China's extensive network of boarding schools in Tibet is facing increasing scrutiny from the United Nations and human rights groups. The institutions are part of a systematic effort to assimilate Tibetan culture and suppress the region's unique identity.
As the United Nations prepares for its Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in January, where member states are assessed on their human rights records, concerns over China's treatment of Tibet have intensified. The UPR provides a platform for NGOs and stakeholders to voice their concerns, and Tibetan activists are expected to use this opportunity to highlight the issue of boarding schools.
China's recent release of its 19th white paper on Tibet, titled "CPC Policies on the Governance of Xizang in the New Era: Approach & Achievements," is an attempt to preempt criticism at the UPR. The white paper touts China's progress in Tibet, emphasizing economic development, poverty reduction, and improved living standards.
These claims mask a darker reality of cultural suppression and forced assimilation. The report "Separated From Their Families, Hidden From The World," compiled by Tibetan activists, paints a grim picture of the impact of boarding schools on Tibetan children.
The report shows that approximately 800,000 Tibetan students aged 6-18 (78%) are enrolled in boarding schools, often under pressure or coercion from Chinese authorities. These schools are designed to sever children's ties to their families, communities, and culture, and indoctrinate them with Chinese values and identity.
Students in these schools are subjected to a heavily Chinese-language curriculum, limited religious freedom, and a lack of exposure to Tibetan culture and traditions. The report also raises concerns about physical and sexual abuse in some boarding schools.
The UPR process provides an opportunity for the international community to hold China accountable for its actions in Tibet and to urge the government to respect the rights of its Tibetan citizens. The future of Tibetan culture and identity hinges on the outcome of these efforts.
Edited and collated by Team TRC