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Education for Ethnic Minorities

    
1. An introduction to China's education for ethnic minorities
The People's Republic of China (PRC) is a unified country with multinationalities. Basides the Han nationality, there are other 55 minority nationalities, with a population of 108 million, which accounts for about 8.98% of the total . Education for ethnic minorities (EFEM) is an important component of China's educational cause.


The PRC was founded in 1949. it is after the founding of the People's Republic of China that EFEM has received the high attention and has ever been developed. Before 1949, most of the regions where ethnic minority people inhabited were comparatively backward socially and economically. Some were at the stage of feudalism and some were still in primitive society or at the end of slave society. Daily events were recorded by marking on wood or tying ropes. Modern education was entirely not in existence. In 1950, among the total number of students in institutions of higher learning, middle and primary schools, those of ethnic origins accounted for only 0.9%, 0.4% and 0.2% respectively. The percentage of students of the ethnic origins was then far lower than that of the ethnic population which was about 6% of the total. Throughout the country, there was not a single formal institution of higher learning for ethnic people.


After 1949, the Chinese government paid considerable attention to the development of EFEM. It convened many times the working conferences focusing on the topics of EFEM. In the Constitution, the Law regarding Ethnic Regional Autonomy, and the Law regarding Compulsory Education of the PRC, clauses for supporting and helping the ethnic people develop education have been clearly stipulated. Administrative organs were specially set up in the educational departments both at the central and local levels. Those organs are responsible for implementing the country's educational principles and policies for ethnic education and studying and solving the special problems relating to ethnic education. Ear-marked fund has been appropriated as special project subsidy to meet the expenditure needs of ethnic education caused due to the characteristics of ethnicity and locality.


After about 50 year's development, China's EFEM has witnessed a great achievement. EFEM of all levels and all categories has seen a great development. Some ethnic regions even have a higher development speed than the national average. According to the 1998 statistics, the number of ethnic students in schools of all levels reached 18.5322 million, which has increased by 16.92 times. The number of teachers of ethnic backgrounds reached 888, 400, which is 12.60 times by increase.


Statistics show, by 1998, of those accredited with administrative autonomy in the country, 241 counties have achieved the "two basics". ("two basics" refer to basically popularizing compulsory education and basically eliminating illiteracy.) This number accounts for 34.4% of the total number of counties with administrative autonomy.


An ethnic education system with the characteristics of ethnic minorities is basically established. According to the present statistics, 90704 primary schools, 11486 middle schools and 92 institutions of higher learning have been built in ethnic regions. Throughout the country, more than 20900 primary schools, 3500 middle schools and 12 institutions of higher learning have been build specially for ethnic students.


Schools of all categories and of all levels have trained a large number of ethnic people with special skills. These people in all walks of life have made a great contribution to the economic and social development of ethnic regions.


2. Special measures adopted in developing developing EFEM in China
Boarding schools for primary and middle school ethnic students have been built. The majority of ethnic population inhabit far remote mountainous regions and pastoral areas. Their households are scattered and inaccessible, which makes going to school a great difficulty. To solve this problem, the Chinese government early in the beginning of the liberation, built various convenient primary schools, like herdsmen primary school, tent primary school, Kang end schools, and horseback schools or adopted mobile forms to offer teaching with the purpose of developing basic education for ethnic children. Starting in late 1950's, ethnic regions continuously built a number of boarding schools according to their own region's special conditions and actual situation. Governments at all levels also appropriated ear-marked fund to cover th costs relating to students' study and daily living, teachers' salaries improvement of school-running conditions and the formulation of management methods. In 1990's boarding schools for ethic students have been further developed. At present, 6000 boarding schools or classes for ethnic primary or middle students have been built in 18 provinces or autonomous regions, with more than one million students in total. Building boarding schools for primary and secondary education in ethic regions has the advantages for concentrated administration and organization of teaching work, for improving educational and teaching quality, for the concentrated utilization of human, financial and material resources to improve school-running condition. It is also favorable for expanding students' visions and promoting their all-round development. The development of boarding schools of this kind has greatly increased the enrollment and retaining rate, which has speeded up the popularization of primary and secondary education for ethnic students in mountainous and pastoral areas.


