III. The People Enjoy the Rights to Education,
Culture and Health Protection
Since the beginning of the 1990s educational, cultural and health work in Tibet has been further improved, and this has further promoted the people's right to education, culture and health protection.
The Chinese Government has adopted many preferential policies to promote education in Tibet. Boarding schools have been introduced in rural and pastoral areas, where Tibetan primary and middle school students enjoy free food, clothing and accommodation. Stipend and scholarship systems have been put in place step by step in primary and middle schools above the town level. The principle of "giving priority to people of local ethnic groups" has been adopted by all schools while recruiting students in Tibet, and a flexible enrollment method adopted in dealing with examinees of Tibetan and other ethnic minorities origin, whereby "the pass marks for admission are appropriately lowered and students are chosen on the basis of their test results."
Currently, a fairly complete modern education system is being operated in the Tibet Autonomous Region, and education is being spread to wider areas in the Region. According to 1997 statistics, 4,251 regular and village-run primary schools had been established in Tibet, with a total enrollment of 300,453 students. In 1997, 78.2 percent of school-age children were in school, a 32.6 percentage point increase over 1991. There are 90 secondary schools in Tibet, with 17,155 more students enrolled than in 1991. There are also four institutions of higher learning and 16 special secondary schools in Tibet. The illiteracy rate among the young and middle-aged has dropped by 41 percentage points as compared with the figure before the peaceful liberation of Tibet.
From 1991 to 1997 a total of 580,000 sq m of new schools were built in Tibet, including 27 secondary schools, 278 regular township primary schools and 1,359 village-run primary schools, and a total of over 300,000 sq m of old school buildings renovated. In recent years the government has been investing more and more in education in Tibet. In 1997 such investment accounted for 18 percent equally of the budgeted expenditure and budgeted capital construction investment. These facts are in strong contrast to the situation in Tibet before peaceful liberation, when only a small number of monk officials and children of the nobility had the privilege of studying and less than two percent of the school-age children went to school; education was denied to the masses of serfs and slaves.
Since the mid-1980s, to make it easier for secondary school students from Tibet to study in inland China the Central Government has appropriated special funds to set up Tibetan junior middle-school classes in some of the provinces and municipalities in the hinterland and one Tibetan middle school each in the cities of Beijing, Tianjin and Chengdu. Transportation, food and board, clothing and medical care expenses of the Tibetan students in those schools are covered by the government. The Central Government has allocated a special capital construction fund totalling 73 million yuan and relevant provinces and municipalities have appropriated necessary funds amounting to well over 100 million yuan for running those Tibetan classes and schools in the hinterland. In addition, the Central Government has appropriated an annual six million yuan and relevant provinces and municipalities have set aside a special fund from their budgets to cover the study and living expenses of the Tibetan students in inland regions. From 1985 to 1997 a total of 18,000 Tibetan students had studied in all these Tibetan classes and schools, of whom more than 5,000 have graduated from special secondary schools, colleges and universities and returned to Tibet to take part in the development of the Region. At present, there are 13,000 Tibetan students studying in more than 100 schools in 26 inland provinces and municipalities.
The essence of traditional Tibetan culture is a component part of Chinese national culture and the government has always attached great importance to protecting and developing it and helping it flourish.
With its distinctive ethnic characteristics Tibetological research, which plays an important role in inheriting and developing the essence of traditional Tibetan culture, has received attention and support from the state. Currently, there are over 50 Tibetan studies institutes all over the country, with over 2,000 people engaged in such research and related auxiliary work. The state has set up the Chinese Center for Tibetan Studies in the nation's capital Beijing, and there are a dozen Tibetan studies institutes in Tibet itself, which have completed over 100 significant research projects. In recent years Tibetan studies institutes in China have held more than 60 seminars, single- or multi-disciplinary, on Tibetan history, language, religion, ethnology, philosophy, literature, art, education, calendar and traditional medicine. More than 300 significant projects have been completed and more than 400 books on Tibetan studies have been published or are about to be published. Books such as A General History of Tibet and Mirror of Tibetan History, written by scholars belonging to the Tibetan ethnic group, have received praise from home and abroad.
The Chinese Government attaches great importance to learning, using and developing the Tibetan language in the Tibet Autonomous Region and has taken concrete measures to guarantee the freedom of the Tibetan people to use and develop both the spoken and written Tibetan language, which is a main course of study at all schools in Tibet as well as in special Tibetan classes and schools in other parts of the country. Tibetan students are required to read and write the Tibetan language proficiently upon graduation from middle schools. Tibet has finished the editing and translation of 500 kinds of primary and middle school teaching materials for the compulsory education stage. The editing, translating into Tibetan and publishing of a catalogue of technical materials has started, as has the work on the collection and collation of technical materials in the Tibetan language. In order to promote the normalization, standardization and modernization of information processing in Tibetan, the Region has been working on drawing up international standards for Tibetan character coding using information technology since 1994, which has received strong support from related departments of the state. The research project was approved at the conference of international standards verification for multi-language coding held in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 1996. This has laid a good foundation for Tibetan-language access to modern information processing and network exchange. In 1995 a committee for the standardization of Tibetan terminology was set up to standardize the Tibetan language and normalize social terms.
