Tibetan county sends underage monks back to public schools

By Shan Jie Source:Global Times Published: 2018/7/12 21:43:40

A Tibetan region in Southwest China's Sichuan Province has removed underage monks from local temples for them to complete compulsory school education.

"We have been persuading the children in temples to go back to school to complete the nine-year compulsory education," an employee surnamed Zhu at local internet information office of Shiqu county, Garze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Sichuan, told the Global Times on Thursday.

Media reported on Wednesday that 200 monks under 15 years old were ordered to leave local temples and go to school.

"All children who reach the age of 6 shall enroll in school and receive compulsory education for the prescribed number of years, regardless of sex, nationality or race," China's Education Law states.

Zhu said that sending "young monks" to school is part of the prefecture's campaign to bring children, who dropped out for various reasons, back to school.

"It's a long process because many Tibetan Buddhist parents want their young children to live in temples," Zhu said.

China's Measures for the Administration of Tibetan Buddhism Temples state that minors should not be forced to live in temples.

The Garze Daily reported on Monday that Shiqu's education department conducted a special inspection at the end of June.

"Those children should not be exempted from compulsory education," Xiong Kunxin, an ethnic studies professor at Tibet University, told the Global Times on Thursday.

Tibetan families traditionally send their children to temples. But times have  changed, and people should obey the law, he said.

"Temple education is limited to religious studies, while in public schools children are fully developed, which gives them greater opportunities in society," Xiong said.

The General Office of China's State Council issued a circular in September 2017 calling for efforts to ensure the proper education for school-age children.

The circular states that by 2020, the percentage of students who drop out of school during the nine-year compulsory education period will be reduced to less than 5 percent, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

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