China escalating destruction of Tibetan Language in Tibet

Screenshot of the job announcement at the Men-Tse Khang in Gonjo in the traditional Tibetan province of Kham.

By Tsering Choephel

DHARAMSALA, 17 June: Tibetan classes for all primary schools is to be banned from 2024, announced the Kanzi Prefecture Bureau of Education in a notice in March according to a report by 

The removal of Tibetan classes from the primary school curriculum in schools in the Tibetan area makes it too clear the agenda of Chinese authorities – malign Tibetan identity and sinicise the new generations of Tibetan, the London-based advocacy group Free Tibet has said.

The imposition of Mandarin Chinese as the medium of language in schools and the latest news of scrapping Tibetan students’ right to give the annual college entrance exam in Tibetan – it all concords with Tibetan’s fear of their language being systematically targeted to weaken. 

A student who graduated this year from Luding Tibetan Middle School has confirmed to Tibet Watch, the research wing of the Free Tibet that a notice banning the teaching of Tibetan language classes in middle schools was issued by the Chinese authorities in the Karze region of the traditional Tibetan province of Kham.  

“The notice states that from next year, 2024, there will be no teaching of Tibetan language classes in Kangding Zangwen Middle School, Luding Tibetan Middle School, Karzi Tibetan Middle School, Yajiang Tibetan Middle School and Derge Tibetan Middle School. This notice has been sent to all the schools, and they have been instructed not to share or post it on social media, etc,” the student has said. 

In familiar authoritarian characteristics of the ruling Chinese Communist Party, no explanations or reasons are given for the move.  Instead, Tibetans are instructed against sharing this malicious news on social media, the report said and added that those who breach this warning will be severely punished.

The same student said, “Currently, there are about 5 to 6 middle schools, including those mentioned above, that teach the Tibetan language, but all this will be ended as of next year.”

Understanding the importance of language, especially under the hostile rule of the Chinese, Tibetans continue to fight to preserve their identity of which language is unanimously agreed to be the core.

In 2018, a Chinese court sentenced Tashi Wangchuk – a Tibetan who advocated for Tibetans’ right to their own language under Chinese law – to five years of prison. 

In 2019, another Tibetan named Tsering Dorjee was detained for a month for discussing the importance of the Tibetan language with his brother over the phone, framing the act as a political crime.  

Currently, there are over 900,000 Tibetan children placed in the Chinese government’s boarding schools across Chinese occupied Tibet.

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