Tibetan Children Denied Mother-Tongue Classes

(New York, March 5, 2020) – China’s “bilingual education” policy has accelerated the demise of Tibetan-medium instruction in primary schools in Tibetan areas, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The policy, carried out over the past decade in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) and other Tibetan areas, has increased Chinese language schooling at all levels except for the study of Tibetan language itself. 


Children in the Tibet Autonomous Region are losing access to education in their mother tongue.


Thousands of teachers are being sent to the region. They are not required to know Tibetan.


Children are taught lessons in Chinese at school and now it’s becoming mandatory for this to start at kindergarten from the age of three.


Tibetans only learn their native tongue in a language class.


Tibetan Child:

Except my grandpa, basically no one else in my family can speak Tibetan.


Tibetans already suffer severe restrictions on the rights to free speech, assembly, and religion.


The younger generation’s loss of fluency in Tibetan poses a grave threat to the continuity of Tibetan culture.


The government claims these actions are necessary for “nationality unity” and “national stability.”


Language rights for Tibetans and other minorities are guaranteed by China’s constitution and international law, but current policies deny these rights.


Women activists:

[Tibetan] We love to speak our mother tongue. Our mother tongue is at the core of our hearts. May our mother tongue live long!

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