Two young men, the writer Paul Howard and his friend Tanzin Norbu, are about to start a trek up the frozen Zanskar river valley, in temperatures as low as -30ºC , through a gorge deeper than the Grand Canyon. This gorge has been the only winter link between Zanskar and the outside world for a thousand years. Because of the isolation, Zanskar is cut off from the rest of the world for nearly 7 months of the year, making education very hard to maintain.
To address this issue, Tanzin and Paul are developing a scheme to adapt the remote schooling techniques developed by the famous ‘Schools of the Air’ in the Australian outback for use in the valley. In collaboration with existing schools in Zanskar, the aim of this project is to use radio communication, along with written course materials distributed throughout the summer, to keep at least the flame of education alive in the winter months.
The first stage in the development of Radio Zanskar is for Paul Howard and Tanzin Norbu to visit Zanskar in winter via the Chadar, a trip funded by the Royal Geographical Society through its annual Neville Shulman Challenge Award. If you’d like to check out more, why not follow their progress on www.radiozanskar.com.