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Verbatim report of proceedings
Thursday, 25 November 2010 - Strasbourg OJ edition

Tibet - plans to make Chinese the main language of instruction

  Lidia Joanna Geringer de Oedenberg, author. (PL) Madam President, in October, we witnessed the peaceful protests of thousands of Tibetans against the Chinese authorities’ plans to change education policy. The current bilingual model, which allows ethnic minorities to study in their own national languages alongside Chinese, is to be replaced by one in which Chinese is to be the basic language of instruction.

The Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party in Qinghai province, Qiang Wei, said in a press article that standard Mandarin will be the main language of instruction in primary schools by 2015. Due to the need for Tibetans and representatives of other ethnic groups to function effectively in the Chinese labour market, they should be able to study Chinese, but not at the cost of not being able to have an appropriate education in their own language.

It should be remembered that the rights that the Tibetans are fighting for derive from Article 4 of the Chinese constitution and Article 10 of the Regional National Autonomy Law. The Tibetans are therefore asking for the rights already granted to them to be respected, and Parliament should emphatically support them in their attempts to preserve their own culture, a basic element of which is language. I think that the words of Dokru Choedaka, a campaigner for the Tibetan language, ring true for all of us when he says that schools and language are the fabric of national identity.

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