REMARKS BY DAVID MISSALS (TIBET INITIATIVE DEUTSCHLAND) AT SINO EURO VOICES CONFERENCE 30 SEPTEMBER 2022
Approx. 800,000 Tibetan children between 6 and 18 years are living in colonial boarding schools (78% of Tibetan students); unknown number of 4 & 5-year-olds
• Boarding schools specifically target Tibetans and other “ethnic minorities,” as the rate of Chinese students in boarding schools is dramatically lower
• As part of China’s “school consolidation policy” at the beginning of the millennium, many rural schools all over China were closed and merged into boarding schools. In 2012, the state council curbed this trend due to popular outcry.
• But not in so-called “minority regions”: In 2015, the State Council called for “strengthening boarding school construction” to “realize the long-term stability of the country”.
• Result: In Tibetan areas much more children are sent to boarding schools. 14.1 % of rural elementary children are boarding all over China, in the Tibetan Autonomous Region almost 80% of elementary school children are on boarding schools (2018).
• risk of losing their mother tongue and connection to their cultural identity (classes in Chinese, live apart from families & culture)
• In 2018, the State Council called for “actively carrying out educational and teaching activities [in boarding schools] that are conducive to promoting ethnic unity and integration, and guide students to widely use the national language [i.e., Chinese] in school life and learning.“
• In January 2021, a committee of the National People’s Congress ruled that local regulations permitting schools to use minority languages are “incompatible with the Chinese Constitution.“ In July 2021, the Ministry of Education ordered that all “ethnic and rural” kindergartens (usually ages three to five) must operate in Mandarin by fall 2021.
• Supported by witness statements from Tibet. Quote of elementary school teacher: „In [my area] it is mandatory to send children aged four and above to boarding schools. Usually there are very few Tibetan teachers; the majority are Chinese. So teachers only speak in Mandarin and conduct all school curriculum in Mandarin, including nursery rhymes and bedtime stories. When they join primary school at age seven, hardly any of them can speak Tibetan.“
• parents have no choice: are compelled to send their children to boarding schools due to a lack of alternatives; intimidation and threats are used to coerce reluctant parents to send their children to such schools
• police officers coming to villages threatening parents, fines imposed on parents
• result of boarding schools: emotional and psychological distress, including extreme feelings of loneliness and isolation
• In 2016, a survey-based study by a Tibetan researcher showed “alienation” in Tibetan youths attending rural colonial boarding schools in Qinghai: More than one in three children were experiencing high levels of alienation. They found Tibetan children developed an inability to connect in a meaningful way with others.
• Why? individual accounts of sexual harassment, bullying and making students to reject their own roots. And: contact to family heavily restricted
• In Sichuan, Chinese researchers documented that, due to distance and difficult travel, as many as 80% of Tibetan children do not return home during the school year (even for holidays). Even phone calls are regulated; at one school in Sichuan, children are only allowed 3 minutes per day to call home from a landline in a security guard’s office. In Qinghai, at one school: policy – children to turn in their cell phones while they are at the school.
• Study by another Chinese researcher on TAR boarding school students recalls scenes: parents attempting to visit their children in Lhasa. Shut out of the school grounds, family members periodically tried to meet their children at a fence in order to bring the children treats or daily necessities. However, this was discouraged by administrators and teachers, who told the children they would lose academic points if they went to the fence.
• End with two quotes of the researcher:
• “A girl in the fourth grade told me her parents did not come, I asked her if she wanted [her] parents to come? She replied that she didn’t want them to come. She told her parents not to come to school because points would be deducted if they came to the school. ‘If the points [were] not deducted, [would] you want them to come?’ She nodded while carrying on cleaning.”
• “I saw a little boy from second grade talking to a parent across the fence, looking back while talking, frowning, worried that the teacher on duty would catch him and deduct points…The students hurriedly took things from their parents and ran back. The expression on the little boy‘s face [indicated] that he wanted to cry….”
• We believe these colonial boarding schools have to be shut down immediately to prevent Tibetan identity to be further eradicated.
作者 David Missals
據統計，我們知道大約有 800,000 名 6 至 18 歲的藏族兒童住在殖民式寄宿學校（佔藏族學生的 78%）；4 歲和 5 歲兒童的數量不詳。寄宿學校專門針對藏族和其他「少數民族」，中國學生在寄宿學校的比例要低得多。
2015 年，國務院要求「加強寄宿制學校建設」，以實現國家長治久安。結果，在藏區有更多的孩子被送到寄宿學校。中國有 14.1% 的農村小學生實行寄宿制，西藏自治區近 80% 的小學生都在寄宿制學校（2018 年）。
2021 年 1 月，全國人大委員會裁定，原來允許學校使用少數民族語言的地方性法規「不符合中國憲法」。2021 年 7 月，教育部下令所有「民族和農村」幼兒園（通常3 至 5 歲）必須在 2021 年秋季之前以普通話操作。
在四川，中國研究人員記錄到，由於距離遙遠和旅行困難，多達 80% 的藏族兒童在學年期間（即使是假期）都不回家。甚至電話也受到監管，在四川的一所學校，每天只允許孩子們在保安辦公室用固定電話給家裡打電話 3 分鐘。在青海，某一所學校的政策是，孩子們在校期間必須上交手機。