(TibetanReview.net, Sep11’21) – A combination of low birth rate, large outflow of opportunity-starved Tibetans to the West, and China’s success in stemming escapes from occupied Tibet has led to a crisis of enrolment in the Tibetan schools in India. The situation is seen to be especially acute in the Tibetan schools at Shimla, Herbertpur, Mussoorie, Darjeeling, and Kalimpong which Sikyong Penpa Tsering is currently touring, along with the Tibetan schools in Solan and Delhi, from Sep 6 to 14 with a view to address the problem.
The school he is visiting are still being run by the Central Tibetan Schools Administration (CTSA) under India’s Ministry of Education but are in the process of being transferred to the Sambhota Tibetan School Society (STSS) under the Education department of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA).
So far a total of 55 Tibetan schools comprising 33 primary schools, 9 secondary schools, 5 senior secondary schools, and 8 K12 schools had successfully been transferred from the CTSA to the STSS since 2013, said the CTA’s Tibet.net Sep 9.
Six schools, namely the Central School for Tibetans (CST) Mussoorie, CST Shimla, CST Dalhousie, CST Kalimpong, CST Darjeeling and CST Herbertpur still remain to be transferred to the STSS and the Sikyong is scheduled to meet with CTSA officials and a Jt. Secretary of India’s Ministry Education in New Delhi to discuss the completion of these transfers.
The extent of the enrolment crisis at the CST could be gauged from what the Sikyong said during his visit to CST Herbertpur on Sep 8: “Where Tibetan students used to be 90%, Tibetan students now constitute only 10% while the remaining 90% is composed of local Indians and students from Himalayan regions.”
The Tibet.net report of Sep 9 cited the Sikyong as saying low birth rate, migration of Tibetans abroad, and a dramatic decline in the influx of Tibetans from Tibet since 2008 were the key factors responsible for the dwindling number of Tibetan students at Tibetan schools. Economically well-off Tibetan families preferring to send their children to private schools has also been cited as a factor.
CST Mussoorie, the largest among the six schools remaining to be transferred to the STSS, has 495 students, of whom only 28 are Tibetans, with 381 being local Indians and 86 being from the Himalayan region, said a tibet.net report Sep 10.
CST Herbertpur, the second largest, has 471 students, of whom 54 are Tibetans and the rest local Indians.
And CST Shimla has 351 students, of whom only 13 are Tibetans, with 253 being local Indians and the remaining 85 being from the Himalayan regions.
There has been a decrease of over 50% in the number of Tibetan students enrolled in Tibetan schools across India, Tibet.net Sep 7 cited Sikyong as saying during his visit to CST Shimla.
The Tibet.net report of Sep 9 cited the Sikyong as saying the purpose of his visit to the schools was to assess the current situation of the remaining CTSA schools and to interact with the concerned staff of these schools to understand their perspectives and suggestions.