Founder of Student’s Educational & Cultural Movement of Ladakh | Educationist |Environmentalist
Who Am I
Sonam Wangchukborn, near Alchi, in the Trans Himalayan region of Ladakh,
India is an engineer, innovator, and an education reformist. He is the Founding
Director of the Students’ Educational and Cultural Movement of Ladakh (SECMOL)
which was founded in 1988 by a group of students who had been in his own words,
the ‘victims’ of an alien education system foisted onLadakh.
Sonam spent the
first seven years of his childhood with his mother in a remote Ladakhi village,
climbing trees, helping her with housework, and learning to read and write
Ladakhi. He feels that the opportunity to learn Ladakhi was one of the best
things she provided, particularly since the schools he attended later did not
teach the language.
In 1988, a year after graduating as an engineer, Sonam, with his
brother and five peers, formed the Students’ Educational and Cultural Movement
of Ladakh (SECMOL). Their first fundraising effort, a Ladakhi cultural show,
proved to be a huge success. Until 1990 Sonam coached school students and
offered vocational training courses to dropouts. Sonam had to get to the root
of the problem, and the solution to that lay in localizing the system of
elementary education. He did not think of building an alternate system because
it would have resulted in a waste of resources. Besides, most of the children
in Ladakh attended government-run schools.
In 1991 Sonam started his first intervention in the government
school of Saspol with permission from the chief education officer of the
region. The success of the model created popular demand for his training, and
33 villages came forward to adopt the model before the newly formed Hill
Council adopted it as official policy.
When he saw people struggling to meet their basic water
requirements in Ladakh, he came up with a solution of creating vertical ice
stupas to store water for a longer time. The average stupa is 35 meters to 40
meters high and can store upto 16,000 cubic litres of water which is enough to
irrigate 10 hectares of land. Read how Wangchuk plans to create 80-90 such
stupas to solve all of Ladakh’s water troubles.
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