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21.10.2010Dharamshala: On October 19, 2010, in the Amdo region of Rebkong County, Tibet, thousands of students marched in protest against Chinese government plans to require that all teaching be in Mandarin.

The demonstrations quickly spread further, into Chabcha, Trika County and Tsekor Thang.

It is understood that at a recent meeting of the Education Department of Qinghai Province it was decided that the language used in all textbooks should be changed to Chinese, except in Tibetan-language and English classes. It is feared that such a move will further marginalise the Tibetans in China, making the struggle to preserve a Tibetan national identity even more difficult.

The GuChuSum Movement, an organisation dedicated to promoting the livelihood of Tibetan ex-political prisoners in India, claims that limiting the use of the Tibetan language in schools represents a "systematic effort to further marginalise Tibetans as a people".

Chinese is already the primary language used in schools, and many petitions to increase the use of Tibetan in schools have been submitted to the Chinese authorities in the past. In 1988 and 1989 students at the Tibet University and the Kanlho Nationality school launched campaigns to preserve the Tibetan language.

In 2007, at a meeting of Tibet Autonomous Region officials in Lhasa, a unanimous consensus was reached that the Tibetan language was under serious threat. Another petition was launched, but to date all such appeals have failed to trigger positive action from the Chinese government.

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