Tibet denies textbook sinicization

By Shan Jie and Chen Heying Source:Global Times Published: 2016/6/17 0:48:01

Primary schools can choose to use either language

Education authorities in the Tibet Autonomous Region have denied reports that Chinese would replace Tibetan as the language to be used for primary school mathematics textbooks.

"The education department does not plan [to replace the Tibetan version of textbooks], so such reports are groundless," Zhu Yun, deputy head of the department, told the Global Times on Thursday.

The Tibet Education Department said primary schools in the region can choose either version with the same content, Tibet-based website China Tibet News reported Wednesday.

The department reportedly plans to replace all Tibetan math textbooks with Chinese language ones to "boost learning efficiency," saying that "the procedures will become complicated if [schools] adopt Tibetan language textbooks," according to Radio Free Asia  (RFA) on Wednesday.

We have a team that translates, writes and edits the Tibetan version of math textbooks, so the excuse that Tibetan textbooks are more difficult to make is not true, Zhu said.

Every year, over 3,500 primary and secondary textbooks in ethnic minority languages are published, with more than 100 million copies printed in Tibet, according to the Assessment Report on the Implementation of the National Human Rights Action Plan of China (2012-15) released on Tuesday.

Some 99 percent of schools in Tibet have undergone bilingual education from preschool to higher education, with 97 percent of students in Tibet receiving such a program, the Tibet Daily reported in July 2015.

"In urban areas where there's a greater mix of ethnic groups, it's normal for more courses to be taught in Chinese, while in rural areas, courses taught in Tibetan are the standard," Xiong Kunxin, an ethnic studies professor at Minzu University of China and an expert on Tibet, told the Global Times.

"However, bilingual education faces some obstacles, such as the lack of bilingual teachers," said Lian Xiangmin, an expert at the China Tibetology Research Center.

Dekang Champa, a Tibet official, blamed the drop in the enrollment rate to the adoption of other ethnic languages in exams while students were taught in Tibetan, according to RFA.

Xiong explained that according to the policy, students in Tibet, as well as other ethnic areas, can choose to take college entrance exams in Chinese or ethnic languages. The ones who take the Tibetan exam have the chance to receive higher education taught in Tibetan, which will help the ethnic minority group cultivate their own abilities.

Some parents choose to send their children to schools where most courses are taught in Chinese, so that the students will have a better chance to attend first-tier universities and even study abroad, Xiong added.

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