Classes and preparatory classes for ethnic students are run in schools at all levels. In order to train more outstanding cadres and all kind of qualified personnel and to speed up th development and construction in ethnic regions, in addition to the establishment of schools of all levels and all categories, the country has also set up many classes and preparatory classes. The classes for ethnic students have adopted the methods of the targeted enrollment, specialized training and directional assignment, specialized training and directional assignment. Ethnic students whose literacy level is not up to the standard will be enrolled first in preparatory classes to receive one or two years' up-grading trainging. After passing the qualifying examinations, these students will be transferred to the regular classes. Special curriculum and textbooks have been designed according to the characteristics of ethnic classes. Their living habits, religious beliefs, ritual festivals are specially respected and well observed. A scientific management system with the characteristics of ethnic minorities has been gradually formulated regarding enrollment, teaching, management and assignment. At present, over 100 institutions of higher learning in the entire country run classes for ethnic students or preparatory classes, with the attendance of about 9000 students. There are 86 ethnic classes and preparatory classes in inland secondary schools with more than 10,000 students in total. Ethnic classes and preparatory classes of all levels and all categories have become an important base and cradle for training personnel of ethnic background.


Creating institutions of higher learning for ethnic minorities is an important measure for training cadres and personnel with special skills. The country has set up 12 universities for ethnic minorities in 11 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions. These universities only enroll students of ethnic background and have offered special skills. the country has set up 12 universities for ethnic minorities in 11 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions. These universities only enroll students of ethnic background and have offered special disciplines and subjects according to the actuality and needs of ethnic regions. They also provide cadres' training and preparatory classes. They adopt special teaching and administrative approaches and have formed a special training module. In 1989, in all these universities, there are 39332 students and 4897 teaching staff. A large number of qualified personnel with various specialized skills have been trained. They have played an important role for speeding up the economic development and educational cause in ethnic regions.


3. Conducting bilingual language teaching, editing and translating teaching materials
Before 1949, only 19 ethnic minorities had their own written languages. After 1949, the state formulated regulations in the Constitution and the Law regarding Ethnic Regional Autonomy, which stated that every nationality has the freedom to use and develop its own national written language. The state has also helped all ethnic minorities develop education by using their own written languages.


After liberation, the state has helped more than ten nationalities-the Buyi, Yi, Miao (41anguages), Naxi, Li, Lisu, Dong, Hani (two languages), Wu-create 14 languages. In addition, it has also helped the Uygur, the Kazak, the Lahu and Jingpo nationalities make reforms of their languages. Now, except the Hui and Manchu minorities which generally use the Han Chinese language, other 53 ethnic minorities all have their own languages. The Mongolian, Tibetan, Uygur, Kazak, Kirgiz, Sibo, Korean, Miao, Zhuang, Buyi, Dong, Hani, Bai, Yi, Naxi, Jingpo, Lisu, Lahu, Wa, Dai, the Uzbek nationalities have conducted teaching in their own languages.


publishing houses for ethnic education and ethnic language teaching coordinating organizations have been established for the purpose of editing and translating ethnic language teaching materials. Ethnic education publishing houses or ethnic teaching materials' publishing houses have been set up in Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang, Jilin, Qinghai, Sichuan, Guizhou, Yunnan, Guangxi provinces or autonomous regions, ethnic languages translating and editing organs have been established in 8 provinces and autonomous regions. In addition, coordinating groups for primary and secondary schools' textbooks in Mongolian, Tibetan and Korean languages have been formed. In 1988, 3500 kinds of textbooks of primary and secondary schools (about 100 million volumes) were produced in 29 ethnic languages for students in 21 nationalities.


In order to train personnel of ethnic background who can not only meet the demand of regional development, but also are capable of learning information and technologies from other parts of the country, schools and classes for ethnic students of all levels and of all categories have extensively offered bilingual language teaching Those schools which use Chinese textbooks also use an ethnic language as an assisted teaching language. For instance, ethnic language and culture courses are taught in ethnic languages while general disciplines are lectured in Chinese. According to initial statistics, throughout the country, there are about 10000 schools which conduct teaching in two languages, with the attendance of about 6 millions of students.