Great importance has been continuously attached to traditional Tibetan medicine and pharmacology. There are 14 Tibetan medicine institutions in the Region, and Tibetan medicine is available in over 60 hospitals at the county level. At present, Tibetan medicine establishments at all levels throughout Tibet give over 500,000 out-patient consultations annually. A total of 100,000 kg in over 350 varieties of finished Tibetan pharmaceuticals is produced each year. Some one dozen valuable Tibetan herbs have won national gold or silver medals or prizes at international conferences on traditional medicine.
The work to systematically investigate, collect, record, collate, study, compile and publish the traditional cultural heritage of Tibet on a large scale is continuing apace. With over 800,000 words and some 300 pictures, the Chinese Drama: Tibetan Volume was published in December, 1993. The 1.37-million-word Collections of Chinese Folk Songs: Tibetan Volume was published in 1995. A 10-volume collection of Tibetan folk and religious arts is to be published one volume at a time. The popular "Life of King Gesar," the oral epic of the Tibetan people handed down for generations by ballad singers, has been included in the Region's key research projects, with a special institute founded to take charge of collecting more than 5,000 cassettes and several hundred video tapes dealing with the epic. In addition, over 40 million words have been collated, and more than 1,000 research papers and over 30 books on the "Life of King Gesar" have been published. This long-scattered oral literature is becoming a systematic, monumental literary work for the first time. Many Tibetan scholars and people in Tibetan religious circles have acclaimed it as "realizing the ardent wish of the Tibetan people of all generations." The Tibetan Ancient Books Publishing House was set up in the Region with state funds to take charge of collecting, editing and publishing Tibetan ancient books. A large number of Tibetan ancient books, inscribed wooden slips and inscriptions on bronzes and stone tablets -- including the only existing copy of the Dewu's History of Buddhism (about the history of the Tibetan people), Selected Tibetan Laws and Regulations of All Periods, Selected Books and Records on Tibetan Handicrafts, Selected Works on Medicine, and Selected Tibetan Historical Relics, as well as others, have been put under state protection.
Beginning in the early 1990s, the general survey of cultural relics in the Tibet Autonomous Region is almost finished, with cultural relics found in 1,768 places. Large numbers of rare cultural relics have been put under full protection. Since the 1960s the State Council has put 18 key historical sites in Tibet under state protection and determined 67 key historical sites under regional protection. The famous Potala Palace was inscribed on the World Heritage List by UNESCO in 1994. The Tibet Autonomous Region Archives is one of the best establishments for keeping local archives in China. The Tibetan Museum, funded by the state to the tune of more than 90 million yuan and with a total floor space of 22,500 sq m, was opened in October 1997.
The people of the Tibet Autonomous Region have full rights to create and enjoy culture. There are 35 multi-purpose people's art and cultural centers and more than 380 rural cultural centers and clubs. A film projection and releasing network covers both urban and rural areas, including 650 local units, giving free film shows to people in agricultural and pastoral areas. In 1996 a total of 25 films in over 500 copies were dubbed in Tibetan. Since the beginning of the 1990s a total of more than 630 films in upwards of 8,500 copies have been dubbed in Tibetan. Meanwhile, Tibet has four book and audio-visual publishing houses, among them the Tibetan People's Publishing House has published 76.94 million copies of books of 6,589 titles. There are 23 Tibetan-language newspapers and magazines in public circulation. By 1996 Tibet had two radio stations, two TV stations, 35 radio broadcasting, relaying and transmitting stations, 240 television transponder stations and over 700 ground satellite receiving stations. The Tibet Autonomous Region Library, set up at a cost of nearly 100 million yuan, was opened in June 1996. It has 590,000 books, including more than 100,000 well-collated and well-preserved Tibetan ancient books.
