Teaching in Tibet: China rolls out changes in education
Tibet is undergoing incredible changes, especially in its schools. China's been overhauling education in Tibet, saying it wants to improve the chances of the region's 600-thousand students. Part of that approach means teaching students in two languages, Tibetan and Mandarin, and moving kids from rural villages to bigger cities. Jonathan Betz has more from Lhasa.
For Jayangludrup, going to class has taken him far from home. The 17-year-old attends a government boarding school, 14-hundred kilometers away from his village and everything he's ever known.
JONATHAN BETZ CGTN "How much do you miss your family?"
JAYANGLUDRUP, STUDENT LHASA ALI SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL "A little bit. I cannot always think about my parents. I have to grow up."
Next year, China plans to close his village's high school, part of the government's effort to encourage rural students to attend boarding schools, all expenses paid.
JAYANGLUDRUP, STUDENT LHASA ALI SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL "My dream is to become a doctor. There are not many doctors or Tibetan language teachers in Tibet, so I can contribute to my hometown."
1,600 students, all from a Western Tibet district called Ali, attend this sprawling high school. There are three other campuses just like it, and officials plan to build at least two more. Administrators insist the bigger cities offer a better education.
ZHENG JIANGANG, DEPUTY HEADMASTER LHASA ALI SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL "Ali is a remote area. It is very difficult to breathe, they cannot eat properly, they cannot sleep properly, to live in Ali is really very difficult, let alone study."
The school is a mix of two distinct cultures. To help Tibetan students become more competitive, officials are bringing in staff from across the country to teach in Mandarin.
JIAO HAIJUN, TEACHER FROM SHAANXI LHASA ALI SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL "The basic knowledge is a little bit weak. So the teaching methods are quite different. We have to prepare more here in Lhasa."
It can be a huge adjustment for students like Jayangludrup who feels most comfortable speaking Tibetan. He showed me around the dorm room he shares with six other boys. He doesn't have much, but what he treasures most is a rope sling his mother made, that's used to herd the sheep.
JAYANGLUDRUP, STUDENT LHASA ALI SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL "When I feel homesick, I will look at this."
He doesn't even have a photo of his parents, but he admits they and home are never far from his mind.
JAYANGLUDRUP, STUDENT LHASA ALI SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL "I want to go back to my hometown after I graduate. That is the place that raised me. My parents and family are all there. Go back to my hometown. Go back to my own home."