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Minority Education in China

Minority Education in China: Balancing Unity and Diversity in an Era of Critical Pluralism

James Leibold
Chen Yangbin
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 428
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  • Book Info
    Minority Education in China
    Book Description:

    This edited volume brings together essays by leading experts exploring different aspects of ethnic minority education in China: among these are the challenges associated with bilingual and trilingual education in Xinjiang and Tibet; Han Chinese reaction to preferential minority education; the role of inland boarding schools for minority students; and the mediation of religion and culture in mul¬tiethnic schools. The book covers these topics from a range of different perspectives: Uyghur, Tibetan, Korean, Mongolian, Han, and those of the West, combining empirical field studies with theoretical approaches. Previous scholarship has explored the pedagogical and policy challenges of minority education in China; this is the first volume to recast these problems in the light of the Chinese party-state’s efforts to create ethnic harmony and stability through a shared sense of national belonging.

    eISBN: 978-988-8268-29-0
    Subjects: Education

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Contributors
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. List of Figures and Tables
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Foreword
    (pp. xiii-xviii)
    James A. Banks

    Migration within and across nation-states is a worldwide phenomenon. The movement of peoples across national boundaries is as old as the nation-state itself. However, never before in the history of the world has the movement of diverse racial, ethnic, cultural, linguistic, and religious groups within and across nations been as numerous and rapid or raised such complex and difficult questions about the rights of immigrant and ethnic groups and the extent to which the state should provide them recognition and equal educational opportunities. In 1990, 120 million people were living outside their nation of birth or citizenship. This number grew...

  6. Acknowledgements
    (pp. xix-xx)
    James Leibold and Chen Yangbin
  7. Introduction: Minority Education in China: Balancing Unity and Diversity in an Era of Critical Pluralism
    (pp. 1-24)
    James Leibold and Chen Yangbin

    The People’s Republic of China (PRC) promotes itself as a harmonious, stable multicultural mosaic, with fifty-six distinct ethnic groups, orminzu(民族) as they are termed in China, striving for common prosperity. It’s an image we remember well from the 2008 Beijing Olympics. But beneath the rhetoric and the carefully orchestrated displays of harmony, interethnic discord and hostility continues to flare cyclically, with Lhasa (2008), Ürümqi (2009), Shaoguan (2009), and other cities witnessing the latest episodes of conflict, violence, and unrest. Like other culturally diverse countries across the globe, the Chinese Party-state must balance the political and economic imperatives of...

  8. Part I Diversity in Unity or Unity in Diversity

    • 1 Education and Cultural Diversity in Multiethnic China
      (pp. 27-44)
      Gerard Postiglione

      Thirty-five years after Deng Xiaoping’s 1978 policy of economic reform and opening to the outside world, China inches closer to becoming the largest economy in the world, already with the largest system of higher education and more scientific publications than any other country except the USA (Bloomberg 2010). Students of China’s largest city even outperformed those in other countries in a major international assessment of mathematics and science achievement (OECD 2010; Royal Society 2011). Yet, domestic economic disparities are becoming a major concern. The Gini coefficient rose from 0.41 in 2000 to 0.61 in 2010 (Kao 2012). Such inequality could...

    • 2 The Power of Chinese Linguistic Imperialism and Its Challenge to Multicultural Education
      (pp. 45-64)
      He Baogang

      China is a multilingual society and has practiced multilingual teaching for many years; this is likely to continue. The fifty-five recognized minorities in the PRC use more than 120 different languages (Sun 2004). The expansion of Chinese state power and the power of the market into all corners of China, however, has resulted in a dramatic spread of Putonghua across China, which has slowly diluted the prominence of minority languages.

      There now seems to be a tendency towards the strengthening of Putonghua,² as indicated by a number of factors: the decline in the use of minority languages (for example, Tibetan...

    • 3 How Do You Say “China” in Mongolian? Toward a Deeper Understanding of Multicultural Education in China
      (pp. 65-80)
      Naran Bilik

      In this chapter, I employ the method of “nomenclatural archaeology,” which is supported by the revised version of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis (Lucy 1992; Gumperz and Levinson 1996), to explore the etymological anxiety that underpins multiculturalism and multicultural education in the PRC, arguing that behind mainstream educational thinking lurks a linguistic-cultural anxiety over the much-delayed moment of congruity between the boundaries of the state, language, and culture. This tension is not only evident in the polysemy of Chinese terms likeminzu(民族),Zhonghua minzu(中華民族), and so forth, but in the way non-Han people refer to China where, in Mongolian, for...

