The Tibetan Language School of Sichuan Province
translated by Wu Bangfu from a report provided by the school
Tibetans are a large minority nationality among the nationalities of China, and the Tibetan ethnographic area is vast. Her history is very long, her people are bold and industrious, her culture is profound, splendid and broad, including Tibetan language, literature, medical science, history, philosophy, astrology, opera, painting, sculpture, architect and many other fields.
Tibetan Language School of Sichuan Province is the first secondary vocational school in a Tibetan area taking Tibetan language as the main course and medium of instruction. Only in this school can some special knowledge be taught such as the Five Great Tibetan Language Treatises and the Five Minor Tibetan Language Treatises. The teaching method of this school is different from the method used in monasteries by monks to learn sutras, and also it's different from the method used by inland (Han) schools. This school forms its own teaching style. Since it was established 18 years ago, it has amassed much experience in preserving, continuing, and developing Tibetan culture.
During the Culture Revolution, Tibetan culture was devastated, but after the 3rd plenary session of the 11th Central committee of Communist Party of China, the nationalities' policy was corrected so that minority cultures would have room to survive and improve. On August 18, 1981, the Nationalities Affairs committee of Sichuan Province handed in a proposal to the Sichuan provincial government on the establishment of a Tibetan school to preserve, continue, and develop Tibetan culture. The proposal related the history of Tibetan culture, and the importance of training professional people in Tibetan culture. The Sichuan provincial government carefully read the proposal and decided to establish the Derge Tibetan Language School of Sichuan Province on August 31, 1981. After four months preparation, a secondary vocational school with simple teaching equipment was established in Dzogchen township of Derge county (in 1985 the name was changed to Tibetan Language School of Sichuan Province). From then on, the school started its long and hard road.
In the beginning, the school met many difficulties, of which the most serious was a shortage of teachers. The preparatory team did a great deal of work to visit senior Tibetan intellectuals, experts and scholars living in very remote places, and invited them to teach the next generation. At the start, all of the teachers were Tibetan folk scholars except for six workers. There were no buildings in the school; the students had their classes in tents without desks or chairs. The teachers and students of the school performed miracles in the history of the secondary vocational school in China. At that time, there was a shortage of well prepared students for the school. The first group was from remote mountainous farming and pastoral areas, with differing knowledge of Tibetan language, and diverse ages. Nevertheless, the teachers and students overcame all kinds of difficulties, and worked very hard. Now, many of the first graduates are professors, scholars and Tibetologists, and some of them have been abroad to lecture.
In July 1983, the school was moved to Bamei in Dawu ( Daofu ) county because the road to Dzogchen was very bad. In July, 1985 it moved again to an army camp in Dawu town. At last, in September 1994, the school was able to settle down in Kangding.
Now the school has left behind its "nomadic" style of education, and started a new road to a modern education system. It has a 35,855 square meter campus with 7,937 square meters of teachers and students dormitories, and a new teaching-and-learning building. In the school, there are six departments: students' administrative department, general service department, Tibetan medicine department, safety and security department, and administrative office. There is also a small exercise field, library, education research office and guest house. The 55 staff members include 39 teachers who have profound knowledge. Among the school's resourceful teachers, six are advanced lecturers (including one advanced researcher ); there are also eleven lecturers and nineteen assistant lecturers. The student body numbers 600, with an increase in matriculating students from 80 in the first year to a current 180. The number of classes has enlarged to fifteen, and the region from which students are drawn has been extended to Liangshan and Yaan prefectures as well as the original Ganzi and Aba prefectures. Now, the school is getting ready to recruit students from other provinces in order to train more qualified Tibetan professionals.
The subjects of this school match the needs of society, with major subjects of Tibetan Language, Tibetan Medical science, Sanskrit, Tibetan-Chinese secretary, Tibetan-Chinese translation, and Tibetan painting. (Originally, the majors were only Sanskrit, Tibetan Medical Science and Tibetan painting). The Five Great Treatises of Tibetan Language and Five Minor Treatises of Tibetan Language are the center of all the major specialties, meanwhile all the students learn Chinese, politics, handwriting , and computers.
Since the establishment of this school, 964 qualified students have graduated. Graduates have been assigned to jobs in the Central Nationalities University, Tibetan Research Center of China, Advanced Buddhism Institute, Nationalities Press, Nationalities Cultural Palace and other Chinese central departments. Some have been assigned to work in the government of Sichuan province, Peoples Political Consultative Conference of Sichuan Province, South-West Nationalities Institute, Nationalities Printing House of Sichuan, Broadcasting and Television Bureau of Sichuan, the Tibetan Aid Foundation, and some other provincial departments. In 1997, Chamdo Prefecture of Tibetan Autonomous Region several times requested graduates from this school and received twenty-six who now are in the teachers school and middle schools and have done outstanding work. Many of the graduates have worked in various fields in Tibetan areas of Sichuan province, and have already become the backbone of construction of the Tibetan area. All of the education experts and scholars having investigated in the school have concluded that the Tibetan language level of the graduates of this school surpasses the level of the graduates of colleges and universities. Whats more, more than 300 students, who were trained for only a short time in our school, also have made outstanding contributions to the construction of Tibetan area in Tibetan Autonomous Region, Qinghai province, Gansu province and Yunnan province.
In order to find a set of better textbooks for the students, the school organized a Textbook Compiling Group to compile more than twenty kinds of textbooks including Grammar of Tibetan Language, Appreciation of Collection of Excellent Work, Basic Knowledge of Tibetan Fine Art, Tibetan Writing, Tibetan History, A Course of Tibetan Logic and other materials. When the teachers compiled these textbooks, they consulted many Tibetan documents and publications, considering the situation of the school and students. Now, many of these textbooks have already come to press.
When the teachers teach well, the school encourages the teachers to write some articles. These years, more than a thousand articles have been composed on all kinds of topics, and some of them have won provincial and prefectural prizes. Some practical books such as the 1986 Tibetan Calendar, 1988 Tibetan Calendar and 1998 Tibetan Calendar written by our teachers have been very popular in Tibetan areas. Many thanka paintings created by our students have won praise. In particular, thankas painted by fine art teacher Yanden Tseren have been exhibited and received favorable notice in Shenzhen, Hong Kong, Britain and some other countries. The Tibetan medicine Rongboqing manufactured in the hospital of our school is held in high opinion in Britain and has been ordered by a hospital in Scotland.
Our school is famous at home and abroad. Many leaders from the central and provincial government, experts and scholars, overseas Tibetans, and foreigners have visited our school and given high praise. In 1986, our school reached agreement with East University in Britain for an exchange of teachers, and cooperation in research. Many foreigners have applied to learn Tibetan in our school.
Tibetan Language School of Sichuan
Zhaxi Nobu, headmaster
People's Republic of China
Telephone: 86 836 282-2477