Before the peaceful liberation in 1951, school enrolment in Tibet
was no more than 3,000 at its highest. Serfs and slaves, who formed
more than 95 percent of the Tibetan population, were deprived of
the right to receive education. The attendance rate of school-age
children was less than 2 percent.
Educational practice was based on monastic, official and private
education, with the monastic education being the dominant form.
Lamas were teachers, Buddhist scriptures were textbooks, and students
were trained to be monks. Official education was based on two schools
run by the then Gaxag government, one (Zelhazha) for training monk
officials and the other (Zekanglhazha) for training lay officials.
There was a medical and astrological school (Moinzekanglhazha),
which was also official-run.
The lay official school was not a pure school, but an organ in the
Gaxag government in charge of auditing and management of lay officials
that also oversaw their training. Its purpose was to teach the Tibetan
language, mathematics and accounting knowledge. It normally had
some 20 students, who had to come from noble families.
Private schools were mainly found in such cities as Lhasa, Xigaze,
Zetang and Gyangze, but not in agricultural and pastoral areas.
Lhasa comparatively had more schools. Before the peaceful liberation,
it had 20 or so private schools, the most famous one being Darkanglhazha.
In 1952, Tibet saw the establishment of the first school in modern
sense---the Lhasa Primary School. Thereafter, primary schools were
set up one after another in Qamdo, Xigaze and some other places.
At the end of 1958, Tibet had 13 government-run primary schools,
enrolling more than 2,600 pupils.
Up to 1965, the number of government-run primary schools in Tibet
rose to more than 1,800, with an enrolment of 66,000. The region
also had four regular middle schools and a teachers?school, with
more than 1,500 students. Tibet's first institution of higher learning,
the Tibet Ethnic College, had more than 3,000 students.
In 1984, the Central Government held the Second National Conference
on Work in Tibet, with a special focus on educational matters in
the region. It was decided during the conference that teaching in
schools in the region should be based on the Tibetan language and
teaching contents should be adapted to Tibetan economic and cultural
developments. It also decided that three Tibetan middle schools
and 16 Tibetan classes would be established in 19 other provinces
and municipalities directly under the Central Government.
the same year, Tibet University was founded. With the establishment
of the Tibetan Medical College in September 1989, the region had
four institutions of higher learning. The Education Commission of
the Tibet Autonomous Region explicitly stipulates that the four
schools of higher learning must admit Tibetan students.
By 2000, Tibet had 4,361 schools of different types. They included
four institutions of higher learning---Tibet University, Tibet Ethnic
College, Tibet Institute of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry and
Tibetan Medical College. There were also 16 secondary vocational
and polytechnic schools specializing in such specialties as teachers?training,
agriculture and animal husbandry, finance and economics, physical
culture, arts, and posts and telecommunications, more than 90 middle
schools and 4,251 primary schools including those run by villages.
There were more than 300,000 students in these schools, a majority
of them being Tibetan or from other ethnic minority groups. Tibet
has also established more than 100 secondary vocational schools
jointly with 26 provinces and municipalities, with 13,000 Tibetan
students studying in various parts of China.
Support From the Central Government. Since
the 1980s, the Central Government has substantially increased investment
in the modern education in Tibet and granted many special preferential
policies. They include:
Free education, under which the Government
pays the tuition fees of ethnic Tibetan students from primary school
Supplying food, clothing and accommodation
free of charge to some ethnic Tibetan primary and secondary students
and establishing boarding schools in rural areas;
Gradually introducing a student grant
and scholarship system in primary and secondary schools at and above
the township level;
Local ethnic groups constituting the
chief proportion of enrolment in schools of various types and at
all levels; and
Provinces and municipalities directly
under the Central Government with good conditions running Tibetan
middle schools and Tibetan classes and offering special treatment
to Tibetan students in their studies and livelihood.
Teaching in Tibetan Language Stressed
Tibet, most classes in primary schools are taught in Tibetan. However,
it still needs a while (for instance, in training of qualified teachers,
and compilation and translation of textbooks) to teach mathematics,
physics and chemistry in Tibetan in schools at and above the junior
middle school level.
Therefore, these schools currently conduct their teaching activities
in four formats: first, offering Tibetan and Chinese language courses,
with all other courses being taught in Tibetan; second, teaching
some classes in Chinese and others in Tibetan; third, offering Tibetan
language class, with all other classes taught in Chinese; and fourth,
teaching the entire curriculum in Chinese.
According to the requirements of the regional government, graduates
of senior middle schools should be familiar with both Tibetan and
Chinese languages. Foreign language classes are offered in schools
above junior middle school level that have proper conditions.
The Tibetan middle schools and Tibetan classes in certain provinces
and municipalities directly under the Central Government all offer
Tibetan language classes for junior middle school curriculum, taught
by Tibetan teachers designated by the autonomous region. They independently
plan their courses according to the national teaching program for
regular middle schools and allowing for the actual conditions of