  9. Part II Minority Education on the Frontier:: Language and Identity

    • 4 Bilingual Education and Language Policy in Tibet
      (pp. 83-106)
      Ma Rong

      As a united multiethnic nation with thousands of years of history and a brilliant cultural tradition, China has developed a “pluralist unity” (duoyuan yiti多元一體) pattern in language usage accompanying the process of political, economic, and cultural integration. Although many groups have their individual mother tongues and writing systems, Putonghua¹ has been learned and practiced by most of the population as the “common language” for communication in China for centuries. After the founding of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1949, the administrative, economic, and cultural integration of all regions of China experienced a new period of industrialization and...

    • 5 Popularizing Basic Education in Tibet’s Nomadic Regions
      (pp. 107-130)
      Gerard Postiglione, Ben Jiao, Li Xiaoliang and Tsamla

      China has joined a number of other nations including Kenya, Nigeria, Iran, Eritrea, Saudi Arabia, and Mongolia, where nomadic groups have traditionally been marginalized in education. This is especially true for nomadic groups that possess a cultural heritage, including language and religion, which deviates from the national mainstream and challenges state efforts to institutionalize basic education (Bangsbo 2008). As education becomes a strategy in national integration and development, non-indigenous education wins out over that which is traditionally passed down through nomadic households and communities. In short, state schooling can affect nomadic lifestyles in fundamental ways.

      The challenge of providing education...

    • 6 The Practice of Ethnic Policy in Education: Xinjiang’s Bilingual Education System
      (pp. 131-160)
      Zuliyati Simayi

      Since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the Chinese government has sought to consistently guarantee the equal social and political rights of all ethnic groups in the country while adhering to the principle of ethnic equality and unity. The CPC has established a relatively complete system of ethnic policies that are premised on a unified, multiethnic nation with diverse cultures. The system seeks to implement full equality among ethnic groups, uphold and improve regional ethnic autonomy, accelerate the economic and social development of ethnic minorities and minority areas, protect...

    • 7 Trilingual Education and School Practice in Xinjiang
      (pp. 161-186)
      Linda Tsung

      China comprises a highly multilingual and ethnically diverse population. All of China’s fifty-five legally recognized minority nationalities possess their own spoken languages, with the exception of the Hui, She, and Manchus who used to speak their own languages but now mostly speak some form of Chinese. In fact, many of China’s minority groups tend to be multilingual, speaking at least 128 different languages (Sun, Hu, and Huang 2007). In some of these minority groups, people may be bilingual, trilingual, or they may speak a variety of different languages, some of which are totally different from one another (Tsung 1999 and...

    • 8 Multicultural Education and Ethnic Integration: A Case Study of Girls’ Education in the Lahu Area
      (pp. 187-198)
      Teng Xing, Yang Hong and Yang Qixue

      Multicultural education seeks to ensure equal learning opportunities for all students without regard for their gender, class, race, culture, ethnicity, or religion. When it comes to equal educational access, we find that the research on the education of ethnic minority girls with multi-marginalized identities of great theoretical and practical significance. Therefore, this chapter uses girls’ education among the Lahu ethnic minority (Lahuzu拉祜族) as a case study of multicultural education by considering issues such as ethnic and gender disparity and urban and rural differences.

      The Lahu are a transnational ethnic group of China, with most of its 475,000 people concentrated...

  10. Part III Educational Integration in China Proper:: Pathways and Barriers

    • 9 Towards Another Minority Educational Elite Group in Xinjiang?
      (pp. 201-220)
      Chen Yangbin

      Recently Western countries such as Australia, Canada, and America have apologized at a national level for the previous boarding school policies aimed at their indigenous minorities, namely aboriginals in Australia and native Americans in Canada and America (Welch 2008; Brown 2008). Similar educational programs are still practiced in some Asian countries, for example, Vietnam and Laos (Postiglione 2009a). Among others, China’s contemporary dislocated boarding school policies have been implemented for youth from two major ethnic minority groups: Inland Tibetan Middle Schools (neidi Xizang zhongxue內地西藏中學, hereafter Xizang zhongxue) for Tibetans and Inland Xinjiang Senior High School Classes (neidi Xinjiang gaozhongban...

