Tibetan students forced to take college entrance exams in Mandarin

Representation image. Image: Tibet Watch.

By Tsering Choephel

DHARAMSALA, 14 June: Jeopardising the future of Tibetan students, China has imposed Mandarin as the medium for college entrance exams, reports Radio Free Asia (RFA).

While Tibetan students, like other ethnic minority groups under China, had previously been allowed to take the test in their native languages,  China has however made Mandarin mandatory this year, affecting the course of millions of students including Tibetans and other ethnic minorities as the result of Gaokao determine their admission into colleges, the report said.

Moreover, the report added that a five-minute extra time given to ethnic minorities to complete their test was also scrapped this year, leaving ethnic minorities at a disadvantage against the majority mandarin speaking Han students. 

“This is a disadvantage for Tibetan students over [native Mandarin speaking] students who score more easily and get admission in college. Hence, many Tibetan students will not get into good colleges,” a source from Tibet has told RFA.

Another Tibetan resident expressed concerns about decrees in college-going Tibetan youths saying “We will see an incredible increase in the number of Tibetan students who cannot attend college and pursue a higher education.”

The report noted that this imposition of Mandarin as the medium for college entrance exams concurs with the Sinicising Model 2 Education system that has been enforced in primary and secondary schools in many parts of Tibet in recent years.

The so-called Model 2 Education system entails teaching all subjects, except the Tibetan language, through Mandarin Chinese language. 

Pointing out the clear contradiction and the intent of such changes, Pema Gyal, a researcher at Tibet Watch, the research arm of the London-based advocacy and monitoring group Free Tibet has said that  “the law (on Regional National Autonomy) states that minority schools should, if possible, use textbooks printed in their own languages, and lessons should be taught in those languages, and this contradicts with what the government is doing right now.”

Gyal has further said that “this is an attempt to Sinicise the education system in Tibet,’ which he declared will lead to so many Tibetan students not being able to pursue higher education. 

Held from 7-9 June across China, the annual entrance exam commonly called ‘Gaokao’ is participated by millions of high schoolers. A record 12.91 million students appeared this year for the exam, according to insider.com. 

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