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Tibetan Children to Receive Nine-year Compulsory Education
Over 98 percent of school age children in the Tibet Autonomous Region will enjoy nine years of compulsory education by 2007, according to a regional education blueprint unveiled in Lhasa recently.

Over 95 percent of Tibetan children will receive a six-year compulsory elementary education by 2005, the regional education plan shows.

This is a striking improvement from the situation 52 years ago. At that time, fewer than two percent of Tibetan children could afford to attend school while more than 97 percent were illiterate, said Song Heping, director of the Regional Department of Education.

No modern schools existed in old Tibet. The majority of the descendants of noble lords used to study in classes run by Buddhist temples.

After the peaceful liberation of Tibet in 1951, an education system comprising kindergartens, primary schools, technical schools and universities was set up with the support of other Chinese provinces.

By the end of last year, Tibet had 3,099 primary and secondary schools with 410,000 pupils. Attendance at primary schools reached 88.3 percent.

The illiteracy rate among young and middle-aged Tibetans had dropped from 97 percent to 34 percent in the past 50 years. The figure was expected to fall to five percent by 2007, Song said.

(Xinhua News Agency February 11, 2003)

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