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China in door-to-door drive to stop Tibetan children attending private lessons, practising religion

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(TibetanReview.net, Jan11’24) – Chinese authorities are carrying out random checks in residential areas and commercial establishments in several parts of Tibet to ensure that Tibetan children don’t attend private Tibetan classes denied in their regular schooling or engage in religious practices during their ongoing winter break, reported the Tibetan service of rfa.org Jan 9, citing local Tibetan sources.

The move followed a directive issued by what the report called Chinese Education Department earlier this month, ordering local authorities to intensify their supervision and investigation of people violating the rule that has been in force since 2021, banning Tibetan children from taking supplementary lessons (in Tibetan language and culture), and to carry out strict disciplinary action against violators.

The 2021 rules issued by authorities in various Tibetan-populated provinces are said to prohibit Tibetan children from attending informal Tibetan language classes or workshops during their winter holidays.

The directive issued to local authorities require investigations to be carried out in residential areas and commercial establishments at various times of day and night, report said, citing sources from Tibet’s capital Lhasa, Labrang Monastery in Gansu province, and Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Qinghai province.

In Lhasa, the local notice, issued on Nov 30, is said to make it clear that parents “must make sure the children are completely free from the influence of religion.” They also must ensure that children “voluntarily distance themselves from places of worship” and that they must not participate in any religious activities.

In Qinghai’s Yushu, the source has said, “In addition to random door-to-door investigations, local authorities are also carrying out surveys of the Tibetan children to find out what subjects are being taught to them in their out-of-school courses and where.”

Its local notice, while emphasizing the continued ban on participation in religious activities, is said to make it clear that Tibetan children could only participate in supplementary classes and workshops taught by government-authorized individuals and organizations and on subjects approved by the authorities.

In Gansu’s Labrang Monastery, home to the largest number of monks outside Tibet (Xizang) Autonomous Region, the source has said, “In the past, there was a strong tradition of providing supplementary, private tuitions to Tibetan children in the fields of Tibetan grammar, religion, math, and storytelling during their winter break.”

But now, “only a few Chinese government-authorized organizations and individuals who carry out political re-education programmes are allowed to give [lessons] to Tibetan students.”

The source has confirmed that in Gansu too, there is a stricter enforcement of the ban on study of Tibetan language and on Tibetan children participating in religious activities.

Given this latest development across the Tibetan regions, another Tibetan source has said: “With the prohibition of the study of Tibetan language, both in schools and in out-of-school programs, it has now become increasingly evident that young Tibetan children have lost touch with their native language and identity, a very alarming and concerning development.”

This is because under President Xi Jinping’s all-out Sinicization drive, schools across the Tibetan areas of what constitutes the People’s Republic of China have replaced Tibetan with Mandarin Chinese as the only language for teaching all subjects in all classes.

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