Higher Education for Tibet

04-2006 B&W THF children studying
Why higher education is crucial for the future of Tibet

Tibet Relief Fund’s sponsorship co-ordinator, Tsering Passang, explains why it is vital to ensure young Tibetans receive a college or university education in order to create a sustainable, professional future for themselves and for Tibet.

“Thanks to the continued efforts of our partner agencies and schools – as well as organisations and individuals around the world, including Tibet Relief Fund’s generous sponsors – many Tibetan children in India and Nepal now receive a good basic education. Sadly, however, there is still a major lack of opportunity for vitally needed higher education.

Every year between 1,200 and 1,500 students graduate from Tibetan schools in India and Nepal. However, the Department of Education is only able to provide annual scholarships to 150 – 200 of these students (those with the highest grades) to go on to further education in India. Whilst some additional higher-education scholarships are available through other agencies, there is a huge shortfall that leaves around 1,000 school leavers from financially stretched families unable to continue their studies in college or university.

In recent years, the Dalai Lama has placed a strong emphasis on encouraging Tibetan students to pursue higher studies in specialised fields to enable more Tibetans to become professionals.

On 8th August in his inauguration speech, Dr Lobsang Sangay, the newly elected Kalon Tripa (Prime Minister) of the Tibetan Government in Exile, who is himself a beneficiary of the DoE’s overseas scholar-ship programme and former Senior Fellow at Harvard University, said, “Education will be our number one priority. As His Holiness the Dalai Lama has taught us, sharing knowledge is ‘a way to achieve immortality’. It is the beacon that will light the future of Tibet. We will strive to reach 10,000 professionals among 150,000 in exile”.

Through our Empowering the Vision project in India and our key role in the foundation of the Global Tibetan Professional Network, Tibet Relief Fund has long been committed to giving young Tibetans the means to develop careers and build sustainable futures, and these opportunities would be greatly enhanced if more Tibetan youth could go to university. This has been emphasised by a recent request from the DoE asking Tibet Relief Fund to commit full grants for higher education for at least ten students, thereby enabling more children to take the next step in becoming skilled and qualified Tibetan professionals.

Our sponsorship programme is a key part of our ongoing commitment to youth and education. We currently have over 800 sponsors supporting children in day and residential education up to secondary level. Some sponsors have continued their child’s schooling into university by covering the increased costs required and there are a number of supporters who generously fund a specific student’s college and university place.

The fees of sponsoring a child through college or university in India or Nepal can vary depending on the course taken; on average fees are around £1,000 a year. As an example, £4,000 over four years would support the training of a qualified nurse such as Kalsang Chodon. This is quite a jump from our residential rates of £200 and realistically is more than many of our sponsors are able to provide.

In view of this, we are establishing a Tibet Relief Fund “Scholarship Fund for Higher Education” to enable individuals to be able to contribute towards supporting young Tibetans through university. We are suggesting £40 per month would be a ‘good starter’, but any contribution would be welcomed.

I earnestly request that you consider giving a young Tibetan the knowledge and skills to build a better future by either sponsoring an individual through university or by making an annual contribution towards Tibet Relief Fund’s new Scholarship Fund. Please contact me if you would like to discuss helping support a young Tibetan in this way or for information on any part of our Sponsorship Programme – see my contact details below. Thank you.”

How to get involved with the Tibet Relief Fund “Scholarship Fund for Higher Education”:

Over the years our existing sponsors’ support has undoubtedly changed the lives of thousands of Tibetan children. Much of the appeal of our sponsorship programme is the opportunity to make a real human connection with a young Tibetan in exile through their formative years. As well as receiving reports on their progress, many sponsors regularly exchange letters, photos and drawings with their sponsored children. Such a commitment makes a real difference both to our sponsors’ lives and to the young people they are helping.

£480 – £1,200 a year (£40 – £100/month) for three or four years depending on the course provides a university student scholarship (see Tsering’s article above). The amount required is dependent on the type of qualification, subject and institution. You can make a contribution safely and securely online through our Enlightened Gifts site, or set up a Direct Debit for regular monthly payments (please call the office on 020 7272 1414 for advice on the simple set up proceedure).

To discuss this further with Tsering, or for more general information on the Scholarship Fund, please email tsering@tibetrelieffund.co.uk or call 020 7272 1414

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