A study of Chinese policy towards national minorities with reference to higher education : a case study of the Central University for Nationalities
This thesis critically reviews Chinese educational policies towards national minorities from 1921 until today. The aim is to examine the continuity and change of Chinese policies from pluralism to assimilation. The concepts of intercultural education provide the conceptual framework for the study in that there should be an understanding, acceptance and constructive relations among people of many different cultures. All the groups, whether minorities or majority, have to learn the culture of others. Teaching cultural understanding has to become an integral part of the curriculum in China. To reinforce the above framework, the ancient Chinese "Middle Kingdom" concept is introduced. This concept claimed that there is only one civilisation in the world, which is China. Outside the "Middle Kingdom" are the barbarians. Any barbarian who wishes to be "civilised" has to join in and become Chinese, meaning be assimilated. This theory has been dominating majority Chinese people's attitude towards outsiders, i.e. national groups, for the last two thousand years and is still playing a very important role in today's policy formulation and implementation process in respect of cultural diversity. Yet equality is stressed in Chinese educational policies. To the national minority groups, the government especially emphasised two issues in addition to its general policies, namely bilingual education and religious restriction. By directing these two issues to the national minorities only, the government has already failed on "equality" principles, because religious beliefs and being bilingual are not just the concerns of national minority members. A case study is used to analyse the government's policy towards national minorities. This study collected the opinions of teachers, students and their parents, administrators as well as the graduates from the Central University for Nationalities in Beijing. Interview and questionnaire methods were employed, which involved the English, Chinese and Uyghur languages. Simple analytical methods, such as mean and frequency, were used to analyse the data collected. The main finding of the thesis is that there is still only one policy towards national minorities in China, namely assimilation.