Education reforms anger Tibetans

Discussion in 'West Asia & Africa' started by ejazr, Oct 29, 2010.

  1. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

    Oct 8, 2009
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    Hyderabad and Sydney

    Around dawn last Friday a message was passed around the dormitories of Tibetan students at the Central University of Nationalities in Beijing.

    They were asked to join a demonstration planned for later that day to complain at plans that could downgrade the use of Tibetan in schools.

    Officials are nervous about protests in the Chinese capital and try hard to prevent them, but several hundred students turned up.

    "We just wanted to show the government that we want it to change its policies on the Tibetan language," said one of the students who took part.

    The protest was just one of a number that have occurred - mostly in the western province of Qinghai - over the last few days.

    They were sparked by planned changes to Qinghai's education policy.

    Many believe the region's Tibetan population will in future have to study in Mandarin Chinese, the main means of communication in China, instead of their own language.

    Teenage protesters

    The fears about the Tibetan language began with the publication of Qinghai's education plan for the next 10 years.

    Qiang Wei, the Communist Party secretary in the province, laid out one of the aims in an article carried by the Qinghai Daily in September.

    "China's common language will become the main language in primary schools by 2015. Local languages will be secondary," he is quoted as saying.

    In this context, China's "common language" means Mandarin.

    Other official documents suggest the same. One says Mandarin will become the teaching language in Qinghai.

    There are already many schools in Qinghai that teach in Mandarin but, for many, this new plan appeared to indicate that all pupils will eventually have to use it.

    Some argue that this would be a disaster because it is easier for Tibetans to study in their own language; they struggle if they are forced to do it in Mandarin.

    Others say it could also undermine Tibet's own unique culture.

    According to campaign groups, such as the UK-based Free Tibet, protests against the proposed changes began in Tongren and rapidly spread to other parts of Qinghai.

    The protesters were mainly school pupils, many of them in their early teens, according to reports.

    Tibetan students at the Beijing nationalities university then decided to stage their own demonstration.

    They gathered near a campus supermarket just after lunch last Friday and marched towards the main block of classrooms.

    Protesters carried a banner that declared: "Protect Ethnic Minority Languages and Promote Chinese Civilisation."

    'No forced reform'

    They were stopped by senior teachers from the university and ushered into a hall to talk about their grievances.

    The students were finally persuaded to return to their classrooms and write down their demands, which the school authorities promised to pass on to the government.

    "Chinese law says ethnic minorities have the right to learn in our own languages. If we don't our cultures will one day disappear," said another student who took part in the protest.

    None of the students interviewed by the BBC wanted to give their names.

    But not all see this issue in such black-and-white terms.

    A Tibetan post-graduate student at Peking University has carried out research in Tibetan areas.

    He said many families had already decided to send their children to schools that teach in Mandarin.

    They do this because they believe their Mandarin-speaking children will have more job opportunities when they grow up.

    The local government in Qinghai appears to have backtracked slightly following the protests.

    In an article published by Xinhua, China's state-run news agency, Qinghai's education chief Wang Yubo said the authorities would not forcibly push reform in areas "where conditions are not ripe".

    But this is an emotive issue and the campaign against the proposed education changes has continued.

    The International Campaign for Tibet, based in the United States, said hundreds of teachers and students have now written a letter to the Qinghai government explaining the reasons why they oppose the new education plan.

    "An individual's wisdom and their ability to analyze problems is intimately connected to the development of their language abilities," said the letter, according to the campaign group.

    "Therefore, in order to raise the quality of teaching and education and to amply reveal a person's intelligence, we should use a language of instruction most easily understood by the students."

    For many, that means Tibetan for Tibetans
  3. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

    Oct 2, 2009
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    China will burn hands by touching Tibetan language

    3 Comments October 25, 2010 – 4:26 pm By Malarthamil | Permalink | Print This Article |
    China should learn from India on what to do and from Srilanka on what not to do

    China speaks 292 languages belonging to seven linguistic families. Han Chinese represent 91.59 % of the population and hence their languages are standardized as Mandarin and is imposed as a lingua franca bridging several other nationalities. For historical reasons Tibetian and Mangolian languages are local official languages in their respective autonomous regions.

    The Chinese Educational reforms aim for teaching all the subjects in Mandarin except the language lessons such as Tibetan and English. This reform has evoked strong protest from Tibetan students last week as they fearlessly marched in the streets demanding “ equality of Culture”

    There may be positive reasons for China to promote Mandarin among the minorities as it is said that it will help the minorities to catch up with the Hans majority in their economic status. However the issue of using Mandarin as a medium of instruction is different from teaching Mandarin as a common language for communication. If this difference is not counted and if adequate freedom is not allowed to minorities to decide about the language policy China may have to pay a heavy price.

