Siddhartha School Project

Spring 2011 News & Changes at Siddhartha High School, Stok by Lisa V. Blake
June 11, 2011, 5:48 pm
Filed under: Education in Ladakh, School News, SSP News

Farewell party for Sir Tenzin Dorjee

Today we had a small farewell party for Tenzin Dorjee, our general teacher. He has been one of our good teachers at the school. He was appointed as a general teacher in 2005 and he has served Siddhartha School for nearly six years. All the staff got together and Mr. Angdu, Joint Secretary of SCWS also attended the small tea party in the school staff room.

Speaking on the occasion Mr. Angdu thanked Mr. Tenzin Dorjee for his contribution towards Siddhartha School and wished him good luck and success in his future life. He also said that Khen Rinpoche expressed his good feelings to him and wishes him great success with his future life. He also asked the staff to invite Mr. Tenzin Dorjee to attend the dinner party with Khen Rinpochey in July.  He thanked him by offering him a khata (white scarf).  A khata, khada, khadag, or hada (Tibetan: ཁ་བཏགས་; Mongolian: хадаг [xɑtk]; Chinese: 哈达; pinyin: hǎdá) is a traditional ceremonial scarf used in Tibet and Mongolia. It symbolizes purity and compassion. It is usually made of silk. Tibetan khatas are usually white symbolising the pure heart of the giver

“These five years at Siddhartha school has been the most memorable and best part of my life”, said Mr. Tenzin Dorjee. “I have learnt so much over these five years and I carry that with me in my life,” he added.

He thanked all the staff for their wonderful cooperation and friendship.

“Unlike other schools and organizations Siddhartha school staff community is truly a wonderful team with no groupism etc.,” said Mr. Vivek.

Mr. Tenzin Dorjee gave his resignation a month back as per the school norms. And today was his last day at the school. All the teachers thanked him for his service to the school and wished him all the best in his future life.

Two new teachers appointed

On 3rd May, 2011, an interview was conducted for two new teachers and today they were given appointment letter.

Mdm. Stanzin Dolma, our former English teacher left Siddhartha School in November. To fill her gap Madam, Yanchan from Stok was appointed as a temporary teacher. Mdm. Yanchen during her short time at the school proved her ability and English skills and both the staff and students were impressed by her teaching skills.

She appeared for the recent interview for a permanent teacher at the Siddhartha School. The interview was conducted by Mr. Ishe Tundup, Principal Lamdon School, Sir Norlha Principal Siddhartha School, Mr. Angdu, joint Secretary SCWS, and Mrs. Tsering Kunzom, Secretary SCWS, and Mr. Susheel.

All the interviewers were happy with Madam Yanchen’s performance both in the interview and her performance at the school in the last couple of months. They decided to appoint her as a permanent teacher.

The other candidate was Madam. Tsewang Dolker a Tibetan whom the interviewer felt was a good replacement for Mr. Tenzin Dorjee. She did well in the interview and she had all the necessary qualification for a general teacher.

Today during the farewell part for Mr. Tenzin Dorjee both the new teachers were also welcomed to the school and were given the appointment letter.

Madam Yanchan was given the appointment letter for a permanent teacher and for Madam… an appointment letter was given for the first three months of probation. If after three months of probation she is found competent and satisfactory she will be given an appointment letter for a permanent post.

On behalf of the Siddhartha School Project USA family, we thank Mr. Tenzin Dorjee for his dedication and years of service and helping our students succeed!  Sending him all the very best wishes for his success and happiness.  We also send a warm welcome to the newest members of the Siddhartha High School staff!



His Holiness Gyalwa Karmapa Lama visits Siddhartha School! by Lisa V. Blake
April 27, 2011, 6:52 pm
Filed under: Education in Ladakh, Ladakh News, School News, SSP News, Uncategorized

Siddhartha School was blessed and honored by a 45 minute visit with His Holiness Gyalwa Karmapa on April 26, 2011.  It was his second visit to the school and many parents and honorary guests were on hand to welcome him.  The students dressed in very beautiful traditional clothing and presented a cultural show for him.  His visit was a success and the entire school body felt very honored and blessed to have the opportunity to be among the fortunate audience.  Stay tuned for photos from this event, to be posted soon!

Back in the US, Khen Rinpoche Tsetan has been in New York City, Connecticut, and Maine on the East Coast.  In addition to leading several teachings, Khen Rinpoche joined Executive Director of the Siddhartha School Project Lisa V. Blake at Connecticut College for a presentation about Siddhartha School on April 15, 2011.  College volunteer Danielle Plourde who came to work at the school in the summer of 2010 and who was on hand digging out the hospital in Leh with Siddhartha student volunteers after the mudslide organized a wonderful large gathering at her college.  The theme “Himalayan Heritage: The effects of globalization on a remote Tibetan Buddhist community, featuring a talk by a prestigious Tibetan lama Khen Rinpoche Tsetan, who will speak about the importance of cultural preservation and the actions that are being taken by the students of the Siddhartha School to live in harmony with the Earth.” Lisa presented a slide show on the sustainability project featuring the village cleanup, the students in action, and teh Zero Trash Policy crafted by the class 10 girls.  We reached over 60 people, sold many of Rinpoche’s books, and even gained a new sponsor for our project who will hopefully come to the school in 2012.  More updates coming soon!  Julley & love, Lisa   

He is currently in California, where he has led the ceremony celebrating His Holiness the Panchen Lama’s birthday.  This weekend on May 1, 2011 he will join His Holiness the Dalai Lama for the Yamantaka Initiation in Long Beach, CA.

