Professors at Kashgar University in Northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region have called for the faculty and students there to speak Putonghua to promote social stability, in a letter published on the school’s WeChat account on Sunday.
They asked that all members of the faculty and students from all ethnic groups use Putonghua to communicate as a common language, meaning they are asked to speak Putonghua both in and outside the classroom, and between teachers, students, friends and family.
“Speaking Putonghua is necessary for the blending of all ethnic groups and a reflection of each citizen’s national awareness to safeguard our integrity and ethnic unity and maintain social stability,” they said.
More specifically, teachers are being encouraged to use Putonghua for their teaching materials, blackboard writing, and in checking student homework and students are being encouraged to use it in their homework and for taking notes.
The letter emphasized that the use of Putonghua should be done consciously and that everyone should be a model at using it, and that teachers and students should correct those who do not use it.
“Schools at different levels in Xinjiang currently are encouraging teachers to teach in Putonghua, so encouraging teachers from various ethnic groups to communicate with each other in Putonghua is the next step,” Sun Houming, president of the Xinjiang Education Institute’s School of Humanities, told the Global Times.
Sun’s institute launched courses on Putonghua and Uyghur languages for local-level officials back in 2014, with Han officials taking classes on the Uyghur language and Uyghur officials taking part in Putonghua classes.
“A bilingual education is important for the children of different ethnic groups. If they can master Putonghua, it will be easier for them to find jobs, and more important, contribute to national unity,” Xiong Kunxin, a professor at Minzu University of China in Beijing, told the Global Times.
Xiong added that learning Putonghua is also important for motivating ethnic minority groups to participate in anti-terrorism work.
Xinjiang education officials have taken many approaches to boosting bilingual abilities since 2014, and more courses are taught by bilingual teachers.
To ensure the quality of bilingual education, the regional government has expanded its teacher evaluation system to cover both Putonghua and Uyghur studies, according to a 2016 plan. And, as of September, around 1,176,000 rural preschoolers were getting a free bilingual education, with the coverage reaching nearly 100 percent in rural areas, the Xinhua News Agency reported, citing the region’s education authorities.
In addition, at least 61,000 new Putonghua teachers have been employed by rural kindergartens, and primary and middle schools over the past five years in Xinjiang.
— Global Times
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