    In India the national policy makers tried to impose Hindi as a sole official language although it was spoken only by less than 40% of the population. This invited violent student protest in the southern state of Tamil nadu in 1960s and paved way for a political change. The issue was handled well by announcing continuance of English also as a second official language. This has indirectly helped India to emerge as a leader in Information Technology. However the people of Tamil nadu settled for English only to prevent the cultural hegemony of Hindi language and its speakers.

    In India the Non Hindi speaking Tamil nadu is progressing well when compared to Hindi speaking states. It is not the language but the Literacy, Geography and Political administration which decides the economic progress. This year, the state of Tamil nadu introduced teaching of Engineering in Tamil language and all the engineering seats are taken by the students.

    More over the Government of India announced classical language status to Tamil, Telugu and Kannada languages belonging to Dravidian group of Languages while according same status to Sanskrit which belongs to Indo European group of languages in which Hindi falls. This shows recognition of the culture and history of languages rather than the numbers and majority.

    Therefore the Tibetan concerns could be addressed very well by China by following the developments in the democratic history of India.

    At the same time one cannot forget what is happening in Srilanka. The separation of nationalities in Srilanka was initiated by the discrimination based on language. This led to irreparable damages to the unity of Srilanka. China too has annexed Tibet by force and is starting to follow a discriminatory linguistic policies.

    The continuance of Tibet with China depends on how they are going to address this issue, Indian way or Srilankan way.
  4. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

    Oct 2, 2009
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    Mandarin education plan riles Tibetans

    By Saransh Sehgal

    DHARAMSALA, India - The Chinese government's plan to introduce Mandarin as the language of education in Tibetan schools has prompted protests by Tibetans at home and abroad, over fears this will lead to the decline of the Tibetan culture. However, there is also a belief that only by learning the national language can Tibetans in China improve their economic and social status.

    Unlike in the past, when violence involving protests in Tibet and ethnic Tibetan areas made the news, this time peaceful protests highlight the divergence between China and Tibet.

    On October 19, hundreds of Tibetan student staged a protest, chanting: "We want equality of culture" in Tongren, also known as Rebkong, in the northwestern Chinese province of Qinghai. The

    protests were over a government overhaul of the curriculum that reduced the use of the Tibetan language in schools, making Chinese the language of the classroom. Tongren, a heavily Tibetan area and the birthplace of the Tibetan spiritual leader in exile - the 14th Dalai Lama - is considered a hotbed of anti-China sentiments and is the region where many ethnic Tibetans participated in the 2008 anti-China riots.

    The protest was sparked by reported comments from the Chinese Communist Party's Qinghai chief, Qiang Wei, calling for the use of "a common language" in schools and suggesting that the province would introduce Mandarin as the teaching language over the next decade. "The protest resulted from a new education policy which reduces Tibetan language teaching," said an official identified only as Mr Wang, speaking for the International Information Office of the Qinghai government, as reported by CNN.
    "The Chinese are enforcing reforms which remind me of the Cultural Revolution," the United Kingdom-based Free Tibet group quoted one unnamed former Tongren teacher as saying. "This reform is not only a threat to our mother tongue, but is in direct violation of the Chinese constitution, which is meant to protect our rights."

    The group said about 3,000 to 4,000 school students protested in the region. Citing witnesses, however, China's state media said about 800 students protested in western China. The Global Times, a Chinese government-supported English-language newspaper, said the protest by "students, most wearing school uniforms", was peaceful. "Social order was restored quickly on the same day," a witness was quoted as saying.

    The language row has spread. On October 22, about 500 students at the Beijing campus of Minzu University of China, a leading institution for ethnic minority students, protested for language rights. Pictures posted on Twitter showed a group of students carrying a banner saying "Protect ethnic minority languages, carry forward Chinese civilization".

    The Dalai Lama and his Tibetan supporters were also fuming over the new policy by Beijing, and rights groups have expressed serious concerns.

