It’s certainly extraordinary. We visited this alternative school which is in the countryside near the tiny village of Phey, perched on a bluff overlooking a river bank with high hills all around it. It’s really remote. SECMOL stands for Students’ Educational and Cultural Movement of Ladakh.
There are about fifty students, all teenagers, who live on campus. You have to have failed in regular government schools to get into SECMOL. It is student-maintained (cooking, cleaning, etc.) and, to a large degree student-run. The curriculum emphasizes learning by doing, life skills and sustainability. The school works towards attaining energy and food independence, so there are photovoltaic panels, solar hot water heaters, solar cookers, composting toilets and vegetable gardens. The architecture emphasizes passive solar heating. Volunteers from other parts of India and from foreign countries come to SECMOL to teach and help out, paying for their own food and lodging. There’s a permanent teaching staff as well. So this is not your typical school. It’s a place with a big heart and a stunning location.
Australian teacher Ken Silburn brought a compressed-air rocket launcher and supplies for each students to construct a rocket. We had fun shooting the rockets, and did a few other activities with the students as well.
If you want to learn about SECMOL or get involved, here is some more information: www.secmol.org.
Today I am leaving the relatively civilized town of Leh and driving over an 18,000′ mountain pass (!) to a more remote area. My access to the internet (which is already dodgy) will be near zero for a while – but I will post again when I can.