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China: Tibetan Children Denied Mother-Tongue Classes

‘Bilingual’ Policy Threatens Tibetan-Medium Education

Wednesday 04 March 2020


Embargoed for Release
Not for Publication Until:
09:15 PM in New York, March 4, 2020


(New York, March 5, 2020) – China’s “bilingual education” policy has accelerated the demise of Tibetan-medium instruction in primary schools in Tibetan areas, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The policy, carried out over the past decade in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) and other Tibetan areas, has increased Chinese language schooling at all levels except for the study of Tibetan language itself. 

The 91-page report, “China’s ‘Bilingual Education’ Policy in Tibet: Tibetan-Medium Schooling Under Threat,” examines the Chinese government’s rollback of minority education rights in Tibet under the guise of improving access to education. It highlights compulsory “bilingual” kindergartens that immerse Tibetan children in Chinese language and state propaganda from age 3, in the name of “strengthening the unity of nationalities.” These developments reflect an assimilationist policy for minorities that has gained momentum under President Xi Jinping’s leadership.

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