In brief

China is further limiting Tibetan-medium education, HRW report warns

Authorities implement new Chinese-medium system in primary schools

Tibetan capital Lhasa.
Tibetan capital Lhasa. Author: Qeqertaq @ Wikipedia
Chinese is gradually replacing Tibetan as the language of instruction in primary schools in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), according to the latest report released by Human Rights Watch (HRW). Chinese was already the language used in other more advanced stages of education, the rights organization said, but a bilingual system was maintained in primary schools.

HRW admits there is little official information available, but the report quotes a series of interviews conducted in September 2019 with parents in northern Tibet, according to whom a new Chinese-medium instruction system was introduced in their children’s schools in March 2019. The report also quotes an education official of the TAR who said the government is expected to order the introduction of Chinese-medium education in all primary schools.

The document also explains that Tibetan authorities are increasingly appointing Chinese teachers in Tibet who do not speak Tibetan, the language thus becoming increasingly marginalized.

According to the report, several fragmentary studies suggest that discriminatory policies against Tibetan, in place since the 1960s, are leading to a loss of knowledge and skills in this language by younger generations of Tibetans, especially in urban areas.

The TAR occupies approximately half of the historical territory of this stateless Asian nation. Despite its name, the authorities of the Autonomous Region enjoy virtually no self-government vis-à-vis the central state or the Communist Party.