China / Society

Better lives, schooling mark Tibet anniversary

By Xinhua in Lhasa (China Daily) Updated: 2016-05-24 08:22

Efforts to improve the livelihoods of people in Tibet are seeing good results as the autonomous region celebrates the 65th anniversary of its peaceful liberation on Monday.

Several years ago, Tseten Norbu's life was filled with concerns. His second son, Tenpa, was diagnosed with cancer in 2008, with each chemotherapy session - costing 5,000 yuan ($764) - putting heavy financial pressure on his family, which depends on farming for a living.

"The government reimbursed a big part of his medical fees, but the rest was still a burden on us," said Tseten, a resident of Medrogungkar county.

In 2015, the county started a new medical insurance program, with the local government paying a major portion of the medical bills for local farmers and herdsmen.

"With the new policy, you basically don't need to pay anything for seeing the doctor, which was a relief for us," Tseten said.

In the past five years, Tibet has spent about 525 billion yuan on public expenses, with more than 70 percent of that on areas such as agriculture, education and healthcare, according to the regional government. Last year, more than 6.56 billion yuan was spent on healthcare, up 34.3 percent year-on-year.

Medical care is only one of the benefits brought by the government. Education has also improved.

Since 1985, Tibet has offered free education for preschool, elementary and middle schools. In 2011, the region began to offer free high-school education, with high school and vocational students getting up to 1,650 yuan in subsidies for each semester.

Thubten Gyatso, a student at Peking University, managed to enter college thanks to government support.

Thubten, who lost his parents when he was a child, grew up with his sister in Magarze county, Shannan prefecture.

"I did not pay for elementary or middle school, and I received grants for high school," said Thubten, 23. "I would not have made it to college without the education policies."

This year, Shannan prefecture has begun to increase subsidies for college students like Thubten, with each student outside and inside the region receiving 10,000 yuan and 8,000 yuan each year respectively. Candidates for master's and doctoral degrees will each receive 15,000-and-20,000 yuan subsidies every year, according to Shannan's education and sports bureau.

Speaking of his future career, Thubten said he plans to work in Beijing for a few years and then return to Tibet to make his contributions.

Lang Fukuan, head of the regional government's department of finance, said a total of 16.7 billion yuan will be allocated to improve government programs offering subsidies to Tibetan farmers and herdsmen this year.

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