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  • 07 May, 2022
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The international community should oppose China's government for using education as a colonial tool to 'de-Tibetanize' Tibetan children.


International specialists on Tibet and China regard the Chinese Boarding School System in Tibet today as a re-enactment of a comparable Residential-School System used by white immigrants in America, Canada, and Australia to eradicate the native culture and identity of the colonised nations' aborigines.

New Delhi, London, Dharamshala: An international group of China watchers and Tibet experts has urged the international community and governments to take notice of and challenge the Chinese government's latest campaign, which involves the use of communist and colonial tools to brainwash and 'de-Tibetanize' an entire generation of Tibetans through a network of residential boarding schools. Experts see this new campaign as a modern replica of a similar residential school system used by white settlers in America, Canada, and Australia to wipe out the original culture and identity of local aborigines of these colonised lands. They hold President Xi Jinping and his Communist Party of China (CCP) administrators of Tibet responsible for it. 

The experts were speaking during an international webinar co-hosted by the Centre for Himalayan Asia Studies and Engagement (CHASE) in New Delhi and the Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC) in Dharamshala on "China Using Education as the Last Tool of Colonizing Tibetan Minds." Ms. Eleanor Byrne-Rosengren, co-founder of 'Tibet Solidarity' in the UK, John Jones of 'Free Tibet' in the UK, and Karma Tenzin, Research Fellow (Education) at the Tibet Policy Institute (TPI) in Dharamshala were among the experts who took part. The webinar was moderated by Vijay Kranti, a renowned Tibetologist, China observer, and Chairman of CHASE. The question-and-answer session was moderated by Prof. Aayushi Ketkar of JNU's Special Centre for National Security Studies in New Delhi. The vote of appreciation was offered by co-host Sonam Tsering, the TYC General Secretary.

Karma Tenzin of TPI, a leading Tibetan Diaspora think tank, is conducting research on the current state of education and CCP education policies inside Chinese-occupied Tibet; China's strategies for brainwashing Tibetan children and youths through education; and the Tibetan people's impact on these policies. Karma disputed the Chinese government's claims that Tibetan education levels were extremely low prior to the 'liberation' of Tibet in 1951, claiming that hundreds of well-organized monastic schools produced thousands of high-ranking academics every year. Chairman Mao virtually entirely wrecked China's and Tibet's education systems during the 'Cultural Revolution' decade, he said. However, while China's education system has improved in recent years, it is still being used to colonise Tibetan minds by eliminating Tibetan language education, imposing Chinese as the medium of instruction and education on Tibetan students, and teaching a completely false and biassed history to make Tibetan children feel inferior to their Chinese masters.

“After failing to tame the Tibetan people despite over seven decades of ruthless colonial rule over Tibet, the present Chinese regime under the leadership of President Xi Jinping has started using the education system to produce new brainwashed generations of Tibetans who would not know anything about their Tibetan identity but would be well versed with the virtues of Communism and its leaders like Mao and Xi Jinping,” added Karma Tenzin.

Eleanor made numerous references to the most recent conclusions of a significant study report titled "China's Vast System of Colonial Boarding Schools Inside Tibet," which was the outcome of a thorough examination of the current education system in China-ruled Tibet. The Tibet Action Institute (TAI) developed the report, which was released in December 2021, using numerous individual research, Tibetan and Chinese system resources, and official papers from various Chinese government institutions dealing with Tibet. According to the report, over 86,000 Tibetan children, or roughly 78 percent of the Tibetan population aged 16 to 18, have been compelled to attend Chinese boarding schools where they are completely cut off from their families and social networks.  “These colonial boarding schools of China in Tibet are modern replicas of similar residential school system which was adopted by the white settlers of America, Canada and Australia to wipe out the original culture and identity of local aborigine communities,” she said. In many such schools, Tibetan children of even pre-school age are admitted after practically snatching them away from their parents through various ways of coercion, she added.

She counted three main factors which make this Boarding School system of China in Tibet today too dehumanizing to be acceptable in the present day civilized and democratic world. “First is that this system leaves no choice with Tibetan parents or the children to decide about their education. Second is that these schools and their curriculum is designed especially to erase the cultural identity of the children in order to assimilate and absorb them into the vast Han and communist identity. And third is the forced separation of children from their families and original socio-cultural environment. Once the child is admitted in such a school then the life is like in a lock-up where even parents are not allowed to enter and meet the children in a normal manner,” said Eleanor.

The contemporary Chinese education system in Tibet, particularly its new chain of Boarding Schools across Tibet, is described by John Jones as a "symbol of disease of an occupying army." "After failing to win the hearts of their Tibetan subjects despite seven decades of colonial rule, the Chinese masters of Tibet are unable to cope with the fact that Tibetan youths who have never seen or heard of the Dalai Lama or a free Tibet in their lives are at the forefront of demonstrations and self-immolations against Chinese rule in Tibet." "This Boarding School system exists to cut off future generations of Tibetans from their social and cultural origins, so they can't even consider being a demonstration," he explained.

"The CCP forces Tibetan parents to send their children to the CCP's Boarding Schools after closing down local Tibetan schools. These students are not allowed to leave once they enrol in such schools. They are not even permitted to visit a local temple or take part in a Tibetan festival. "These schools have been constructed to'reprogram' the brains of the children so that Tibetan demonstrations like those that occurred across Tibet in 2008 do not occur again," John explained.

"The Tibetan community is suffering from major psychological issues as a result of the coercion and kidnapping of their children. Deprivation of their familial and social milieu, as well as, in some cases, sexual exploitation, is generating trauma and badly damaging the mental health of students living in a closed Chinese setting," he noted.

As the discussion's moderator, Vijay Kranti said that President Xi Jinping and his CCP colleagues' new idea of forcing Tibetan children to attend Chinese Boarding Schools across Tibet is a clear admission that their policies in Tibet have failed to win the Tibetan people's support for their colonial rule over Tibet, which they claim as Tibet's "liberation." While such schools reflect President Xi's and the CCP's desperation, they also demonstrate the Tibetan people's unwavering spirit and desire for a free and independent Tibet.

In his vote of gratitude, Sonam Tsering stated that the CCP rulers' draconian measures in Tibet have severely limited Tibetan people's ability to express public opinion against Chinese colonial control. The country's present educational policy is aimed towards brainwashing the youth. He informed the crowd, however, that neither President Xi nor his Communist Party will be able to shatter the Tibetan spirit. He stated that the Tibetan Youth Congress is still committed to attaining total independence for Tibet.

(Information Supplied  by Tibet.Net)

By Team TRC