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Brontosaurus and H.H. Dalai Lama continue with construction of a new school in Ladakh

For the fourth year, construction of a new environmentally friendly and sustainable school campus, Spring Dales Public School, continues in a remote part of Ladakh. The project has been co-designed and co-developed by the local Buddhist community in collaboration with Brontosaurus in the Himalayas - a branch of the long-time Czech non-profit organization Brontosaurus Movement, and led by Czech architect, Martin Knap. The project is also generously supported by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama.

Spring Dales Public School (SDPS) was founded in 1992 by a group of committed community members with the vision to provide quality education for their children. Under new leadership by dedicated Principal, Tsewang Norboo, the school community has set up a long-term plan (2011 – 2021) to improve quality education in the area, to provide equal access to education for all social classes regardless of economic status, and to extend the capacity of SDPS from 150 to 300 students.

The SDPS Development Project focuses on four key areas: 1) ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE – to create a functional and sustainable school management team; 2) QUALITY EDUCATION – to improve access to quality education for all children regardless of class or status; 3) FINANCIAL STABILITY – to ensure financial viability (with less dependency on international aid); and 4) INFRASTRUCTURE – to build a quality and sustainable ecologically-friendly campus using local materials.

Brontosaurus in the Himalayas provides finances, professional assistance, and support from Czech volunteers both on-site in Mulbekh and off-site in the Czech Republic to help realize these goals. Czech professionals stay long-term and work together with the community and the school management on different parts of the SDPS Development Project.

His Holiness The 14th Dalai Lama has been providing his generous support since his personal visit to SDPS in Mulbekh in September 2010. During His Holiness’ private visit in the Czech Republic in 2011 former President Vaclav Havel officially gave thanks to him for supporting this project.

The whole new campus is designed to take advantage of the local building materials and climate. The new campus will be passive solar. The main structure is built using improved traditional building technique of mud walls called ‘rammed earth technology’. Buildings will be heated by accumulation of solar energy into the rammed earth walls.

Last year Spring Dales Public School, with the help of members of Brontosauri in the Himalayas, Lamdon Social Welfare Society, and other volunteers, managed to stabilize the organizational structure and management team of the school. This was the first item on the agenda of the Human Resource Development Program - one of the six programs of the larger school development project. The Scholarship Program for financially disadvantaged families in this area has been successfully launched and, through the generous support of private sponsors internationally, is supporting the education of nearly half of the students at the school. Also with the financial donations from sponsors the school was able to buy a truck for construction, which is used to help build a new campus, but is used mainly as a tool for sustainable income by leasing the truck out to other users. Buying the truck was the first business activity of the Entrepreneur Program of the development project, to be able to secure financial independence of the school in the future. From the Infrastructure Program the rough structure of a new student accommodation block for approximately 40 students, as well as the structure of a new classroom block, boasting 8 new classrooms, were completed. New buildings are designed and built using passive solar and rammed-earth technologies, the latter of which is an adaptation of the traditional Ladakhi mud-building technique. When designing and building, improved traditional Ladakhi techniques and features are used, such as typical Ladakhi window decoration, clay roofs, channel irrigation systems or composting toilets for example.

As a part of Volunteer Program Brontosauri in the Himalayas, long-term and short-term volunteers were helping the local teachers with class preparation and teaching of: physics, physical education, music or arts. Other volunteers have created, for example, the school’s website (www.sdps-mulbekh.com) or a physical 3D model of the new school campus design. Among the volunteers who visited and supported the development project last year were also former Environment Minister, Martin Bursik, and a former Member of Czech Parliament, Katerina Jacques (who are also members of the Group of Friends of Tibet in the Czech Parliament), along with their daughter Noemi.

As every year, representatives of Brontosauri in the Himalayas, along with school representatives, met with His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama to thank him for his support and to inform him about the project progress and his donation utilization. His Holiness was very pleased, expressed his satisfaction and promised to continue his support and assistance in the coming years. Representatives of the school and Brontosauri in the Himalayas then together officially invited His Holiness to inaugurate the first phase of the campus construction in July this year. In summer 2014 again a group of Czech volunteers will be coming to Ladakh to continue working together with the school management and staff on the School Development Project.

Should you be interested to collaborate or to become a partner of this unique project you can visit www.sdps-mulbekh.com or www.brontosaurivhimalajich.cz for more information, or contact the school Principal, Tsewang Norboo, directly at norboosdps@gmail.com.  Alternatively, you can contact Jiri Sazel at director@brontosaurivhimalajich.cz – (Brontosauri in the Himalayas Director) for more information. Should you be interested to donate to the Spring Dales Public School Development Project in any way, your support would be greatly appreciated.

 

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Mulbeck School 2014