China Bans Tibetan Language in Schools in Sichuan Province


China has banned the teaching and use of the Tibetan language at elementary and middle schools in two Tibetan-populated regions in southwestern China, sources inside the country said, requiring all instruction to be in Mandarin.

The move could lead to the extinction of the language in the regions – and could endanger its viability across the country, Tibetan activists fear.

The Chinese government ordered the ban in government-run schools in Kardze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture and Ngaba Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan Province, starting with the fall semester that began in September, a Tibetan source said.

Middle school students currently enrolled can finish the next two years of studies in Tibetan, but starting in 2025, all classes will be held in Mandarin, the person said.

Previously, state-run schools in the region taught Tibetan language classes to students, and subjects including mathematics, science, physics, geography, history and social studies were conducted in Tibetan. Mandarin was also taught as a language course.

But now, the Chinese government has expedited the teaching of all school subjects in Mandarin in schools in the 12 counties comprising Ngaba Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in what it said was an effort to raise education standards, teachers and parents of students said.

‘Soft atrocity’

The ban is part of Beijing’s wider “Sinicization” program that has also restricted the language and culture of Uyghurs and other minorities in China – despite protections in China’s Constitution that permit minority groups to use their own language in their own regions.

Another Tibetan source called the step a “soft atrocity.”

“On the pretext of the government’s program, China is trying to completely wipe out the Tibetan language,” said the person who, like others in this report, declined to be identified out of concern for their safety.

“China’s use of soft atrocities, instead of forcible measures, is leading to the complete annihilation of Tibetan society and education, with no scope for revival,” the source said.


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