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Minority Education in ChinaBalancing Unity and Diversity in an Era of Critical Pluralism$
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James Leibold and Yangbin Chen

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9789888208135

Published to Hong Kong Scholarship Online: May 2014

DOI: 10.5790/hongkong/9789888208135.001.0001

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Bilingual Education and Language Policy in Tibet

Bilingual Education and Language Policy in Tibet

(p.83) 4 Bilingual Education and Language Policy in Tibet
Minority Education in China

Ma Rong

Hong Kong University Press

In this chapter, Ma Rong provides a detailed and nuanced overview of bilingual education in the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR). Charting the historical development of bilingualism in TAR since 1952, Ma analyzes various models for balancing Putonghua and Tibet language instruction, highlighting the differences of opinion among state officials and Tibetan families over the relative value of both languages, and the best methods for increasing enrolment, promoting high quality educational outcomes, and improving life chances. He is critical of the current trend that does not require Han students in the TAR to study the Tibetan language and culture, and stresses the importance of adapting the model of bilingual education to local conditions. In the end, however, he stresses the centrality of Putonghua for Tibet, and contends that “if a group does not learn the language of mainstream society, especially for the groups relatively less developed in industrialization due to historical reasons, it will be impossible for the members of this group to participate in national education, economy, and social development. In most cases, these groups will be marginalized in all aspects and then ethnic conflicts will be inevitable.”

Keywords:   Tibet Autonomous Region, China, Multilingual education, Bilingualism, Putonghua, Tibetan language, Minority education, Models of bilingualism, Language learning

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