The Department of Education (DoE) under the Dharamshala based Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) and the Tibet Fund have jointly announced a revised version of the selection process for the 2013 Tibetan Scholarship Programme (TSP).
The latest announcement has brought changes to an already revised selection process of October 2011.
The yearly Programme funded by the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs provides scholarships for eligible Tibetan refugees residing in India, Nepal, and Bhutan to study in the US.
In line with the new Kashag’s “number one priority” on education and Dr Lobsang Sangay’s campaign promise of striving to reach 10,000 professionals in the next two decades, a new student selection committee has been set up specifically for the 2013 Programme under the Chairmanship of the Kalon Tripa. Other members include Secretary of the Department of Education, CTA, Karma Chungdak, Director, Sambhota Tibetan Schools Society, Tenzing Sangpo, Education Director, Tibetan Children’s Village, and Duggyal Tsering, Principal, Tibetan Homes Foundation.
The move by Kalon Tripa to provide larger administrative control over the selection process of students back to the DoE, observers believe, augers well for both the CTA and US agencies.
The 2013 Programme is offering a minimum number of eight slots for two-year Master Degree programmes, pending the availability of funds, while indicating that there might not be any Non-Degree slots. Earlier Programmes had slots for ten Master Degree Programmes and eight for Non-Degree applicants.
Tsering Dhundup, a former TSP alumnus, who is currently working at the Environment and Development Desk, CTA, feels that the revised stress on degree programmes is a good move by the DoE as degree students enjoy an “upper edge” with their opportunity to study for the second year.
“Most of the (Tibetan) students perform better in their second year as it takes some time for them to adjust to the social and educational system in US,” Dhundup, who did his masters in Environmental Science from the Lehigh University in Pennsylvania told Phayul.
“I hope things will change in the future and we will even have opportunities for students to pursue Ph.D under this programme,” added Dhundup.
One of the notable changes in the 2013 Programme is the decision to raise the additional marks given to applicants who take the ‘General Written Test on Tibetan Culture and History’ in Tibetan language to 4 points. Last year, when the language option for the written test was first introduced, the additional points allotted were 2 points.
Since the creation of the TSP in 1988, nearly 400 Tibetan students have received annual grants to study in some of the most reputed institutions in the US.
An independent assessment of the TSP done by SRI International, a nonprofit research institute conducting research and development for the US Department of State in 2004, found that the Tibet Scholarship Programme was “achieving its overall goal of increasing mutual understanding” as well as the specific objectives of “achieving cultural learning and generating positive personal and professional outcomes and linkages”.
“The programme (TSP) has thus accomplished what it sets out to do; it has provided motivated young leaders with the opportunity to develop professional skills, acquire a new cultural perspective, and bring something back to their community,” the assessment noted.