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Private school brings opportunities to Tibetans

Updated: 2013-07-13 15:24
( Xinhua)

LHASA - Tenzin Dhondub had only 15 students when he turned a courtyard home into a classroom to teach the Tibetan language in Lhasa, capital of Southwest China's Tibet autonomous region.

Back in 1994, he was among few local professionals proficient in Tibetan, Chinese and English. His friends and family members said he was insane when he gave up a well-paid government job to pursue his teaching dream upon graduating from Tibet University in Lhasa.

Over the past 19 years, his classroom has expanded into the Dung-Dkar School of Languages, where more than 20,000 students have learned Tibetan, Chinese, English  and computer skills that have helped them find jobs in the service sector.

At least 60 percent of the students had not received any formal education before they attended Dung-Dkar.

"I hope the school will one day evolve into a university," Tenzin Dhondub said as he saw his students off on their way home after school.

The school, which opened in 1994 in a community near the Ramoche Temple in the heart of Lhasa, provides language training to adults who have never received formal education.

"I named it 'Dung-Dkar,' which means 'white conch' in Tibetan. Dung-Dkar is one of the eight auspicious symbols of Buddhism," he said.

An English major himself, Tenzin Dhondub felt it was important to teach young people English so that they could learn more about the outside world,and secure jobs at hotels, stores and tourist attractions that foreign visitors often frequent.

By 2007, the school had 1,200 students and more than 30 teachers. It also marked only year that the school made a profit.

In most years, it has been hard to make ends meet. As the school's principal, Tenzin Dhondub often spends his own money to keep the school running.

In 2010, the school was moved into a three-story building on Sera Road, a more spacious place where rent is high.

"Many classes are running at a loss, with only five or six students. Their tuition fees are not enough to cover the teacher's salary," said Lobsang, the principal's assistant.

The school runs day and night programs and every semester lasts for four months, Lobsang said.

"The night program, for example, has 1.5 hours of classes every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. Tuition costs 430 yuan ($70) per semester, averaging 4 yuan for each class."

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