The publication of Tibetan classical literature in a simplified format and written in the simpler Tibetan script (called umed) will help and encourage Tibetan children to improve their reading skills and learn more about their Buddhist culture. It will have an impact on preserving the Tibetan language and its rich literary heritage, and the books will be available to Tibetan children worldwide.
All Tibetan children in India follow the Indian curriculum and sit the Indian state examinations. The Tibetan schools in India are able to teach in Tibetan up to Grade 5, but after that, the children are taught in English and Hindi.
The Sambhota Tibetan Schools Society was established by the Department of Education of the Central Tibetan Administration of the Tibetan Government-in-Exile in India in 1999 to look after a group of Tibetan schools in India and Bhutan. In India, the schools were set up independently from the Indian government school system in order to be able to teach Tibetan children in the Tibetan language throughout their school years, and to teach in depth the history and culture of Tibet. These schools also teach modern subjects, English and Hindi, and the children sit the state examinations. But the independence of these schools gives them the freedom to teach more Tibetan subjects.
Tibetan script comes in two forms, a simple script called umed, which children learn first, and then the more complicated script called uchen. Unfortunately, few children’s books are published in umed.
The Sambhota Schools Society wants to rectify this and publish in umed a series of 20 stories of classical Tibetan literature based on the Tokjyoe Paksam Trishin. These stories have been chosen by a panel of teachers and parents. The simplified umed version will familiarize children with the Tibetan classical literature during their primary school years in order to pave the way for higher learning in Tibetan at the secondary and college levels.
One thousand copies of each story will be printed and distributed to all the Tibetan schools in India, Nepal and Bhutan. Tibetan children worldwide will be able to access the stories online as a free service.
TRAS has agreed to publish as many of the series as possible by matching dollar for dollar on member donations. The printing of 1000 copies of one book in the series costs $730. A bequest to TRAS from a long-time donor has paid for five of the books, a TRAS member has paid for the sixth book in honour of her father and another member has honoured her children by paying for a book. We are grateful for their support.
December 2012: TRAS is happy to announce that the 20 books have now been published and distributed to all the Tibetan schools in India, Nepal and Bhutan. Teachers and students alike are enjoying them. They will serve a very useful purpose. The Sambhota Tibetan Schools Society is working on creating an online version so that children in the Tibetan diaspora worldwide may also benefit.