In conversation with Stanzin Norboo Kopay, Founder, Education and Cultural Society of Lalok (ECSOL)

Nov 30, 2018

Q. Brief us about Education and Cultural Society of Lalok (ECSOL) and its work.

Education and Cultural society of Lalok was formed in the year 2012 by some dedicated volunteers who were determined to work for the students belonging to poor families of the Changthang region.

Prior to the formation of the society formally, we were interested to work for the students of Changthang region studying in Leh. This is because the students were facing lots of difficulties in terms of accommodation, food, and safety. Some stay at relative’s house and some work as a domestic helper in other’s house along with their studies.  Many don’t even get proper time to study thus failing in exams or passing with low grades and ultimately quit studying.

After interacting with the students, I felt that there is a need for a plan as all the students of the region have to come to Leh for their higher education. Since there is no hostel for the students of Changthang region, we somehow managed to enroll some students in a Sadbhavana hostel which runs basically for Sham region. The need for hostel facilities for the students of Changthang region is a must. So in order to find a way and work for a better tomorrow, we founded this society.

Q. Tell us about the past and present education status of Changthang, Lalok.

If we talk about 20-25 years back, the education status of Changthang was deplorable. Most of the parents were not educated which affected the children also since they engaged them mostly in household activities. The school dropout rate was common because they were sent to work in GREF, to work as an army porter and to rear livestock.  
Awareness programme was organised by leaders, associations, NGOs, and new initiatives were carried out to strengthen schools, to develop infrastructure and Centralized Residential School was established with hostel facilities. With these steps, the education scenario started changing. Today, the number of students pursuing higher education has increased and dropout rates are decreasing. But still, we need to have more schemes and plans for zero border children’s education.

Q. Do you have any data on literacy rate, dropout rate, and the reason for the same?

Yes, many students drop out from school level. Failing 10th examination and leaving studies was common in Changthang. So in 2013, we did a survey to find out the problems at the grass-root level.  Targeting below age 30 in Durbuk block, we did door to door survey in close coordination with Sarpanch and Nambardar. We found 279 school dropout and 150 illiterate in Durbuk block. And in most of the cases, the reason was the financial problems.

Q. You work on border education, what pushes you to do it and why it is important?

Changthang is situated at zero Indo-china borders and is mostly nomadic. However, with the change in lifestyle people are migrating to urban areas for children’s education and earn a livelihood. If this happens continuously then very few people will be left in the villages and developmental activities will also be less. Because of which there will be chances of intrusion from another side of the border. So, stopping migration is important for the nation. 

Q. What is the reason do you see that students fail to get a quality education in the region? Which types of students mostly suffer and why?

Children are future and providing them with proper education is a must for nation-building. In many villages of Changthang, people being nomad moves from one place to another for rearing their livestock. This is one reason for not getting a proper education. Mostly the students with poor family background are the worst sufferer as they have to face lots of obstacle in pursuing their education.

For that, we again took an initiative by admitting the poor and orphan children in private schools from the past six years. Till today 55 students are admitted in the private schools free of cost with hostel facilities.

Q. Tell us about the hostel construction in Leh for the border student, an initiative taken by the association. What is the reason behind the construction of the same?

The upcoming hostel is going to be constructed in Saboo on 10 kanals of land given by district administration. With the help of JP Yadav, DIG ITBP we met various ministers, and officers to discuss the issues. Later, we got ₹4 crore and ₹12 lakh cost project under Tribal Affair Department J&K for the construction of the hostel.

The proposed hostel is for the welfare of students from Changthang, Lalok studying in different schools and college of Leh. We are trying our best to provide this hostel free of cost. When the hostel gets completed we have unique plans to provide not only academic education but culture and moral education also.

Message to the readers

“Younger generations are the future of tomorrow and we should invest in their education. There should be special plans from the government for the education of border students. This will also help people living in the border areas to safeguard the nation and maintain peace.”