Education changing the course of Tibetans’ lives

SONAM Tsering spends almost every minute of his waking hours studying for the national college admission test, which he will sit early June.

“I cherish every minute of my school days. They are running out so fast,” the 18-year-old Tibetan said from his classroom at Chengdu Tibet High School in southwest China’s Sichuan Province.

A top student, Sonam Tsering hopes to attend Xiamen University, in coastal Fujian Province, to study economics.

“I heard Xiamen has China’s most beautiful campus, with coconut trees, a beach and a climate vastly different from my plateau hometown.”

Three years ago, Sonam Tsering was selected to study in Chengdu, 2,000 kilometers from his hometown in Xaitongmoin County in the Tibet Autonomous Region.

“The school is much better here. My teachers are kind and knowledgeable, and I’ve made many friends.”

More importantly, he said he has gained confidence, and a desire to achieve his personal best in everything he does.

For three decades, gifted Tibetan children, particularly those from poor backgrounds, have gone to study in big cities, under a program to train more professionals for the underdeveloped plateau region and subsequently boosting Tibet’s development.

From 1985 to 2016, more than 110,000 Tibetan students secured scholarships for inland high schools.

About 36,000 eventually graduated from vocational schools and colleges before returning to Tibet.

Seven years ago, Choden was among 50 Tibetan middle school graduates granted a scholarship to study at a vocational school in Chengdu.

On graduation, Choden secured a job as an electrician in his home county of Luhuo in Sichuan Province. He soon worked his way up to his current position as head of the power station, responsible for electricity supplied to 2,710 rural families.

“In my younger days, we often suffered power cuts in winter. Nowadays, I play a part in ensuring an uninterrupted power supply.”

A free education program in Sichuan changed former dancer Shofang’s life. In 2009, she was accepted to a vocational school and subsequently became the first Tibetan female subway driver in China, a job she has held for six years now. Last year, she married a co-worker and settled in Chengdu.

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