Samstanling Gonpa School

The village of Sumur is one of the larger and more prosperous settlements in the valley. Unusually for Ladakh, the river plain in this area has abundant foliage, for which the valley gained its traditional name, ‘Dumra’, meaning ‘flower garden’.

The monastery, second largest in Nubra, is at the top of the village. It is a relatively recent institution, established in the mid-19th century by Lama Tsultrim Nyima, and noted for strict discipline. The name means ‘Sanctuary of meditative concentration’.

The monastery school was built alongside in the 1990s. At present there are only around 30 young monk students, although there have been more in the past. Graduates typically go on to follow higher religious studies at the Drepung monastery in exile, in Karnataka, south India, before returning to Samstanling.

Monks follow the CIBS curriculum including Hindi, English, Bodyig, maths and some science, up to seventh standard. Thanks to the dedication of the teaching staff, they are especially encouraged to develop narrative and performance skills in all three languages.

After an initial visit in 2011, AT volunteers returned to Samstanling in October 2012 to install a library and furnished reading room. During a ten day stay, we conducted reading classes using some of the new books, involving art and drama components, distributed toys and sports equipment, and experimented with introductory classes in music, astronomy, French and photography. Students and staff were most enthusiastic and receptive to all of these initiatives.

We also made a preliminary contribution of books to the Government Middle School in Sumur, and hope to make further contributions there next year.

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