Editor’s note: Recently, Zhu Weiqun, director of the National Committee for Ethnic and Religious Affairs, and Ngalek, the Chairman of the Sichuan Provincial Writers Association, conducted a dialogue on Ngalek’s historical documentary writing “Chakdu”, and discussed about “Tibet independence” and minority education in China.
Ngalek believes that with a view to improving the education of ethnic minorities the government has set up many minority educational institutions at various levels, including colleges, middle schools and classes, in inland cities of China. It is supposed to promote minority education and cultural exchanges between different nationalities, however, once the minority children arrived there, they would experience inevitable pressures that came with being far from home, and they would still surround themselves with each other, causing them to band together. The result was that this miniature society was much more closed than the larger one back home.
Ngalek pointed out that in this regard, interim steps such as minority education institutions are necessary during certain times. These days, following substantial improvements to infrastructures in ethnic minority areas, young minority students are still grouped together for separate education. In reality, this emphasizes the disparities and is not good for nurturing the formation of a national identity.
Considering their relatively weak learning foundations, minority students are offered extra entrance scores. However, the standard upon graduation should not be lowered; otherwise they would have a hard time in getting rid of being taken care, rising to a higher level and building self-confidences.
"Minority education must put students in an open and competitive environment," Ngalek said.
Ngalek noted that cultural education should be paid most attention in a bid to share cultural similarities and enhance sense of national agreement.
"If the importance of cultural education is ignored, when there is no problem, it is OK, and when turbulences arise, forces of safeguarding stability rush to the front and the cultural education cannot do anything to help. It is helpless to maintain long-term social stability and gives other country some excuses to make indiscreet remarks," Ngalek said.
He called on schools in ethnic minority areas to have at least one-third of their teachers from other areas.
Living standards for people in Tibetan-inhabited areas have been improved by more than ten times what they were a few decades ago, especially after the reform and opening. Why then did the "Tibet independence" ideas continue to develop in certain areas? Ngalek believes that the improvement of material life cannot solve the problem of national identity recognition.
"Perception and identity must rely on the long-term influence of cultural education," Ngalek added.
Zhu Weiqun pointed out that, in regards to long-term stability in Sichuan’s Tibetan-inhabited areas, the key lies in cultivating modern productivity and management methods, introducing modern cultural education, strengthening modern social services, and breaking closed and semi-closed conditions, in an effort to strengthen local Tibetans’ recognition about Sichuan Province and the whole motherland. If not, it is hard to undermine the social structure basis that "Tibet independence" relies on and to break the vicious circles as the disorders happen every few years in Tibetan-inhabited areas.