Observations in Tibet

I planned to do my interviews in Sichuan Province, but due to the pressures from local governments officials and the flood in the Yi region, I had to choose a new research site. The new spot I picked up was Lhasa. The situation faced by the Tibetan people are really similar to that faced by the Yi people. Both are ethnic minority groups in China, and both had their own written language and religion. Furthermore, both groups are located in rural and less developed regions in China.

I interviewed some officials from who were mainly from the education department of the Tibet government. I also interviewed few Tibetan college students about their experience growing up. I was able to acquire some government data (working reports from government officials) that were not opened to the general public.

By the end of 2015, there were 60 thousand students in pre-school, elementary school, high school and college. The government put considerable efforts to give better education to Tibetan people. From 2010 to 2015, the government invested 66 billion Renminbi (about 11 billion USD) in Tibet education. About 11.7 billion Renminbi were spent in building infrastructures for schools. There are 37 different programs giving financial aids to students and teachers. They covered 1.5 million students and teachers and gave out 2.4 billion Renminbi to help them. Mandatory education covered from pre-school to senior high school.

Tibetan students were also allowed to choose the language of their education. The students I interviewed verified this. But some students told me they prefer to choose Mandarin since it would be easier to take Gao Kao. Tibetan students also demonstrated different levels of proficiency in the Tibetan language. Some used them on a daily basis; some started learning it in high school. Students from more developed regions were less proficient in Tibetan language. This would require a further investigation with more interview subjects.

One official in the education department was explicit about his concern on my research projects. According to him, there are no private schools in Tibet. NGOs could help to raise money for Tibetan students, but they would never be allowed to start a school. Issues related to Tibetans were so sensitive that every decision would need to be approved by the central government.

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