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Dharamshala: A group of Tibetan students studying at ten colleges in different parts of India have gathered at the College for Higher Tibetan Studies (CHTS) at Sarah (near Dharamsala) to participate in the third annual debate on the Tibetan system of secular education.

The four-day educational event was inaugurated this morning by Penpa Tsering, Speaker of the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile, and Kalon Tripa (Tibetan prime minister), Professor Samdhong Rinpoche.  Other dignitaries present at the function were the director of the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics and the president of the Tibetan Youth Congress.

The participants in this workshop are college students from Institute for Higher Tibetan Studies, Kirti Monastery; Chennai; Baroda, Gujarat; the Tibetan Medical and Astrological Institute in Dharamsala; Bangalore; the College for Higher Tibetan Studies, Sarah, and Delhi University.

“This educational programme was organised to examine the negligence on the part of Tibetans in exile and setbacks in the field of education over the past thirty years,” stated a representative of the youth organisation at CHTS, which is responsible for organising the event.

Another aim, he added, is to bring together the Tibetan students on a common platform, to generate thorough discussion and ideas towards improving specialisation in higher Tibetan studies and preserving the Tibetan cultural heritage.

In his address, the speaker of the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile emphasized that this debate about Tibetans’ studies is more imperative now than ever. He reminded those gathered about the His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s recent advice to the Tibetans in exile, particularly the youth, to strengthen their studies of specialised academic fields.

Speaker Penpa Tsering said that the younger generation of Tibetans should use educational opportunities to engage in in-depth research and to become experts in different areas of both modern and traditional Tibetan studies.

Kalon Tripa, Professor Samdhong Rinpoche, lauded the efforts of the youth organisation who arranged this debate on Tibetan studies, which he agreed is the best way to encourage Tibetans’ advancement in different academic fields.

Drawing on his own profound wisdom and expertise in Tibetan studies, Kalon Tripa expounded on the traditional Tibetan system of education, which is comprised of five minor subjects: drama, dance and music, astrology, poetry, and composition, and five “higher” subjects: the art of healing, Sanskrit, dialectics, arts and craft, and metaphysics and the philosophy of religion.

Kalon Tripa also spoke in detail about the importance of the Tibetan script as the most unique and suitable language to relate the teachings of Buddha—the texts which form the basis of the philosophy of religion, considered the most important and fundamental among the five higher subjects.

During the next few days, the participants and mentors will discuss a wide range of issues, including the exiled Tibetans’ basic approach to education, specialisation in different fields of study, and methods to improve the standard of education for Tibetans in exile.

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