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2. Flourishing Development of Modern Education(1959-1965)


In 1959, when an armed rebellion launched by separatists in the upper echelon of Tibetan ruling class was crushed, Democratic Reform was launched to uproot feudal serfdom. Serfs and slaves gained their freedom and were given farmland and domestic animals. These changes greatly aroused people's enthusiasm for education. As the existing schools could no longer meet the growing demand, the Preparatory Committee for the Founding of the Tibetan Autonomous Region reopened the public schools suspended in 1957 and worked out the principle to encourage the development mainly of non-governmental schools while running public schools and subsidizing those run by the collective. The Tibetans were encouraged to run schools with funds they had raised. In 1965, when the Tibetan Autonomous Region was founded, Tibet boasted 87 public primary schools, and 1,735 non-governmental schools, with 66,781 pupils in total; four middle schools with enrollment of 1,059; one secondary teacher's school-the Lhasa Teacher's School; and Tibet's first institution of higher learning-the Tibetan Nationality College. Besides, there were nine nurseries and kindergartens with 700 children.

Under the government principle to steadily develop Tibetan education, unprecedented achievements were made. A basic education system-composed of kindergartens, primary and middle schools, technical secondary schools, colleges and universities, adult colleges and local-cadre training courses- took its initial shape.

The schools were very flexible and varied from full-time, half-day, every other day, off-season, winter, evening, and moving forms. Those aged six to 20 could study. The schools were normally small in size, and there were a great many of them. They made full use of local conditions and invited local educated people to teach. Students studied mainly Tibetan language. Some schools also had arithmetic and politics in their curriculum. Funds needed by non-government schools were partly raised from among the local people, partly earned by the pupils and partly subsidized by the state. In state-run primary school, about 10 percent of the poverty-stricken pupils with good scores were able to get state scholarships. In addition, 40 percent of the middle school students and all children from the families of farmers and herdsmen living in border areas could enjoy state scholarship. Students learning at the teacher's schools enjoyed free meals, clothing and accommodation.

During this period, Tibetan education developed apace. However, the educational quality was low and school conditions were poor. In 1962, all schools in Tibet defined their target on education-"improving conditions of existing schools and training more teachers, especially those of Tibetan nationality." In 1965, Tibet held its first conference on education to sum up experience for further improvement in the quality of school education.

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