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1.Creation of Modern Education (1951-1958)


The CPC Central Committee headed by Chairman Mao Zedong paid much attention to Tibetan education. Even on the eve of the peaceful liberation of Tibet in 1951, it worked out a special policy to help Tibet develop its economy, culture and education. In October 1950, Qamdo won liberation, and in March 1951 the Qamdo Primary School was set up, the first to introduce modern education in Tibetan history.

On May 23, 1951, the Central Government of the People's Republic of China and the local government of Tibet signed the 17-article Agreement on the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet. Article 9 of the agreement stipulated: "The spoken and written language and school education of the Tibetan nationality shall be developed step by step in accordance with the actual conditions in Tibet." In August 1952, the Lhasa Primary School was set up with Zhang Guohua, then commander of the PLA Tibetan Military Region, serving as its board chairman and honorary headmaster. Chijiang Lobsang Yexei, assistant sutra teacher of the Dalai Lama, was its headmaster. This was followed by the establishment of a group of new-type primary schools in Xigaze, Chagyab, Bome, Nyingchi and Ngari. In April 1956, the Preparatory Committee for the Founding of the Tibet Autonomous Region was eatablished. Under it was the Cultural Education Department in charge of educational work for the whole of Tibet. This marked an end to the past history when Tibet had no specialized educational adminstrative organ. September 1956 saw the establishment of the Lhasa Middle School, the first of its kind in Tibet. By June 1957, there were 98 public primary schools with 6,360 pupils and one junior middle school in Tibet. In addition, two middle school classes were set up in a primary school, with a total enrollment of 700 students.

In the second half of 1957, following Central Government instruction to readjust, consolidate and enhance the equality of the school education, the 98 primary schools were reduced to 13 with relatively better conditions and 3,460 pupils.

This period of time saw the co-existence of the old and new political powers, two military forces and two educational systems in Tibet. Separatists in the upper echelon of the ruling class who hated to see the promotion of education in Tibet asserted that "Tibet was in short of labor power; children going to school would interfere with production" and "lead to the reduction of the number of lamas." They spread rumors to undermine school education, and even beat those who continued to go to school. As a result, the faculty with the Lhasa Primary School had to escort all students to and from school every day.

All the new schools were financed by the Central Government. All students enjoyed scholarship. Orphans who had formerly wandered the streets were arranged to live in the school dorm. There was no age limitation nor basic educational requirement, with the eldest pupil aged 50 and the youngest 12. They came from noble, official or business families. Some were serfs or servants sent by lamas and nobles to study in place of their children.

During this period, the newly created people's education undertakings were consolidated and developed under the extremely difficult and complicated conditions largely because of the introduction of a policy suitable to Tibet's situation, and new management and teaching methods utterly different from the old ones. Many pupils who originally studied in private schools transferred to the new public schools, and those learning in foreign countries returned.

During the time when the Tibetan people's education was being established, the Central Government had all along given priority to nurturing Tibetan cadres. For this purpose, various cadre training courses were held in Lhasa and elsewhere. Before long, the Tibetan Cadre College, the Xianyan Public College, and the Tibetan Communist Youth League School were set up. They trained about 10,000 cadres of Tibetan and other ethnic groups, greatly promoting the development of work in all circles.

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