Our approximately 90 children, more than half of whom are girls, are provided a quality, well-rounded education in and out of the classroom. Our educational philosophy is to prepare students to pass Indian national exams and also to equip them with relevant life skills. Our students are in academic classes about six hours a day, five days a week. Classes currently range from Grade 1 to 10.
We follow the guidelines set by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE)
In the morning, the children learn:
- Social Studies
- English and
- Bhoti (Tibetan Language & Culture)
In the afternoon, the children typically participate in:
- Visual art
- Football (soccer)
- Volleyball and
To help in our effort to provide a 21st century education, technology is incorporated into the teaching when appropriate (and available). Students have access to a small number of computers. Tablets are available for the oldest class of students, and we have limited satellite internet connectivity for online research.
Saturdays are devoted to a variety of hands-on experiential education projects, at age-appropriate levels. In addition to learning practical skills that are in demand in the region, these projects incorporate math, science and social studies, making these subjects real and useful. The children are excited that they are receiving an education that will enable them to contribute to the quality of life for people in their district. The kinds of projects we do (and hope to do) include:
- Masonry, using both stone and brick
- Carpentry skills
- Computer training
- Kitchen practices
- Fabricating and maintaining solar LED lamps
- Maintaining electrical appliances
- Welding techniques
- Dairy farming
- Organic gardening
- Agricultural technology – greenhouse methods, installing and maintaining drip irrigation systems, and vermicomposting
- Natural building techniques
Jhamtse Gatsal strives to help preserve the Monpa and Tibetan cultures, which are in danger of being lost. The Monpa tribe lives in the Tawang district of Arunachal Pradesh, India in what was once part of Tibet. The large majority of the children at Jhamtse Gatsal are a part of the Monpa tribe.
The Monpa culture posseses great skill in beautifully designed and hand-crafted traditional arts such as wood carving, weaving, and thangka painting. They also have a rich tradition of instrumental music, dance and singing. The languages they speak and learn, Monpa and Bhoti (the Tibetan language), are also fascinating, with deep roots in this region of the world. It is estimated that only 50,000 people now speak Monpa.
The students are taught Bhoti as part of the core education they receive at the Community. The children are also taught the local traditional instrumental music, dance, and singing by teachers who are specialists in these areas.
Thangka painting usually depicts mandalas or stylized Buddhist scenes with complex designs and intricate details using vibrant colors. In the past, thangka paintings have been traditionally used as teaching tools, describing important stories. These paintings are displayed around the Community during special occasions.
Much of the traditional dance, music, and singing depicts regional folklore. Both boys and girls take part in zestful and joyful dancing and singing performances wearing colorful traditional costumes. Performances take place for on special occasions and at regional festivals and holiday gatherings.
The children are sought-after to participate in cultural performances in the area, receiving high praise and small cash awards. Jhamtse Gatsal has received a Unique Achievement Award from the Buddhist Cultural Preservation Society.
Jhamtse Gatsal children participate in many ways to preserve the unique and colorful local culture.
At Jhamtse Gatsal the children have unstructured time during breaks or in between study sessions or activities. This time for them is important for their development, giving them the opportunity to explore their creativity and just have fun. The children are very creative. They love to play with each other in all sorts of ways:
- They explore the campus’s grassy outskirts and around the main playing fields.
- They enjoy inventing games of imagination and pretend. Younger children often prepare imaginary “meals,” delicately mixing ingredients of dirt, leaves and water.
- Many will play soccer, volleyball or cricket
- One game often played is called “five stones.” It is a game like “jacks” played with pebbles, incorporating a very complex and precise series of tasks one has to accomplish to score points.
- The girls also love braiding each others’ hair – they’re incredible at it!
- The boys are more likely to play carroms.
- Some of the children enjoy knitting.
- The older ones are often hanging out with their Ama las and helping with chores.
In general, they’re very resourceful, creative and content children.
The School Year Schedule
The school year begins in May and ends in mid-March. Most children go home to their families and villages for a 45-day winter break at the end of the school year. They also have a 15-day vacation after their half-yearly examinations. During these breaks, they get to visit their extended families and maintain ties to their villages. Some of the older children choose to remain at Jhamtse Gatsal to help in major projects that are on-going.