Home > Topics > Tibet Issue > Education > Education in Old Tibet under Feudal Serfdom
2. Official Education

Schools run by local governments were divided into schools for the training of lay and monk officials. Instead of providing students with systematic study, these schools were actually training centers for nurturing local government officials. Most of the students were from noble families. The schools, small in size and low in education level, belonged to the ruling groups. Statistics show that Tibet had six such schools before 1951.

School for training lay officials. The schoold, located east of the Jokhang Monastery, was set up in the time of the 7th Dalai Lama. It was put under the Auditing Department, one of the two major departments of the Tibetan government. The school costs were met from the grain tariffs collected from the area put under the school by the Tibetan government, and small subsidies from the local government. The requirement for entrance to school were following:first, students must be from hereditary noble families; second, their families owned a hereditary manor; and third, they knew some writing. The courses were mainly etiquette, grammar and the writing of the Tibetan language, official document composition, and tax levying and calculation. The school took on the double duty of auditing department and school. The accounting officials managed the school, and the accounments served as teachers. The school term was not strict. Those from families having power or being well-off could be appointed as officials ahead of schedule, while there were a few "old students" who got no promotion for 10 or 20 years. Teachers used very primitive ways to check students' scores. For instance, a teacher asked Students to count stones and wooden blocks in bags. These stones and wooden blocks of varied size represent different figures. Those who could count the contents quickly and accurately passed the examination.

Schools for training monk officials. These schools trained monk officials and were put under the Secretariat, one of the two major departments under the Tibetan government. Besides the one located in Lhasa, there was another In the Tashilhungpo Monastery in Xigaze. Funds needed to keep the schools going also came from school areas in terms of taxes and government subsidies. Teachers were primarily retired monk officials. The students were mainly monks from different monasteries, and most were children of tralpa slave families. But there were a few children of commoners. Religious ceremonies, scriptures and Buddhist objects were the main subjects, to which were added Tibetan grammar, terminology, official document composition and mathematics. Monk composition and mathematics. Monk officials were selected exclusively from graduates of such a school.

Technical secondary schools run by the government. Such schools targeted science and technology with an aim of nurturing medical doctors. Though few in number, they enjoyed a long history. As early as the Tubo Kingdom, Yutok Yonden Gonpo, a Tibetan medicine practitioner, established a private Tibetan medicinal school. During the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), the Tibetan government began to set up public medical training schools in the Zhaibung Monastery, the Potala Palace and Xigaze, but they were soon closed. When the 5th Dalai Lama was in office, the Wisdom Medical School, which is the predecessor of the present-day Tibetan Medicine College, was founded at the ernment gave it land and economic aid, so it has survived. During the reign of the 13th Dalai Lama, a school specializing in medicine and calendar, called Manzekam Lhoza in the Tibetan language, was set up. The medical and calendar school also served as the medical and calendar organ of the Tibetan government. The school was geared to train medical doctors and research climate and calendar in service of agriculture and animal husbandry. Unlike schools set up to train lay and monk officials, its students came from ordinary families. As no students it trained were to be promoted as government officials, the school enjoyed no special suport from the government. However, the school had the public support mainly because it offered medical treatment to the populace. It was actually a major center to train people specialized in Tibetan medicine and Tibetan calendar. Despite its close relationship with monastic education, it was an independent scientific school-a great breakthrough from the traditional education in Tibet.

Tibetan language primary schools. To stabilize the unsteady situation after the 1911 Revolution which toppled the Qing Dynasty, the 13th Dalia Lama ordered all counties to set up a Tibetan language primary school, and stipulated that "all children aged 7 to 15 attend government-run schools." The government offered teachers a salary. As a result, Tibetan language primary schools were set up. But, because of local government corruption and the opposition of conservative forces in society, they were soon closed. Nevertheless, these schools constituted the first attempt at achieving modern education in Tibet still under the feudal serfdom.

Lhasa public primary school. In 1938, the nationalist government of the Republic of China (1912-1949) set up the Lhasa Primary School,which enrolled the children of businessmen and Hui and Han officials of the Tibet Office. Tibetan pupils were rare. Office officials served as teachers, and the number of pupils reached 300 at most. The curriculum included Tibetan, Hui and Chinese writings, as well as arithmetic, history, geology, general knowledge and music. Over 200 children managed to finish their primary education before the school was closed in 1949. The school exerted no big social influences mainly because it was small in size and enrolled only a few Tibetan students.

English schools. In 1904, the British imperialists established English schools in Lhasa and Gyangze for children from noble families, in an attempt to train their puppets to rule Tibet. Firmly opposed by the monasteries, the schools were closed three years later. About 100 children once studied there.

Suggest to a Friend: