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The Development of Higher Education in the TAR: From UNESCOs Perspective


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Title: The Development of Higher Education in the TAR: From UNESCOs Perspective

The Development of Higher Education in the TAR
From UNESCOs Perspective
  • Wu, Mei
  • Faculty of Education
  • The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

  • Tibet is a highly controversial area in the
    present world
  • An unbiased perspective is needed for the
    analysis of the higher education in the TAR.
  • A top selection Higher Education in the
    Twenty-First Century vision and Action. (UNESCO)

  • Introduction
  • Access to higher education
  • Quantity and quality
  • Subjects and language
  • Conclusion

  • 50th anniversary of the higher education in the
  • In 1958, Tibetan Public School (Xizang
    gongxue) founded.
  • A complete tertiary education system covering
    doctorate and master's degrees, bachelor degree
    and diploma of all higher education level.

  • By 2006, six modern universities and colleges had
    been established in Tibet.
  • ? Tibet Institute for Nationalities (TIN,
  • ? Tibet University (TU,1985)
  • ? Traditional Tibetan Medicine College
  • ? Tibet Police College (TPC, 2003)
  • ? Tibet Technical College ( TTC, 2005)
  • ? Tibet Teachers College (TTC,2006).
  • More than 20,000 students including a group of
    Tibetan doctors and masters, graduated from the
    universities and colleges.
  • 26,767 college students at present

Access to higher education
  • No discrimination can be accepted in granting
    access to higher education on grounds of race,
    gender, language or religion, or economic,
    cultural or social distinctions, or physical
    disabilities (UNESCO, 1998) .

  • The National Unified Higher Education Enrollment
  • China's annual National College Entrance
    Examination, (NCEE)
  • Preferential policy (1980)
  • 1) Minority nationality classes.
  • 2) Their own entrance examinations.
  • 3) The university examination in their
    native language.
  • 4) The lower pass mark.
  • 5) Priority in admission

The proportion of Tibetans and other non-Han
Chinese nationalities in tertiary enrollment
  • 48.6 (1984)
  • 57.8 (1993)
  • 72.7 (2008)

Table 1 Average Number of University Students
per 100,000 (2005)
Preferential polices
  • The central governments enormous investment in
    finance and human resources
  • A great leap forward since 1958
  • From nil to a talents pool and research
    foundation of Tibet

Quantity and quality
  • Higher education shall be equally accessible
    to all on the basis of merit . (UNESCO, 1998)

  • In 2007
  • The number of college students attained 26,767
  • 17.4 gross enrollment rate (Council of PRC,

Numbers of Enrollment and Total Students from
1965 to 2007 (Council of PRC, 2006-2008)
(No Transcript)
Table2 the Comparison of Admission Scores
between the TAR and Other Regions in 2008
Table 3 Admission Scores in the TAR (2000 to
  • Students encountered many difficulties in
  • Teachers have to face more challenges
  • Some graduates have not reached the standards the
    subject requires
  • The reform of employment system of graduates in
  • Minority graduates have to rely on the special
    preferential policy to find jobs

  • The realization of the equity of entrance is
    at the expense of the equality of consequence
  • the same ability and employment competitiveness.

Subjects and languages
The policy debate on the role of higher education
in a changing world has to be based on a
judicious balance between the preservation of
those features which should remain as part of the
educational and cultural heritage and the changes
which are essential to preserve the role society
accords to higher education. (Policy Paper for
Change and Development in Higher Education .
UNESCO, 1995)
Three stages in the past 50 years
  • Stage 1 Training the Tibetan politics cadres and
    the professional cadres (1958-1976)
  • Tibetan and Chinese literacy courses
  • 23 programs, covering medical science, teachers
    education, accounting, agriculture, forestry,
    animal husbandry, and so on.

  • Stage 2 Serving the development of Tibetan
    economy and preserving the traditional Tibetan
    culture (1980-1998)
  • Tibet University (1985)
  • Tibetan Language, Chinese Language, Mathematics,
    Physics, Tibetan medicine and others
  • Traditional Tibetan Medicine College (1993)
  • Traditional Tibetan medicine and pharmacy

  • Stage 3 Emphasizing the comprehensive, minority
    and vocational subjects (1999- )
  • New subjects (especially vocational ones),
    including computer science and technology,
    marketing, hospitality and tourism, management,
    Tibetan-Chinese-English translation, arts and
    crafts, and others.
  • A group of subjects with the minority title
    "minority history", "minority language",
    "minority art", and "minority religion".
  • More than 70 undergraduate programs and 60 higher
    vocational education programs.

Teaching language
  • Tibetan language used as teaching language in
    Tibetan literature, Tibetan language and Tibetan
  • Except these subjects, Chinese used as
    instruction language in other curricula.

Language teaching
  • Clear requirements for Tibetan language learning.
    For instance
  • Tibetan language is a compulsory course for every
    student in TU and TIN
  • Some electives Tibetan writing, Tibetan-Chinese
    translation and Tibetan spoken language.

  • Tibetan language cannot be used as teaching
    language in campus at present
  • Lack of accurate translation vocabulary of modern
    science and technology, as well as the social
    science terminology
  • The three major Tibetan dialects can not be well
    understood by one another
  • Chinese used as the teaching language for a long
    time would certainly weaken the Tibetan culture
    in some extent.

Special policies
  • The history of the development of subjects and
    languages reflects two main goals of higher
    education in the TAR
  • Training professionals for social development of
    the TAR
  • Preserving the Tibetan traditional culture

  • The educational philosophy and policy of the
    Chinese government are in line with the UNESCOs
    in many aspects.
  • As a result of the TAR political sensitivity,
    many education issues are converted to political
  • The policies and practices with good intention
    distorted in the reality.
  • The bureaucracy in the Chinese education system
  • Pay more attention on the Preferential policies
    than the Special policies

  • What the Tibetans have to face is "modernization"
    rather than "Hanization" .
  • Higher education should play a vital role in
    Tibetan modernization and transformation.