Vocational education is fast becoming an effective way of keeping traditional Tibetan handicrafts alive as well as offering students a means to make a living. Tibetan youths can now learn how to paint thangkas, carpet twisting and other traditional handicrafts, skills that were previously only handed down through generations of artisans or learned in monasteries.
24-year-old Pasang Norbu learned the art of thangka painting as an apprentice to a local artisan. But a year into his apprenticeship, he didn't feel like he had made any progress. He decided to enroll himself at Quxu Vocational Education Center, and now earns a living by painting thangka in a store, where his works can fetch at least 500 yuan (about US$40) a piece.
According to Phurbu Tsering, the vice-president of the Quxu Vocational Education Center, nearly 500 students have graduated from its ethnic painting department.
Dorje Tsewang, vice head of Tibet Education Office said that, for youths living in Tibet's pasturelands, traditional Tibetan handicraft skills are more effectively passed on through the vocational education system.
"Not only are more people picking up the skills, but more are able to earn decent living as a result.”
(CCTV November 9, 2006)