Lithang School Project
The Pistorio Foundation has decided to support the efforts of Thamtog Rimpoche and the Rabten Ghe Pel Ling Tibetan Center of Milano to increase children’s enrollment and school facilities in the region of Lithang in eastern Tibet.
The majority of Lithang’s 700,000 inhabitants are nomads, of which a small fraction are farmers. Both nomads and farmers practice the Buddhist religion and live in respect of Tibetan traditions. Nomads spend their lives in the vales raising yak and other animals, and moving three times per year. They live in tents even through harsh winter months of snow and when the temperature falls well below zero. Their day begins by milking the animals, preparing the butter, and taking the animals to pasture, and often these tasks are accomplished by 5 or 6 year old children. Nonetheless, despite their difficult life, they are always satisfied, have an enormous patience and are very calm and serene people. Because their only means of transport is the horse and they are usually living far away from villages, their children are unable to attend school and therefore remain illiterate, like their parents.
situation is extremely critical as it will produce greater inequalities
between children of towns and the nomad children, with the danger that
nomad families will be living in an ever more marginalized and poverty-stricken
social reality. This situation also threatens the future and preservation
of Tibetan culture.
Ven Lama Thamthog Rinpoche, native of Lithang, where he is an important spiritual leader, has tried to help change this situation by creating schools for the children of nomads and by improving existing structures that were lacking in staff as well as facilities. With the help of the Peretti Foundation, the first school and dormitory for 80 children was built in 2004. The children started to attend school in 2004. The children follow both the Chinese curriculum as well as courses in Tibetan language and culture.
Recognizing the need to allow many more nomad children to receive an education in Lithang, the Pistorio Foundation has funded construction of a second dormitory and facilities for 80 more nomad children in the same campus.
The dormitory was completed in August 2006. It consist of a 3 story building with bedrooms for the 80 children, one library, a kitchen and refectory, a large hall for both study and recreational purposes for students, and rooms for the staff that runs the dormitory.
The project covers not only the construction of the dormitory but also personnel costs, building maintenance, children’s schooling tuition, and supplementation of teachers’ salaries (for daily afternoon tutoring classes) for the next six years, until the newly enrolled children have completed their primary education.
The children spend 10 months of the year at the school campus attending
the school year, while their families continue their nomad lives. The
children join their families in the summer months. The parents are very
proud and impressed at how the children progress and flourish through
The children’s scores and academic results have been very good and encouraging. They are very bright and eager learners and diligent students. Teachers work longer hours than regular class time as they provide extra tutoring to the children in the afternoon. While at the school campus, children also learn basic hygiene rules which they do not receive living as nomads as they live in tents with no sanitation facilities.