For a Tibetan child, it is enviable to be selected for an educational program in a big city like Beijing, but Goinqog Lozhoi said he felt equally lucky to have the chance to hear lectures by teachers from big Chinese cities without leaving his schoolroom in mountainous Bomi County.
The 13-year-old boy said he and his schoolmates owe the chance to the distance learning network in Tibet.
The project launched in 2002 targets all schools in southwestern China, and so far has networked over 300 schools.
Goinqog's school, the Songzong Township Central Primary School, which is some 700 kilometers from the regional capital of Lhasa, now has a satellite receiver and eight 34-inch color TV sets for its 205 students. Goinqog and his schoolmates can listen to lectures by teachers from Beijing and other big cities in the country on the TV sets.
Children from herding families in Tibet like Goinqog are also enjoying improved schoolhouses.
Lu Shicheng, an official in charge of schoolhouse construction and renovation, said they are usually the best buildings in herding areas in the autonomous region.
The officials said that in 2002 alone, the central government allocated 425 million yuan (US$51 million) for the re-construction and renovation of mud-brick schoolhouses in these areas.
Altogether, 14,500 square meters of schoolhouses were constructed or renovated over the past two years, Lu said. However, some 472,000 square meters are still left un-touched, accounting for over 17 percent of the total areas of schoolhouses in the region.
Song Heping, director of the region's department of education, said that educational investment from both the central and regional governments has been increasing and it seems likely other schoolhouses will be rebuilt or renovated.
Since 1998, both govern-ments have injected a total of 500 million yuan toward educational development in Tibet. The money has been used to build and renovate schoolhouses, purchase teaching facilities and train teachers in 60 counties of the autonomous region. As a result, some 300 primary schools have seen improved teaching conditions.
Wu Degang, an educa-tional expert in Tibet, said that before 1951, there were no modern schools in Tibet except six old style schools for monks and officials and a few private schools, which could only provide schooling to about 1,000 students.
By the end of 2002, there were 3,009 schools in Tibet, which provide education to over 410,000 students. Nearly 89 percent of primary-school-aged children receive education.
(Xinhua News Agency March 28, 2003)