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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

Change in Bilingual Education Policy to Drastically Sideline Tibetan language

November 8, 2010

Press Release
November 5,  2010, Dharamshala

Contact: Ms. Tenzin Norkyi (English) / Mr. Jampel Monlam (Tibetan, Chinese)
Tel: +91 1892 223363, 229225, 225874

There have been wide-spread protests by students
across Tibetan areas in present-day Qinghai
Province at a time when the Bilingual Educational
Policy is about to be changed because this will
result in completely sidelining Tibetan as the
medium of education. In addition to putting up
banners and posters; students have taken out
peaceful protests across the province. In support
of the grievance of the students; more than a
hundred teachers have submitted a petition,
students of Beijing University students also protested.

The reasons given by the Qinghai Provincial
Government for changing the Bilingual Educational
Policy and imposing Chinese as the medium of education are:

i)   Firstly; if Tibetan is maintained as the
medium of education Tibetans will always remain backward;

ii)  That the Tibetan people will not be able to
benefit from the new job opportunities arising
from China's economic development;

iii) What is more; that Tibetan students will not
be able to benefit from the higher educational
opportunities; all of which are in Chinese;

iv)  And finally; that using Chinese as the
medium of education will benefit all Tibetans in the long term.

In addition to the above reasons from imposing
Chinese as the medium of education the government
has also stated that this policy will be implemented only in a phased manner.

However; the reasons why Tibetan students are
protesting against the imposition of Chinese as
the medium of school education are:

i)  That Tibetan language will immediately be
reduced to the status of a second language
because all other subjects will be taught in Chinese;

ii) Secondly because there will be few job
opportunities in learning Tibetan; that even if
it is taught as a second language there will be
little or no interest in learning a language for
which there is little or no practical use;

iii) Thirdly; and most importantly; at a time
when the Tibetan people are struggling to
preserve their culture; not keeping Tibetan as
the medium of school education could ensure the
demise of Tibetan culture because one's mother
tongue is what gives both unity and identity to culture.

* For the above reasons; the Tibetan students are
urging the Government of China to respect their
right to the freedom of language and culture
which are enshrined in the Constitution of China.
In fact, all that the Tibetan students are
requesting is for the Government to respect the
laws enshrined in the Constitution of China
regarding the rights of Minorities to preserve
their separate language, culture and identity.

* What is more; it is not only in the
Constitution; even in the more recent "White
Paper" the Government of China has again stated
clearly that it recognizes the right of
"minorities" to preserve their language, culture and identity.

* And it is not just the Constitution and the
recent "White Paper" China's specific policy on
"Regional Ethnic Autonomy" recognizes the rights
of all "minorities" within the Peoples Republic
of China to preserve their culture, language and identity."

* This includes not just Tibetans but also people
of East Turkistan, Southern Mongolia and Manchuria.

* The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and
Development (TCHRD) urges the concerned local
officials not to impose the "one-language" policy
and to heed to the wishes of the students and to
continue with the current "two-language" policy
which has worked so well thus far. Most of all;
TCHRD would like to appeal to the leaders of the
Government of China in Beijing to respect the
Constitution; the current policy and laws -- all
of which recognize the right of "minorities" to
preserve the respective language, culture and
identity and to give the necessary directives to
the officials in the areas concerned so that
peace can be restored and also that the Tibetan
people in these areas can continue to preserve
their language and culture free from fear.

Note: Pictures of the protest is available on our website
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