Southern Mongolia: Teachers Protest to Denounce Local School Closures
On 28 May 2018, Southern Mongolian teachers convened a peaceful protest in front of a governmental office to denounce the ongoing closures of Mongolian schools, leaving the teachers jobless. This results from the development of a community-based private education system supported by the Chinese government, as well as by Beijing’s plan to develop urban areas and uphold ecological migration policies. Such policies raise the issue of forced assimilation, as some of the closing schools have been merged with Chinese ones.
The article below was published by Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center.
More than 2,000 teachers from all parts of Southern (Inner) Mongolia — including leagues and municipalities of Hulun-boir, Hingaan, Tongliao (former Jirim), Ulaanhad (former Zuun-ud), Shiliin-gol, Ulaanchav, Hohhot, Bogot, Bayannuur, Ordos and Alshaa — took to the streets of the regional capital Hohhot last Monday [28 May 2018]. Gathering in front of the Bureau of Letters and Visits of the Autonomous Region People’s Government, these unemployed kindergarten, elementary, and middle school teachers protested the Chinese government’s policy of eliminating Mongolian schools and laying off Mongolian teachers and demanded an immediate redress for their grievances.
Holding a long banner reading “strongly urge the government to resolve the long neglected problems of minban and daike teachers,” the protesters, many of whom wore traditional Mongolian clothes, demanded reemployment, compensation, and a pension plan for unemployed teachers.
The so-called “minban” (meaning “people-managed”) and “daike” (meaning “substitute teachers”) are a Chinese style of community-based private education systems run by non-governmental sectors in an effort to offload the government’s financial burden. According to a research study entitled “Minban Education in China: Background and Current Situation,“ published by the Graduate School of Education at Peking University, the total number of students enrolled under this form of private educational system in Southern Mongolia was 165,000 in 2002.
As the Chinese Government started to adopt the policies of ecological migration, livestock grazing ban, and rapid urbanization in 2000, Mongolian schools in rural pastoralist communities were either eliminated or merged with Chinese schools, forcing thousands of minban and daike teachers into unemployment without adequate compensation.
“The elimination of minban schools was achieved easily through closing and merging schools. However, the minban-teacher elimination policies, including differentiating minban teachers' payroll, admitting a very small proportion of them into the public teacher force and dismissing the majority, have created a variety of problems in rural basic education expansion,” according to “Minban Education: The Planned Elimination of the ‘People-Managed’ Teachers in Reforming China” by Chengzhi Wang, published in the International Journal of Educational Development in 2002.
In an open letter to the Autonomous Region Government, the protesters stated that “all level of governments failed to implement relevant laws and regulations to address minban and daike teachers’ requests,” and “local governments shirked the responsibility for years.”
“We are helpless. We are in despair. We are confused. We are pained, and we are outraged,” the letter said.
Photo courtesy of SMHRIC.