The Kanishka School is the newest monastic school for children ages 8 to 15 that KF is supporting. Just wrapping up its first full school year and housing 120 young monks, the school is part of Dzongsar Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö Institute, Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche’s monastic college in Chauntra, India.
The Kanishka School has just successfully completed its first year. Most of the students come from across India and Nepal, and special emphasis is placed on settling the children into the monastic environment, making sure that they have a routine to develop a sense of family and community.
Based on the first-year results, the school is very happy with how much the students have developed, particularly in their language studies. The secular studies focused on four languages: Chinese, English, Hindi, and Tibetan. All four were taught by native speakers with textbooks created specifically for the school. Teachers used language study to teach dharma lessons, working stories into those lessons.
Uma Pitta, project manager, summed up the successes of this year. “From a systems perspective, there is now some semblance of balance. You can see a structure and the classes are going on normally. Kids are learning. Especially from a Tibetan language perspective, they are doing well because you can see that they started speaking the language and they’re learning grammar and they’re also learning dharma”
Like many of the projects that KF supports, the Kanishka School is a new initiative, which means both unexpected obstacles and pleasant surprises. In its first year, with its lofty goal of melding traditional Buddhist education with a modern, even progressive, approach to comprehensive learning, the school had a few essential needs to focus on. For example, getting the operations running smoothly was fundamental. Administrators evaluated student placement, teacher-student ratios, and of course, student learning outcomes. Going forward, other key elements will take priority, such as refining the comprehensive curriculum to meet the needs of this unique population.