    The Dalai Lama, in his first reaction to the protest, said the Tibetan language was vital for the survival of Tibetan Buddhist culture which had a strong following in China. The Tibetan leader, who is currently touring the United States and Canada, said, "China is historically a Buddhist country and the preservation of the Tibetan Buddhist culture is also in the interest of the millions of Chinese who are looking for spiritual sustenance." He added that China might want to learn from the Indian experience, where the promotion of linguistic diversity is not seen as a divisive factor.
    According to Free Tibet, the language policy has already been implemented in schools in other areas across the Tibet Autonomous Region, including in primary schools. The rights group said the new policy will eventually eliminate the Tibetan language and culture, "The use of Tibetan is being systematically wiped out as part of China's strategy to cement its occupation of Tibet."

    Tibetan is the official language in the Tibet Autonomous Region and also in other Chinese regions where Tibetans have traditionally been the main ethnic group. Beijing has for decades promoted standard Mandarin Chinese as a way of unifying a culturally diverse country, and many Tibetans say they have little choice but to learn Mandarin if they want to get ahead in modern China.

    The new education policy change has shocked many Tibetan intellectuals. Tsering Woeser, a Beijing-based Tibetan writer who recently won this year's Courage in Journalism award from the International Women's Media Foundation, has been watching the language-policy row closely. "According to the Law on the Autonomy of Ethnic Minority Regions, ethnic language has been heavily emphasized," she told Radio Free Asia.

    "However, the autonomy laws are useless, as ethnic languages are always ignored. For example, if a person from an ethnic group cannot speak Chinese but can speak his native language well, he simply cannot find a job." Woeser, who is also a blogger, circulated a mobile-phone text message that said, "In order to save our mother tongue, many Tibetan students are protesting in Tibetan areas advocating for the Tibetan language. We need your attention."

    The Qinghai provincial education department director, Wang Yubo, was quoted over the weekend as saying that change won't be forced in areas where "conditions are not ripe". Wang also said, "The new education policy is made according to relevant national regulations."

    "Huangnan prefecture held a conference after the protest happened and formed a working team headed by a deputy director of the provincial education department. The working team went to Huangnan and explained the new education policy to the students. The students ended the demonstration shortly afterward. Right now, the provincial government is communicating with the local schools, and the working team is communicating with local students as well." He added, "If the suggestions of protesting students are reasonable, it's likely that the government will consider them."

    The language issue is a complex one and intimately linked to Tibet's political struggle. While many Tibetans feel that Beijing is eroding the Tibetan culture, and are threatened by development and the migration of China's ethnic Han majority, they also hope their children can learn Mandarin in order to get higher-income jobs. Many Tibetans say they have little choice but to learn Mandarin if they want to get ahead in modern China.

    But many Tibetan students still fear that the bilingual system will lead to the use of Chinese alone, except in Tibetan-language classes. Modern Chinese art expert Li Xianting learned of the Tibetan language deficiency when he recently helped organize an exhibition of contemporary Tibetan art in Beijing. Li said he was very surprised when one of the young Tibetan artists, who was literate in Tibetan because his parents were professors, told him that some of the other Tibetan artists could not write Tibetan words correctly. He said it was not fair to Tibetans that they did not get enough instruction in their own language. He thinks globalization should mean multiculturalism, not the eradication of local cultures.

    China defended its language policy, "The purpose of the bilingual education-reform plan is to strengthen whatever is weaker, not use one language to weaken another," Xinhua news agency quoted Wang as saying.

    The plan, Wang said, would boost both Putonghua and minorities' native languages. Under the new policy, bilingual lessons will be adopted in primary schools by 2015, meaning Chinese language will be the main medium, and ethnic languages will be a supplement.

    Beijing said that promoting Mandarin among minorities would help them catch up with the Han majority in economic status, bridging the income gap between Han Chinese and the country's 55 minority groups.

    However, Stephanie Brigden with Free Tibet said the public fear that the Tibetan language would be cut from schools showed the gulf of credibility between official rhetoric and what Tibetans actually perceive. "I think this is a good example of the difference between what is promised and what is delivered. This is the case whether we are talking about education rights, whether we are talking about who is benefiting from development in Tibet, or if we are talking about whether torture takes place in Tibet."

    Tibetans in exile joined the Dalai Lama in slamming the language policy. Samphel Thupten, spokesman for the Tibetan government in exile based in Dharamsala, India, said the Tibetan students were right to protest. "The Tibetan language is disavowed and this will do huge damage to the Tibetan identity. Here in Dharamsala, the Tibetan language is compulsory and Tibetan children have a firm grasp." Added Thupten: "China should review its policy."

