Dhardo Rimpoche School for children from poor families


Kalimpong, India

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Target group reached:
914 school students and their families.


Students at break time

Young people from impoverished families in this remote Himalayan region face multiple barriers to education. Parents are often illiterate and unable to provide the financial or familial support needed for their children’s studies. Cramped and noisy living conditions make studying effectively at home impossible. Dropping out of school only perpetuates the cycle of poverty.

The school was started in 1954 by the late Dhardo Rimpoche. He established the school for Tibetan refugees coming over the border from Tibet. He wanted to provide an education to children for poor families living in Kalimpong, as well as pass on Tibetan culture and values to the younger generation. In recent years, the school has also welcomed children from other Himalayan ethnic groups.

Project Goal

The project aims to support the poorest students in the area to obtain a high quality holistic education. Teachers are experienced in working with students from disadvantaged backgrounds, and are able to give extra support and encouragement so that pupils persevere and succeed in their studies. A number of students are boarders, and all students are provided with a stimulating and supportive environment.

No other school in the area offers such a heavily subsidised, quality education to poor children and their families. The school is famous for its emphasis on the arts and is also well known for its cultural programmes and performances.

School nursery during the break

Main Activities

  • Students learn the official syllabus as well as traditional Himalayan arts and culture
  • School fees are heavily subsidised and parents are also offered financial support with the cost of school uniforms, books etc.
  • Students are given extra support with their studies, and a proportion of students live full time at the school as boarders during term time.

Corona Update

During the crisis, the Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Cultural Institute (ITBCI), also founded by Dhardo Rimpoche, has worked hard to ensure that children do not fall behind with their education. The school has been conducting lessons online and through whatsapp for all students above lower kindergarten age. ITBCI has also been involved in local relief efforts to supply food to the poorest families.

Stories from the field

Karma wants to become a doctor

KarmaKarma (name changed) is 14 and has been attending ITBCI school for three years, she lives in the school as a residential student. Her mother came to Kalimpong to try to make a living as she was in a very poor situation at home. Karma is of Bhutanese descent but was born in Nepal.

She says: “At first when I came to the school I was feeling awkward as I didn’t know any of the other students and I was feeling shy, after a short time I started to make friends. Now my favourite thing about being here is that I live at the school with my friends, and that we get to spend a lot of time together.” She also says that she really likes the Tibetan dancing which they do in the school, and this her favourite extra-curricular activity.

Karma is enjoying her studies and wants to become a doctor when she leaves the school, and she knows that this will involve a lot of hard study. “I want to be a doctor because I want to help people who are suffering and make them better.”


SoonaToday Soona is happy

This is Soona (name changed). She was brought up by her grandmother in a small village. Soona was abandoned by her mother when she re-married. Her grandmother stepped in to take care of her but was extremely poor and couldn’t afford to support her to stay in school. Her Grandmother came to know about the school and asked if she could be admitted as a residential student. Soona has now been a student at the school for some years and is extremely happy. She loves studying and has made so many friends among the other students. She says that her favourite thing about being at the school is studying maths and Hindi, but she also enjoys dancing and singing and the cultural performances. She still visits her Grandmother during school holidays.

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