Education delivers choices for Tibetan herder families

(Xinhua) 10:42, November 27, 2023

LHASA, Nov. 25 (Xinhua) -- Sequ Zhoima, a 15-year-old from southwest China's Xizang Autonomous Region, regards her classmates, from all corners of the grassland where she was born and raised, as her second "family."

Sequ Zhoima, a student in the eighth grade at Damxung County Middle School, joins 51 other students in embracing bilingual education.

Positioned at the southern foot of the Nyanchen Thanglha Mountains, Damxung boasts an average elevation of around 4,200 meters. Damxung means "meticulously chosen pasture" in the Tibetan language.

In Qoiden Village, Lungring Township, Sequ Zhoima's family tends to more than 80 yaks. Relying on a combination of herding and odd jobs, her parents support four children.

Her father, Cedain Doje, said that "we didn't have the opportunity to go to school when we were young, but now, with favorable national policies, we aspire to provide our children with the chance to go to school and learn as much as possible."

Xizang historically faced challenges due to limited educational resources and teaching facilities. Over the past decades, increasing investments have been made to enhance education, with focus on both funding and manpower.

Damxung County Middle School, covering a total area of 120,000 square meters, now has 2,517 students.

Sequ Zhoima finds the most joy in attending math classes. Her academic performance may not be exceptional, but every time she solves a problem, she feels a keen sense of accomplishment.

Tibetan language class is another favorite of hers, and she is impressed by the teacher's ability to "breathe life into the textbook stories through creative metaphors and vibrant examples."

The distinctive feature of having a "week" comprising 14 days, 10 days of classes followed by a 4-day break, is common among schools in agricultural and pastoral regions.

On the "roof of the world," where the population density is as low as three people per square km, this arrangement not only reduces the need for parents to transport their children but also contributes to a more effective learning experience for the students.

Sequ Zhoima and her three siblings all receive education at schools in Xizang. The 15-year free-education policy and student-assistance initiatives in the region have spared Cedain Doje from shouldering intense financial burdens. All educational expenses, including tuition, textbooks, accommodation and meals, are covered at no cost.

"If the children decide to return to herding in the future, I would also be pleased," said Cedain Doje. "But I hope it's a choice they make after experiencing the world, not out of the necessity of making a living."

Official statistics showed that the average years of education experienced by the newly-added workforce in the region had increased to 13.1 years in 2022.

(Web editor: Zhang Kaiwei, Xian Jiangnan)


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