KBC 9: Sonam Wangchuk, the real life Phunsukh Wangdu of 3 Idiots, shares his inspiring story on the show

Posted on October 17, 2017


In Friday’s episode, host introduced Sonam Wangchuk as a man with many missions. ‘s film 3 Idiots was inspired by this engineer-turned-innovator and education reformist. Sonam founded Students’ Educational and Cultural Movement of Ladakh (SECMOL), which is a campaign to improve the flawed education system of the country. He feels that the there is a lot of change required in our country’s education policy.
He said that the condition of a lot of government schools are worse than Sub-Saharan African schools and if it persists then rather than progress, we will witness more of riots and social unrest. Sonam, who was also instrumental in launching Operation New Hope brought reforms in the present education system by making the books more contextual.
Since he has started working in government schools in Ladakh, the percentage of passing students in class 10 has increased from 5 per cent in 2000 to 55 per cent in 2010 and reached an astonishing 75 per cent in 2015.
Sonam also talked about his school SECMOL, where students who’ve failed are given preference. These students learn through hands-on practical experience and also run the school by forming a small government that changes every two months. The whole school runs on solar energy. He encourages his students to be job-makers rather than job-seekers.
Sonam was accompanied by his former student Tsewang Rigzin, who is now a journalist. The teacher-student duo went on to win a whopping amount of Rs 50 lakh, which Sonam would like to invest in establishing Himalayan Institute of Alternatives, which will a university that provides more of hands-on and practical training to the youth. HIAL would mostly deal with issues faced by mountain people. Sonam, has been collecting money for the proposed university through crowd-funding and will the amount that he won on KBC will also be invested in the same.
Sonam was born in small village Uleytokpo, near Alchi in the Leh that consisted of only five families. He didn’t attend school till he was nine years old. He told that he was lucky because in those nine years, he got to learn a lot about the world from his mother in his native language. He feels that nowadays people are so burdened by languages like English and Urdu that they’ve missed out on learning in their mother tongue, which is very essential. Sonam, who knows nine languages including his mother tongue Ladakhi was quite a sport when he was asked to say Amitabh’s famous dialogue rishtey mein toh hum tumhare baap lagte hai from Shahenshah in Ladakhi and Punjabi.
Sonam also talked about his project Ice Stupa, which basically are water reservoirs. These ice stupas store water during the winter season in form of ice and provide water during the spring for irrigation and other purposes. One ice stupa can store as much as 3 million litres of water. He wanted the reservoirs to connect to people, due to which he named them ice stupa, as it is a mix of technique and tradition.

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