10th Grade Exam Results by tsewangnorbuvivek
June 14, 2010, 1:29 pm
Filed under: Education in Ladakh, School News

On 11th June, 2010, the 10th grade board exams results of the Jammu and Kashmir state were declared. Thousands of students appeared for the exams. This is the important exam for all the students as it determines their future career. It is like a passport for them to go for higher education. All students eagerly wait to pass their matriculate or 10th grade exams as it is a shift from rote learning to more real learning.

After 10th grade students are free to choose their subjects either in arts, commerce or science and don’t have to necessarily study all the subjects.

It is mandatory, until 10th to study all the subjects and consequently lot of students fail in their exams and all those who pass usually memorise the lessons without really understanding the meaning of the subject.

This year, In Leh district alone 730 students appeared for the 10th exams out of which 233 passed which means 31.92 pass percentage. 707 students were from the government schools and 215 passed, 23 were from the private schools, and 18 passed.

Five students from Siddhartha High School appeared for the exams and two managed to pass and three of them failed, in either one or two subjects and they have to reappear for the failed subjects. Our school result is 40 percent.

About the Exams

The modern examination focuses only on the scholastic evaluation and the overall personality of the student is completely neglected. Right from class one a student is expected to learn three languages, English, Hindi and Bodhi, apart from mathematics, science, history, civics, geography and basic computers.

Unable to bear this pressure many students commit suicide each year especially during the 10th grade exams. Witnessing this high rate of suicide cases amongst high school students, the central government came up with a new idea of student’s evaluation.

CBSE, the central board of secondary education, government of India, have taken pioneering steps in the recent past to impart quality education and reforms its evaluation method. The CBSE now introduced radical reforms in which there is a paradigm shift from marks to grades and from rote learning to real learning. It introduced CCE, Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation.

The CCE scheme aims at addressing this in a holistic manner. A number of National Committees and Commissions in the past have consistently made recommendations regarding reducing emphasis on external examination and encouraging internal assessment through School-Based Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation.

Through CCE the all aspect of the student is taken into consideration, scholastic as well his overall personality.

The state board continues with the old method and hopefully it will move in the footstep of the central government and adopt this new method of CCE, Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation and lessen the pressure on the students.

Notes on Government School Education in Ladakh by scottcronenweth
May 21, 2010, 1:56 pm
Filed under: Education in Ladakh | Tags: , ,

Due to its geographic isolation, sparse population and other factors, education in Ladakh has long been problematic. Traditionally, formal education was available only in the monasteries. Monks learned Tibetan in order to read the sacred texts.

Right up through the 1990s literacy was very low across the region, for both men and women. (Today it’s about 60% overall.) Indian government schools at that time had enormous shortcomings. Teachers had little training, and taught mainly through rote memorization. Teachers were rotated to new assignments every two years, which often left them feeling demoralized and far from home in remote Ladakhi villages. Often they would simply not show up to teach.

A further problem was the absence of community participation in education. Local people weren’t familiar with how schools operated, and could offer little support to teachers or students.

Perhaps worst of all, students were taught in Urdu up to 8th grade, and then suddenly switched to English for grades 9 and 10 (the end of compulsory education in India). The result was semi-literacy in two “foreign” languages and complete illiteracy in Ladakhi.

The all-important Jammu & Kashmir state matriculation exam is given in English, and most students couldn’t express what they knew well enough to pass. Failure rates for Ladakhi students from government schools averaged over 90%. All those who failed were denied higher education, and with it access to government jobs and other gainful employment.

Today, thanks to educational reforms such as SECMOL (Students’ Educational and Cultural Movement of Ladakh, begun in 1988), children in government schools begin studying English in the primary grades, using Ladakhi/English storybooks and all-English textbooks, along with games and posters, all with culturally appropriate images and references. Teachers are much better trained and community involvement is greater. Subject texts in Ladakhi are still lacking, in part because there is no standard, written form of colloquial Ladakhi (often called Bodhic).

Indian government schools are distributed throughout Ladakh, but two-thirds of them provide only a primary school education (through grade 6). Only about 65% of Ladakhi children attend school regularly, and absenteeism among both teachers and students is still high. Children of nomad families face particular challenges attending government schools.

Among those comparatively few children who stay in government schools all the way through grade 10, the pass rate on the state exam has risen as high as 50% in Leh District (it is lower in Kargil District). More recently, however, the pass rate has once again dropped below 30%. Even among those who pass and go on to intermediate college (grades 11 and 12) only about half manage to qualify for college. On the bright side, there is now a government degree college in Leh, so Ladakhi students need not leave Ladakh to pursue higher education.

In a future post I’ll relate this topic to private school education in Ladakh, and to the curriculum at Siddhartha School.

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