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Medical Students' Protest 'Not Resolved'

September 19, 2010

Job openings in Tibet fall behind the numbers of students graduating.
Radio Free Asia (RFA)
September 17, 2010

Hundreds of Tibetan medical students protest in
front of government offices in Lhasa, Sept. 2, 2010.

Demands by Tibetan students of traditional
medicine seeking jobs have gone unanswered, with
many graduates still out of work, according to sources in Tibet.

"On Sept. 2, 2010, hundreds of Tibetan graduates
of the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) Institute of
Tibetan Traditional Medicine protested in front
of TAR offices in Lhasa," the Tibetan writer Woeser reported on her website.

"They carried banners demanding an increase in
available jobs," Woeser wrote, adding that the
protesters did not march in a group, but
assembled individually in front of the government offices.

In an interview, a Tibetan closely associated
with the school said that school officials then spoke with the group.

"However, they did not agree to increase the
quota of available jobs from 60 this year for
graduates of the school.  Their only concession
was that graduates would be allowed to take the
examination intended for graduates of the modern medicine school."

"This is also unfair, since the Tibetan students
were trained in traditional medicine and would
find the examination difficult to pass," he said.

Reached for comment, an official of the Institute
of Tibetan Traditional Medicine would not say
whether any of the protesting students had been detained.

The situation "has not been resolved,"  she said.

Language difficulties

National board examinations requiring proficiency
in the Chinese language present further
difficulties for Tibetan students, according to the source in Tibet.

"If they are tested only on the vocational skills
they have learned, Tibetan students perform
well.  But [many of] these candidates are
eliminated when they have to take the national
examination in Chinese," he said.

Most of the students at the Institute of Tibetan
Traditional Medicine come from western and
central Tibetan areas such as Nagchu, Lhoka,
Shigatse, and Lhasa, the source continued.

"Tibetan students who did well in Tibetan
language by the time they graduated from middle
school and high school prefer to enroll in the
TAR Institute of Tibetan Traditional
Medicine.  There are hardly any Chinese students studying in this institution."

Tibetan students coming from Yunnan have to study
Tibetan for a full year to catch up with the other students, though, he said.

In most prefectures, Tibetan traditional medicine
is offered by only two or three doctors working
in small clinics inside larger medical facilities, he added.

Only 60 out of 256 graduates of the Institute of
Tibetan Traditional Medicine were hired this
year, he said, with this reversing a brief surge
of hirings last year when a Chinese official
toured remote areas of Tibet and identified an
"urgent need" for additional practitioners.

The source pointed to the difficulties of
organizing protests like the one of Sept. 2.

"Many Tibetan students who have texted [by cell
phone] among themselves have been detained," he said.

"It is hard to learn the details, but many have disappeared."

Original reporting by RFA’s Tibetan service.
Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.
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