17000 ft Foundation
17000 ft Foundation is committed to creating opportunities for enhanced learning for children of extremely remote villages in India. We believe that distances may be limiting but access to good education need not. 17000 ft was born in Ladakh, India and our focus is the implementation of Education for every child, at every school, in every village.
At 17000 ft, travelling that extra mile is just a part of our job.
Who we are
17000 ft. Foundation was borne out of the altitudes that we crossed on foot, in High Altitude Ladakh, to reach our remotest beneficiaries. We are a multi-disciplinary team of senior corporate professionals turned Social Entrepreneurs, and our years of experience and knowledge of rural Ladakh, its harsh terrain combined with its extremely bleak education landscape, has turned our efforts towards this incredible region.
Our focus is the pressured education system of Ladakh, and the children of its remote and rural areas who make great efforts to survive, cope and make it in life. Ladakh has 981 schools spread across 60,000 sq. km., 93% of which are rural and a majority of which remain isolated for six months of a year due to harsh winters. Struggling under the weight of modernization and the need to retain its’ centuries old culture, this system suffers from neglect and the sheer inability of the Government to administer these remote schools on its own.
At 17000 ft., our primary goal is to connect every one of those 981 schools through technology, research, collaboration, and passion. Using existing systems and converting limitations to strengths, 17000 ft. has a simple mission: “Removing the Distances from Learning”.
Ladakh or the “Land of high passes” lies in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, INDIA and is divided into 2 administrative districts of Leh and Kargil. Renowned for its remote mountain beauty and Buddhist culture, it is also called "Little Tibet", as it has strongly been influenced by its culture.
Ladakh, with its purely mountainous terrain, exists in altitudes above 3000m ( 9800 ft ) , with temperatures ranging between -40OC to 30OC in inhabited areas. Only two roads go into Ladakh, one from Srinagar, the other from Manali and both are open to civilian movement for just 5-6 months of the year. These and commercial flights to Leh (highest commercial airport in the world) are the only means of reaching this beautiful region. Ladakh, with its cheerful and gentle people, along with its incredible landscape has made itself very popular with tourists and today has approximately 1,25,000 tourists visiting the internationally exotic destination annually.
Around 1974 when tourists were first allowed into Ladakh, education was the preparation of a child to live a life of meaningful work and of the transmission of Ladakh’s unique cultural values. Each child learnt from watching, listening, and sharing. However with tourist dollars, came modern education, imposed in languages foreign to these children and covering topics unknown to them. The percentage of children who managed to enter High School was a dismal 5%
Two decades of reworking the syllabus and inducting local teachers has brought the percentage to 40-50% today.
Today, there is a dire need to supplment and work on the existing school infrastructure setup by the Government at every remote village, by bringing in necessary attention, additions and improvement. A lack of attention in these remote schools only serve to increase the pressure on parents to send their extremely young children alone to far away cities for education. Not only do these little children not fare well, these remote villages now stay denuded of future working hands and are populated by septugenarians. The children lose their connect with their culture and remain the in-between youngsters, unable to get jobs, and unable to return to their villages.There is an immediate need today to stop this migration, by working within and helping to improve existing Government school infrastructure and the education system, while creating earning opportunities at the villages.
Ladakh survives on its single industry of Tourism and a majority of tourists to Ladakh come in from different parts of the world. A majority of these tourists travel to the remotest and most inaccessible of regions in Ladakh and are most likely to volunteer help
At 17000 ft, our focus is to achieve the necessary changes in remote schools while simultaneously creating opportunities for increasing tourism spends in these remote villages.