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Boarding schools ensure fairer rural education

By Cui Jia | China Daily | Updated: 2023-03-29 09:28

The boarding school system in the Tibet autonomous region has successfully ensured that both rural and urban students can equally receive quality education — and the will of the parents and students is fully respected when choosing to live in the schools or not, experts on education in Tibet said.

The system has been proven suitable for Tibet, with its vast land and sparse population. Furthermore, it is welcomed by both the students and parents, especially those in pastoral areas, Sherab Nyima, a professor at Minzu University of China, said at the International Symposium On Education Modernization and Protection of the Rights to Education in Tibet.

"Students in pastoral areas had previously experienced difficulties in going to schools. To solve the problems, boarding schools have been set up. Those schools have enabled children from rural and pastoral areas to equally receive education," Sherab Nyima said.

Many Tibetan experts and scholars who are from remote areas in Tibet attended boarding schools and then pursued higher education. What's more, setting up boarding schools in areas with harsh natural environments and sparse population has been a common practice in China to protect children's right to education. It has never been a practice targeting Tibet, he added.

The recent claims that Tibetan students are taken away from their families and forced to live in the schools are groundless and have a clear political agenda. Also, the timing to make such accusations to international communities has been well planned, said Xiao Jie, deputy director of the Institute of Contemporary Studies at the China Tibetology Research Center.

"It is necessary to make clear that although many schools in Tibet provide accommodation, it is up to the students and their parents to choose if they want to live in the schools or not," said Xiao, who just returned from Tibet after carrying out research on boarding schools in the region.

Some students' homes are about 40 kilometers and even 100 km from the school, so it is only reasonable for them to live at school. Also, it is not practical to set up schools in villages that may only have five households, Xiao said.

"Also, the schools offer lessons on Tibetan language and culture, so it's nonsense to say that the schools are there to erase Tibetan culture. In contrast, the students may learn more about Tibetan culture at the schools," Xiao said.

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