Introduction by Jetsun Pema, President of the Tibetan Children’s Villages school system for Tibetan refugee students

“From its humble beginning 54 years ago, the Tibetan Children’s Village School has today become a thriving, integrated educational community for destitute Tibetan children in exile, as well as for hundreds of those escaping from Tibet every year. It has established branches in India extending from Ladakh in the North to Bylakuppe in South, with over 16,726 children under its care.

Fifty-four years is not a short period in anyone’s life and certainly not in the life of TCV. Tibetan Children’s Village realizes the enormous responsibility it bears for the destiny of our Tibetan children and for the goodwill of the thousands of its donors and friends around the world who have sustained it through all these years.

Today, we are proud to see young people from our villages serving the Tibetan community in different capacities and, at the same time, except that there are a few children who have not fared so well. In this respect, extensive efforts are being made to further improve the lives of our children, bearing in mind the lessons and shortcomings we have experienced in the past. Though much has been achieved, we still have a long way to go in fulfilling our aims and objectives of providing the children under our care with the necessary resources and the opportunities to develop their abilities to the fullest. As has been highlighted by His Holiness the Dalai Lama in his message on our 35th Anniversary; “the future direction of our programme will be in the field of further education in specialized studies to meet the human resource needs of the community during our period in exile and more importantly when the time comes for us to go back to our homeland…” We shall endeavor further to improve the quality of our children’s education and their cultural and social upbringing without necessarily sacrificing the simplicity of our exile lifestyle.

All our achievements would not have been possible without the constant blessing and inspiration of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, as well as the unwavering support and understanding from the people and the Government of India. And of course, we would not have been able to do so much for our children without the continued financial help of so many good friends around the world, especially the SOS Kinderdorf International, the backbone of our financial support. Not the least, we must pay gratitude and remembrance to the many, many mothers, co-workers, and teachers, both past and present, who have given so much of their life and hard work simply for the joy of seeing the children secure a meaningful life. We know our road is not at the end and that there is still much to be done, for as His Holiness has stated, “The children are the seeds of future Tibet.” I appeal to everyone – to our sponsors, donor agencies, and my fellow colleagues- to continue to be at our side during this difficult period in our history and assist us in educating and caring for the Tibetan children in exile.


Jetsun Pema”

About the Tibetan Children’s Village School (TCV)

Tibetan Children’s Villages School or TCV is an integrated community in exile for the care and education of orphans, destitute, and refugee children from Tibet. It is a registered, nonprofit charitable organization with its main facility based at Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh, North India. TCV has a network spread across India with over 12,000 children under its care.

From 1964 until 2006 the TCV has been presided by Jetsun Pema, sister of Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso. In 2009, The TCV established the first Tibetan college in exile in Bangalore (India) which was named “The Dalai Lama Institute for Higher Education”. The goals of this college are to teach Tibetan language and Tibetan culture, but also science, arts, counseling, and information technology to Tibetan students in exile

Their Mission

The Mission of Tibetan Children’s Villages (TCV) – an integrated charitable organization – is to ensure that all Tibetan children under its care receive a sound education, firm cultural identity and become self-reliant and contributing members of the Tibetan community and the world at large.

Their Goals 

  • Provide parental care and love
  • Develop a sound understanding of Tibetan identity and culture
  • Develop character and moral values
  • Provide effective modern and Tibetan education
  • Provide a child-centered learning atmosphere in the schools
  • Provide an environment for physical and intellectual growth
  • Provide suitable and effective life and career guidance for social and citizenship skills

TCV School Moto

Come to Learn, Go to Serve!


Following the Chinese occupation of Tibet in 1950 and His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s flight to India in 1959, it was quickly apparent that one of the most critical needs of Tibetan refugees was finding a means to care for the many children who had been orphaned or separated from their families during the arduous escape from their homeland. His Holiness promptly recognized that the future of Tibet and its people depended upon the younger generation.

With this in mind and out of concern for the miserable conditions under which so many children were suffering, His Holiness proposed that a center for destitute children be established in Dharamsala. On 17 May 1960, fifty-one children arrived from the road construction camps in Jammu, ill and malnourished. Mrs. Tsering Dolma Takla, the elder sister of His Holiness, volunteered to look after them.

Initially, these children were assigned to members of the Dalai Lama’s entourage, but before long the Government of India offered its assistance, renting Conium House to accommodate all the children together. At that time, the center was under the name “Nursery for Tibetan Refugee Children.”Originally, the Nursery for Tibetan Refugee Children provided only basic care for children. When they reached the age of eight, they were sent to other residential schools established by the Government of India. But eventually, this arrangement could not be continued as all the residential schools filled to capacity. This left the Nursery to find a solution to the problem of overcrowding.

Thanks to the foresight and courage of Mrs. Jetsun Pema, then the Director, it was decided that the Nursery had to grow and expand despite many apparent obstacles. A massive reorganization plan was set into motion. This included seeking help from private donors and international aid organizations. A period of hectic construction work ensued to provide for more houses and classrooms for children. The Nursery slowly took the shape of a small village with its own school and homes. In 1971, TCV took over the small nursery in Patlikuhl and expanded it into a residential school. In 1972, it was formally registered under the Societies Act as Tibetan Children’s Village, and it also became a full-fledged member of SOS Kinderdorf International.

During this time when TCV was successfully emerging out of the critical early stages, the plight of the Tibetan children in remote areas such as Ladakh remained very grave. His Holiness the Dalai Lama was deeply concerned by the abject poverty and total lack of educational opportunities for the Tibetan refugees in Ladakh. Following His guidance, TCV, for the first time in its history, expanded beyond its confines in Himachal Pradesh State. In 1975, TCV Ladakh was founded, followed by TCV Bylakuppe in 1980. Both of these became full-fledged SOS Villages with their own schools and residential facilities.

While TCV busied itself with the new responsibilities, the political situation in Tibet changed unexpectedly. China was forced to follow a lenient policy towards Tibet because of the international condemnation of its human rights record. Tibetans were allowed to visit their long-lost relations on both sides. This simultaneously provided new opportunities to parents to smuggle their children across the border to freedom. Thousand of children from Tibet flooded the main TCV at Dharamsala. To solve the overcrowding problem, TCV turned its poultry farm at Lower Dharamsala into a new residential school. Today, TCV School Lower Dharamsala is a high standard school with both primary and secondary schools. It is entirely funded by Tibetan parents in exile. In spite of TCV’s best efforts, the problem of absorbing the unabated flood of new refugees became very serious. In 1990, TCV over the Youth School in Bir and expanded its scope. With more and more children coming from Tibet, overcrowding of all our Villages led us to start a new senior secondary school at Gopalpur.

In keeping with H. H. the Dalai Lama’s words on education that we should “counsel our children and encourage them to undergo specialized study in various fields,” a multi-trade vocational training center was established and started in 1999. The 1995 flood at TCV Patlikuhl compelled us to relocate the school to a new location. The construction was started at Chauntra near Bir and has now become functional. Another TCV School Selakui in Dehradun was constructed in 2004 and has been running successfully. This year in June 2007, TCV School Selakui observed its first-ever Class X Graduation Function and 43 children appeared for it. They had excellent results with a 100% pass percentage.