The Tibetan people enjoy a cultural life which is becoming more and more prosperous and full of Tibetan characteristics. Now Tibet boasts a contingent of more than 10,000 literary and art workers, with Tibetans as the mainstay, 10 professional art and dance ensembles, 15 small professional performance teams, and over 160 amateur art ensembles and Tibetan opera troupes. People in rural areas can often enjoy free performances given by these professional troupes. In addition, there are another 11 special folk art education and study institutes and literature and art organizations. In 1996 professional Tibetan literature and art works and performances won one international prize and 10 national prizes. During major traditional Tibetan festivals and celebrations, such as the Tibetan New Year, the Sholton Festival, the Great Butter Festival and the Wangkor Festival, varied and colorful folk song and dance performances can be seen all over Tibet. Since the early 1990s more than 30 Tibetan song and dance troupes, art ensembles and academic delegations have visited, given performances, engaged in academic exchanges, and held exhibitions on Tibetan historical relics, books, arts, costume and handicrafts in more than 30 countries and regions, including the United States, Germany, France, England, Italy and Austria.
The Central Government and Tibetan governments at all levels are greatly concerned about the health of the Tibetan people. After many years of effort, a basic medical and public health network now covers the whole of the Tibet Autonomous Region. By the end of 1997 Tibet had 1,324 medical and health establishments, 127 more than in 1991; 6,246 hospital beds, 1,169 beds more than in 1991, averaging some 2.5 beds per 1,000 people; 10,929 medical and health personnel, 1,189 more than in 1991; 1.84 doctors and 0.7 nurse per 1,000 people; and 4,402 rural medical and health personnel, a 24.46 percent increase. Old Tibet, under the feudal serfdom, had only three officially operated, small traditional Tibetan medical establishments, with only crude medical equipment, and a few private clinics, employing fewer than 100 medical practitioners. Even including folk doctors of traditional Tibetan medicine, the number totalled only about 400.
In Tibet a preferential medical policy is being carried out. Medical treatment is free in farming and pastoral areas, and is financed jointly by personal medical insurance and the state in cities and towns. From 1992 to 1997 the Central Government and governments at different levels in Tibet disbursed 964.61 million yuan in expenditures for public medical services.
Much attention has also been devoted to the medical and health care of women and children in Tibet. By the end of 1996 a total of 34 maternity and child care centers and eight baby-friendly hospitals had been set up. In addition, 108 hospitals at and above the county level now have departments of gynecology and obstetrics, and 110 key townships have maternity and child care departments which have monitored the development of more than 250,000 children and given general surveys and treatments of common and frequently-occurring diseases among them. Since 1986 about 85 percent of the children in Tibet have received BCG vaccine inoculations or drugs and inoculations against poliomyelitis, pertussis, diphtheria, tetanus and measles. Now 51.25 percent of children in the Region below the age of seven benefit from the local health care system specially for children. Besides, modern delivery methods are available for 50.8 percent of child-bearing women in Tibet, and the rate reaches 100 percent in Lhasa. In the Region's counties where children's health projects have been carried out, the infant mortality rate has decreased from 91.8 per thousand in 1989 to 55.21 per thousand now.
The sanitation and health conditions of today's Tibet and those of the old Tibet cannot be mentioned in the same breath. Smallpox was eradicated early in the 1960s, and some other dangerous infectious and endemic diseases have also been effectively controlled or wiped out. In 1996 the overall incidence of and the mortality resulting from 14 infectious diseases, such as typhoid fever, hepatitis, epidemic encephalitis and influenza, dropped by 45.52 and 67.16 percent, respectively, compared with the 1991 figures. By 1995 poliomyelitis had been totally eliminated. The government of the Tibet Autonomous Region is determined to keep in step with the other areas of China and stamp out diseases caused by iodine deficiency by the year 2000. In the old Tibet deadly infectious diseases such as smallpox and the plague were endemic. It is recorded that during the 150 years before Tibet was peacefully liberated there were four pandemic outbreaks of smallpox, one of which, in 1925, killed 7,000 people in the Lhasa area alone. Outbreaks of typhoid fever in 1934 and 1937 carried off a total of some 5,000 people in Lhasa.
The steady improvement of health care and living standards has raised the average life expectancy of Tibetans from 36 years in the old Tibet to the present 65 years. At the same time, the population of Tibet has increased rapidly and the protracted stagnation of population growth in the old days has changed completely. According to a thoroughgoing census carried out in Tibet during the period 1734-1736 by the Central Government of the Qing Dynasty, the population at that time was 941,200. About two hundred years later, in 1953, the local government of Tibet declared its population to be one million. That is to say, the population of Tibet was almost at a standstill for some two hundred years, only slightly rising by 58,000 people. But in the 40 years from 1953 to 1993, after Tibet was peacefully liberated, the population grew from one million to well over 2.3 million, of which the population of Tibetans increased by 1.16 million, or a more than two-fold increase in 40 years. By the end of 1996 the population of Tibet had reached 2.44 million, 95 percent of whom were Tibetans. This lays bare the lie that "The population of Tibet is decreasing," refutes the bluster about "Tibetans suffering from genocide" emanating from the Dalai Lama and some Western sources, and illuminates, from one aspect, the human rights situations in the new and old Tibet.