    Speaking to Asia Times Online, Karma Gelek Yuthok, secretary of the Department of Education for the exiled Central Tibetan Administration, said it looked like China was not abiding by its constitution. "The Chinese say something and do something else; they want everything Chinese, which is not a thought of the 21st century. Though I personally have a feeling that very little of Tibetan culture will remain in Tibet, we have planned accordingly. For we in exile need extra energy to preserve the culture and language."

    One student in the Tibetan school in Dharamsala said, "Learning our language and culture comes first. My parents fled from Tibet just to take sure I kept my identity."

    At a press conference in Dharamsala, Dokru Choedak - who heads a group working for the preservation of the Tibetan language - said they would send signed petitions to the United Nations Children's Fund and other international organizations. "Schools and language are the fabric of national identity. Unfortunately the Chinese authorities have reportedly identified schools as 'base camps to fight against the Dalai Clique and outside separatist forces'."

    The Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC), a radical organization of Tibetans in exile, has planned protest rallies from Dharamsala to New Delhi on November 12. "The Tibetan language is intrinsically linked to Tibetan culture and identity. Denying Tibetans the right to learn in their own language is denying them the right to exist as a people" said Tenzin Choekyi, the TYC's general secretary.

    TYC called China the biggest colonizer of modern times and appealed to the international media covering the Asian Games to highlight the Chinese violation of the human rights of Tibetans.

    Interestingly, support for Tibetans protesters has even come from inside China. Ilham Tohti, an outspoken Uyghur professor at Minzu University of China and webmaster of, said Uyghur students at his school had been eager to join in protests with their Tibetan classmates. "From the beginning of the Qinghai protests, Uyghur students studying at my university were all supportive. Some students came to my office and said they want to protest with the Tibetan students, but I advised them that we can support them without protesting."

    A teacher in Xinjiang told news website the Tibet Post, "Every Uyghur teacher and student is supporting Tibet right now, because we have the same problems here."

    Saransh Sehgal is a contributor based in Dharamsala, India. He can be reached at [email protected].
  5. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

    Oct 2, 2009
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    China Genocides Tibet's Language: Violating UN Law

    Thursday, 28 October 2010 14:31 YC. Dhardhowa, The Tibet Post International
    Dharamshala: In world history, language is maintained as a matter of national identity, language defines a culture. The current genocide of the Tibetan language by the Chinese government aims to make Chinese children out of Tibetan children.
    Buddhism and culture depend on the rich and developed language that we call Tibetan. Standard Tibetan is based on the speech of the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, also Ü-Tsang dialect belonging to the Central Tibetan languages. For this reason, Standard Tibetan is often called Central Tibetan. It is in turn one of several branches of the Tibetan languages, the others being Kham (Tibetan: Kham kad) and Amdo (Tibetan: Amdo kad). Written Standard Tibetan is based on Classical Tibetan and is highly conservative.

    It is clear that the Chinese authorities do not accept Tibetan as a mother tongue, and the authorities think that academic reform is the only a solution to solve this issue in Tibet, thus adhering to USSR dictators theory of "to destroy a nation, we must first destroy the language of the nation."

    Most of the world's languages are spoken by relatively few people; the median number of speakers of a language is 5,000-6,000. There are fewer than 300 languages with more than 1 million native users; half of all languages have fewer than 10,000 users, and a quarter of the world's spoken languages and most of the sign languages have fewer than 1,000 users. More than 80% of the world's languages exist only in one country. So, Tibetan language is one of the latest facing linguistical genocide.

    The racism by the Chinese communist regime is continuous and abuses the rights of native Tibetan speakers and the other nationalities, such as those in east Turkestan and Inner Mongolia .The Chinese Government is guilty of "Language Genocide", against the Tibetans for breaching articles of the United Nations Genocide Convention. The Convention defines genocide as any of a number of acts committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group. Therefore, the Tibetan people can bring the Chinese Government to justice by complaining in International Court over the injustice done by China for not complying with the UN Articles and the "Genocide of the Tibetan Language".

    The Chinese Government should treat all citizens equally within the law and without any discrimination. Every citizen in Han Chinese has a right to be protected under the law equally, and equal protection should be applied to all against any discrimination. I would like to say that the international communities should not allow the Chinese Government to abuse and genocide the Tibetan by branding them for "inciting activities to split the nation."

