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The Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Cultural Institute (ITBCI) School was established 67 years ago by the previous Dhardo Rimpoche, one of Sangharakshita’s main teachers, to protect Tibetan and Himalayan Art and Culture. In late December 2020 Karuna Trust, who funds 60% of the school’s overall budget, was informed that the Trustees of the ITBCI in Kalimpong, which is now led by the new Dhardo Rimpoche, had made the decision to close the school in December 2021.
Rimpoche, who had previously been leading in-country fundraising for the project, providing the remaining 40% of funds, now intends to focus on a further six years of Buddhist studies which will enable him to reach the highest level of Geshe training. Additionally, Dhardo Rimpoche feels that the school has fulfilled its original vision, and there is no longer a need for a school of this sort as there are no Tibetan children attending the school - they tend now to go to other state or private institutions in Kalimpong.
During the years of the ITBCI school’s existence many thousands of children have received an education and had the chance to learn about Tibetan culture and Buddhist practice in the tradition of Dhardo Rimpoche. Karuna has been supporting the project for nearly forty years. The original mission of the ITBCI was the preservation of Tibetan culture and its unique approach to the teachings of Buddhism, and it may be possible in future for the Trust to repurpose the school facilities as a Centre for Tibetan arts, culture and Dharma.
Karuna is open to continuing their support for ITBCI in the future should a new vision for the project emerge. They are also giving the support needed to work towards a positive closure of the school later this year. This includes, funding towards teachers’ redundancies, events to celebrate the school’s achievements, and legal advice on how to manage the school closure so as to protect the assets. Karuna will continue to raise the much needed funds for the school for its final year.
Karuna has really valued its long partnership with ITBCI and is proud of all the work it has done. We hope that the new Dhardo Rimpoche will return in six years and fully make use of the school buildings to promote and preserve the cultural traditions of Indo-Tibetan Buddhism. In the meantime we are extremely grateful to the staff and leadership of the school, especially Jampel Khalden and his family, for their years of love, dedication and hard work. We are also extremely grateful for everyone who has supported the project over the years.
As one of Bhante’s main teachers and arguably one of the most important, Dhardo Rimpoche occupies an incredibly dear and important place within our hearts. In addition, a substantial number of you have contributed or visited the school over the years, so this news will come as a shock bringing with it a sense of loss. However we must focus on what the ITBCI has accomplished during its lifetime and know that the presence and influence of Dhardo Rimpoche lives on throughout the life of the Order – whether the school is there or not.
- Padmadaka, CEO of Karuna Trust
Because of the importance of this change Karuna will be holding a special Zoom webinar on Thursday 4th March at 6:30–7:30pm UK time to discuss the work of the school and the direction they are going. Padmadaka (CEO), Suddhaka (Head of Programmes), and Akashamitra (ITBCI programme manager) and Mahamati (Karuna President) will be hosting and all are welcome.
Join the Zoom seminar on 4th March