Chinese medium education imposed in schools across restive Ngaba region

By Tsering Choephel

DHARAMSALA, 05 May: Despite criticisms from Tibetan scholars and educators “Chinese authorities quietly began enforcing an assimilationist education system in Tibetan primary schools across restive Ngaba region in the Traditional Tibetan Province of Amdo.”

“The Model 2 education system which entails teaching through a secondary language, That is, Mandarin Chinese, has been introduced in primary and middle schools across Ngaba, including the Tsaruma Tibetan primary school in Kakhog area in Tibet, as reported by Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD). 

Under this model, all the subjects including geography, history, chemistry, and mathematics are taught in Chinese with only an hour-long class on Tibetan language. 

While this education system was initially planned to be introduced in all schools in the spring of 2020, the authorities had to temporarily shelve the plan as it met with a protest by a large number of Tibetan teachers, intellectuals, parents, students and public representatives.

However, the Dharamsala-based rights group has stated in their report that the Chinese authorities reintroduced and imposed The Model 2 education system early this year. 

“This [Model 2] educational method is a means to destroy the Tibetan language and culture. The enforcement of this policy has no basis in law or scientific reasoning; it is a decree imposed by a handful of autocratic leaders. At high-level meetings such as the Party Congress, the authorities always attempt to justify the Model 2 policy by exaggerating the low standards of education in Tibetan schools,” a teacher from Ngaba has told TCHRD.

In 2020, some 28,000 online users participated in a poll on different models of education in Ngaba; the results showed an overwhelming 97 per cent voting in favour of the Tibetan medium education or Model 1. 

The Model 1 system which has been practised in Ngaba had produced remarkable results and became an exemplary and inspirational education model for other areas in Tibet and other nationalities, as noted in the Letter by Thupten Lodoe (Pseudonym: Sabuchey). 

Notwithstanding the positive result of Model 1 system and people’s voices, the Chinese medium education system has been imposed. 

Shergyam, a Tibetan teacher at a secondary school in Khyungchu County has likened the imposition of Chine medium education in Ngaba to the return of the Cultural Revolution. 

“The medium of education has always been Chinese for Han Chinese because it is their mother tongue, which has enabled them to produce talented and skilled professionals. In the minority regions, the mother tongue based education system is blamed. Such actions defy scientific reasoning and moral principles,” he writes.

Additionally, TCHRD has maintained that China has imposed the Model 2 Chinese medium education across Tibet. 

It has been imposed in Dazhuka and Kardze in the Traditional Tibetan province of Kham where all Tibetan private schools had been ordered closed while children were told to enrol in Chinese medium residential schools by April 2022. 

A similar notice has now been issued in Dzatoe County in Kyegudo,  early this year by local school authorities and the county government. The letter requires all parents in the county to send their school-age children to government schools from 2017 to 2023, failing which the students will lose all educational benefits and the parents will be prosecuted in accordance with the educational regulations.

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