China defends new language policy

A top Chinese official has defended the government`s new language policy for schools that has sparked protests by Tibetan students.

Last Updated: Oct 23, 2010, 19:59 PM IST

Beijing: A top Chinese official has defended
the government`s new language policy for schools that has
sparked protests by Tibetan students, insisting that the move
was not intended to wipe out Tibet`s native tongue as was
being perceived in region.

Middle school students had protested on Tuesday and
Wednesday in Qinghai province`s Malho Tibetan Autonomous
Prefecture against being forced to study in the Chinese
language.

The protesters fear that the change would result in
Tibetan no longer being the main language, while experts said
the students may not understand the educational policy on
language, the daily said.

"The purpose of a bilingual education reform plan is aimed
at strengthening whatever is weaker and the purpose is not
using one language to weaken another," Xinhua news agency
quoted Wang Yubo, director of the provincial department of
education, as saying.

The plan, Wang said, required the boost of both the
nation`s standard and common language, Putonghua, and the
minorities` native languages.

The provincial education department in September had
issued a plan, which said that Putonghua, the standard spoken
Chinese, and the standard written characters would become the
main teaching medium, while students should learn ethnic
languages.

The plan says bilingual lessons will be adopted in
primary schools by 2015, meaning standard Chinese language
will be the main medium, and ethnic language a supplement.

PTI