A million Tibetan children in Chinese boarding schools: the UN fears their forced assimilation and the loss of their identity
"We are very disturbed that in recent years the boarding school system for Tibetan children appears to be acting as a large-scale compulsory program designed to assimilate Tibetans into the majority Han culture, contrary to international human rights standards."
At the beginning of February, UN experts revealed that they were alarmed by the separation of a million Tibetan children from their families and their forced assimilation into residential schools. Last November, these three UN special rapporteurs had already written about this a letter to the Chinese government. They stay in contact with them.
According to Fernand de Varennes, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues, Farida Shaheed, Special Rapporteur on the right to education and Alexandra Xanthaki, Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, one million minority children Tibetans are affected by Chinese government policies that seek to culturally, religiously, and linguistically assimilate Tibetans through a system of boarding schools.
"We are very disturbed that in recent years the residential school system for Tibetan children appears to be acting as a large-scale compulsory program designed to assimilate Tibetans into the majority Han culture, contrary to international human rights standards," they said. they stated.
The “compulsory education” curriculum of these boarding schools is conducted in Mandarin. These schools do not offer an in-depth study of the language, history and culture of the Tibetan minority, effectively depriving Tibetan students of relevant cultural learning. “As a result, Tibetan children lose their fluency with their native language and the ability to easily communicate with their parents and grandparents in the Tibetan language, which contributes to their assimilation and the erosion of their identity,” said the experts.
And experts worry that the vast majority of Tibetan children are in boarding schools. An impressive number, one million children, linked to the closure of rural schools in areas populated by the Tibetan minority.
"This increase in the number of internal Tibetan students is achieved by closing rural schools in areas that tend to be populated by Tibetans, and replacing them with township or county schools that almost exclusively use Putonghua in the teaching and communications, and generally requiring children to board. Many of these boarding schools are located far from the family homes of the students who board there."
For experts, it could be "a policy of forced assimilation of Tibetan identity to the dominant Han-Chinese majority, through a series of repressive actions against Tibetan educational, religious and linguistic institutions".