Bilingual education in Xinjiang bridging gaps
Source: Chinadaily [15:56 December 17 2009]
By 2012, the central government will have invested 4.02 billion yuan ($591 million) in bilingual kindergarten education in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region in an attempt to encourage preschool children from ethnic minorities to learn Mandarin in addition to their own language.
Kashgar region, Hotan prefecture, Aksu prefecture and Turpan city are among the 16 key areas targeted by the program that will promote bilingual education among students aged 5 to 7 years, according to a statement released by the region's bureau of education Wednesday.
A total of 349,100 children from ethnic minority groups will be educated in bilingual kindergartens by 2012.
"The central government has already invested 1.2 billion yuan since 2008 on building bilingual kindergartens and promoting preschool bilingual education in the region," Dai Xiang, deputy director of the Xinjiang Bilingual Education Guiding Office, told China Daily Wednesday.
"The regional government will use the rest of the investment to build and fund 2,237 more bilingual kindergartens in two years."
A total of 214 bilingual kindergartens funded by the central government have come into use this year in southern Xinjiang, a hotbed for terrorist activities that led to the July 5 riot in the regional capital of Urumqi, Dai said.
The July 5 riot saw at least 197 people killed and more than 1,700 injured.
Police sources say overseas forces seeking Xinjiang's independence through terrorism were behind the riot.
Dai said many of the new bilingual kindergartens will be built in rural areas.