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"On my part, I remain committed to the process of dialogue. It is my firm belief that dialogue and a willingness to look with honesty and clarity at the reality of Tibet can lead us to a viable solution."

Talent Pool for Tibet

October 28, 2008

Over the past half century, the Tibet Nationalities Institute, the
first university especially built for Tibetans, has trained more than
30,000 people and greatly contributed to the region's development
Beijing Review (People's Republic of China)
October 27, 2008

In 1960, Tenzin, 13, was a poor lama in an ancient temple in the
grasslands of north Tibet. That year, he walked for nearly 3,000 km
to the Tibet Nationalities Institute, where he enrolled.

His classmates ranged from 12 to late 30s in age, some from poor
families, others lamas like himself and others county leaders. Some
students had enough education to take university courses, while
others were starting from primary school textbooks.

Tenzin couldn't speak Mandarin when he entered the school, but with
the help of his teachers he progressed well and graduated, going on
to Fudan University in Shanghai where he majored in journalism. On
leaving university he worked as a reporter for Tibet Daily, and later
became a senior leader of the Tibet Autonomous Region.

"I was a young lama in north Tibet. The Tibet Nationalities Institute
was an important stop in my life and was the starting point of my
career," Tenzin recalled. "Although I was not a top student in my
alma mater, and did not contribute much to her, I have always had a
deep feeling for the school, like children feel for their mother."

The Tibet Nationalities Institute was the first school set up by the
Chinese Government in Tibet Autonomous Region and its establishment
marked the beginning of college education in the region. On October
5, 2008, the school hosted a grand celebration for its 50th anniversary.

Serving Tibet

To train local cadres in Tibet, the Chinese Government officially
opened a Tibetan Public School in Xianyang, Shaanxi Province on
September 15, 1958, and brought young Tibetan cadres in. On July 1,
1965, the school moved and changed its name to the Tibet
Nationalities Institute.

Nearly half of the students of the institute came from Tibet, and
went to work in the region after graduation. Many of its 30,000 plus
graduates have become leaders at various levels of the Tibetan Government.

Serving Tibet has always been the school's mission. For half a
century, it has tailored its education programs to the needs of
Tibet. In September 1959, the Tibetan Public School launched its
first college-level course in the Tibetan language.

Since 1960, the school has expanded its scope of study to include
education, health, agriculture, animal husbandry, veterinarian
science, accounting and post and telecommunications. In 1963, the
school set up several departments and its courses became more specialized.

After China's reform and opening up in the late 1970s, the school
further adjusted its education and organizational structure. In 1977,
the school recruited its first batch of bachelor's degree students,
who majored in the Tibetan language. The first group of bachelor
degree students majoring in Chinese entered the school in 1979.

Life changing

Today, the Tibet Nationalities Institute is a comprehensive
university that offers a wide spectrum of courses in science, liberal
arts, economics, management, law, medical science and education. It
has seven colleges and three departments, offering six master's
degree programs, 31 bachelor's degree programs and some two-year
vocational education programs, and has a total full-time enrollment
of about 10,000 students.

According to Di Fangyao, Director of the Information Office of the
Tibet Nationalities Institute, Tibetan students now account for about
47 percent of the total enrollment. Most Tibetan students are from
rural areas and are not rich. Their average annual tuition is about
3,000 yuan ($439), which is about half of the national average.
Tibetans and students of other ethnic groups mingle in the same classes.

As the education Tibetan students have received before entering the
institute varies and is generally not as good as students from other
regions, courses at different levels are offered to students in the
same grade to accommodate for their specific needs. For instance,
English is taught at four levels, and advanced mathematics at three levels.

In addition to standard university textbooks, the school has compiled
a series of textbooks and other teaching materials especially for
Tibetan students, covering areas such as Tibetan history, Tibetan
language, plateau medical science and traditional Tibetan sports.

School resources

At the inception of the school, the teachers and cadres were former
PLA solders who once worked in Tibet and fresh graduates of
universities in other parts of China. Later, some graduates of the
institute were chosen to stay and teach, and the school also had
faculty and staff sent from other areas. Since China's reform and
opening up, the school has given incentives to attract high caliber
people to work there.

In 2003, the Ministry of Education designated five famous
universities including Fudan University, Zhongshan University, Xiamen
University, Tianjin University and East China Normal University to
assist the Tibet Nationalities Institute. In 2007, four more
universities were asked to give a helping hand, including Renmin
University of China, Beijing Foreign Studies University, Xi'an
Jiaotong University and Southeast University.

Now, the faculty of the Tibet Nationalities Institute has better
education and professional qualifications. A total of 20 teachers
hold doctor's degree, and 163 hold master's degrees. Together, they
account for 38 percent of the total. Nine faculty members are
professors, accounting for 4 percent of the total, and 114 are
associate professors, accounting for 24 percent of the total.

The school has a library covering a total area of 14,821 square
meters. The library has two parts, a 4,404-square-meter old section
built in 1986 and a 10,417-square-meter new section built in 2005.
The library is equipped with an advanced door access system, computer
control center and data processing center. The library has 13 reading
rooms and research room for experts, with a total of 2,500 seats.

The library holds more than 100 volumes of books or documents, 80
percent of which are hard copies, and the remaining 20 percent are
electronic copies.

In the past half a century, the library has emphasized collecting
material on Tibetology and ethnic literature and now it has a rich
collection in these areas. In 1992, the library set up the Tibetology
Information and Document Center to support teaching and research in
this area. Now the center stores more than 20,000 volumes of books on
Tibetology, of which more than 16,000 are in the Tibetan language,
and more than 6,700 are in Mandarin.

Liu Hongshun, President of the Tibet Nationalities Institute is very
confident about the future of his school. He said that Tibet has
adopted a strategy to boost development through science and
technology and through talented people. Human resources are key to
economic and social development in Tibet. As the oldest institute of
higher learning established for Tibetans, the Tibet Nationalities
Institute must shoulder the responsibility of producing talented
people who can further the development of Tibet.
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