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Preserving Traditional Tibetan Medicine and Arts


Small children in school, Tibet

Country/Location:

  • Eastern Tibet (People's Republic of China)
  • Province of Sichuan - Dardo County
  • Dartsedo (Kangding)

Local partners:

  • ROKPA Tibet
  • Sichuan Provincial Tibetan School

Program budget 2001: CAN $57,211
Beginning of program: 1994
End of program: 2006

Beneficiaries:

  • 140 boys and girls aged 17-20 in two traditional Tibetan medicine
    classes and one traditional Tibetan art class



Wild Rose Foundation
Project partly sponsored by
the Wild Rose Foundation

Tibetan youth in college and school


Description of program

1. Initial Situation

Palyul Region has an area equal to that of Nova Scotia with a population of approximately 400,000 scattered between the 27 villages and the one main town of Palyul. It is known as one of the poorest areas of Tibet with an average annual income of roughly US$ 60 but with over 1,000 people living on much less than that. Of the 27 shangs, 13 have no roads and only 11 have health clinics. There are only 9 schools which teach 1,400 children, and only between 30 to 40% of the population can read and write.

On 15 November 1991 an agreement was signed between representatives of the Tibet Provincial Hospital, Palyul, and Dr Akong Tulku Rinpoch‚ and the Khentin Tai Situpa for the establishment of the Palyul Tibetan Medical College. On 20 November 1992 a second short term agreement was signed between Dr Akong Tulku Rinpoch‚ and officials of the Palyul Local Government, regarding more detailed funding for the Tibetan Medical College project during the two years: 1992-4, during which time 25 students completed a 2-year medical course to become 'barefoot' doctors, funded by ROKPA.

Tibetan Medical Course: 1994-2003

In 1994, 44 students started a 9-year course. During the first 4 years they received a basic traditional Tibetan education. Chinese was taught for the first 3 years and then English. The last 5 years of the course been devoted to medical studies. During the first 3 years, the students spent the summer holidays collecting medicinal herbs which were studied and processed during the winter months. The students have been chosen from families who are either very poor, have many children or are from a broken home. All of them come from the Palyul District. Generally the students were between 12 and 18 when enrolled and were subsequently taught to read and write Tibetan. At the ROKPA funded Medical School in Palyul there were two groups of medical students. After the first group finished their studies some relevant experience was gained and both sides realised that the system needed to be changed. Therefore the 40 students belonging to the second group were all moved for further studies to Dartsedo in 2001. They will graduate in 2004. Some will go on to higher education and others will go back to their home villages to start medical clinics.

2. Aims of Program

The aim of the project is to help in the development of health and livelihood of the people of the area of Palyul and the fostering and preservation of traditional Tibetan arts. The students will return after the studies to Palyul and practice their skills in their own villages.


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3. Planned Activities

140 students from Palyul from poor families, or families with many children or from a broken home are being educated in traditional Tibetan medicine or art at the Sichuan Provincial Tibetan School in Dartsedo.

4. Local Contribution

ROKPA INTERNATIONAL believes that self-sufficiency and results with long-lasting effects are of the greatest importance. In order to achieve these goals in the most efficient way, the local population, the local authorities as well as the beneficiaries are all involved in the program from the beginning and as a result are committed to it. Every person involved must contribute to the project according to his or her capability. In this project the Sichuan Dartsedo Tibetan College will educate the students according to the education laws. After finishing their studies, the students will receive the same exams and degrees as other students of that College. A detailed bookkeeping has to be presented yearly. The Palyul County Education Department has to visit the Dartsedo College regularly and to check the health and the education of these children.

5. Budget ROKPA INTERNATIONAL

Expenditures for one medical class Total year Can$
Tuition fees, board and lodging for one year $27,587
Healthcare $551
Sundry requirements in the classroom $1103
Schoolbooks $2115
Paperwork $1618
Food $16553
Expenses of delegates* $2483
Total local costs $52010
Management and administration costs
(10 % of total)
$5201
Grand Total of annual costs $57,211

    *compensation, travel costs, accommodation, food, insurance, equipment, taxes etc.

6. Evaluation and Monitoring

A project begins with an application for help to ROKPA INTERNATIONAL. In the regions where ROKPA is established, there are 10 main representatives. After receiving the application the representative concerned organises a Project Management Committee of 6 or 7 persons. These people represent some of the most important organisations in their region: such as the government, the head of the village, the abbot of the monastery, local trade and industry and ROKPA INTERNATIONAL.

Each department proposes their own representatives. Whenever possible the President of ROKPA INTERNATIONAL attends these meetings. The Committee evaluates the proposed suggestions and decides how the project should be conducted and the responsibilities of the parties involved. This Committee becomes in effect a steering committee for the projects.

Concerning the financing of the projects, ROKPA INTERNATIONAL demands a considerable contribution of the local government and of the beneficiaries if economically possible.

So far this principle has worked out well. Since 1990 ROKPA has supported over 150 projects in the Tibet Autonomous Region and the Tibetan communities of Western China (formerly Tibet), together with small local organisations. A great deal has been achieved up to now with very modest means.

ROKPA CANADA contributes to the project by direct transfer of funds to ROKPA INTERNATIONAL.



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