The project
The School in the Sky (Ecole dans le Ciel) refers to the project of setting up a school in Ladakh that is destined to be the first link in a chain of schools throughout the Himalayas.

The School in the Sky seeks to provide Ladakhi children with an bilateral educational goal: preparing them for the modern world (Hindi, English, science and technical studies) while preserving their cultural identity. Secure in their respective traditions yet open to modern society, they will be well-equipped to help their peers and the development of their country.

The project is supported by the earnest wishes of the Gyalwa Karmapa and Kunzik Shamar Rinpoché, great masters of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. It is also backed by the Buddhist center Dhagpo Kagyu Ling and its spiritual director, Lama Jigmé Rinpoché, in France.

An observation
The inhabitants of the Himalayan regions are fascinated by western society; although they dream of being able to copy the seductive model of rapid development, they are progressively losing their roots as they abandon the lifestyle that has traditionally allowed them to adapt to daily challenges.

Our job is to provide the tools leading to a more objective consideration of modern technology, and to show that the West is not necessarily an appropriate model of development. We intend to carry this out through education, thereby allowing children to be well-rooted in their traditional heritage. The dimension of tolerance is very important: colonization is not our goal. We must continually question our understanding and our speech while working towards creating an appropriate teaching system that will highlight the importance of protecting the existing culture.

A humanistic and spiritual vocation
One of the project's main thrusts is to ensure that the children's education be inspired by the values of tolerance, openness and compassion proper to Buddhism.

Buddhism is not simply a religion. The whole cultural and conceptual universe of these children is colored by Buddhism through the ethics of personal responsibility and wisdom based on knowledge of the mind and its workings. Therefore, we are not describing religious education as per the western ideal, but rather an apprenticeship that respects the very bases of original Ladakhi culture.

An ecological vocation
The German architect responsible for construction acquired useful experience while working in Nepal for two years. His participation gives weight to this project centered around respecting the environment as much as possible by using natural sources of energy (passive and active solar power) and appropriate building materials. He also collaborates with the Office of Ecological Research in Ladakh.

The School in the Sky Association
Presentation: The School in the Sky is a not-for-profit organization created in October, 1996, after a group of French travelers visited Ladakh. All of its members are volunteers. There are currently seven active members: Lama Puntso, Lionel Barbot, Cédric Cerpeau, Christine Gouffie, Virginie Larebat, Angélique Pieri and Tsulnam.

The Ladakhi school is called the Rigjung Public School (R.P.S.); its director is Lama Chönyi.

The association works on three levels:

  • Finding the funding necessary to build the school
  • Insuring that funds are transferred in the best possible conditions of transparency and security, and guaranteeing the control of financial management of the project on site.
  • Making certain that the project develops in a cohesive and efficient manner.

In Ladakh: The Karmapa Welfare Society of Ladakh
The KWSL is a charitable trust (legally recognized humanitarian organization) whose main task is managing the project on site. The association's president is Lama Chönyi Dorjé, the Ladakhi monk who began the project.

It controls the School Management Committee, which oversees the school's management and the evolution of the project on a daily basis. The Management Committee has no legal status. It reports to the KWSL which it belongs to and to which it is answerable.

The legal and moral agreement that binds the French School in the Sky and the Ladakhi KWSL, guarantees both the school's continuation within the essential moral and spiritual values crucial to its development and the security of its management.

European participation
The Kailash Asoociation, partner of the School in the Sky, is based in Germany. Willy Kruger, the director, oversees the architectural side of the project.

Europeans will soon be able to spend time on site during the summer, helping with the concretization and extension of the project (managers, technicians, teachers, doctors, nurses...).

Association l'Ecole Dans le Ciel - Landrevie F-24290 Saint Léon sur Vézère
e-mail : - web :
tel: 33-5-53504966 - fax: 33-5-53508054