Tibetan children in Qinghai being forced into Mandarin language boarding schools

Rebgong town: Tibetan children in Qinghai being forced into Mandarin language boarding schools. (Photo courtesy: Flicker/Scott Newman)

(TibetanReview.net, Sep13’20) – Chinese authorities in at least two counties of Qinghai Province have begun the new school year by implementing a harsh and compulsory Mandarin Chinese language policy in schools, relegating Tibetan to just a language subject for Tibetan students, reported the Tibetan Service of rfa.org Sep 12, citing local Tibetan sources.

The report said that in several towns in Rebgong (Chinese: Tongren) County of Malho (Huangnan) Prefecture, local primary schools were ordered to be shut down and their Tibetan pupils forced into boarding schools in faraway places.

When authorities refused to heed the parents’ plea not to separate them from their children by sending the latter to far off places, some of them staged a protest.

Police vehicles with blaring sirens quickly arrived at the protest scene and one male protester was taken into custody, although he was released later on, the report said.

“Several children at the protest were so frightened by all the commotion that they fainted,” the report quoted one source as saying. And the parents were forced to send their children away to the Chinese government-designated boarding schools anyway.

The report cited another local source as saying that in Themchen (Tianjun) County of Tsonub (Haixi) Prefecture, two middle schools in Bongtak area were merged and the Tibetan pupils forced into classes taught only in Mandarin Chinese. Similar mergers were reported to have been previously carried out in nearby primary schools under the same programme.

“Previously, Tibetan parents had a choice of sending their children to a Tibetan-language or a Mandarin-language school, and the Tibetans would send their children to the Tibetan schools,” the report quoted another anonymous local source as saying.

However, now “most of these schools have been merged, creating ethnically mixed classes, which is a huge concern for us,” the source was quoted as saying.

“The Tibetan language itself is now the only subject taught in Tibetan, leaving Mandarin as the medium of instruction for all the other subjects taught in school,” the source has said, adding that the move appeared to be aimed at implementing China’s new policy of eroding language rights to destroy minority cultures.

Sinizing Tibet as well as its religion and other aspects of its culture is the rallying call of Chinese President Xi Jinping, with the same policy being implemented through coercive measures in Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia as well.


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