Home Institution

Tufts University

Publication Date

Spring 2016

Program Name

Nepal: Tibetan and Himalayan Peoples


For nearly thirty years, the Students’ Educational and Cultural Movement of Ladakh (SECMOL) has addressed the shortcomings of the education system in Ladakh (la dwags), a mountainous region under the rain-shadow of the Himalayan Range in Jammu and Kashmir State of Northern India, through education reform in government schools and the creation of alternative education programs. These programs attempt to support students who have failed in, and been failed by, the Ladakhi government education system and are designed to fill in gaps in the curricula of mainstream schools through supplemental academics and skill-based learning, while simultaneously building confidence and competence. This project explores the pedagogy of the programs at SECMOL’s Phey campus, on their own terms and through comparison with other institutions, and attempts to understand how students, volunteers, and staff experience and perceive alternative education. Furthermore, this project studies the ways in which SECMOL impacts its students both during their time at the Phey campus and afterwards. In doing so, this project analyzes both the value and shortcomings of SECMOL’s programs. Ultimately, this project aims to understand what alternative education means in modern Ladakh, where many youth are caught between the traditional, agricultural lifestyle and increasing urbanization and globalization.

This project is based on a month-long study in and around Leh, primarily at SECMOL’s Phey campus, where I resided and conducted fieldwork during the month of April 2016. The fieldwork included twenty-one formal interviews (see Appendix C) and many informal conversations with stakeholders in education in Ladakh. This paper also draws on sixty-three responses to two different questionnaires (see Appendix B) I created about education at SECMOL, fiftyfour of which were completed by SECMOL students and nine of which were completed by volunteers, and is further supported by my participation in various aspects of daily life at the Phey campus.


Anthropology | Cultural History | Education | Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research | Environmental Education | Environmental Sciences | Environmental Studies | Geography | History | Oral History


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