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

Normal religious activities and beliefs protected by law. The Buddhist associations have been set up in the Tibet Autonomous Region as well as its seven prefectures (cities). The Tibet branch of the Buddhist Association of China runs the Tibetan Buddhism Academy, Tibetan-language sutra printing shop and Tibetan-language journal Tibetan Buddhism. The state has established the China Tibetan-Language Academy of Buddhism to train senior Tibetan Buddhist personnel. More than 100 living Buddhas and eminent monks from Tibet have studied there. Various traditional Buddhist activities are carried out in a normal way - from sutra studies and debates to the conferring of academic degrees and ordination. As a unique way to pass on Tibetan Buddhism, the living Buddha reincarnation system has received respect from the state, and 40-odd living Buddhas have been approved in line with religious rituals and historical practice.

Religious activities in Tibet are rich in content and diverse in form. Since the 1980s, more than 40 religious festivals have been resumed. Believers are free to take part in the Sakadawa Festival, Shoton (Yogurt) Festival and other religious activities. Everywhere in Tibet, sutra streamers, Mani mounds and masses of believers engaging in religious activities can be seen. Many believers have sutra rooms or shrines in their homes, and they often circumambulate monasteries and sacred places, go on pilgrimages, or invite monks or nuns to conduct Buddhist services.

Tibetan customs and lifestyle respected and protected. Since Tibet's peaceful liberation, the Chinese government has respected and protected the customs and lifestyle of the Tibetan and other ethnic groups in the Tibet Autonomous Region, including respect for and guarantee of their freedom to conduct religious and folk activities.

Over the past 50 years or so, the Tibetan and other ethnic minorities living in Tibet have preserved their traditional garments and ornaments, diet and housing styles, and are free to celebrate their traditional festivals. Some decadent, backward practices related to feudal serfdom and despising laboring people have been discarded and replaced with modern, civilized and healthy fashions. In Tibet, people celebrate national and international festivals, such as National Day, March 8 Women's Dayand May Day, in addition to traditional and religious festivals, such as Tibetan New Year, Bathing Festival, Ongkor (Bumper Harvest) Festival, Butter Lamp Festival, Dharma Festival, Burning Offerings Festival, Garchachen Festival and horse race fairs. They have also brought into being such modern events as the Yarlung ArtFestival in Shannan, Khampa Art Festival at Qamdo, Mount Qomolangma Art Festival at Xigaze and Azalea Festival at Nyingchi. With the fine Tibetan traditions integrating with modern ideas and cultures, Tibetan folk culture has adopted a new character.

IV. All-round Development of Modern Science, Education and the Media

Since its peaceful liberation in 1951, along with the drive for modernization, in Tibet not only the fine traditional Tibetan culture has been inherited, protected and promoted, but modern scientific, educational, journalistic and cultural undertakings have also been developing in an all-round way.

A historical leap has been achieved in education. In old Tibet, there was not a single school in the modern sense. Access to education was restricted to members of the aristocracy, the broad masses of laboring people were robbed of any opportunity for education. Since the peaceful liberation, the state has adopted vigorous measures to develop education in Tibet. Between 1952 and 2007, the state's investment in Tibet totaled 22.562 billion yuan,of which 13.989 billion yuan was invested from 2002 to 2007. In addition, various other provinces and municipalities also rendered energetic support to the development of education in Tibet in terms of manpower, materials and finance. So far, more than 7,000 teachers have been selected to aid Tibet in this respect. Since 1985, the state has adopted the measure to cover all tuition as well as food and boarding expenses for students in the stage of compulsory education from Tibet's agricultural and pastoral families. In 2007, the state again decided to exempt all primary and junior high school students of all tuition and other fees, thus making Tibet the first place in China to enjoy free compulsory education. In recent years, the state has increased its investment in improving school facilities and learning conditions, spending 1.85 billion yuan between 2000 and 2006 on new school buildings and their expansion, totaling 1.5 million sq m in floor space. From 2004 to 2007, 133 classrooms equipped with computers were built, in addition to 983 distance-education locations served by satellites and 1,763 educational resource systems. As a result, most of Tibet's primary and high schools possess hi-tech teaching facilities. Tibet has already formed a relatively comprehensive education system ranging from preschool education, nine-year compulsory education to secondary education, higher education, vocational education, distance education, correspondence education and special education.

