Tibet's High Education in Progress
Professor and Vice President of Tibet University
Over the 60 years since the peaceful liberation of Tibet, the autonomous region has made outstanding achievements in education. A veteran with over 30 years of experience as an educational worker, I can feel the achievements deeply.
1. The Status Quo of Higher Education Development in Tibet
Before liberation, Tibet had no school in the modern sense, not to mention a university. After the peaceful liberation of Tibet, the Central Government has attached great importance to higher education in Tibet, greatly promoting its development. In 1965, the establishment of the Tibet Nationalities Institute marked the beginning of modern higher education in Tibet. Currently, there are six institutes of higher learning in Tibet, including Tibet University, Tibet Nationalities Institute, Tibetan Traditional Medical College, Tibet Professional Technology College, Lhasa Teacher's College, and Tibet Police College. By the end of 2010, the number of current students had reached 31,109, with gross matriculation rate at 23.4%. Institutes of higher learning offer courses in more than 10 disciplines, including science, literature and history, philosophy, economics, management, jurisprudence, medical science, foreign languages, education and so on. Over the years, they have produced large number of professionals for the society, and batches upon batches of scientists, engineers, researchers and professors have become the main force in construction of various causes in Tibet. Most of the professionals are offspring of emancipated serfs. This is what their fathers would not even dare to think about. The new Tibet has made it possible for them to study and improve, and the rapidly developing education has provided them with the platform for them to display their talents.
2. Tibet University in Advancement
Tibet University is the largest comprehensive university in Tibet, and the key university to be constructed by the Tibet Autonomous Region and a key university under the "211 Project." Both the Central Government and the People's Government of the Tibet Autonomous Region have attached great importance to the university. The commencement of Tibet University can be traced back to the Tibetan Language Workshop established in the early stages of peaceful liberation in 1951. After several different phases, the workshop has evolved into Tibet Teacher's School in 1965, Tibet Teacher's College in 1975 and Tibet University in 1985.
Since its foundation, Tibet University has abided by the philosophy of "constructing a distinctive quality university" and succeeded in finding an approach to developing higher education on the plateau region of ethnic minorities. The university has made considerable achievements in infrastructure construction, operation scale, and operation level.
With four campuses in Lhasa, Tibet University occupies a land of about 1,500 mu (i.e.,100 hectares), with 0.28 million square meters of building area. The total value of its teaching and research instruments and equipment has reached RMB 125 million yuan and the number of books in the library 800,000. Currently, the university harbors 13 schools (or departments), i.e. the School of Humanities, the School of Science, the School of Engineering, the School of Medical Science, the School of Arts, the School of Tourism and Foreign Languages, the School of Political Science and Law, the Teacher's College, the School of Economics and Management, the School of Finance, the Teaching Department of Ideological and Political Theories, the Department of Overseas Students, CRTVU Tibet College and College of Continuing College. It has one state-level key program, 8 region-level key programs, and 46 graduate programs. The number of its graduate and college student reaches 9,207, postgraduate level 394, overseas students 31 and adult students from all ranks over 9000.
Currently the university has a staff of 1089, including 743 full-time teachers, 313 of whom have master degrees or above, and 234 are professors or associate professors. A stable teaching staff of different nationalities and high quality featuring Tibetan nationalities has been established.
1) A Base for Talent Cultivation and for the Leadership in Decision-making Consultation
Over the two decades since its foundation, Tibet University has cultivated more than 40,000 talents of various trades at various levels, and 80% of them are working at grass-root departments in Tibet. Over 40% of the teachers in the education system and medical staff in the health system are graduates of Tibet University. The excellent talents in social, economic, cultural and scientific fields in Tibet are graduates of Tibet University. The university has become an important base for talent cultivation and for the leadership in decision-making consultation.
Currently, the university boasts Institute of Tibetology, the Research Center of Tibetan Language IT Engineering, Open Lab for Cosmic Ray, and other national key research bases and engineering research centers and key labs, as well as 16 key labs for institutes of higher learning in Tibet. The number of scientific research projects and corresponding funds are rising by the year. Fields of research encompass Tibetology, digitalization of the Tibetan language, alpine ecology, alpine medical science, and regional economics and etc.
2) An Important Window for the Outside and Technological and Cultural Exchanges
The university has been expanding its cooperation and exchanges with institutes of higher learning both at home and abroad. Its campuses in Lhasa have successively established beneficial collegiate cooperation with more than ten universities from Norway, America, Italy, Japan and Germany, as well as other regions of the People's Republic of China. Mutual scholar visits are implemented every year. Tibet University has become the first choice of overseas students in learning the Tibetan language and Tibetan culture. Over 600 overseas students have graduated from Tibet University and annually 30 overseas students come to the university to study.
3) Envoy in Carrying Forward the Excellent Traditional National Culture
It has always been the mission of Tibet University to inherit and carry forward the excellent traditional national culture. At its very foundation, graduate programs like Tibetan language and culture, Tibetan history, Tibetan music, and Tibetan painting arts have been set up. Later on, Tibetan-Chinese translation, Tibetan news, Tibetan architecture and other programs are offered, forming a unique course system.
The university has attached great importance to the teaching and application of Tibetan language. Aside from Tibetan majors, public courses in Tibetan are offered to all majors, and Tibetan teaching and testing at various levels are conducted accordingly. In 1984, the university developed the Tibetan software operation system compatible for Chinese and English. In 1997, the international standard for Tibetan coding was passed, making Tibetan the first language among minority languages to boast international standard, and greatly promoting new development of Tibetan in the information era. The Tibetan nationality boasts a profound and excellent traditional culture, among which Tibetan opera and the epic Gesar has been listed world intangible cultural relics. The government has paid a large sum of money to establish a professional class for Tibetan opera performance in the School of Arts, for the cultivation of professionals in performing Tibetan opera.
The university has made a collective effort to salvage and record the rap of Dragpa, the rap artist and completed recoding almost 1,000 tapes in 25 sections. Thirteen books of The KING GESAR series have been published.. In 2010, the university made an exception to enroll 20-year-old Dorje, the rap artist, who thus became the only Gesar rap artist to be matriculated by an institute of higher learning.
4) A Base for Tibetology and Tibetology Talents
Tibet University has a large number of Tibetologists proficient in Tibetan language and folklores and with worldwide reputation in domestic and overseas Tibetology circles. It has formed an advantageous Tibetology panel. The university has made full use of its advantageous geography, resources and talents to strengthen studies on Tibetology, and has achieved great results in the history, culture, language, folklore, economics, music and arts, and Gesar.
In 1999, Tibet University officially started offering postgraduate programs. From 2001 when the first batch of masters graduated to 2010, ten batches of or 352 masters has graduated. Among them, 289 are graduates of traditional disciplines, accounting for 82.1% of the total. Cultivation of backup talents for Tibetology has provided personnel guarantee for education, Tibetology and scientific research in Tibet.
3. The Future of Higher Education in Tibet Is Bright
The development of Tibet University can be taken as the epitome of higher education development in Tibet. Higher education shoulders the hope of Tibet's progress and harbors the expectations of all the peoples in Tibet. It is full of hope and expectations with opportunity followed. With my long-time experience of teaching and working in Tibet, I am convinced that in the 10 years to come higher education of Tibet will garner greater achievements on the basis of the status quo.