(TibetanReview.net, May10, 2014) – Chinese authorities in Chentsa (Chinese: Jianza) County of Malho (Huangnan) Prefecture, Qinghai Province, have closed down last year a privately run Tibetan school meant for orphans and children of the destitute after one of its teachers was jailed for 13 years for alleged political activities, reported Radio Free Asia (Washington) May 8. The closing down order was given without giving any reason and followed a visit by a group of Chinese officials on Apr 25, the report added.
The school, named as Malho Jianza Vocational School and opened on Aug 1, 2003, had about 70 students and 10 teachers. It provided almost totally free education and care for orphans and children from poor Tibetan families in Qinghai and Sichuan provinces, including from Chentsa and Dzoege (Ruo’ergai) counties and Qinghai’s Tsolho (Hainan) Prefecture. The school taught Tibetan language and history and, since 2007, included Tibetan medicine in its curricula.
The school owners were said to have been compensated with 40,000 yuan (US$6,420) for the school’s stocks of textbooks and computers while the teachers were paid 3,000 yuan ($480) and ordered to go home.
Earlier, a teacher named Phakpa, who had studied in India, was jailed for 13 years for unspecified political activities. Other teachers were also detained and interrogated but later released. However, it was not clear whether the order to close down the school had anything to do with Phakpa’s case.
China was reported to have forcibly closed down a number of schools set up by Tibetan monasteries, groups and individuals with aim to provide free education to Tibetan children in their own language and culture in recent years. The authorities apparently saw these initiatives as efforts to defeat China’s aims behind changing from Tibetan to Chinese the language of teaching in the state-run Tibetan schools in the area. China insists that it has only introduced bilingual education simply because Tibetan is still being taught as a language subject.