The educational and cultural levels have been noticeably improved. Now in Tibet, there are 884 primary schools, 94 high schools and 1,237 teaching stations, with a total enrolment of 547,000. The illiteracy rate has fallen from more than 95 percent in old Tibet to the present 4.76 percent. The enrollment rate for school-age children has risen from 2 percent in old Tibet to the present 98.2 percent, and the enrollment rate for junior high schools has reached 90.97 percent, basically ensuring free nine-year compulsory education. At present, there are 14 senior high schools and nine schools with both junior and senior high school education, with the enrollment rate for senior high schools hitting 42.96 percent; seven secondary vocational schools, with students totaling 19,000 in 2007; and six colleges and universities, with students numbering 27,000 and an enrollment rate of 17.4 percent. There are 30,652 teachers in primary and high schools, colleges and universities, among whom teachers of the Tibetan or other ethnic minority groups account for more than 80 percent. Throughout the country, 33 schools have classes specially for Tibetan students, including 19 junior high schools, 12 senior high schools and two teacher-training schools. In addition, 53 key senior high schools in inland China enroll students from Tibet. By the end of June 2008, a total of 34,650 Tibetan students had been admitted to these schools, and at present the number of Tibetan students has reached 17,100. The higher education admission rate of these Tibetan classes in inland China has exceeded 90 percent. Meanwhile, over 90 inland colleges and universities have admitted students from Tibet, with a total of 5,200 students still studying, and 15,000 having already graduated. Large numbers of highly educated Tibetans, including some with Ph.Ds and MAs, as well as scientists and engineers, have become a major force in promoting Tibet's development.

Modern science and technology in Tibet started from scratch, and developed rapidly. The state has adopted a number of policies, laws and regulations, and invested a large amount of money to promote the development of science and technology in Tibet. At present, Tibet has 42 scientific research institutions, 56 academic groups of various kinds, 140 institutions at different levels popularizing agricultural and animal husbandry skills, 37 science and technology demonstration bases and locations, five key laboratories and three research centers of engineering technology. There are 42,525 professionals of various kinds, with Tibetans and people of other ethnic minorities accounting for 74.04 percent. From 2000 to 2007, Tibet completed 613 key scientific research projects, including 148 key national ones. Tibet has made remarkable achievements in science and technology, especially in the fields of cosmic rays observation, plateau atmosphere, deep geophysical exploration for the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, prevention of geological hazards such as mudslides, development and utility of clean energy including geothermal and solar energy, plateau medicine, etc. Certain achievements have taken the lead nationwide and even worldwide. By 2007, the rate of contribution from science and technology to Tibet's growth in the agricultural and pastoral sectors had reached 36 percent, with the farmers and herders being the greatest beneficiaries.

An unprecedented advance has been made in Tibetology research. In old Tibet, Tibetology research was confined mainly in the "greater five aspects of knowledge" (skill, medicine, philology, logic and religion) and the "lesser five aspects of knowledge" (poetry, rhetoric, rhythm, opera and calendar), focusing primarily on religion and serving the interests of the aristocrats and senior monks, an extremely small proportion of the Tibetan population. Nowadays, Tibetology has become an important discipline of China's social sciences and an important undertaking serving the country as well as the Tibetan people. There are now more than 50 Tibetology research institutions in the country, including the China Tibetology Research Center, with nearly 3,000 Tibetology experts and scholars. Tibetology is now a fairly complete research discipline in China and enjoys high reputation among the Tibetology circles throughout the world. China has compiled and published hundreds of Tibetology monographs, including A Comprehensive History of Tibet, A Historically Produced Unity, Historical Documents of Tubo Kept in Dunhuang, and Artistic Exchanges between Tibetans and Han Chinese in the Yuan Dynasty; edited and published over 400 Chinese-language collections of historical documents on Tibet, such as Old and New Tang Books - Historical Materials in Tibetan, The Ming-dynasty Records - Historical Materials in Tibetan, and The Qing-dynasty Records - Historical Materials in Tibetan, more than 70 collections of ancient Tibetan documents, including The Collected Works of Sakya Pandita Kunga Gyaltsen and The Collected Works of Tonpa Sherab, as well as more than 24,000 papers on Tibetology published in various newspapers and magazines.