Experts praise equal access to education at Lhasa boarding school

Updated: Jun 3, 2024 Print
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Boarding schools in the Xizang autonomous region have provided children with equal opportunities for access to education, while respecting the culture and language of the Tibetan ethnic group, according to a group of foreign experts.

The experts, including academics and media representatives from various countries such as France, Sweden, South Africa and India, commented after their recent visit to a boarding school in Lhasa, the regional capital.

During their tour in May of Lhasa No 8 Middle School's classrooms, dormitories and cafeteria, members of the delegation expressed admiration for the high-quality education provided to children in Xizang, emphasizing the importance of equal access to education.

At the school, students are offered a diverse range of subjects, including handicrafts, calligraphy, Tibetan language, Tibetan medicine and artificial intelligence technology.

Lloyd Kuveya, assistant director of the Center for Human Rights at the University of Pretoria, South Africa, said: "We visited a lot of classrooms where students were doing their work. And we learned that they were learning in the Tibetan language as well as in Mandarin. Usually, you find that in certain countries, minority languages are not respected. But we saw in the schools that we visited that even minority languages are respected in China."

Kuveya said he was also surprised to learn that Xizang has a 15-year publicly funded education system, covering school meals, lodging and tuition from kindergarten to senior high school. This ensures equal educational opportunities for all children, he said.

Gyanendra Keshri, special correspondent for Indian newspaper the Deccan Herald, said: "Students are given training in the traditional language so that they can remain connected to their roots, and at the same time, they are getting the opportunity to learn English and learn new technology."

Regarding criticism in some Western media about boarding schools in Xizang, Kwon Ki-sik, president of the Korea-China City Friendship Association, said such accusations "are unfair and not true".

"It's a kind of political attack supported by political power groups," Kwon said. "Media should write and report the real stories of Chinese ethnic policy and about the people's satisfaction and happy life."

Stephen Brawer, chairman of the Belt and Road Institute in Sweden, said: "When you have a large part of Western institutions that choose not to allow the reality to be perceived, when they are deliberately misrepresentative, of course we have a certain responsibility to bring the reality and the truth of the situation forward."

Brawer said his trip to the boarding school was a good step in bringing the real story of Xizang to a broader audience.

With over 2,000 students, about 70 percent of whom are boarders, Lhasa No 8 Middle School provides free accommodations for its resident students, who return home on weekends.

In Xizang, where the population is spread thin and educational resources are dispersed across a vast expanse of land, people have a strong desire to be educated. Over the years, students who have studied in Xizang have made significant contributions to the development of Xizang and the country as a whole.

As the region celebrates the 65th anniversary of democratic reform, observers said the region is proud to note that education has become a fundamental right accessible to all.

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