Tibetanization project : teachers' meanings and perspectives

Yeshi, B. Tsering, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Covert, Robert, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Burbach, Harold, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Caldwell, Michael, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Wilson, Eleanor, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia

This study investigates meanings and perspectives of Tibetan elementary school teachers with regard to Tibetan medium education termed as the Tibetanization Project. It is a qualitative study in which assertions were generated based on common themes that emerged from the participating teachers' shared perspectives.

The research questions that guided this study were: (a) What does Tibetanization mean to teachers in Tibetan Children's Village (TCV) schools in India? (b) How has the Tibetanization Project changed the instructional methods of teachers? (c) Has the Tibetanization Project made education more relevant for the Tibetan children? Ifso, how? If Not, why not? (d) How do teachers perceive the Tibetan language and cultural acquisition among the children under the Tibetanization Project? and (e) How does Tibetan medium education affect the Tibetan people in exile?

As a result of the research carried out: (1) The Tibetan teachers believe that although teaching of English as a subject is important, instruction solely in a foreign language at the primary school level can deter complete understanding of important concepts, and hinder acquisition of both languages, native and foreign. (2) In order to preserve the Tibetan language and give a quality education to Tibetan children, it is imperative to use the mother tongue as the medium of instruction at the primary school level. (3) The Tibetanization Project has encouraged active participation, criticle thinking, and problem solving skills among Tibetan refugee students. (4) The Tibetanization Project has enriched Tibetan vocabulary both Tibetan teachers and students of elementary schools. (5) In spite of the above mentioned benefits, teachers still doubt the practicality of the Tibetanization Project in exile. (6) Teachers believe that a Tibetan medium education would be more practical if Tibet was a free country, but because that Tibetans live in exile, education in English medium is more vital for a successful life.

Based on the teachers' present confusion and conflicts between their patriotic and pragmatic beliefs, some recommendations are provided for future directions of policy issues for the Tibetanization Project.

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PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
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