Students at a branch school of Lhasa Experimental Primary School have lunch in Lhasa, southwest China's Xizang Autonomous Region, China, May 12, 2022. /Xinhua
Editor's note: Chen Dongjie, a special commentator on current affairs for CGTN, is an assistant professor at the Center for Central Asia, Shaan'xi Normal University. The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily those of CGTN.
Recently, RAND, a well-known U.S. think-tank released a report about the Xizang Autonomous Region, willfully distorting facts and smearing China's remarkable achievements in governing Xizang. The references used in this report are almost all from Western news or non-governmental organization (NGO) reports.
For research, not to refer to the information published by the research object itself is a research taboo. RAND, of course, understood this and explained that it was difficult to obtain information about Xizang from China. Clearly it turned a blind eye to the vast amounts of information on Xizang released by China due to a hidden agenda.
The RAND company claimed that Xizang forced students to attend residential schools. This statement was groundless. The residential education in Xizang fully respects the principles of academic freedom, and there is no compulsory regulation on campuses. Day school or residential school, fully respects the opinions of students and parents.
The RAND company completely ignores the great contribution of Xizang's residential education to regional development. Residential education is a combination of regular school curriculum and residential arrangements, tailored to the unique geographical and population distribution conditions of Xizang.
The population distribution in pastoral areas of Xizang is uneven, and most of the pastoral areas have a long commuting time, so there are problems allocating teaching resources to students who are physically far from schools. In view of this, Xizang has made great efforts to promote residential education in pastoral areas, so that students in pastoral areas can receive high-quality education. By opening residential schools, the urban and rural education divide in Xizang is solved.
It is worth asking, what is the real situation of Xizang education that the RAND company turned a blind eye to?
In pre-revolutionary Xizang, the right to education was nearly monopolized by the Tibetan nobility, while 95 percent of the population consisting of serfs and slaves were deprived of the right to education. After the liberation of Xizang, the Chinese central government invested significant human and financial resources to comprehensively promote the development of education in Xizang. According to the special conditions of Xizang, China has adopted various policies to promote the development of education in Xizang.
From 1951 to 2020, the Chinese government invested a total of 2.24 trillion yuan (about $308.45 billion) in education to promote the establishment of a modern education system in Xizang covering preschool education, basic education, vocational education, higher education, continuing education and special education.
Starting from 1985, students in pastoral areas have been entitled to free education, which includes meals, accommodation, and tuition during the compulsory education phase. Since 2012, to reduce the schooling difficulties of children from families in pastoral areas, Xizang has guaranteed free food, housing and tuition to the children of farmers and herdsmen from kindergarten to senior high school. This policy has significantly reduced the educational burden on the majority of herders while greatly improving the enrollment rate in Xizang. Currently, the average length of education for the incoming labor force in Xizang is 13.1 years.
Residential education implements bilingual education, giving equal importance to both the Tibetan language and the national language. Residential education combines local ethnic and cultural characteristics in Xizang to carry out educational work. During the extracurricular activities in residential schools, the students are closely connected with their ethnic cultures. The schools organize Tibetan ethnic cultural activities including traditional Tibetan dance and calligraphy. This not only enriches students' school life, but also helps in the inheritance and promotion of traditional Tibetan culture among the youth.
Nyima interacts with pupils at a primary school in Qonggyai County in Shannan, southwest China's Xizang Autonomous Region, China, July 2, 2020. /Xinhua
Residential education fully ensures students' time to return home and receive family education. Different vacation systems are implemented based on the distance of students' homes to school.
For students who live close to school, classes are held from Monday to Friday, and they have a two-day weekend break. For students who live far from school, an extended weekend system is implemented, with classes held for 10 to 20 days, followed by a four-day or eight-day break. Students' parents are allowed to enter the campus at any time to visit their children, and can also bring their children home based on their actual situation.
Residential education adheres to the general principles of students' growth and development. It places a strong emphasis on students' psychological well-being, and schools appoint dormitory management teachers or dedicated staff to oversee campus life. "Mother representatives" are selected from rural villages from pastoral areas to participate in the management of residential students' life at school. Through proper guidance from teachers, students' self-care abilities are significantly enhanced.
During the stage of high-quality development in Xizang, human resources stand as the foremost asset for progress. The foundation of talent development lies in education. As mentioned earlier, residential education provides students from pastoral areas with superior, high-quality education, establishing a strong basis for talent cultivation in Xizang. This effectively supports Xizang's future trajectory toward high-quality development. During the past years, nearly 20,000 college students have graduated in Xizang. The cultivation of so many high-quality talents cannot be separated from the huge investment of the Chinese government in education in Xizang.
Residential education in Xizang aligns with the practical needs of Tibetan society and makes significant contributions to the development of education in Xizang. It serves as a crucial initiative for achieving educational equity in Xizang, continuously supplying high-quality talents to the society and their economy.
Residential education resonates with the academic aspirations of the Tibetan people, fully satisfying their desire for education. No amount of smear and rumors will stop the rapid development of Xizang, and no amount of slander will affect the Tibetan's support for residential education.
By Chen Dongjie