Tibet to Ensure Free Bilingual Preschool Education by 2015


LHASA, Dec. 3 (Xinhua) -- Education authorities in southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region said Friday all children in Tibet's farming and herding areas will receive at least two years of free preschool education in both the Tibetan language and Mandarin Chinese by 2015.

"By then, at least 60 percent of Tibetan children will attend kindergarten, compared with the current 24.5 percent," a Tibet education bureau spokesman said.

He said the move aims to improve the early childhood education of Tibetans who largely rely on farming and herding for a living.

The move will improve children's proficiency in both Tibetan and Mandarin and prepare them for formal school education, he said.

The central government will fund the free preschool education.

City dwellers will still have to pay for their children's preschool education, like elsewhere in China.

The spokesman said some rural primary schools will be encouraged to have preschool classes, particularly those in sparsely-populated herding areas that have few kindergartens.

Tuition fees, as well as food and lodging expenses on campus, have been free for all primary and secondary school students from Tibetan herders' families since 1985.

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