Leh: Outside the fame of being the school featured in the Bollywood blockbuster "3 Idiots," the Druk White Lotus School is now receiving sponsors from abroad to arrange for education of children, including specially-abled children hailing from the region`s remote villages.
“Out of the 671 students here, there are about 200 students from remote areas in the school. Sponsors take care of educational cost of the child studying in the school," says Prasad Eledath, Principal of the Druk White Lotus School.
The school which began to be known as Rancho`s school after the character in the Aamir Khan flick has students as far as Kargil, Chilling, Zanskar which are some of the remotest places of the region flocking to get a basic education. For Sunne Yandro from Kargil district, it takes seven hours to reach from Leh to Kargil.
"I want to become a police officer when I am older," she says. There are more such students who trek for two to three days to reach the school or go home from school. Children who stay in Zanskar trek for3 to 4 days on frozen river beds, stay in caves and then reach school. There have been incidents of avalanches and frozen river bed collapsing wiping out entire families.
The school`s working with two organisations – Drukpa Trust and "Live to Love UK" - for sponsorship to students from remote villages.
Hostel facility in the school is of great help to these kids and is also a home away from home. "The annual fee for a student is Rs 30,000. Sometimes students from remote areas and in financially unsound conditions are unable to pay the amount and then the school steps in to take care of their expenses," says Eledath.
Quite a number of global celebrities like Hollywood`s Richard Gere and Kashmiri-born British actress Joanna Lumley are patrons. Artists such as the Yardbirds have also been doing programs abroad to support the cause of the school.
The school is also planning exchange programs with schools in abroad and India to get itself into the limelight even more. "We have already done teacher exchange program. For student exchange program we are not only looking at exchange program with schools abroad but also Indian schools like Blue Bells International and Mother’s International," says Eledath.
Currently, the school is under the Jammu and Kashmir Secondary Board and has applied to the Centre to come under its purview. "We are also looking at the HRD ministry to float a project for which they can provide us assistance," says Ishey Namgyal, Deputy Chairperson, management committee, of the school.
Eledath further adds that the school in a small way caters to specially-abled students and does not hold a discriminatory approach and includes them in the whole curriculum. "We have teachers here and it is because of their effort that one or two such children which we have are coping up with the rest of the normal children in the school."
The school is presently not equipped for children who are physically challenged, facilities such as ramps are still required. "For other kind of challenges like hearing and speaking challenged or children with other cerebral diseases we would definitely make the whole environment inclusive of them," Prasad said. Currently the school is taking care of three such children.
A nurse takes care of toddlers and teachers help them with their curriculum. "As they grow up we will be looking into specific interventions for these children looking at the curriculum or looking at areas oriented to their abilities," he says.