Himalayan Institute of Alternatives, Ladakh
Barring a few institutions of learning, higher education is in a dismal shape all over India where young men and women are supposed to spend 3 to 5 years of their precious lives pursuing degrees. They get the degrees, but very little real learning takes place, which is why most employers in India end up doing their own skill development programme after such graduates join their workforce.
In Ladakh the situation is even worse. There is no university in the region. As of now, there are only two functioning colleges in Ladakh. As a result, there is a mass exodus of youth from the ages of 16 to 24, usually to cities outside Ladakh — mainly to Srinagar, Jammu, Chandigarh and Delhi.
Our youth therefore often spend six to eight of their most formative and productive years in the congested streets of a remote city, with a totally different culture and language, in places where they are often unwelcome. A few of them uphold Ladakh's traditional values, but sadly, the vast majority go through a cultural shock and later become misfits in our Ladakhi society.
Ladakhi Students Unions across these cities estimate that over 10,000 students study outside Ladakh. Expenses incurred by their parents are shockingly high — roughly equivalent to the entire income from Ladakh’s tourism industry!;
Moreover, most of these Ladakhi youth are not even enrolled at actual University campuses. Over 70% of University post grad students are only enrolled in Correspondence Courses (popularly called 'CC'), which by definition do not require the students to be on Campus so far away from home.
Our proposal recognises this grim situation facing Ladakh and its youth today… and proposes a solution. We want to create an alternative University township within Ladakh itself. Here, most Ladakhi youth could study and get a meaningful, high quality education without having to leave the environment of their own culture and values.
For this, the monastery and villagers of Phyang have generously offered land in the desert of Phyang. SECMOL (Students’ Educational and Cultural Movement of Ladakh) a reputed voluntary organization which has worked for the last 25 years in the field of education both in Ladakh as well as internationally, will be the partner organization for the software part, developing a meaningful curriculum and courses.
SECMOL has successfully run the SECMOL Institute of Alternatives, a smaller version of the proposed University in Phey village for the last 20 years.