Tibetan students protest language prejudice in Amdo

DHARAMSALA, Nov 6: A group of Tibetan students on Nov 1 protested against the Chinese policy of making Chinese language rather than Tibetan language as the medium of instruction in Tibetan nomadic schools in Dzoege and neighbouring counties in Amdo’s Ngaba Prefecture (now incorporated into Sichuan Province).

Students protest in Rebkong, Oct 19, 2010. Photo: RFA
Students protest in Rebkong, Oct 19, 2010.
Photo: RFA

The students from Dzoege County middle school were protesting a Chinese official’s discriminatory remarks at the conclusion of a workshop on ‘nationality and bilingual education policy’ held on Oct 29.

The Chinese official, Zhang Tianke, head of the Ngaba Education Board suggested changing the medium of instruction in Tibetan schools from Tibetan to Chinese language and emphasized that studying Chinese language is the key to getting admission in reputed universities and better opportunities in life. He also discouraged the students from pursuing Tibetan language saying the scope of better livelihood through studying Tibetan language is limited.

The workshop organized by the Regional Chinese Education Board was attended by over 130 students from Tibetan schools in Barkham, Chuchen, Sungchu, Ngaba, Dzoege, Khyungchu and Dzamthang in Ngaba Prefecture.

According to Washing-based International Campaign for Tibet, the students were also protesting against a proposal discussed to separate classes in Dzoege according to the abilities of students and teachers, which the students felt would lead to a more ‘elite’ form of education in which students of less ability would not benefit from the same opportunities.

The students raised slogans in Tibetan including, “Better to help a hundred than help one” and “Equality of education”.

Despite knowing the fact that raising slogans asserting Tibetan language, religion and culture would land them in jail, Tibetan students have fearlessly challenged Chinese imposition of discriminatory education policies.

In October 2010, thousands of Tibetan students from six different schools protested against a forced change in the medium of instruction from Tibetan to Chinese language in Rebkong County in Amdo Province’s Malho Prefecture (now incorporated into Qinghai). The banners written in both Tibetan and Chinese language carried by the students read ‘Expand the use of Tibetan language’ and ‘Equality among nationalities’.



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