The school was established to provide education for the very poor children in the surrounding rural area and, as a charity school, is free to students. It is freezing, barren and conditions extremely harsh, and most students travel for an hour or two to attend six days a week. We provide a cup of hot milk at lunchtime, and they go home in the dark. There isn’t any electricity, heating, and few chairs or desks. Stationery is limited, food is non existent and illness is rife.
The school is financed entirely through funds raised by Gyalten Rinpoche and is free to the students. It is supported by Khensur Rinpoche. Gyalten Rinpoche has big plans for his school. At present, enrolled students are limited to villages within walking distance of the school, but he receives frequent inquiries from faraway places such as Dege and Luhuo. Therefore he is raising funds for construction of student dormitories, so that boarding students can be accommodated. He plans to recruit more teachers, and build housing for them. He also plans to build a kitchen and outhouse, both of which are currently lacking.
In 2002 there were 260 students enrolled, aged 8 to 18; some orphaned, some with one parent only. They attend 6 days a week, learning Tibetan, Chinese, English, the four classical volumes of Tibetan medicine, mathematics, moral education, history, tailoring and art. The school emphasizes equal opportunity for both genders, and prepares students for trade or higher study. To overcome the difficulties in hiring teachers, in 1996 the school sent four students (2 male 2 female) with better academic results to study at college, paying for all their expenses. Upon graduation, they are to come back to the school to teach. The children are provided with a mug of tea each day and they sit on wooden stools or on the floor. The most urgent need is electricity for lighting and more importantly, heating as the buildings are of mud and straw, with large gaps in the windows and doors, allowing the freezing winds to blow through.
Gyalten Lobsang Shampa Rinpoche is the principal of the school. He pays for all the expenses of the school. He hired a retired teacher with more than twenty years of teaching and administrative experience to be the vice principal and to take care of everyday matters of the school.
Gyalten Private School officially opened on October 1, 1994. Under the circumstances then, the plan was to open two classes only, mainly to enroll agricultural and husbandry school-age children and handicapped teenagers, orphans, children from very poor families, from the four villages in Rongbeifen area and the nearby Gonglong village of the Shengkang area. The school emphasizes equal opportunity for both genders. That year’s plan was to enroll 80 students. But under the constant requests of many parents, the actual enrollment was 138 students, 87 being boys and the other 51 being girls. Three classes were established, and six teachers and one cook were hired. Subjects taught in school included Tibetan language, Chinese language, Tibetan mathematics, drawing, moral education, sports, etc.
- Employ highly educated and well known teachers to join the faculty.
- Improve disciplinary management of the students and to give them correct moral education.
- Raise funds to build offices, two teachers’ and students’ dormitories, kitchen and toilets with a total area of 600 kong.
- Celebrate the graduation of the first Tibetan arts class students, and honor the start of their service to family and society.
- Make plans to open a Tibetan medicine processing plant.
- Make plans to open a Tibetan incense processing plant.
With the increase of the number of classes and teachers, the salary of fourteen teachers as of this year amounted to 63600.00 yuan (US$7,852).2. Yearly office expense is 2500.00 yuan (US$309).
Students’ textbooks, pencils, exercise books total expense is 12500.00 yuan (US$1543).
Students’ tea, salt and fuel: yearly expense is 2500.00 yuan (US$309).
Seven additional classrooms with a total area of 600 kong need to be built, the fund needed being 540 thousand yuan (US$66,000).
The interior decoration and furniture and equipment will need 300 thousand yuan (US$37,000).
To install lights and the purchase of transformers will need a fund of 60 thousand yuan (US$54,000).
A system for delivering portable water needs a fund of 40 thousand yuan (US$4,940).
A previous loan of 200 thousand yuan (US$24,600) to build the present classrooms and walls, and to build teachers’ hostels, has not been repaid yet.
The total amount of fund mentioned above is 1,221,100 yuan (US$150,753). We would like to request assistance, large or small, from anyone willing to help. All the teachers and staff and students of the school will take Gyalten Rinpoche’s unselfish giving as a role model, to work harder to develop the education system for the ethnic group to fulfil Gyalten Rinpoche’s lofty goals.