For immediate release
July 24, 2007, 10:30 EST
Contact: Uyghur American Association +1 (202) 349 1494
China is removing Uyghur language instruction from schools in East Turkistan (also known as the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region or XUAR) in violation of its domestic law and international agreements, according to a new report by the Uyghur Human Rights Project.
The report, Uyghur Language Under Attack: The Myth of “Bilingual” Education in the People’s Republic of China (PRC), shows that in the past two decades, and with increasing intensity since 2002, China has pursued assimilationist policies aimed at eliminating Uyghur as a language of instruction in East Turkistan. Employing the term “bilingual” education, the PRC is, in reality, implementing a monolingual Chinese language education system that undermines the linguistic basis of Uyghur culture.
The new “bilingual” education imperative marks a dramatic shift away from more egalitarian past policies that provided choice for Uyghur parents in their children’s languages of instruction. The report explores the effects of the Chinese language push on Uyghur students, teachers, and parents, as well as on ethnic relations in East Turkistan, and places PRC language policy into the context of other policies of assimilation directed at the Uyghurs by Chinese government authorities.
The report finds that “bilingual” education in East Turkistan is responsible for:
• Marginalizing Uyghur in the educational sphere with the goal of eliminating it as a language of instruction in East Turkistan.
• Forcing Uyghur students at levels ranging from preschool to university to study in a second language.
• Removing Uyghur children from their cultural environment and placing them into Chinese language “Xinjiang classes” located in inland China.
• Using Chinese language requirements and school mergers to force veteran Uyghur teachers out of the classroom.
• Taking decisions on language of instruction for Uyghur children out of the hands of parents.
• Increasing tensions between Uyghurs and Han in East Turkistan.
The report recommends that the PRC institute a bilingual policy that supports and protects Uyghur as a language of instruction in East Turkistan’s schools. The report, Uyghur Language Under Attack: The Myth of “Bilingual” Education in the People’s Republic of China, can be downloaded at http://docs.uyghuramerican.org/UyghurLanguageUnderAttack.pdf