Lamdon Model High School
A school in Zanskar
A school in Zanskar
It is at the end of the 80s that Marc Damiens, French trekker, discovers Zanskar, a lost valley of the Indian Himalayas, nestled at more than 3600 meters of altitude. To get there you must climb the Pensi-La, a pass at 4400 meters, which is not accessible in winter because of the snow. As a result, Zanskar is kept in total isolation for 8 months of the year. The only link with the outside world is a frozen river, a perilous route through gorges over a distance of almost 100 km. Only a few caravans dare to venture there each year to reach Leh, the capital of Ladakh.
Very quickly, Marc Damiens becomes enthusiastic about this region and its inhabitants, the Zanskarpas, and wishes to be able to help this Buddhist population in a concrete and lasting way. With the help of an interpreter he speaks with the locals and realises that what they need most is a school. The Zanskarpas want their children to be able to attend a school approved by the Indian government without giving up their local culture, language and traditions.
Back in France in 1988, Marc Damiens creates an NGO whose goal is to offer quality education to the children of Zanskar. On their side, some very motivated parents get organised in an association and, with the authorization of Pedma, the Dalai Lama’s sister, establishes the Lamdon Model School within the Pipiting monastery, near Padum, capital of the Zanskar valley.
This video (17′) was made in 2012 by René Coquard, member of AaZ France. He follows little Rigzin Gurmath (8 years old) during a typical day at Lamdon Model High School.
The school has 12 classes:
Class X corresponds to a first year after post-obligatory education in Switzerland (15-16 years).
A Secondary School Certificate is awarded at the end of the schooling.
The majority of students who have obtained their graduation certificate pursue higher education outside Zanskar. These young boys and girls represent an immense hope for the region and the resettlement of some of them in the region can only help promote its development and strengthen its identity.
Since 1999 (first class having passed the school graduation exam), LMHS students have obtained a success rate of 100% three times (2002, 2011 and 2016).
In 2016, Lamdon Model High School was designated the best school in Zanskar.
In 2017, the school has a total of 291 students (149 girls and 142 boys).
The teaching staff consists of 15 teachers (9 male and 6 female). Principal Sonam Tenzing and the teachers are assisted by 5 to 6 additional persons who provide housekeeping, surveillance and maintenance.