Luminaries Sonam Wangchuk

Wangchuk, Sonam

Harnessing nature, culture and education for community progress

  • He was a 19-year-old engineering student at the National Institute of Technology in Srinagar, Kashmir, when he went into tutoring to finance his schooling and help woefully unprepared students pass the national college matriculation exams
  • In 1988, after earning his engineering degree, Wangchuk founded Students’ Education and Cultural Movement of Ladakh (SECMOL) and started coaching Ladakhi student, 95% of whom used to fail the government exams.
  • In 1994, with Wangchuk in the lead, “Operation New Hope” (ONH) was launched to expand and consolidate the partnership-driven educational reform program.  Taking a life of its own, to date ONH has trained 700 teachers, 1000 VEC leaders, and dramatically increased the success rate of students in matriculation exams from just 5% in 1996 to 75%  by 2015.
  • In electing Sonam Wangchuk to receive the 2018 Ramon Magsaysay Award, the board of trustees recognizes “his uniquely systematic, collaborative and community-driven reform of learning systems in remote northern India, thus improving the life opportunities of Ladakhi youth, and his constructive engagement of all sectors in local society to harness science and culture creatively for economic progress, thus setting an example for minority peoples in the world.”

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