Foreword I II III IV VVI VII Conclusion

VI. Popular Education Makes a Historic Leap

There were no proper schools in old Tibet. Monasteries monopolized education, and there were only a few government schools for training only clerical and secular officials, where most of the students were children of the nobility. The masses of serfs and slaves had no chance to receive education at all and illiterate persons accounted for 95 percent of their total number.

Less than 300 students studied in the state-run Lhasa Primary School, which was established by the Ministry of Education of the National Government in 1937, even during its period of full bloom, and only 12 students graduated from higher primary school during its 10 or so years of operation.

The People's Government of the Tibet Autonomous Region has always regarded it as an important task to develop popular education to enhance the scientific and cultural qualities of all the Tibetans since Tibet carried out the Democratic Reform. To guarantee the people's right to receive education in accordance with the law, the autonomous region promulgated for implementation the Measures of Compulsory Education in the Tibet Autonomous Region and A Plan for Compulsory Education in the Tibet Autonomous Region in 1994, and adopted a policy which favored investment in education, providing in explicit terms that the proportion of education to either its annual financial budget or annual investment plan in capital construction should reach 17 percent.

The investment in education within the local budget totaled 1.03 billion yuan from 1990 to 1995. At present, a fairly complete educational system has taken initial shape in Tibet. The teaching and administrative staff have reached 22,279, among whom 19,276 are full-time teachers, and the teachers of ethnic minorities, with most being Tibetans, account for over 80 percent.

Education in Tibet has made great strides. According to statistics, Tibet now boasts 820 primary schools, 101 middle schools and 3,033 teaching centers, with a total enrollment of 354, 644 in primary and middle schools, including 34,756 junior middle school students and 9,451 senior middle school students within the region itself. The enrollment ratio of school-age children has reached 83.4 percent. A three-year compulsory education system has been popularized in pastoral areas; in agricultural areas, six years; and in major cities and towns, nine years. Sixteen secondary vocational schools have been set up in the region, and the number of students attending such schools both within and outside Tibet has reached 8,161. With the development of adult education, the illiteracy rate of Tibetan young and middle-aged people declined from 95 percent before 1951 to 42 percent in 1999.

Higher education has also been developed rapidly. Tibet has now established four universities-the Tibet Ethnic Institute, Tibet Institute of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry, Tibet University, and Tibet College of Tibetan Medicine, with a total enrollment of 5,249.

In the last few decades in Tibet, over 20,000 students have graduated from universities, and more than 23,000 from secondary vocational schools. Some Tibetans have received master's or doctor 's degrees. A large number of Tibetan professionals have thus been trained, including scientists, engineers, professors, doctors, writers and artists.