has become such that our children
have acquired the habit of speaking Nepali to
communicate and continue to do so even at home.
This is a matter of grave concern for we Tibetan parents living in Nepal.

Actually, His Holiness the Dalai Lama has been
repeatedly advising us that the people of the
Himalayan region studying Tibetan language and
Buddhism is a great way of preserving this unique
Tibetan heritage. It is of course true. But with
due respect to the noble aspirations of His
Holiness, I do not think His Holiness has been
fully intimated about this problem which is very
much evident in the Tibetan government schools.
Also, the main point His Holiness is making is
that we should first be able to keep our heritage
intact and then, be willing to help others
benefit from learning our language, religion and
custom. But citing this as the reason, the
administrative officers of Tibetan government
schools in Nepal have been admitting all sorts of
Nepali children seeking admission there. So, the
parents, who are aware of the problem, are
compelled to take their children out from these
schools. They feel if their children cannot learn
Tibetan language and culture in these schools,
then, it would be better to send their children
to schools, where English is spoken. They feel
that their children would at least learn to speak English fluently.

Our fate of having to live in an alien
environment and having to mix with the people of
the Himalayan region, we are ourselves unable to
keep our culture alive. So, how is it possible
for us to teach them? We are benefitting them but
at the huge cost of losing our culture. If the
people of the Himalayan region want their
children to study Tibetan language, religion and
custom, then, there is another way to do that.
There are very many Tibetans, who are good in
Tibetan language and literature but are
unemployed. So, the people of the Himalayan
region can have separate schools for themselves,
where Tibetan teachers can teach them Tibetan
language and culture.  In this way, the people of
the Himalayan region can get Tibetan education
and those educated but unemployed Tibetans can
get jobs. The same thing applies to the Tibetan
monasteries in Nepal. When there are teachings,
we hear almost all of the monks talk in Nepali.

We are Tibetans because of our unique language,
religion and culture. If these are not preserved,
then it would not be a matter of surprise if one
day in the near future Tibetans as a distinct
people become extinct from this world.  So, I
earnestly appeal to all the leaders of the
Tibetan community to take a serious look into
this matter at the earliest and take emergency measures before the ship drowns.
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