The Current State and Developments of Education in Tibet
Deputy Director of the Education Department of the Tibet Autonomous Region
To develop education in Tibet and constantly improve the cultural qualities of people of all ethnical groups in Tibet have been an important task as the Central Government and local governments at levels in Tibet boost the economic and social development of Tibet and guarantee the people of all ethnical groups in Tibet to fully enjoy human rights. In the 60 years since the peaceful liberation of Tibet, thanks to the solicitude of the Central Government and the support of people all over the country, the education in Tibet has made historical achievements, preliminarily establishing a relatively self-contained modern ethnical educational system, which consists of pre-school education, compulsory education, middle-level education, higher education, vocational education, continued education and special education.
1. From "Zero" to "1,127"
The old Tibet was under a feudal serf "theocratic" system, its education relying on such social form had been severely restrained, and the education of Buddhism in monasteries was the major form of its education. So to speak, there was no single school in a modern sense in the old Tibet. After the peaceful liberation of Tibet in 1951, in order to guarantee the right of people of all ethnical groups in Tibet to receive education, the Central Government has paid much attention and developed a series of special policies, vigorously assisting and supporting the development of education in Tibet in terms of talents, funds, policies and so forth. And also, it has mobilized related departments, large-scaled enterprises and developed provinces and cities to support the education of their counterpart units in Tibet, assisting to hold Tibetan classes (schools) in the inland. After 60 years’ development, the whole Tibet has now had 1,127 schools of various kinds at all levels (In particular, they are 6 common higher education schools, 6 middle vocational schools, 29 high middle schools, 93 junior middle schools, 872 primary schools, two special education schools and 119 kindergartens), and 668 teaching sites.
2. From 2% to 99.2%
In old Tibet, only more than 2,000 monks and children from noble families studied in old-style public and private schools, the enrollment rate of children was less than 2 percent, and the illiteracy rate among young and middle-aged people were more than 95 percent. Multitudinous serfs and slaves were deprived of the right to education. By 2010, the enrollment rate of school age children into primary schools of the whole region has reached 99.2 percent, and the enrollment rate into junior middle schools has reached 98.2 percent, and the enrollment rate into senior middle schools has reached 60.1 percent, and the enrollment rate into higher education schools has reached 23.4 percent. In total, there are nearly 600,000 students enrolled in Tibetan schools; in particular, students in colleges and universities and vocational colleges amounted to more than 30,000, middle school students more than 200,000, primary school students nearly 300,000. Nearly 1.8 million young and middle-aged illiterates in Tibet have been educated in succession, the literacy rate has increased up to 98.8 percent, and the average education period of the population above 15 years old has reached 7.3 years. People of all ethnical groups in Tibet, with the Tibetan people as a majority, have had their right to education be really guaranteed.
3. From "No Right to Education" to the Full Enjoyment of "Three Free"
For long, the Central Government has exerted itself to "make all children in Tibet afford school education and receive good education". Since 1985, it has adopted a "three-free" (meals for free, lodging for free and educational expenses for free) policy and an educational subsidization system for the children from farming and pasturing families and the children from urban families in need in the stage of compulsory education period in Tibet, and has successively adjusted standards and implementation ranges for ten times. At present, this policy has covered all the pre-school, primary school, junior middle school and high middle school stages, and an educational subsidization system has included all the children from farming and pasturing families in the period of pre-school education and all the children from urban needy families into the range of life subsidization and educational subsidization. The amounts of average subsidizations for each student a year vary as 2,200 yuan, 2,300 yuan and 2,400 yuan in accordance to the type of zones where schools are located. In 2011, the total amount of "three-free" funds, subsistence allowances and educational subsidizations will exceed one billion yuan, and benefited students will amount more than 500,000.
In 2007, Tibet took the initiative to provide compulsory education for free in urban areas, performing the policy of exempt tuition fees, providing textbooks for free and rationing exercise books for all students in the stage of compulsory education. In 2009, Tibet began to perform a free education policy in terms of tuition fees and lodgings for middle vocational school students on campus, and since 2011, it has adopted a free education policy for all senior middle school students, which has exempted all expenses including tuition fees, lodging expenses, textbook expenses and incidental expenses. Recently, Tibet has made another decision to check and ratify one hundred yuan transport allowance every year for each primary or middle school student in farming and pasturing areas who lodge in school, arranging school buses to really solve the transport problem of students from farming and pasturing families in remote farming and pasturing areas.
In colleges and universities, Tibet has established a range of student subsidization policies, including scholarships, loans, jobs, allowances, subsidies and exemptions. It has provided free education for college students majoring in normal education, agriculture, husbandry, forests, water conservancy, geology, mining and so on, and increased their living cost allowance standards. Now, the allowance standard has increased as high as 2,000 yuan per student per year.
The constantly improved educational support capability of Tibet has accelerated the rapid and healthy development of Tibetan education at all levels, really disburdened farming and pasturing families and urban families in need, vigorously guaranteed the people’s rights to equally receiving education, promoted educational equality to the maximum, and improved the overall educational standard in Tibet.
4. The Best Constructions Are Schoolhouses, and the Most Beautiful Places Are Schools
In the past 60 years, the Central Government and local governments at all levels in Tibet have constantly increased the input of expenses to strengthen the construction of infrastructure such as classroom buildings, students’ dormitories, dining facilities, playgrounds and gyms, linguistic classrooms, computer classrooms, multi-media teaching facilities, libraries, laboratories, medical offices and infirmaries. By doing so, it has provided good living and study environments for the healthy growth of students. Only during the "11th Five-year Plan" period, the Central Government has invested in succession four billion yuan in the construction of infrastructure of various kinds of educational institutions at all levels in Tibet, successively implementing important construction projects such as the "compulsory education project in depressed areas", the "project of the rebuilding of dangerous primary and middle school schoolhouses in rural areas", the "project of construction of lodging schools in the rural areas", the "project of transformation of teaching sites", the "project of standardization construction of primary schools", and the "project of rebuilding and enlarging construction of key middle vocational schools". The schooling conditions of all kinds of schools at all levels have been remarkably improved, and the modern long-range education in Tibet has covered all primary and middle schools all over the region, students even in the remotest and most severe places have also been able to enjoy quality educational resources in schools.
In the vast farming and pasturing areas, people can see that the best constructions are schoolhouses, and the most beautiful places are schools. With clean classrooms and the teaching facilities of modern education, the children are happy with their school life.
The educational achievements in Tibet are enormous, when one considers it has an average altitude of over 4,000 meters, a vast territory covering more than 1.2 million square kilometers, sparse inhabitation, and weak economic and educational foundations. Looking to the future, we shoulder heavy responsibilities for Tibet's education in years to come. We will insist on giving priority to the development of education, cling to reform and innovation, boost educational fairness, improve educational quality, and advance the modernization of education in all aspects.