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Women's Education programs in Tibet Foster Talent


''My home is in the countryside. My mother used to be a serf. She has never attended school.'' said Chung-chung, a student at the Department of Mathematics in the University of Tibet. " I'm the first university student in my family. I received a free education from primal school to university, she said.

The University of Tibet has a student population of 1,037; about 80 percent are Tibetans and 443 are women who Comprise 42 percent of the total. Many students like Chung-chung are from rural or pastoral areas. The university has a facuity of 591; 66.3 percent are Tibetans and 277 are women.In 1989 the state provided funding for the Tibetan Medical institute, with most Tibetan features. There, classes are taught in the Tibetan language. Most of the students are of the Tibetan nationality; one-third of them are women.

''Forty years ago, it was completely impossible for us to '' said student study Tibetan medical science and medicines.Degyi, ''in Tibet, doctors of Tibetan medicine are highly regarded. People consider them to be cl kind of 'god who can save lives.. But in old Tibet, women were referred to as 'an ominous thing' and 'half human being and half monster,' and were not allowed to study Tibetan medical science or Tibetan medicines. We are women of a lucky generation, just like my came,- she said, Degyi means happiness in Tibetan.

There are several women teachers at the Tibetan Medical Institute. They say they believe their women students study especially hard. AIl students are required to memorize ''The Four-volume Medical Code. '' a text of 67,000 words, the women students usually are found better in memorizing results than their male counterparts. Perhaps they realize how difficult t is for them to get the chance to go to the institute.

The state has a policy that allows students to receive a free education in Tibet, from the primary school level to the university and institute. This preferential policy is only practiced in Tibet. In old Tibet, there were no modern schools and no university. Today in Tibet, students have the chance to attend one university or three institutes.

Until 1993, 2,240 students were enrolled at the university and institute level; women made up 30-40 percent of the student body. It has been found that the women students study harder and many have achieved excellence in their fiends of study. Choedhar for example, who graduated from the English Department at the University of Tibet, now continues her advanced studies at the University of Berne in Switzerland.

G.yang-can, a young chemistry teacher who graduated the University of Tibet, is the first Tibetan to study for a doctorate in the United States. In 1989 the Central Institute for Nationalities offered the first class for master's students; nine were Tibetans and two were women Tibetans. These women, Lamo-mtsho and Yang Jiefen, have both received their master's degrees in law.

Women didn't have the chance to receive an education the old Tibet, when lamaseries, the old-style official schools and a few private schools excluded females. At that time the majority of Tibetan women were illiterate.

After the peaceful liberation of Tibet in 1951, women who were originally slaves, serfs or secants became part Of the first coup of women to receive an education. Leaden, the former deputy editor-in-chief of the Tibetan edition of ''Tibetan Daily'' as among that group.

When Lhadon was 10, both of her parents died of pestilence which claimed half the population of her village, radon was forced to herd cattle to support herself.

In 1951 an advanced party of the People's Liberation Army passed through her home village. The soldiers helped the Tibetans carry water and firewood. The serfs called them "buddha's soldiers.'' Lhadon very much admired a woman oldies who worked as an interpreter of the Tibetan language, after the soldiers left. Lhadon decided to join the army. She balked for three days and nights alone in mountains and finally fund a group of P.L.A. soldiers. She joined the P.L.A. and 1 allowed the army to Lhasa. She has been a member of the propaganda team when the P.L.A. built the Qinghai-Tibet and Sichuan-Tibet highways.

Because of her youth, the army later sent her to sturdy at the Tibet military region's cadre school. In 1950 she went to Beijing to study at the Central Institute for Nationalities. In 1959 she returned to Tibet as the first woman institute graduate, and worked at the newly established Tibetan edition of ''Tibetan Daily.'' She has been there for the past 30 years,

According to the late Premier Zhou Enlai's instructions, in 1961 the Central Institute for Nationalities ran an ancient Tibetan language research class for postgraduate students, Kalsang, the daughter of a slave, attended this class. Today she teaches at the University of Tibet, Lhadon, Kalsang and many of their classmates represent the first group of women intellectuals in Tibet.

