January 8, 2014 9:36 am, DHARAMSHALA: The sixth Tibetan General Conference on Education is currently underway at the Lower TCV school in Dharamshala. Over 236 participants comprising of principals, directors, teachers and counselors from 76 Tibetan schools in Nepal and India, are currently attending the 3-day conference.
The general conference on education is the largest gathering of teachers and school administrators on education policy of the Tibetan exile community and is held once every five years.The agenda for this year's conference include professional development of teachers, emphasis on primary education particularly science and mathematics, and the effective implementation of the basic education policy, introduced in 2004.
The chief guests at the inaugural ceremony of the conference were Sikyong Dr Lobsang Sangay, Mr. Penpa Tsering, Speaker of the Tibetan Parliament and Mr. Ngawang Phelgyal Gyechen, the Chief Justice Commissioner. Other guests include members of the Kashag, Tibetan parliamentarians, officials of education department and the heads of various autonomous bodies of the Central Tibetan Administration.
In his address, Sikyong cum education Kalon, Dr Lobsang Sangay lauded the efforts of Tibetan teachers in raising the overall education level of the Tibetan community. He said, due to the efforts of the Tibetan teachers, there is a huge improvement in the performance of Tibetan students in the academic field as well as in the competitive examinations.
He also said that the literacy rate of the Tibetan people is higher than many other south Asian countries.
Even on the basis of gender, he noted, that there is an inspiring trend of girls outnumbering boys in the pursuit of higher studies in colleges and universities. He encouraged more students to pursue specialized education in diverse academic fields.
Sikyong Dr Sangay reaffirmed the 14th Kashag's prioritization of education and academic excellence as one of the most important component of their policies. "When it comes to dialogue with the Chinese or garnering worldwide support for the Tibet issue, we are dependent on the other party's response. But regarding the education of the Tibetan people, it is something that we can and have to do ourselves. Therefore, if we fail in education, it is solely our responsibility," he said.
Sikyong also reiterated his commitment of producing 10,000 professionals from the Tibetan diaspora and 100,000 professionals from Tibetans inside Tibet in the next two decades. Speaker Penpa Tsering, in his address, talked about the importance of the basic education policy of the Tibetan exiles and urged the Kashag and the education department, to direct their concerted efforts towards the full implementation of the policy.
He also emphasized the need to review the resolutions passed in the earlier conferences to make greater progress in the standard of education. Acknowledging the demographic changes taking place in the Tibetan exile community, Speaker Penpa Tsering expressed his opinion that schools with lesser number of students. should merge with other schools for the sustenance of Tibetan settlements. Speaker Penpa Tsering also underscored the importance of preserving and promoting Tibetan culture and language to create a robust Tibetan identity in exile.
The Tibetan general conference on education is organized by the Department of Education, Central Tibetan Administration and will conclude on 9 January 2014.
The first general conference was held in 1964 during the nascent stage of Tibetan exile community. The last general conference was held in 2009 and was inaugurated by His Holiness the Dalai Lama.