bilingual education

bilingual education
Bilingual education (shuangyu jiaoyu) is an official policy adopted by the Chinese government in areas inhabited by minority groups. It aims at promoting the use of the languages both of the minority groups and of the Han Chinese among the minority people. In 1951, the government decided that for those groups that had well-developed writing systems, including the Mongols, Koreans, Uighurs, Kazaks and Tibetans, the native language should be used as the media of instruction in elementary and secondary schools. For those groups that had their own languages but not writing systems, the government would help them create their own writing systems. At the same time, they may choose to use Han Chinese as the media of instruction in schools. All minority groups may choose to offer Chinese classes in their schools.
Based on this policy, fourteen writing systems were created for twelve minority groups in the 1950s.
The development of bilingual education entered a new stage in the 1980s when the policy was written into law. Accordingly, all students should learn standard Chinese; schools and classes that mainly enrol minority students should use the language both of the minority and of the Han Chinese as media of instruction; if the minority group does not have a writing system, Han Chinese should be used as the media of instruction, and the language of the minority group can be used as a supplementary media of instruction. Based on the new laws, governments in the minority areas began to promote bilingual education. The Tibetan Autonomous Region, for example, has adopted the policy of using the Tibetan language as the main medium of instruction in the lower grades, while using both Tibetan and Chinese in the upper grades. The aim is for the students to master both Tibetan and Chinese when they graduate from high school. Similar policies have been adopted in other minority areas.
See also: Koreans; Mongols, culture of; Tibetans, culture of; Uighurs, culture of
Postiliglioni, Gerard (ed.) (1998). China’s National Minority Education: Culturecide, State, Schooling and Development. Levittown: Garland.

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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