Children draw paintings at a kindergarten in Shannan, Tibet autonomous region, on Nov 25, 2020. [Photo/Xinhua]
LHASA -- Southwest China's Tibet autonomous region is moving steadily toward full enrollment in preschool education thanks to the implementation of the region's free education policies.
By the end of 2020, the region's gross enrollment rate for preschool education stood at 87.03 percent, up more than 52 percentage points from 2011, according to the regional education department.
The ratio was higher than the rate of 85.2 percent for the whole country.
At present, there are some 2,200 kindergartens in Tibet, over 10 times the figure for 2011, when the region expanded its free education policies for farmers and herders to cover preschool education.
Under the policies, the children of farmers and herders are exempted from meal, lodging and basic school expenses. Children of urban families in financial hardship can also enjoy the policies.
Dawa Yangzom, a resident of Hongxing community, Gyixong town, Gonggar county, is satisfied to see her 6-year-old son Tenzin Jigme enjoy school meals with milk, vegetables and meat.
"The food in the kindergarten provides nutrition for my son's physical development. There are more varieties of food than at home, and the food is all free," she said.
This stands in sharp contrast to old Tibet under feudal serfdom. Before the region's peaceful liberation in 1951, serfs accounted for more than 95 percent of the population in Tibet but were barred from receiving education. In 1951, there were only about 3,000 students in schools across the region.
Since 1951, the country has been constantly increasing education spending in the region.
In 1985, Tibet began to provide free meals, lodgings and tuition to children from farmers' and herders' families throughout their nine years of compulsory education. The policies were subsequently expanded several times.
Now, Tibet has become the first provincial-level region in China to provide 15 years of free education, from kindergarten to senior high school.
Preschool education has developed at a blistering pace over the past years, and such institutions now cover almost all cities, counties, townships and villages with a relatively large population in Tibet.
There are more than 150,000 students enrolled in kindergartens at present, data showed.
Cheng Dongya, vice dean of the education college at Tibet University, said preschool education plays an important role in long-term education.
"The rapid development of Tibet's preschool education reflects the country's emphasis on the education of ethnic minority groups, and will help foster the talent pool necessary for the long-term development of the plateau," said Cheng.