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3. Tibetan Education: Difficulties and Recovery (1966-1986)


During the 10-year "cultural revolution" (1966-76), Tibetan education also suffered great damage. Schools were suspended, with students travelling to other parts of Tibet to make revolution and classrooms occupied for other purposes. Teachers were criticized and repudiated. Once flourishing education undertakings faced disaster.

However, in 1974, the State Education Commission sent many inland teachers to Tibet. There, they joined Tibetan teachers in making contributions to educational development.

In 1976, the "cultural revolution" was over. Tibet's educational sector began to get back on track. School order was gradually restored. In the autumn of 1977, Tibet for the first time introduced examinations for enrollment in colleges and middle schools. The quality of education began to improve. In 1979, the Education Commission of the people's government of the Tibet Autonomous Region surveyed all schools, and, on this basis, worked out three plans for readjustment of primary and middle schools and institutions of higher learning, involving their distribution, size and construction. In March 1980, the CPC Central Committee held a work conference on Tibetan education. It was decided during the conference that efforts be made to gradually develop primary school education, eliminate illiteracy and make Tibetan language a compulsory subject for students of Han and Tibetan nationalities. It was also decided to transform all non-governmental primary schools into state-run ones, and establish more junior and senior middle schools, and compile and print textbooks in Tibetan. Under the strategic guiding principle for the development of Tibetan education, by the end of 1983, school conditions had improved, primary education was strengthened, and the quality of teaching and learning increased. A great number of relatively qualified schools emerged.

During this period, the Central Government and the local government of Tibet gave much preferential treatment to Tibetan education, including tuition waiver for primary school pupils in cities and towns, and free food, clothing and accommodation for pupils living in the border areas. The people's government of the Tibet Autonomous Region gave additional grain totaling 3-5 million kg to pupils as a subsidy. From 1980 to 1984, the Central Government earmarked more than 1.8 million yuan for the training of 2,224 teachers and 218 management carders. At the same time, teacher's colleges in inland China helped train 1,500 teachers. Tibet's colleges and technical secondary schools mainly absorbed students of Tibetan and other ethnic groups, and the Tibetan language, history, medicine and arts were added to the curriculum.

The readjustment and reform revitalized Tibetan education. But, due to unfavorable factors, some problems were not eliminated.

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