With increasing effort being put in to lifting the level of education in Tibet, the population is expected to achieve its goal of popularizing compulsory education up to the ninth grade, largely eliminating illiteracy among the new generation of children during the formative years of their lives. The Minister of Education, Chen Zhili, noted at a National Education to Aid Tibet working conference on October 15, that the national education system is bound by duty to accelerate the development of education and advance the needs of the people in Tibet.
The central government always gives priority to Tibetan education. Such working conferences were held in 1987 and 1993, mobilizing and organizing developed provinces and cities to assist and support education in the area. Over the past decade or so, the government has allocated 445 million yuan (US$54 million) to education development, fulfilling 15 primary objectives and 45 secondary objectives such as building and refurbishing county schools, constructing educational satellite information stations, implementing compulsory education up to the ninth grade in disadvantaged areas, improving the infrastructure of higher learning institutions by implementing computer networks and Internet facilities at universities, and training a large number of schoolmasters, teachers and officials within Tibet. Fifteen hinterland provinces and cities have invested a total of 220 million yuan (US$27 million) to rebuild Tibetan primary and secondary schools. In the mean time, many teachers from counterpart universities across the whole country have been appointed to assist with Tibetan education.
Today, owing to the rapid development of the Tibetan schooling system, the education level of the population has increased enormously. By the end of 2001, the total number of students in Tibet had reached 397 thousand, up 71.68 percent since 1993, the proportion of children going to schools was 87.2 percent, up 26.8 percent from 1993 and the total area of schools rose 59.2 percent from 760 thousand square meters in 1993 to 1,210 thousand square meters in 2001. Tibet achieved its goal of establishing a primary school in every village and a middle school in every county. Five counties have carried through the nine grades compulsory education program and illiteracy is down to 38.1 percent.
Chen Zhili also noted that owing to historical and environmental reasons the basic level of Tibetan education is still rather poor, with a big gap still existing between Tibet and surrounding areas. There are still many difficulties to be faced in popularizing compulsory education up to the ninth grade, such as the low quality of social development and a shortage of qualified personnel, making education assistance in Tibet as hard as ever.
According to the Ministry of Education, the main tasks and policies of education aid to Tibet during the 2001-05 period consist of continuing the operation of hinterland schools for Tibetan students with the investment of an additional 100 million yuan (US$12 million) by government for the purchase of infrastructure and equipment. One or several cities from the 18 surrounding provinces and municipalities each assist a Tibetan county to rebuild two schools, bringing the total to 148. The 18 provinces and municipalities helped rebuild 14 Tibetan secondary technical and vocational schools.
In order to further strengthen the official training of Tibet, from 2003 to 2007, 20 hinterland higher learning institutions, together with Southwest Jiaotong University, will assist three Tibetan higher learning institutions, including Tibet University. Eight universities, including Renmin University of China, will establish authorized training bases to train 1,980 Tibetan officials over the next five years, including 1,550 graduates and 430 postgraduates.
A further increase in the amount of Tibetan students enrolled in hinterland higher learning institutions and hinterland Tibetan classes is expected, expanding the enrollment scope from 1,200 in 2002 to about 4,900 each year. Additionally, 13 universities, including China Agricultural University, will enroll 500 pre-assigned students, by lowering enrollment scores and job-oriented training and assignments, in Sichuan, Hunan, Hubei, Jiangxi, Anhui, Liaoning, Shandong, Shannxi, Henan, Shanxi, Hebei, Yunnan, Ningxia, Qinghai, Gansu among other provinces. In the mean time 800 selected non-Tibetan graduates will be assigned to work in Tibet.
(china.org.cn by Li Xiao, October 26, 2002)