Northwest China province to train thousands of bilingual teachers for schools in ethnic minority areas

10:43, January 29, 2011      

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Northwest China's Qinghai Province will train at least 5,500 bilingual teachers by 2015 to teach in both Mandarin and ethnic minority languages -- mostly Tibetan -- in primary and secondary schools across the province.

Primary and middle school students in Qinghai's five Tibetan autonomous prefectures are instructed in both the Tibetan language and Putonghua -- China's standard language, known as Mandarin in English.

Putonghua is not widely spoken especially in rural Tibetan areas.

Provincial education officials told Xinhua Friday that the percentage of bilingual teachers -- with a relatively small number of Mongolian, Mandarin-speaking teachers -- will be increased from the current 15 percent.

They added they will not change the bilingual system or sideline any language.

More than 196,500 students in 544 primary and secondary schools in six ethnic minority prefectures in Qinghai are being taught in ethnic languages, provincial education department data shows.

Terangtai, a deputy head of the department, said that in addition to language training, hundreds of bilingual graduates are becoming teachers every year.

About 4,000 bilingual students graduated from the province's teachers' colleges and went to teach in schools in mostly rural areas over the last 10 years, he said.

The province, located on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, has large areas with a predominantly Tibetan population.

Last October, concerned the Tibetan language may be sidelined in education reforms, middle school students in a number of Tibetan prefectures took to the streets in a peaceful protest.

Authorities said the reforms aimed to strengthen the bilingual capabilities of students, adding that they did not intend to sideline either language.

The government has also promised that no teachers will be dismissed for their language abilities.

Source: Xinhua
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