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Protection and Development of Tibetan Culture
Updated: 2008-09-25 15:45

I. Learning, Use and Development of the Spoken and Written Tibetan Languages

A member of the Han-Tibetan language family, Tibetan has been an important tool of communication for the people in Tibet over thousands of years, and an important symbol and carrier of Tibetan culture. It holds a special position among the diverse languages and cultures of the Chinese nation. For over a half century, the Chinese government has attached great importance to guaranteeing the Tibetan people's right to learn and use the Tibetan language, both the spoken and written, and has made huge efforts in promoting the learning, use and development of it, registering major progress.

The learning and use of the spoken and written Tibetan languages are guaranteed by law. The Constitution of the People's Republic of China and the Law on Ethnic Regional Autonomy both clearly prescribe that all ethnic minorities have the freedom to use and develop their own spoken and written languages. The Tibet Autonomous Region issued and implemented the Several Provisions of the Tibet Autonomous Region on the Learning, Use and Development of Tibetan (Trial) in 1987 and the Detailed Rules for the Implementation of Several Provisions of the Tibet Autonomous Region on the Learning, Use and Development of Tibetan (Trial) in 1988, specifying that equal importance is given to both Tibetan and Chinese in Tibet, with priority given to Tibetan. In 2002, the Tibet Autonomous Region revised the above provisions for trial implementation into the Provisions of the Tibet Autonomous Region on the Learning, Use and Development of Tibetan, providing a reliable legal guarantee in this respect. To promote this work, in1988 the Language Steering Committee of the Tibet Autonomous Region was set up, later renamed the Language Committee of the Tibet Autonomous Region. Tibetan language translation institutes have been established in all prefectures (cities) and counties. At present there are over 100 Tibetan language translation institutes and nearly 1,000 specialists in translation and relevant work in Tibet.

The spoken and written Tibetan languages have been widely learned and carried forward. In old Tibet, it was a privilege of the nobility and a few monks to learn the proper Tibetan language, whereas serfs and slaves, who accounted for 95 percent of the total population, had no right in this respect whatsoever. After the peaceful liberation of Tibet, the Central People's Government paid great attention to the learning and popularization of Tibetan, and made clear requirements for people who were to go to Tibet on learning, using and spreading Tibetan. In the 1950s it held short-term training courses on Tibetan, training courses for young people, social education courses, and training courses in agricultural technologies, finance and accounting, and movie-making technology in Qamdo, Lhasa, Xigaze and other places, encouraging, supporting and organizing people of all ethnic groups in Tibet to learn Tibetan as well as science and technology. After the Tibet Autonomous Region was set up in 1965, it was stipulated that schools of all kinds and at all levels must lay stress on the learning and use of Tibetan and strengthen work on the teaching of Tibetan. A bilingual teaching system was adopted in an all-round way in the educational sector of Tibet, with priority given to teaching in Tibetan. At present, Tibetan-Chinese teaching is adopted in all the farming and pastoral areas, and in some urban primary schools, with the major courses being taught in Tibetan. Tibetan-Chinese teaching is also adopted in high schools. Moreover, courses in the Tibetan language have been opened at Tibetan high schools in the inland areas of China. In the matriculation examinations for institutions of higher learning and secondary vocational schools, Tibetan is a subject of examination and the score is included in the total score. There are now 15,523 bilingual teachers and 10,927 Tibetan-language teachers in Tibet. Altogether, 181 textbooks, 122 reference books and 16 teaching programs covering 16 subjects from primary to senior high school have been compiled and translated in the Tibet Autonomous Region. Tibetan has been unprecedentedly popularized at all schools in Tibet.

The spoken and written Tibetan languages are widely used. Since the establishment of the Tibet Autonomous Region in 1965, both Tibetan and Chinese have been used for resolutions, laws and regulations adopted by the people's congresses at all levels, and official documents and public notices of people's governments and subordinate departments at all levels. During judicial proceedings, Tibetan is used in hearing any case involving Tibetan people, and the written Tibetan language is used for legal papers. Both Tibetan and Chinese are used for official seals, credentials, forms, envelopes, letter paper, writing paper and signs of all entities; logos of government departments, factories and mines, schools, bus and train stations, airports, shops, hotels, restaurants, cinemas, tourist attractions, sports venues and libraries; as well as signs for streets and traffic.

Since its establishment, the Tibetan People's Radio (TPR) has persisted in making good Tibetan radio programs. It now has 42 programs broadcast in standard Tibetan, including 21 hours a day for news in Tibetan, and 18 hours a day in the Kamba dialect. The TPR's annual capacity for dubbing Tibetan TV programs increased from 1,200 hours in 1996 to 9,235 hours in 2007. The Tibet Television Station formally opened a Tibetan satellite TV channel in 1999. With 21 Tibetan programs, and films and TV dramas dubbed in Tibetan, it is very popular among people of all ethnic groups in Tibet. Starting from October 1, 2007, Tibet satellite TV broadcasts 24 hours a day. Films and TV dramas dubbed in Tibetan reached 500 hours (639 episodes) in 2007, including 564 copies of films and 35 programs. Every year 25 new films dubbed in Tibetan are shown in farming and pastoral areas.