Jan 03, 2018

Southern Mongolia: Instruction in Mongolian Language Banned in All Schools

Photo Courtesy of SMHRIC (caption reads "Let us speak up, let us stand up in order not to feel the guilt and shame before our people and nation. Let us do only one thing, rise up!")

The last school in the so-called Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region to provide education in the Mongolian language, the Bayangol No. 3 High School, has banned its usage as language of instruction. According to the region’s Education Department, the ethnic language can be offered as an elective course, but all main courses must be taught in Chinese. This clearly demonstrates that bilingual education is no longer existent which sparked further outrage when articles and internet posts discussing this situation were removed by Chinese authorities. Southern Mongolians are deeply concerned and outraged by this as they feel their nation is being reduced to a Chinese colony. 

The article below was published by SMHRIC:

The Bayangol No.3 High School, the last school to provide instruction in the Mongolian language in the Bayangol Prefecture of China’s so-called “Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region,” was banned from using Mongolian earlier this week.

On December 18, 2017, the first post from Mongolian parents of the affected area appeared on the Chinese social media WeChat: “Today, Mongolian language instruction in all schools across Bayangol Prefecture is put to an end. We are demanding a just solution from the State Ethnic Affairs Commission and the Eight Provinces and Autonomous Regions Mongolian Language Work Association.”

According to an official document entitled “Notice Regarding the Issuance of the ‘Autonomous Region’s Proposal on Bilingual Education Curriculum Deployment at Compulsory Education Level” (2017) No.10 issued by the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region Education Department, starting September 1, 2017, “all courses offered in elementary and middle/high schools must use the national common language and written system as the language of instruction, and additionally offer the ethnic language as a course.”

“The so-called bilingual education is nothing but a monolingual education, i.e. Chinese language education,” Mr. Bayar, a long time dissident in exile in Japan and the General Secretary of the Inner Mongolian People’s Party, told the Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Center (SMHRIC). “Needless to say, the ‘national common language’ is Chinese, and make no mistake, the ‘ethnic language’ mentioned in the document is offered as a single, separate, and elective course just like a foreign language. It is no longer the language of instruction for any other courses.”

The news sparked widespread outrage among Mongolians across Southern (Inner) Mongolia. Posts of protest by Mongolian students, teachers, writers, and even ordinary herders have gone viral on the few available social media outlets in China including WeChat, Weibo, and Bainuu.

“Apparently our nation is reduced to a Chinese colony,” a Mongolian blogger named Rashizamts wrote in a post on his Bainuu space, along with a boycott sign on the word “Chinese” written in Mongolian.

Many cited the 19th century French novelist Alphonse Daudet’s “The Last Lesson,” which states, “when a people are enslaved, as long as they hold fast to their language it is as if they had the key to their prison.

“The prose ’The Last Lesson’ narrates about the Prussian occupation of France in the 19th century,” a Mongolian named Soyoloo wrote on his WeChat. “However, today in the 21st century, we still need to shout ‘down with fascism!’ loudly. My heart is bleeding. I will, and we will feel the deepest guilt and humiliation that will never be whitewashed if our nation is finished like this.

“Let us cry out, let us stand up in order not to feel the guilt and shame before our people and nation. Let us do only one thing, rise up!” Soyoloo continued.

Many Internet posts and even official news articles discussing this event have been removed by the Chinese authorities. A widely circulated article entitled “Bayangol Prefecture of Xinjiang Bans Mongolian Language Instruction Entirely, Southern Mongolians Shocked, Outraged and Concerned” was removed from all WeChat groups and any other sources in China. The link returns, “The contents are made unavailable due to certain violation of rules and regulations.”