News from the Benchen Monastery School in Pharping

Group photo of the entire student body, teachers, volunteers and non-teaching staff of Benchen Monastery School, 2022 in the courtyard of the Niguma Retreat Center, which has been converted into a school building in 2015, on the Benchen Campus in Pharping.

© Khenpo Sherab Tenzin

About 8 years after the devastating earthquake in Nepal, the Benchen Monastery School presents itself as an integrative primary school and kindergarten, inspired by Waldorf education methodology immersed in Buddhist wisdom – for currently 180 children.

From Pharping by Mani Tobias Fischer

As a result of the earthquake in 2015, the young monks from Benchen Monastery had to move from Kathmandu to Pharping, as we reported. Since then, the Benchen Monastery School operates as an independent institution of the Benchen community, in the immediate vicinity of the Benchen Shedra, the Clear Light Retreat Centre and the Benchen Arya Tara Ling Nunnery in a building that originally served as the Niguma Retreat House.

In summer of 2018, Khenpo Sherab Tenzin took over the supervision of Benchen Monastery School from Khenpo Woesung, teaching about 90 schoolchildren at the time. Today, 180 children between the ages of 5 and 18 learn and live here, and are currently taught by 10 full time teachers.

The basic education, such as personal hygiene, dressing and table manners of the children under 10 years of age, is taken care of by 4 employed housemothers, who also supervise the children at break time. The medical care of the students is ensured by a local nurse who is engaged for 2 hours daily and is supported by several volunteers. The entire student and teacher community is catered for by 2 employed cooks who prepare 3 to 4 meals daily.

Group picture with teachers, volunteers and non-teaching staff in Pharping 2022.

© Khenpo Sherab Tenzin

The school’s leadership circle consists of four senior lamas, of whom Khenpo Sherab Tenzin has the main curricular and educational responsibility as headmaster. Lama Yonten Palsang and Lama Sonam Tobgyal are jointly responsible for the monastic education of the children, while Lama Karma takes care of the entire supply management including the kitchen. Important decisions are always made in joint consultation.

Khenpo Sherab Tenzin emphasises that today’s Benchen Monastery School is barely comparable with the regular local primary schools, as its strong unique characteristic is not based merely on the fact of being a modern, liberal monastic boarding school, privately run by the Benchen Monastery in Swayambhu, but rather on the new approach of the school and kindergarten operations, which was decisively advocated and implemented by Khenpo Sherab Tenzin, inspired by world-renowned Waldorf education methodology, uniquely immersed here in Buddhist wisdom.

The transformation of Benchen Monastery School over the past two years and the implementation of the Waldorf education combined with Buddhist education and wisdom in the day-to-day running of the school will be covered in more detail in our upcoming news update.

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