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Tibet Builds up Complete Education System in Primary, Middle Schools

Southwest China's Tibetan autonomous region has built a complete education system in local primary and middle schools, due to great support from the central government during the past four decades, said local officials.

Since 1959, the year democratic reform was initiated in the region, the central government has invested a combined 1.3 billion yuan (US$157 million) in education development in the region, 445 million yuan (US$53.6 million) of which was used for 15 big projects during the past decade, said Lu Shicheng, a regional official involved in education facility construction.

So far, a six-year-schooling compulsory education system has been put into practice in 55 of the region's 73 counties, with a nine-year-schooling compulsory education implemented in 18 counties.

Computers have been introduced into more than 1,000 primary and middle schools in the region.

Currently, 360,000 students are enrolled in local primary and middle schools, which have 22,000 teachers and other faculty members.

The illiteracy rate among local adults has dropped from 95 percent registered before the peaceful liberation of Tibet in 1951to the current 37 percent, and as many as 91.8 percent of local school-age children are in school currently, as against less than two percent half a century ago.

Called by the central government to protect and promote the use of the Tibetan language, Tibet has issued five collections of teaching materials in Tibetan for primary, middle school and higher education. For primary and middle school students alone, there are more than 50 categories of teaching materials adapted in Tibetan.

Courses offered in primary schools in areas below the county level are mainly given in Tibetan, and courses in areas above the prefecture level are bilingual. Teachings in middle schools and higher education institutions in Tibet are offered in three languages, namely Tibetan, Chinese and English.

(Xinhua News Agency December 9, 2003)

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