In 1991, I left my birthplace of Golok in Tibet to live in India. I first came to America in 1996. Although no secular education was not available to me as a child and a youth, I had the rare good fortune of receiving a first class religious education in Tibet. That has opened many doors and summoned many blessings. However, the young people of my homeland still virtually no opportunity for a secular or religious education.
The poverty and helplessness that comes from lack of basic education now threatens the very fabric of society in Tibet in general, and Golok in particular. In this environment, it is difficult for the people to maintain their ancient traditions, especially the Buddhist tradition that brought them peace and happiness for nearly two millennia. The Buddhist tradition flourishes when society is strong, when basic education allows for economic health.
The situation since the 1950’s has been difficult. The old infrastructure of public education was destroyed. Nothing new took its place. Nowadays, in the eastern parts of China, a great emphasis on technological and scientific education has led to unprecedented economic development for the Chinese nationals. However, Tibet does not share the common languages and cultures of China and has had no place in its educational and economic renaissance. As a result, Tibetan society has become destitute and is not able to sustain its precious institutions and traditions. If this continues, in another generation Tibetan culture will no longer exist in Tibet.
***image2*** With the help of dedicated professionals living in Tibet, I have applied to the authorities in the Chinese government to allow us to establish a new education institution in Golok, Tibet–The Tibetan Institute of Technology and Science. This application has met with official approval; we are now fully authorized by the Chinese government to proceed. This is a great step forward for the hopes of the Tibetan people. With the availability of an advanced secular education, they will finally have an opportunity to improve the economy and infrastructure and the ancient traditions will once again have a basis and support in Tibet.
To this end, I am now announcing the start of a drive to fund this new institute. As can be seen in our formal proposal, the plans for the Tibetan Institute for Technology and Science have been developed in a detailed and exacting manner. All aspects of construction, furnishing, supply, staffing and logistics have been developed according to government regulations, available materials, and local customs. These detailed plans are the result of extensive research by professional educators of the Golok region in consultation with government officials, architects, specialists in science and technology, and construction contractors and suppliers. The prices given are up to date and every aspect of the plan has been approved by both the government officials and Tibetan educators who will be involved once the Institute is up and running.
The Chinese government has now sent their official documents of approval and authorization, expressing appreciation that I have taken on the responsibility for establishing an institute for modern public education in an area that is in great need of such help. There are increasingly great demands on public funds in China and virtually no chance that government funding for education will increase in Golok in the foreseeable future. However, widespread poverty and the loss of the ancient traditions are rapidly increasing in the absence of a functioning system of modern education.
***image3***There is only one high school in all of Golok, a region with over 130,000 people. This is the Capitol City Tibetan High School (CCTHS). Although its students are predominately Tibetan, the school accepts students without regard to race, gender or ethnicity. CCTHS currently has 620 resident students, 55% of whom are female. Established in the 1950’s, CCTHS has had minimal funding since that time.
CCTHS lacks the basic infrastructure, classrooms, libraries, teaching supplies and electronics necessary for a basic modern education. Graduates have no chance to be accepted into any institution of higher education, nor to gain employment in any but the most menial of jobs. Our new Institute will be built on the campus of the CCTHS, and will become the center of its educational mission. With the new Institute in place, graduates of the CCTHS will be qualified for entrance into colleges and universities, will be able to compete effectively for high-level employment, and will be able to apply their skills to the many tasks of restoring Golok to its rightful place as a center of a vibrant traditional Tibetan culture.
I humbly request your help for this important project.
Sogan Rinpoche, Pema Lodoe
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