Approximately 400 Tibetan educators in exile will gather in Dharamsala, India, from January 2 to 4, 2003, to discuss the state of education for Tibetan children and to find ways to improve the quality of education.

The fourth general conference of Tibetan educators in exile, organized by the Tibetan Department of Education, will discuss a four-point agenda, which includes improvement of academic standards in Tibetan schools; promotion of the study of Tibetan; moral and character building among Tibetan children; and discussion on the role and responsibilities of educators in the overall development of Tibetan children.

The decline in the standard of Tibetan education, particularly in the study of Tibetan language and literature, as well as the absence of an overall education policy have been matters of public debate among Tibetans in exile.

The Dalai Lama will deliver the inaugural address. Kalon Tripa Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche, chairman of the Tibetan Cabinet, and the Secretary of the Central Tibetan Schools Administration (the apex body set up by the Indian Government to administer education of Tibetan children in India) are scheduled to address the conference.

The first Tibetan school in exile was set up in the north-Indian hill station of Mussoorie on March 3, 1960, with 50 students. Today there are 106 pre-primary, 87 primary, 44 middle, 23 secondary and 13 senior secondary level schools for Tibetan children in India, Nepal and Bhutan, according to the Tibetan Department of Education. The total student population is believed to be over 27,000. The Government of India runs the majority of the schools in India.

The fourth conference is being held in the Tibetan Children’s Village, Lower Dharamsala. The third Tibetan educators’ conference was held in 1985. Since then, a draft national Tibetan education policy has been circulated among educators. The draft was finished in 1998 and is the first comprehensive report of Tibetan education in exile.