Ponru School for Nomad Children. Thirty-one nomad children from the remote Ponru Valley in lower Dzachuka were fortunate to receive an elementary school education, thanks to the efforts of Kilung Jigme Rinpoche, with the support of the many kind and generous sponsors through the Kilung Foundation. Initial funding of the physical school building (2001) was provided by The Bridge Fund, which also later installed a greenhouse and additional rooms (2005). An expedition of volunteers sponsored by KhamAid through their Better Homes program, made repairs and improvements in 2004.
The 31 students celebrated their elementary level graduation in the summer of 2007, with about half going on to middle school in the town of Sershul. They are on full scholarship there from the county government. These passionately motivated students, while at Ponru, had topped all 33 other schools in the county with their test scores for several years running. This unprecedented feat amazed school officials, given that these students were the first in their families to ever attend school. The Ponru curriculum was taught by two deeply dedicated teachers: one provided by the county government who taught Chinese, math, and science; the other a Ponru monk with teaching experience who provided instruction in Tibetan reading, writing, history, and culture, and in Buddhism.
Several years into the program, the success of the students inspired other Ponru families to plead that the school expand with a second class of students. The school and county eventually agreed, and 40 more students were admitted, along with an additional teacher. This second class received about two years of education, but with the graduation of the initial class in 2007, the school was regrettably closed. A directive from the central government mandated that all children be schooled in public, not private, schools.
Kilung Foundation donors continue to support the secular education of Dzachuka’s nomad children by sponsoring those Ponru students who have gone on to Sershul middle school, and others.