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10 Lakh Tibetan Children Separated From Homes, Sent To Chinese Boarding Schools: UN Report

10 Lakh Tibetan Children Separated From Homes, Sent To Chinese Boarding Schools: UN Report

Experts have voiced alarm over this policy of “forced assimilation”

About a million Tibetan children in China have been separated from their families and placed into government-run boarding schools, United Nations (UN) said on Monday. Three independent UN human rights experts who raised the issue have voiced alarm over this policy of “forced assimilation,” calling it an ”erosion of identity” for Tibetan children. 

The scheme involves placing children from the Tibetan minority into residential schools where they are forced to complete a “compulsory education” curriculum in the Mandarin Chinese language. These schools provide educational content and an environment centred only around Han culture. The Han are the majority ethnic group in China, making up 92% of the mainland’s population. 

“We are very disturbed that in recent years the residential school system for Tibetan children appears to act as a mandatory large-scale programme intended to assimilate Tibetans into majority Han culture, contrary to international human rights standards,” the experts said. 

Meanwhile, these schools don’t provide for a substantive study of the Tibetan language, history and culture. Experts fear that many children might forget their native language, and face a struggle to communicate with their families. 

 “As a result, Tibetan children are losing their facility with their native language and the ability to communicate easily with their parents and grandparents in the Tibetan language, which contributes to their assimilation and erosion of their identity,” they added.  

Another concerning fact is a substantial increase in the number of residential schools operating in and outside of the Tibet Autonomous Region and the number of Tibetan children living in them. Though residential schools exist in other parts of China, their share in areas with Tibetan minority populations is much higher. Experts said that this is achieved by the closure of rural schools in areas which tend to be populated by Tibetans. 

 “Many residential schools are situated far from the family homes of students boarding in them. We are alarmed by what appears to be a policy of forced assimilation of the Tibetan identity into the dominant Han-Chinese majority, through a series of oppressive actions against Tibetan educational, religious and linguistic institutions,” the experts continued.  

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