Education in Tibet

Department of Education is one of the seven main departments of the executive organ of the Central Tibetan Administration. After coming into exile in 1959, His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama had given top priority to education and requested the then Indian Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru for establishing separate schools for Tibetan refugee children. It was established in 1960 to look after the educational affairs of the Tibetan administration and community in exile. The heart purpose of establishing schools for Tibetans was for provision of quality modern education and preservation of the Tibetan language and culture at the same time. This idea is commonly referred to as the twin-object of the Tibetan schools in exile and became the heart and soul of the Tibetan education policy. The overall level of success towards providing quality high class modern education over the past 51 years has remained remarkably high. There are around 73 Tibetan schools – excluding the pre-primary sections and private schools – 24,000 students and 2,200 staff members in these schools. The autonomous school administrative bodies include: Central Tibetan Schools Administration (28 schools), Tibetan Children’s Villages (18 schools), Tibetan Homes Foundation (3 schools), Sambhota Tibetan Schools Society (12 schools), and Snow Lion Foundation (12 schools).

Despite miraculous past achievements, a general sense of dissatisfaction and a growing number of new challenges – some of which were of serious nature – began to surface during the last two decades. As a long-term measure against those challenges, the CTA framed a ‘Basic Education Policy’ in 2004 for implementation by the Department of Education and different school bodies. The policy has been revised recently in order to incorporate recent trends in education like digital education and mixing the merits of Western English education and Tibetan Spiritual education. GCE World is one among the most impressive result of such policy. It is an educational platform for the secondary school students – typical aged 16-19 years – in the UK. GCE World provides a plethora of past exam resources, tutorials and videos that help the students save time studying, and to make the whole learning experience easier and better. GCE World website has A-Level subjects ranging from Maths, Biology, Physics and Chemistry and is not primarily for profit.

Owing to the relations between Tibet and UK, there are many Tibet sympathizing organisations and groups with headquarters in UK, fighting for the Tibet Mission. One of them is Tibet Society. (add link : The UK has a unique historic relationship with Tibet because it was the only country to have signed treaties with Tibet before China’s invasion. The UK has a stronger position with China and its leader, Xi Jinping, being partners in trade, Allies powers, and members of the UNSC. Britain’s leaders are raising prisoners of conscience with the Chinese delegation and insisting on the importance of human rights.

Tibet-Siyong-Educational-2015To provide quality education and welfare of Tibetan refugee children, the Department of Education performs many functions like teacher training programmes, reviewing of school curriculum, group activities to foster teamwork and leadership, scholarship programmes for exceptionally talented Tibetans, sponsorship programmes for orphans and other needy children, and provide other additional advantages like seminars, workshops and international conferences. Official records indicate that the illiteracy rate was 90% in 1951. The Seventeen-Point Agreement pledged Chinese help to develop education in Tibet along with Tibetan sympathizers. Primary Education has been expanded in recent years. Since the China Western Development program in 1999, enrolment of children in public schools in Tibet reached 98.8% in 2010 from 85%. The central government held the Second National Conference on Work in Tibet in 1984, and Tibet University was established the same year. Tibet had six institutes of higher learning as of 2006. In 2008, the number of ethnic Tibetans sitting the National College Entrance Examination (NCEE) reached 14248, with 10211 being accepted into university, making the enrolment proportion of ethnic Tibetans 60%.

Critics, including mainly Tibetan educators, administrators, and other cadres, agree that there is an urgent need to improve the quality of education in Tibetan areas. In addition, many argue that Tibetan language needs to be taught in schools as a means to preserve Tibetan culture. On the other hand, even critics admit that it is vital to raise the education level of Tibetans and other minorities for them to be able to participate in the economic development of their regions. The aim of ‘nationality education’ is still described by education officials in Tibetan areas as ‘keeping up socialism.’ One of the primary goals of education in Tibetan and other minority areas is to strengthen the ‘unity of the nationalities’ and to bring a sense of individualism in the global world for Tibet.