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.

Modern Education

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.

In 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 through college;

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

In 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 Tibetan students.

Statistics on Education
Percentage of Graduates of Middle and Primary Schools Entering Higher-Level Schools, and Percentage of Schools-Age Children enrolled
Number of Teachers in Various Types of Schools
Number of Students in Various Types of Schools
Students Enrolled by Various Types of Schools
Number of Graduates From Various Types of Schools



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