In the aftermath of series of Tibetan protests across Ngaba region in eastern Tibet, the Chinese authorities of Ngaba “Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture” (‘TAP’) have indefinitely closed down the school run by Taktsang Lhamo Kirti Monastery on 8 April 2008, according to confirmed information received by the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD).
According to multiple sources, the Chinese authorities of Ngaba “TAP’ indefinitely closed down Taktsang Lhamo Kirti Monastery’s school in Dzoge County (Ch: Ruergai /Zoige Xian), Ngaba “TAP”, Sichuan Province, on 8 April 2008. From the sources, the primary reason for its closure was cited as participation by a number of students of Taktsang Lhamo Kirti Monastery in March 15th protest along with other senior monks of the monastery at Dzoge County headquarters. Students both novice monks and children from surrounding areas were known to have been sent back to their respective places after the closure.
The school at the time of its inception in early 1986 was under the care of scholar Dzoge Aku Nyima with only three classes, which were mostly held in the Monastery’s hall and monks’ residences. A separate school was established in 1996 through the generous fund raised by the head of the management committee of Taktsang Lhamo Kirti Monastery, Alak Lungtsang Nangwa Rinpoche.
The school was not free of any official interference in the past. In 1998, the Chinese authorities forcibly took over the governance of the monastic school from Taktsang Lhamo Kirti Monastery two years after its establishment. However, irrespective of taking over governance by the authorities, the monastic school has been run and managed directly by Taktsang Lhamo Kirti Monastery until its closure on 8 April 2008. Taktsang Lhamo Kirti Monastic School caters to educating primarily novice monks below 18 years of age and children from surrounding nomadic areas, on Tibetan language, literature and Buddhist philosophy.
At the time of its closure, the school housed 504 novice monks and lay children from neighboring areas. Almost all of its students were from poor rural and nomadic areas where there is no education facility. The monastic school was a boon for the poor farmers and nomads who subsist on daily earnings and could not provide for their children’s education.
Although, the Chinese official mouthpiece, Xinhua, reported on 25 March, that most schools in Aba County resumed classes since the return of normalcy in the area. The indefinite closure of Taktsang Lhamo Kirti Monasitc School on 8 April was not mentioned anywhere in the reports of official mouthpiece till date.
Monastic schools have been the primary source and backbone of education for Tibetans in Tibet. Such schools have always catered to the need of education to the masses who could not pay exorbitant school fees laid by the government. The Chinese government has been targeting monastic schools as they are deemed to be teaching “splittist” ideologies when in reality the curriculum in monastic schools are based on Tibetan culture and Buddhist philosophy.
TCHRD is gravely concerned about the fate of the students and calls upon the Chinese authorities to reopen the school.