By Tenzin Dharpo
Co-founders Sabriye Tenberken & Paul Kronenberg in Lhasa. file photo
DHARAMSHALA, Aug. 4: An Award winning school for blind in occupied Tibet’s Lhasa city may shut down permanently after Chinese government officials notified authorities that the school will be closed, the establishment’s co-founder Sabriye Tenberken told DPA (German Press Agency) on Tuesday.
The development comes as a shock to Tenberken and the school which is well placed in the Chinese government and civil society circuits and felicitated with awards such as ‘National Friendship Award’ (2006) and ‘You bring Charm to China Award’ (2009) apart from its co-founder being voted among 15 most influential overseas experts in China.
Tenberken who is visually impaired herself expressed alarm to DPA over the abrupt notice by the authorities saying that the authorities provided no explanation about decision. The new dictum by Chinese authorities has meant that the fate of its students aged 6-15 now lingers in uncertainty.
Under the banner of ‘Braille Without Borders’, the school, apart from teaching Braille, also offers vocational training, providing a holistic development and what the founders call “self-integration” of the students in to a more empowered life for its students. In the last 19 years, over 300 students are said to have graduated through its program.
The founders also expressed apprehension that the current students who will be placed in special needs schools will not receive dedicated training.
The school started by German national Tenberken and co-founder and Dutch national Paul Kronenberg back in 1997 is funded partly by the Tibet Disabled Persons' Federation (TDPF), an affiliate of China Disabled Persons' Federation.