Founder of Student’s Educational & Cultural Movement of Ladakh (SECMOL)., noted Educationist and environmentalist. He has also started an alternative learning school that replaces conventional education with practical know-how. The inspiration for the character Phunsukh Wangdu in Rajkumar Hirani’s 3 Idiots.
Sonam Wangchuck Speaker - Profile
Sonam Wangchuk Winner of Ramon Magsaysay Award 2018 is India's most renowned Educationist, Environmentalist and Innovator.
Sonam is the Founder Founder of Student’s Educational & Cultural Movement of Ladakh (SECMOL). which aims to bring reforms in the government school system in Ladakh. In 1994 he was instrumental in the launch of Operation New Hope, a triangular collaboration of the government, village communities and the civil society to bring reforms in the government schools system. The programmed involved formation of Village Education Committees to take ownership of state schools, training of teachers in child friendly ways and rewriting and publishing localised text books for Ladakh. As a result the pass percentage at 10th grade (matriculation) rose from the dismal 5% to 55% in seven years and 75% these days.
For students who still failed in their state exams he founded the SECMOL Alternative School Campus near Leh, a special school where the admission criteria is failure in exams and not grades. However with the supportive and creative environment at the school, the so called failures have excelled in their chosen fields and risen to international acclaim as entrepreneurs, film makers, politicians, teachers and so on.
As an engineer Sonam Wangchuk has been teaching innovation at the SECMOL Alternative School, where together with the students he designed and built solar heated buildings that are low cost, made of earth/mud but maintain +15 C even when the outside temperature is – 25 C in Ladakhi winters.
In order to solve the water crisis facing mountain regions due to climate change and fast melting glaciers he invented the Ice Stupa artificial glacier which stores the wasting stream waters in winter in the form of giant ice cones or stupas and release the water in late spring as they melt... just when farmers need water.
SECMOL Campus is a special eco-village where students, staff and volunteers live, work and learn together. It’s not a conventional school, but a place to pursue practical, environmental, social and traditional knowledge, values and skills. The Campus is solar powered and solar heated; students learn ancient Ladakhi songs, dance and history alongside modern academic knowledge; and the students mainly manage, run and maintain the campus.
Sonam Wangchuk is helping farmers in the arid Himalayan highlands of Ladakh to overcome water shortages by tapping meltwaters to build artificial glaciers.With his Rolex Award funds he intends to create up to 20 ice stupas, each 30 metres high, and initiate a substantial tree-planting programme on the desert near their school once the new water supply system is established.
Wangchuk believes that education and care for the environment go hand in hand. In addition to his work with young people at SECMOL, the Students’ Educational and Cultural Movement of Ladakh, through its Alternative School he has started work on establishing an alternative university in the same area. His objective is to engage young people from the Himalayas and beyond in eco-solutions for mountain areas.
AWARDS & RECOGNITION
Sonam Wangchuk was granted several awards and titles, such as :
Sonam Wangchuk was chosen for his work on building artificial glaciers that supply irrigation water during the times of drought