Education in Rural Tibet: Education has long been an area of major concern for all of us at TVP. Rural areas of Tibet have very low literacy rates and a large proportion of people in rural communities where TVP serves have never had the opportunity to benefit from a formal education. Most rural Tibetans make their livelihoods through farming, which is still done, for the most part, using the same methods that have existed in the region for thousands of years. Children are needed to work on the farm with their parents in order to ensure their families' survival and, unfortunately, this means that education takes a back seat. The condition of schools and their staffing is also a big problem. Supplies are always running low and there are often not even enough desks, forcing children to stand at the back of the classroom. Rural Tibetan schools have difficulty finding enough funding to pay their teachers' salaries. As a result, schools frequently have high turnover rates among teachers who are often not very well educated themselves.
Chinese national policies require all children to have at least nine years of primary and middle school education. Any further education, such as high school or college, must be paid for by the student or their families. In many cases, students must work hard to secure scholarships.
Past Efforts: Initially, TVP focused on creating more rural schools. It built a new school in 2003 which housed 95 students. Since then, TVP has shifted its focus toward supporting schools that are already built but are having difficulty staying in operation due to a lack of resources, including funds. From 2001 to 2008, approximately 1,200 students in 10 different schools, including orphans, have benefited from the donation of school supplies, warm blankets, clothes, textbooks, and supplemental food.