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Boarding schools in Tibet 'optimal choice' for students

By Yang Zekun | China Daily | Updated: 2023-08-16 07:10
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Boarding schools in the Tibet autonomous region meet local realities and are considered the most advantageous educational model for local students and families alike, researchers said on Tuesday.

Nurturing much skilled talent, the boarding school system in Tibet not only ensures the educational rights of children from remote farming and herding families, but also contributes significantly to the development of Tibet, they said at an education subforum of the 7th Beijing International Seminar on Tibetan Studies.

The three-day seminar, which opened in Beijing on Monday, covered 20 topics including politics, economic and rural development, and education.

Zha Luo, head of the Institute of Social and Economic Studies at the China Tibetology Research Center, said that his own experience of attending a boarding school contradicted the malicious depiction of such schools by some foreign institutions and media.

The decision to establish boarding schools in Tibet was primarily driven by the wide dispersal of the population across vast and rugged terrain, with considerable distances between households, Zha said. The mountainous terrain also makes it difficult to provide transportation, he added.

Furthermore, Zha said, "It is impractical to establish a school at every nomadic settlement."

Noting that a township in Tibet may cover thousands of square kilometers, he said there used to be about 20 students and just one teacher in such a town, and this arrangement was insufficient to ensure a high quality of education.

"Gathering the scattered children in larger and well-equipped schools is necessary to ensure a proper education. This approach aligns well with Tibet's geographical conditions and educational requirements," he said.

Most schools in Tibet have both daytime-only and boarding students. The decision is based on students' individual preference, and those who live far from a school often opt for boarding.

The government covers the costs of accommodations and meals as well as the tuition fee for boarding students, he said.

"These schools also offer specialized courses on excellent Tibetan culture," he said. "Through these programs, students master traditional ethnic culture more professionally and systematically."

In return, boarding schools have contributed to the cultivation of a significant number of skilled individuals for regional development, as Tibet's socioeconomic advancement calls for talent across various sectors.

In recent years, Tibet has seen the annual number of university graduates reach 20,000 to 30,000, which offers significant support to the region's modernization. The majority of these graduates attended boarding schools, he added.

Liu Xingyu, an associate researcher at the Institute of Social and Economic Studies, noted that, according to her field research, students make their choice based on individual needs, and various schools continuously enhance their management systems to ensure that students are well cared for in their daily lives.

"Given the current economic development stage in Tibet, boarding schools are deemed the optimal choice, which can help promote educational fairness and ensure the right to education," she said.

Yang Tao, another associate researcher at the Institute of Social and Economic Studies, found that there is no direct correlation between the proportion of students' ethnic groups and the rate of boarding in primary and high schools.

Nationwide, areas with higher urbanization rates and better economic performance have lower boarding rates, Yang added.

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