Sunday 30 January 2011

Qinghai to train thousands of bilingual school teachers

(, Jan30, 2011) The Chinese government of Qinghai Province, part of the traditional Tibetan province of Amdo, is to train at least 5,500 bilingual teachers by 2015 to teach in both Mandarin and ethnic minority languages – mostly Tibetan – in primary and secondary schools across the province, reported China’s official Xinhua news agency Jan 28. It cited provincial education officials as saying the goal was to increase the number of bilingual teachers from the current level of 15 percent. It did not say, however, what percentage of the teachers will be bilingual after the programme is carried out.

The report did not make clear what bilingual education actually meant, other than that Tibetan will also be taught as a language subject. 

The report said Primary and middle school students in Qinghai's five Tibetan autonomous prefectures were currently being instructed in both the Tibetan language and Putonghua – China's standard language, known as Mandarin in English. It also said that more than 196,500 students in 544 primary and secondary schools in six ethnic minority prefectures in Qinghai were being taught in ethnic languages.

On the progress in the introduction of bilingual education thus far, the report cited Terangtai, a deputy head of the province’s education department, as saying about 4,000 bilingual students had graduated from the province's teachers' colleges and had gone on to teach in schools in mostly rural areas over the last 10 years.

The report noted that in Oct’10, middle school students in a number of Tibetan prefectures took to the streets in a peaceful protest, concerned that the Tibetan language may be sidelined in the education reforms. It cited the authorities as saying there were no plans to sideline either language and that no teachers will be dismissed for their language abilities.

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