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China's Education Record of Tibet Disappoints UN Expert

[WTN-L World Tibet Network News. Published by The Canada Tibet Committee. Issue ID: 2003/12/21; December 21, 2003.]

Dharamsala 20 December 2003: (TibetNet) - A UN human rights expert has sharply criticised the education policy pursued in Tibet by the People's Republic of China. Ms. Katarina Tomasevski (Croatia), the Special Rapporteur on the right to education of the UN Commission on Human Rights has submitted a report to the 60th session of the Commission following an official mission to Beijing in September this year. The report is made available on the official website of the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

The 22-page report said that: "The Special Rapporteur was dismayed at the illiteracy rate in Tibet, 39.5 per cent, and asked the Ministry of Education (of PRC) whether one reason might be the fact that the literacy test was in Tibetan, while Mandarin is used in political, economic and social life." The Special Rapporteur recommends " full integration of human and minority rights in education policy, law and practice."

Highlighting that her report was not a comprehensive one due to many factors, including budget restrictions and the duration of the mission of 10 working days being confined to Beijing, Ms. Tomasevski adds: "An education that would affirm minority rights necessitates full recognition by the majority of the worth of minority languages and religions in all facets of life. Otherwise, education is seen as assimilationist and, hence, not compatible with China's human rights obligations."

On the denial of religious education in schools, the report points out: "Contrary to China's international human rights obligations, religious education remains prohibited in both public and private educational institutions. Although the first words of China's initial report under the Convention of the Rights of the Child describe it as "a consistent respecter and defender of children's rights", children's rights in education have yet to be recognised."

The Special Rapporteur recommends "an immediate affirmation of China's international human rights obligation to ensure free education for all children by eliminating all financial obstacles" saying that Beijing's goals of eliminating illiteracy and attaining compulsory education were never accomplished.

The report also dwells on China's failure to increase budgetary allocations to education and urges that "the budgetary allocation for education be increased to the internationally recommended minimum of 6 per cent of GDP, that is, doubled from 3 to 6 per cent of GDP. Although international human rights law mandates priority for human rights in resource allocation, China' s budgetary allocations favour military expenditure at the expense of investment in education, the report said.

The Report http://www.unhchr.ch/Huridocda/Huridoca.nsf/(Symbol)/E.CN.4.2004.45.Add.1.E n?Opendocument will come up for discussion during the 60th session of the UN Commission on Human Rights which will take place next year at the UN office in Geneva, from 15 March to 23 April.

The official mission of the Special Rapporteur on the right to education is the only third occasion when Beijing had invited a thematic special procedure of the UN Commission on Human Rights to either visit China or Tibet. In 1994 and 1997, China received the Special Rapporteur on the Freedom of Religion or Belief and the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention with both missions being allowed to visit Tibet.


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