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Xizang Development: Life at a boarding school in Xizang Autonomous Region
update:November 14,2023
By:CGTN
Nov. 14, 2023 -- Earlier this year, United Nations human rights experts voiced concerns that boarding schools in Xizang Autonomous region are being used to separate children from their families under a government assimilation policy, and said that has affected an estimated million Tibetan children to date. CGTN's Huang Yichang tries to find out what the reality is in boarding schools. 
 
When we arrived on campus, these second-year students at Lhozhag Middle School were settling back into their dormitories after the summer break. It's easy to tell from their bed-making skills that they're becoming more familiar with life in a dormitory.
 
STUDENT, Lhozhag Middle School "I'm happy to live at school because I don't have to herd cows like at home."
 
STUDENT, Lhozhag Middle School "I want to be at school because I don't like to herd cows."
 
The significance of boarding schools in Xizang extends far beyond the simple needs of these children. Xizang is sparsely populated with human settlement scattered though out the region. Lhozhag, the only middle school in the county is humble and small but accommodates students from far and wide.
 
GUAN TIAN, Secretary, Lhozhag Middle School "For some students, it takes over three hours to go to school. In the summer, heavy rainfall can result in road closures, and during the winter, rainstorms can also lead to road blockages. How can students go to school?"
 
Xizang's boarding school system has developed rapidly since the 1980s, with the aim of helping to educate students from remote areas. By embracing the approach, students in rural and urban areas have access to the same high-quality educational resources. It's the choice of the students and their parents whether to stay at the boarding school.
 
Dorje chose to board here to avoid a two-hour commute from home every day.
 
MINGYU, Mother of Dorje "It's more convenient for him to stay at school as we have a lot of farming in the field."
 
Seventy percent of Xizang's population relies on cattle breeding to sustain a livelihood. Dorje's mother understands the potential of education to help bring about positive change.
 
MINGYU, Mother of Dorje "When I was in school, the education conditions were poor, but now the situation has drastically improved. I aspire for my child to pursue a profession such as a teacher, doctor or soldier in the future."
 
DORJE, Student, Lhozhag Middle School "I wish to be a soldier in the future, to safeguard our motherland in this border region."
 
Buses pick up the students and take them back home every month. Parents can visit their children at any time. Transport, tuition, meals and all lodging expenses are covered under a government policy implemented in 1985 known as the 'three guarantees'.
 
In 2012, Xizang became the first region in China to provide residents with 15 years of free education from pre-school to high school. The goal was to raise attendance rates in rural and nomadic regions. The Tibetan language is a mandatory subject in schools in Xizang. Together with other subjects, the aim is to better preserve the local culture.
 
ZHA LUO, Director, Institute of Social and Economic Studies, China Tibetology Research Center "In the past three years, 94% of Xizang's high school graduates participated in Tibetan language examinations. Furthermore, schools in Xizang have been dedicated to offering a diverse range of subjects of cultural heritage."
 
Experts say that a substantial allocation of resources and investment in education has led to significant educational improvements in Xizang.
 
ZHANG YUN, Researcher, China Tibetology Research Center "The accomplishments in education in Xizang can be observed in multiple aspects, such as talent development, advancements in science and technology in the region, and overall progress across various fields. The development of education has played a vital role in fostering prosperity in diverse sectors within Xizang. It is through the cultivation of knowledgeable individuals that  Xizang can thrive comprehensively in all aspects."
 
Official data shows the illiteracy rate among young adults in Xizang was as high as 95% prior to 1950s. Huang Yichang, CGTN, Lhozhag County in Xizang Autonomous Region.


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