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Across China: Bilingual education makes a difference for Tibetan children
update:July 13,2016
KUNMING, July 13, 2016 -- Tseri Yangzom, 7, is the pride of her family. The daughter of a Tibetan inn-keeper and farmer, she has an important role in her family unit as a translator.
Tseri's father runs a hotel in Deqen County, Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of southwest China's Yunnan Province.
Growing up, Tseri loved the Tibetan tale of King Gesar, as well as the Journey to the West, a classic written in Chinese. At school, she excels at languages and speaks Tibetan and Mandarin (standard Chinese) well and a little English.
Free bilingual education in Tibetan and Chinese is available to Tibetan-speaking children in Tibet Autonomous Region, and the provinces of Yunnan, Sichuan, Gansu and Qinghai.
"I want to be a pianist when I grow up. I want to travel the country and play music," she said.
Tseri's family do not have to pay school tuition fees for her, thanks to state funding, meaning she is much better educated than her older relatives.
"Children of Tseri's generation are multilingual. She is the pride of our family," said her uncle Ashi, 48.
About 100 kilometers away from Tseri's school, in Benzilan Township of Deqen, is another school attended by more than 1,000 children.
Yeshe Lhamo, a third-grader, hopes to attend one of the top universities in Beijing.
"I want to go to the best medical school in China. There are huge differences among Tibetan, western and traditional Chinese medicine, I want to explore this," Yeshe said.
"My teacher said I should work hard and learn Tibetan, Chinese and English if I want to be a doctor," she said.
Tenzin Norbu, 33, has worked at Yeshe's school for nine years. He was the first college graduate from his village. Now the Duotong Village of around 60 households has produced nearly 10 college students.
"People now understand the importance of education, and dropouts are rare," he said.
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