40-year-old headmaster Sonam Gyaltsan, who teaches students in a government school of Leh is an inspiration story for the nation. He has also been nationally awarded for his dedication, resourcefulness and diligence. In a time period of just three years, he fully transformed a typical government middle school with only four students to an idol school for the neighbouring areas with 104 students. His school is located in Sakti village and has students ranging from Nursery to Class 8.
Sonam has been a government school teacher since 2003. In March 2016, he became the headmaster of the Government Middle School.
A school government teacher told The Better India that there are a few children who study in the schools in the government schools. Most of the students are the children of Nepali and Bihari labourers who come to Ladakh for seasonal work. The number of Ladakhi students in government schools is very few. Ladakhi families tend to send their children to more expensive private schools in Leh. Many government teachers are more focused about the side businesses they run — like hotels or guest houses, instead of their teaching jobs. For most of the government teachers, teaching offers an ‘easy’ paycheck.
At first, Gyaltsan conducted a household survey to increase the number of students in government schools.
He says that he would ask among his own close circle of 8-10 friends to send one of their two or three children to his school. He would assure them that he would revamp the government school completely.
In 2016, he set the example for others by admitting his own daughter Thinles to his school from a private school. When friends of Thinles saw her taking admission there, they asked their parents for the same.
A couple of people including Sarpanch and some friends of his admitted their children into his school after seeing Thinles taking admission there. As a result, there were 32 students enrolled in his school by the end of 2016.
He also adopted the books used in private schools for his government school. This also assured people that there children were not missing out on anything which their private school counterparts were learning.
Gyaltsan’s selfless service to the village has made him very popular in the region. When in 2019 his time for the transfer came, village representatives and the local councillor went to the education department to block his transfer.