Lubrak School


Map of North Nepal

 

Map of North Nepal





Secular education, following the Nepalese state curriculum, is provided in the village school, but the community has built a hostel that will provide parallel education in Bön religious matters and Tibetan literacy. In 2002 the Chasey Kengtse hostel was formally opened. Prior to this, there had been no school in Nepal where children of Bönpo families could receive a non-monastic education and also learn about their own religious tradition. The hostel met a growing demand from Bönpo families in Mustang for a school where children could receive a high standard of education in an environment friendly to followers of the Bön religion, who often face prejudice at mainstream Tibetan schools. The community was concerned that their children would subsequently have no sense of belonging to a Bönpo community, and no opportunity to participate in the ceremonies and festivals that mark the Bönpo calendar. The greatest danger was that the Bön religion would become detached from everyday village life and exist only as a monastic tradition.

The Lubrak community decided to address this situation by establishing a hostel associated with the local school where children could freely follow their rich village tradition without having to be ordained as Bönpo monks or nuns. A key factor was the wish to stem the current haemorrhage of children from their home environment in the mountains, and prevent the young, educated generation from losing touch with village life.

Construction work began with the support of the British-based charity KINOE (Kids in Need of Education). The project was subsequently adopted by the Kalpa Group and Loel Guinness, who are funding it for the period 2003 to 2010. They were joined in 2008 by Victoria Niarchos, who is playing an active role in planning and fundraising. The scheme has been highly successful, and it is proposed to expand the hostel by adding two new buildings. With more than half the children attending the school coming from Bönpo families in other parts of Mustang, this project provides a vital resource for the extended Bönpo community.

The curriculum balances the national curriculum, which includes Nepali, English and mathematics, with classes on Classical Tibetan language and the Bön tradition. In addition Geshe Yungdrung Gyaltsen, now resident at Gongphu Gompa, also teaches at the school.