    To conclude, I want to say that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. So everyone should be entitled to all the rights and freedoms and enjoy them without division and distinction of any type, in regard to race, color or national origin as in written article of the Chinese constitution. Genocide of the Tibetan Language is abuse and a humiliation against the Tibetans and humanity in general. The Chinese communist authorities in eastern Tibet do not accept and respect the Tibetan language as a mother tongue; this means that the authorities act like USSR dictators, who prohibited the languages to be used in the occupied states. I strongly believe this is a big mistake and ignorance and negligent to put other factors aside such as freedom of speech, and the other fundamental rights like education.
  6. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

    Apr 17, 2009
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    Chinese or the Sinitic language(s) is a language family consisting of languages which are mostly mutually unintelligible to varying degrees.

    There are between seven and thirteen main regional groups of Chinese (depending on classification scheme), of which the most spoken, by far, is Mandarin (about 850 million), followed by Wu (90 million), Cantonese (Yue) (70 million) and Min (50 million). Most of these groups are mutually unintelligible, although some, like Xiang and the Southwest Mandarin dialects, may share common terms and some degree of intelligibility.

    Standard Tibetan has a variety of language registers:

    * Phal-skad ("demotic language"): the vernacular speech.
    * Zhe-sa ("polite respectful speech"): the formal spoken style, particularly prominent in Lhasa.
    * Chos-skad ("religious language"): the literary style in which the scriptures and other classical works are written.

    If the Tibetan language falls into disuse because of Chinese obduracy, then a legacy, history and the identity of a people would be lost forever.
  7. amoy

    amoy Senior Member Senior Member

    Jan 17, 2010
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    interesting. does it work?

    I read a Japanese artist's travelogue that says a party DMK was foundeded by Annadurai to retain Tamil Nadu identity. Southerners in India (like Tamil) are said to be milder and more diligent according to the book
  8. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

    Oct 2, 2009
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    His Holiness the Dalai Lama Arrives in Japan

    Saturday, November 06 2010 @ 12:22 pm UTC
    His Holiness the Dalai Lama with well-wishers on his arrival in Tokyo, Japan, on 6 November 2010/
    Photo by Ngawang Thogmed

    Tokyo: His Holiness the Dalai Lama arrived at Tokyo Narita Airport safely this morning. Mr. Lhakpa Tshoko, Representative of Liaison Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama for Japan East Asia and Executive members of Junior Chamber International Osaka welcomed and received him with khata, a Tibetan ceremonial scarf.

    Junior Chamber of International Osaka has invited His Holiness the Dalai Lama to address one of their main events this year, in which around 5,000 people are scheduled to attend. The world summit of Nobel Laureate has also invited His Holiness Dalai Lama to attend the 11th World Summit of the Nobel Peace Laureates at Hiroshima.

    On his way to Haneda airport for flight to Osaka city, His Holiness made a brief meeting with some Japanese media. On being asked about the students demonstration in Tibet on Tibetan language issue, His Holiness said that the Tibetan language is a very rich language which can go along with the ancient Sanskrit language. "Tibetan translation of Buddhist literatures are considered very authentic. Chinese authority has imposed Chinese language as medium of instruction in Tibetan schools which caused the demonstrations. Politically we are not seeking separation, Tibetan language, Buddhist philosophy, science and religion is very rich. We love our language and we are proud of our language," His Holiness said.

    When asked about his opinion on election and situation in Burma, His Holiness said that Burma is a very good Buddhist country and many important Buddhist lineages had also come from Burma. "But the current political situation is rule by military Junta. I have along with many other Nobel Laureates, even the UN General Secretary had appealed the authorities to release Aung San Suu Kyi, but nothing has happened. It is very sad. One time I appealed to the authorities saying that you are a Buddhist and you should put the Buddhist teaching into practice," said His Holiness.

    On Liu Xiaobo winning the Nobel Peace Prize, His Holiness said he has always appreciated the contribution made by Mr Liu in trying to bring openness, democracy and accountability in China. "This is good for China in the long run. China has become strong, but to make a significant contribution in this world, it should gain the trust of its people and people around the world. Censorship is immoral, 1.3 billion Chinese people has right to know," Said His Holiness.

    On his recent statement on retirement, His Holiness said that the four century old tradition of Dalai Lama holding the temporal and spiritual power has come to an end in 2001, when the Tibetans in exile adopted democracy and elected its own political leader, Kalon Tripa. Whether Dalai Lama is needed or not will be decided by the Tibetan people. But at this age, I think I have a right to retire," said His Holiness with a mild laugh.

    His Holiness and the entourage reached Osaka city this evening. Starting from Osaka, in the following nine days, His Holiness will visit Nara city, Niihama, Shikoku and Hiroshima.

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