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Gongkar Choede School


In 2003, His Holiness the Dalai Lama inaugurated Gongkar Choede monastery and spoke about education for the young monks who had recently joined the community. Following His Holiness’s profound guidance, some of the senior monks of Gongkar Choede, who had come from Tibet and had completed their studies at the Sakya College in Dehradun and Dzongsar Institute in Bir, took the responsibility of providing education to the new monks. At that time the Hon. Rosaleen Muli donated funds for a modest schoolhouse consisting of two small classrooms, attached staff quarters and a dormitory for the young monks. Some learned senior monks taught all the traditional monastic subjects including Tibetan grammar and literature, calligraphy, poetry, ritual practice and Buddhist philosophy. Tibetan traditional subjects were given the utmost importance. English and other subjects were taught from time to time by foreign volunteer students under the Gap Year Program, which was very helpful. Thus there was some small development in providing education to the young monks but a set program of teaching traditional Buddhist scholastic subjects as well as some essential modern subjects was not yet established.


In 2012 Ockenden International funded a new schoolhouse which was inaugurated in July 2013. The founder of Ockenden International, Joyce Pearce OBE, was well-known to His Holiness the Dalai Lama and had a long history of helping Tibetans-in-exile. The new school building was constructed under the careful supervision of Mrs. Kirsty Chakravarty and the senior monks within the premises of the main monastery. The new schoolhouse is a double storey building consisting of two well-equipped classrooms, two dormitories, bathrooms and toilets and a teacher’s room with attached bathroom. All the interior furnishings and sundry expenses of the new school were funded by The Nangchen Children’s Trust. Mrs. Kirsty Chakravarty bought the land behind the schoolhouse and gave it to Gongkar Choede monastery for a playground for the young monks. The auspicious opening of the school took place on July 22nd 2013. The monastery works hard to ensure that the young monks receive a sound education and gain firm cultural identity so as to become good contributing members of the Buddhist community and the world at large.



The Gongkar Choede School Project primarily aims to improve the monks’ education with regard to secular subjects. Gongkar Choede wants to build up structures for an enhanced curriculum that combines the traditional monastic training with elements of modern education. In the long run this would strengthen the institution’s self-reliance and support the efforts of preserving the Tibetan religious-cultural heritage in a foreign environment. The study of Tibetan language is particularly important both for the correct understanding of the Buddhist philosophical texts and also for maintaining the Tibetan cultural identity while living abroad. Gongkar Choede is well-suited for this task as its senior monks are all from Central Tibet and have a good command of the Lhasa dialect.