Modern, regular education was established after the peaceful liberation of Tibet, while the rapid development of education for young Tibetan women began in 1959 after the Democratic Reform. Emancipated serfs sent their daughters to primary schools, high schools and universities. Hence, the first Seneration of female Tibetan students appeared in Tibetan history. From 1959 to 1988, there were 9,307 university students,61,700 high school students, 17, 1 19 technical secondary school students and 220,000 primary school students; among them were many young women.

In 1986 the ''Compulsory Education Law of the People's Republic of China'' was promulgated. Article 6 of the law stipulates: ''All children who have reached the age of six shall enroll in school and receive compulsory education for the prescribed number of years, regardless of sex, nationality or race. In areas where that is not possible, the beginning of schooling may be postponed to the age of seven.'' Article 12 stipulates: ''The State Council and the local people's governments at various levels shall be responsible for raising funds for the operating expenses and capital construction investment needed for the implementation of compulsory education, and the funds must be fully guaranteed.''

The promulgation of the Compulsory Education Law has once again stressed the education of female children. Beginning in 1985, the Tibetan Autonomous Region carried out the policy of supplying meals, clothing and lodging for primary and high school students in the impoverished areas, and provided boarding school for students living in the vast farming and pastoral areas. Consequently, the rate of female children going to school has steadily increased. In 1993 the school entrance rate of school age children rose to 60.4 percent, an increase of 20 percent from 1986.

In order to help Tibet develop its educational system, the state has run Tibetan high schools. Tibetan Technical Secondary Schools and classes for Tibetan students in the country's interior. Currently 1 1.000 Tibetan students are studying in 75 schools in 25 provinces, cities, autonomous regions or attached to the state ministries and commissions. The state aye for their food, clothing, lodging and tuition.

In the autumn of 1992, 279 high school students who had graduated from the inland schools participated the nationwide university and college enrollment examination. All of them passed the examination. And another 600 Tibetan graduates of technical secondary schools returned to Tibet.

Senam Dolma, a graduate of the Second Nursery Local School in Tianjin found that there were only two kindergartens in her hometown of Xigaze which were unable to meet the needs of pre-school age children. She thought that in order to raise the cultural level of the Tibetan nation, that literacy should begin with the children. So she set up the first private kindergarten, and received about 100 children in the two weeks of registration.

In recent years, not only city residents but farmers in the countryside have also begun to focus on pre-school education. In 1982 Tiering Dolma set up the first farmer-run kindergarten in Zedang, Shannan Prefecture. Over the ten past years, this kindergarten has sent more than 500 farmers children to the key primary schools in the Shannan Prefecture. Some of the children were later admitted to inland Tibetan schools.

Beginning in October 1989, the China Youth Development Foundation carried out the ''Hope Project'' throughout the country. The project enables children who have dropped out of school because of poverty to return to education. In June 1992 the ''Hope Project'' was carried out in Tibet. By 1994 it had collected 1 .97 million yuan, and helped to build eight Hope Primary Schools and offer two Hope Classes. Their efforts enabled 1000 children to return to the classroom. Among the children who received aid, many are girls.

To wipe out illiteracy among women is an important task for uplifting the cultural level of Tibetan women. For more than ten years, women's organizations at all levels in Tibet have organized literacy classes in the rural and pastoral areas. In 1978 Kalsang Choedon ran a literacy class in Kaduo Village. Nedong Country, persuading illiterates aged 1 5-45 to participate. Most of the students were women.

In the beginning, only a few people went to her class. But those who participated soon showed their ability and now they can keep accounts and read directions for farm chemicals and synthetic fertilizers. From that time on, more and more women have attended the class. By 1990, 149 villagers had passed the countywide examinations and obtained a certificate of literacy. Among them, 121 are women.

Today there are only seven women in the village who are considered illiterate. Kalang Choedon has been awarded a prize for her efforts to eliminate illiteracy, which she keeps in a place of honor in her home.

In the past five years about 26,000 women is have learned how to read and write. The outcome of that education Tibetan women have received is beneficial not only to the development of the local agricultural production, but also for the cultivation of the next generation.

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