Karuna Projects

ITBCI school update – Education in the foothills of the Himalayas

– Akashamitra, Karuna Programme Manager

I’ve just come back from visiting projects in India, and the last visit I made was to Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Cultural Institute (ITBCI school) in Kalimpong, India. While I was there I spent time with the head teacher and with many students and staff. Having worked with the school for the last 5 years, I’ve seen them make enormous progress during that time. Academic standards have been consistently improving at the school; consequently, so have the student’s exam results. The school is now also doing it’s own fundraising in addition to Karuna funding, it’s encouraging that they are making efforts to be more sustainable on their own steam.

What always strikes me about ITBCI is how appreciative the students are of the care and individual attention they get from the teachers. Class sizes are deliberately smaller than in most other Indian schools, which means that students are given more attention and encouragement. In turn, the teachers see their roles as much more than a job. They choose to work at the school knowing that many of the students come from very poor backgrounds and have more complex academic and social needs than at more expensive private schools.

As one teacher said when I met with her during my visit, “The teachers here come to work at the school knowing that our students will need more support than most. We know that if the students will succeed we have to help them, we want them to have a better life and for them to do something good. We let them know that the school is always there for them, to help them. We try to give attention and care to each and every student.”

It was strange coming back to the UK and Karuna under the current conditions. I always look forward to coming back to the office and catching up with everyone there and sharing news of my trip. With all of us now working from home due to the coronavirus this has all happened on screen. The programmes team can still do what we need to do, but it feels strange not to be in the same physical space. Fundraising has been the most pressing issue for us at Karuna. For the first year since they began, we have decided to postpone all door-to-door appeals until at least Autumn 2020. Projects like ITBCI are funded solely from donations given by individual supporters who give through these door-to-door appeals. However, in a time of social distancing, it is a necessary measure to look after our volunteers, supporters, staff and other members of the public.

Back in Kalimpong, the school has had to close its doors in the last few days. Students have been sent home and the school is suspending its normal timetable until at least 15th April, and possibly beyond. Teachers will be offering online lessons to its class 10 students who will hopefully be sitting their exams this year. Please bear the students and staff at ITBCI and our other Karuna projects in mind as the situation unfolds.

If you would like support ITBCI during these uncertain times please visit www.karuna.org/radiatelove 

Thank you to those who have already given. Together you have raised an amazing £10,000 so far. Help us reach our target of £15,000 to support the future of the school.  

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