The Highest Eco-School in the World
One of the most inspirational discoveries of this trip was finding Secmol campus, an eco-school in every sense. The getting there was a 20km cycle down the truck-heaving ‘highway’ past the army barracks that litter the outskirts of Leh. The dusty ride continued past the airport where rumbling airbuses hovered above my head and the serene Spituk monastery clung desparetely to a rocky outcrop. Following the mighty green-grey Indus river I arrived in Phey village, where the school is located on cut platform alongside the Indus.
The story of Secmol is an interesting one (www.secmol.org) started by Sonam Angchuk, a passionate social ecologist who wanted to provide young Ladakhi’s with the opportunity to have a balanced and appropriate education, where what they learned, was built on the very foundation of their widely researched, sustainable society. Without being romantic about the past, Angchuk and his wife Rebecca have welcomed critical thinking in their approach and embraced sustainable and appropriate developments in their teaching. However, probably the most remarkable point about Secmol is that it is sustainable because it never happened overnight. It never had thousands of dollars of funding thrown at it. It was, as in any of our exceptional eco-schools in South Africa, built over years of dedication and passion and as such has developed into the closest, truly sustainable school that I have ever seen. Below follows my encournter however to read more about the campus see www.secmol.org
The verdict: Secmol is an inspirational example of what a school should and can be – an centre of inspiration to young people who are bombarded with all the attractions of a gloabalised world. These students were reminded about their amazing heritage and are made to feel proud of the simplicity of sustainability no matter how attractive moving to Dehli/Mumbai might seem at first. I was encouraged that most of those I spoke to were not at all enchanted by the India they saw south of the Himalayas and their connection to their place, Ladakh was stronger than I have seen in any of the youth I have encountered in other cultures. Secmol is, in my books, an Eco-School even if unofficially. As India has recently joined this international programme (www.eco-schools.org) operating in 56 countries, I have no doubt Secmol and others will continue to inspire and encourage more schools to move in the same direction.