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Anxiety mounts on decision to replace Tibetan with Chinese medium for teaching in Ngaba schools

Tibetan students in Sichuan’s Ngaba prefecture protest to demand classroom instruction in Tibetan. (Photo courtesy: RFA)

(TibetanReview.net, Apr10’20) – In a continuing move to Sinicize education in Chinese ruled Tibet, Ngaba (Chinese: Aba) Prefecture of what is now part of China’s Sichuan Province will soon make Chinese the exclusive classroom language of instructions with Tibetan being taught only in language classes, reported the Tibetan Service of rfa.org Apr 9.

News of the new development emerged as schools slowly reopened in the prefecture with the lifting of lockdown imposed in the wake of the spread of the Corvid-19 pandemic, the report cited Tibetan writer Sangkar Nyidang as saying in an article published online on Apr 7.

“A few days ago, we received a notice that the schools would reopen, and my wife attended a meeting called by school officials. On returning home, she said that beginning this summer the medium of school instruction will be switched entirely to Chinese,” Nyidang was quoted as saying.

“Tibetan will still be taught, but only in language classes,” Nyidang has continued.

“A document to this effect will be issued shortly.”

Apparently referring to China’s law to protect the language and cultural rights of minorities, Nyidang has said, “The Tibetan people have the law on their side in this case, and they should come together without fear from all levels of society to protest and demand that the order be repealed.”

The report also quoted Hura Jambe, a popular young Tibetan writer, as saying, also writing online, “At staff and teachers meetings when the schools reopened at the beginning of April, school authorities announced that upper-level managers had decided that the medium of instruction would be changed.”

Lambe has said that in Phase 1, ending at the close of the year, instruction in Tibetan will be gradually eliminated in Tibetan primary and middle schools, with instruction increasingly given in Chinese in a following Phase 2.

Because implementing this order would violate provisions of regional laws guaranteeing ethnic rights, Lambe is said to feel that “the order may not have come from China’s central government but from provincial officials.”

The Ngaba development comes as schools in the neighbouring Tibet Autonomous Region have begun teaching mainly in Chinese in what authorities say is an effort to facilitate participation in China’s modern economy, but what rights groups have called a campaign to destroy the cultural identity of Tibetan schoolchildren, the report said.

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