    • 10 Uyghur University Students and Ramadan: Challenging the Minkaomin/Minkaohan Labels
      (pp. 221-238)
      Timothy Grose

      On the eve of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan (Uy.ramizan) September 2006, I shared lunch with two Uyghur friends at one of the several Xinjiang-style restaurants adjacent to Beijing’s Minzu University of China (MUC).² During our meal, my friends made a surprising confession: they would not observe the Ramadan fast (Uy.roza tutmaq).³ Considering Beijing’s relaxed political climate compared to the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), a climate that would allow Uyghur university students to fast without repercussion,⁴ my friends’ decisions confounded me. Why did these two particular Uyghur students choose not to observe the thirty-day fast, which,...

    • 11 The Trilingual Trap: “Imagined” Empowerment among Ethnic Mongols in China
      (pp. 239-258)
      Zhao Zhenzhou

      The acquisition of majority or global languages may constitute an investment in human capital and further empower members of culturally marginalized groups. Unsurprisingly, China has witnessed growing demand for trilingual proficiency among ethnic groups over the past decade, although the state does not coerce minority students to learn an international language (usually English) as they do the Han majority (Adamson and Feng 2009; Jie’ensi 2004; Tsung this volume). Groups including Tibetans, Uyghurs, Kazakhs, Koreans, and Mongols have made attempts to implement trilingual courses in primary and secondary schools, generally called an “experimental trilingual class” (Che 2006; Hu 2007; Ma and...

    • 12 Identity and Multilingualism: Negotiating Multiculturalism among Ethnic Korean Teachers in China
      (pp. 259-276)
      Gao Fang

      Mindful of Fei Xiaotong’s (1991) “plurality within the organic unity of the Chinese nation” (Zhonghua minzu duoyuan yiti geju中華民族多元—體格局) paradigm, which attempts to balance ethnic diversity and national unity in China within an assumed pluralistic framework, this chapter reconstructs the discursive position of Korean-Chinese teachers within complex and conflicting discourses, and sheds new light on the importance of maintaining ethnic languages for the building of genuine multicultural education in China. China’s diverse ethnic minorities (shaoshu minzu少數民族), with many different languages and cultures, have much experience with the push and pull of homogenizing forces and indigenous cultures, representing...

  11. Part IV Styles, Stereotypes, and Preferences:: Hurdles for Minority Education

    • 13 Intellectual Styles and Their Implications for Multicultural Education in China
      (pp. 279-298)
      Li-fang Zhang

      Within the realm of multicultural education, much emphasis is placed on the unique characteristics of particular cultural groups. In contrast, this chapter places its stress on some of the commonalities as well as acknowledging the unique characteristics of students from different cultural settings with regard to their intellectual styles: that is, their preferences for information processing, both at individual and group levels. It highlights the fact that multiculturalism, more broadly, and ethnic minority education in China, more specifically, cannot be viewed as a one-size-fits-all system and pedagogy. It further demonstrates that the identification of different intellectual styles can facilitate a...

    • 14 Han Chinese Reactions to Preferential Minority Education in the PRC
      (pp. 299-320)
      James Leibold

      A few weeks before the gruesome scenes of ethnic violence in Shaoguan and Ürümqi, the Chinese public was captivated by another ethnic scandal. On June 22, 2009, state-run media broke the story of how thirty-one Han students in Chongqing, including the top liberal arts student in the entire municipality, altered their ethnic identity in order to receive twenty extra points on the nationwide college entrance exam (gaokao高考) (Hou 2009). In the weeks that followed, a media furor erupted, as the nation discussed the reasons for this act of deception and their implications. “This incident,” leading educationalist Xiong Bingqi (2009)...

    • 15 How University Administrators View Ethnic Minority Students
      (pp. 321-340)
      Yu Haibo

      China is a multiethnic state. Shortly after the founding of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), the government sent a large number of linguists, ethnographers, and historians to identify the nation’s ethnic minorities. By 1979, fifty-six ethnic groups, including the Han majority, and fifty-five ethnic minority groups, had been officially identified (Fei 1981). The ethnic minority groups each have their own religion, customs, and festivals, including art, music, food, housing, dress, adornments, crafts, and other practices. Generally, ethnic minority groups adhere more to religious beliefs than the Han population, with religion playing an integral part in diet, marriage, festivals, and...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 341-352)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 353-394)
  14. Index
    (pp. 395-406)