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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

For school, Tibetan teen crossed Himalayas

September 21, 2009

By Mayank Aggarwal Dharamsala
IANS - 18 Sep 2009

Dharamsala: Sixteen-year-old Tibetan Jamyang set out on a journey that could
threaten his life. His farmer parents let him cross over to India via Nepal
for his education despite knowing that he may go without food and they may
never set eyes on him again.

The eldest of eight children in a family based in eastern Tibet, Jamyang is
one in the latest batch of 40-odd refugees who have come to Dharamsala, the
headquarters of the Tibetan government-in-exile, hoping to start a new
chapter in his life.

Away from his family, there is just one singular reason that has made him
come to this Himachal Pradesh town - school.

The young boy couldn't wait to meet the supreme Tibetan spiritual leader,
the Dalai Lama, Friday being the day scheduled for it. He will now join Bir
School, one of the many started by the government-in-exile here.

"I want to go to school, that is why my parents sent me away. I have not
decided what I want to do or become when I grow up. It is for my family to
decide what I will do or where I will go after finishing my school here,"
Jamyang told a visiting IANS correspondent.

Because of the circumstances in Tibet - which is under Chinese rule - he was
unable to attend school there.

Reminiscing the 40-day-long Himalayan journey to India, he says, it was not
simple. "I first went to Lhasa from where I reached the Nepal border
crossing the Himalayas. But the security there was very tight and crossing
the Tibet-Nepal border was very difficult. I even remained without food for
three days," he recalls.

After a month in Nepal, the refugees, including 12 teenagers like Jamyang,
were put on a special bus to New Delhi and finally made their way here.

The Tibetan government-in-exile lays special emphasis on education for the
community's children. While some of its schools are controlled by the Indian
government, others are run by independent organizations such as the Tibetan
Children Village (TCV).

Currently, there are about 27,000 students in 82 Tibetan schools for the
refugee community throughout India, Nepal and Bhutan.

A lot of importance is also laid on preservation of Tibetan culture through
education.

"We lay emphasis on preservation of the Tibetan language and culture. We
follow the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and teach three
languages - Tibetan, Hindi and English," said Sonam N. Dagpo, secretary,
international relations, of the Tibetan-government-in-exile.

"Initially, English was the medium of instruction but now we have started
Tibetan language as a medium of instruction. At present, it is till Class 5
only but we are planning to extend it up to Class 10," he added.

"We don't want them to forget their own culture," Dagpo said.

The Tibetan community is celebrating 2009 to say "Thank you India: 50 years
in exile", showing gratitude to India for hosting them and their religious
heads for five decades.

"Education is the topmost priority for our children. It's not about
providing them education alone; it's about giving them hope for their
country. If they get educated, they will be able to work for their country,"
said TCV's education director Tenzing Sangpo.

TCV used to get around 800-900 Tibetan children every year, but since last
year - when there was a widely reported crackdown by the Chinese authorities
in Tibet - they have got only 150 children.

"We are thankful to the Indian government for their support and today our
students are very successful. India has become a second home for us and
Tibetans have adapted to Indian culture pretty well," Sangpo added.

Many students have now become doctors, administrators, engineers, post-
graduate teachers, journalists, social workers, lawyers and computer
programmers.

A total of 140,000 Tibetans now live in exile, over 100,000 of them in
different parts of India. Over six million Tibetans are believed to be
living in Tibet, which the Dalai Lama fled in 1959 after a failed uprising
against Chinese Communist rule.
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665   ctcoffice@tibet.ca
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