Statement on China’s colonial boarding schools by The Parliamentary Group for Tibet, Switzerland

The Parliamentary Group for Tibet voices concern about the separation of 1 million Tibetan children from their families and forced assimilation in Chinese boarding schools as evidenced by UN reports.

The members of the Parliamentary Group for Tibet are deeply concerned about UN reports on the system that forces Tibetan children into a Chinese-style boarding school system from kindergarten age, with no possibility for the children concerned or their parents to resist it.

 The fact that a total of about 1 million Tibetan children, some as young as 4 and up to the age of 18, are forced to live in boarding schools, including at least 100,000 children between the ages of 4 and 6, is unacceptable. In total, 78% of Tibetan students are affected, making the proportion of boarders almost four times higher than in China itself.

While in school, children are taught exclusively in Chinese and are obviously systematically indoctrinated to adopt a Chinese identity.

“This system of boarding schools forces Tibetan children to assimilate culturally, religiously and linguistically,” warns National Councilor Fabian Molina Co-President of the Parliamentary Group for Tibet.

In the boarding schools, the educational content and environment are geared to the Chinese majority culture, and the content of the textbooks corresponds almost exclusively to the life experience of pupils of Chinese nationality. Tibetan children must complete the “compulsory school curriculum” in Mandarin Chinese (Putonghua), without access to traditional or culturally relevant learning. The language, history and culture of Tibet are not covered in depth.

“As a result, Tibetan children lose exposure to their mother tongue and the ability to communicate in the Tibetan language, which contributes to their assimilation and the erosion of their own Tibetan identity,” says National Councillor Nicolas Walder Co-President of the Parliamentary Group for Tibet.

The forced boarding schools are part of a series of other repressive measures against Tibetan culture and religion. According to UN experts, their establishment violates the prohibition of discrimination and the right to education, linguistic and cultural rights, freedom of religion and belief, and even the rights of so-called “minorities” guaranteed in the Chinese constitution.

On behalf of the PG Tibet:

Co-President National Councillor Andrea Geissbühler

Co-President National Councillor Nik Gugger

Co-President National Councillor Fabian Molina

Co-President National Councillor Nicolas Walder

Vice-President Member of the Council of States Maya Graf

Berne, 13 February 2023

Author: Tsering Passang (Tsamtruk)

NGO Professional | Activist | Author | Founder and Chairman, Global Alliance for Tibet & Persecuted Minorities (GATPM)

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