4. Making a great effort to train teaching staff of ethnic origins
In 1951, the Chinese government worked out a "trial plan for training teachers of ethnic origins". The plan requested that nationality normal schools of different levels be opened according to the need of educational development in ethnic regions. In the regions where the conditions for running schools were not met, teaching classes for ethnic trainees should be added in general normal schools or general high schools. Since then, in Inner-Mongolia, Xinjiang, Ningxia, Guangxi, Tibet, Guizhou, Yunnan, Qinghai provinces or autonomous regions, the country has set up more than 100 nationality normal universities, normal cooleges, two-years universities for teacher professional training, or normal secondary schools, and more than 100 colleges of education and schools for teachers' training. At the same time, the country also set up departments for ethnic teachers' training in some nationality colleges and comprehensive universities. Besides, in order to train echnic teachers in Northwest and Southwest regions in China respectively, Northwest ethnic teachers' training center and Southwest training center for ethnic teachers of English have been specially established. Upon the needs of the regional educational development, these centers have offered training for senior teachers of ethnic origins on rotational basis. In Northeast Normal University, Southwest Normal University, Central China Normal University, Shanxi Normal University, East China Normal University and Beijing Normal University and other key normal universities, ethnic classes have been run, which are open to the ethnic regions and enrolling teaching personnel of ethnic origins. After 50 years' commitment, there are about 888400 teachers of ethnic origins in the entire country, the number of which is about 35 times of that in the beginning of liberation.


5. The support to and cooperation with the ethnic regional education from economically developed regions
In order to support the educational cause n ethnic regions, the country has organized the economically developed regions and schools inland to take multiple approaches to assist ethnic regional education and cooperate with these regions. A great number of teachers and university graduates from inland universities have been mobilized and assigned to work in ethnic regions. More than 100 universities inland have formulated partnerships with universities in Xinjian, Inner-Mongolia, Ningxia, Guangxi Tibet, Guizhou. Qinghai, Gansu provinces and autonomous regions. Through many types of assistance, such as the enrollment of ethnic students, provision of ethnic teachers' training, provision of lecturing by outstanding teachers from inland, sending experts to participate in the research programs in nationality universities and colleges, donation of teaching facilities and library materials and experience exchange and sharing, the inland universities have helped training the personnel in urgent need an improved school-running conditions and raised the teaching quality. Coordinating meetings geared at assisting Xinjiang between inland universities and universities in Xinjiang were held with the decision that 50 inland universities (more than 110 specialities would enroll 7000 students and train 800 teachers. Assistance to Tibet is a key project. Classes for Tibetan students in inland schools received 19444 students in total from 1985 to 1998 on an accumulated basis. In-job training has been provided for ethnic regional cadres and teachers by inland provinces and municipalities. some teachers of high caliber from inland have been selected and sent to work and provide guidance to the teaching in ethnic regional schools. Some projects which might be mutually benefiting have been developed in joint efforts. School enterprises have been built with the help of inland partners. Loans are also provided with the condition of paying interest by a deduction, so the also teaching equipment and library books. All these types of assistance by inland universities have brought along and promoted the reform and development of the educational cause in ethnic regions.


6. Establishing educational research institutions for ethnic education and creating public information materials for advocacy
Education for ethnic minorities is special part of the educational cause in China. Its law of development, type, mode, level and stage appear differently. In order to study and find solutions to these different problems for better promoting ethnic education, the country has set up ethnic education research institutions at national, local and institutional levels. At the national level, there is one institute now. Some provinces and autonomous regions concerned also have their own research societies. In addition, ethnic education research institutes or offices have been set up respectively in the Central Nationality University, the Southwest nationality University, Yunnan Nationality College, Qinghai Nationality College, the Northwest Normal University, Xingjiang Normal University, Qinghai Normal University, Inner-Mongolian Normal University and so on. These research institutes or office approcach their research work aiming at the specificity of the nationality, the region and the type of ethnic education. The important research projects which have been completed or are still going on include "Research on several important issues concerning the EFEM theory and practice in China", "Research on the present condition and development of EFEM in China" and so on. The research results will guide and promote the development of ethnic educational cause.


In order to exchange information and expand communication, nationwide periodicals such as "Ethnic Education in China" and "Ethnic Education Research" have been published. Locally or institutionally, some newspapers like "Ethnic Education Newsletters" "Sichuan Ethnic Education Daily" have come into circulation. These publications have played an active role in domestic discussions on important issues concerning ethnic education, in exchanging information and experience, in making ethnic educational cause in China better known abroad and in promoting external contacts.


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