The rejection of parents and students to the reduction of teaching hours in Mughal creates strong tensions in a country not used to the challenges to the system
Although the Chinese demonstrate much more than is believed in the West , the truth is that protests are often triggered by labor, economic or environmental disputes.
They rarely have a political tinge that is an affront to the authoritarian system that governs the Asian giant.
That is why the altercations that have occurred in the province of Inner Mongolia deserve special attention, where some Mongolian students and their parents oppose the new language policy decreed by the Chinese Government for the start of the course in this autonomous region.
Under the new guidelines, three subjects that were previously taught in the Mongolian language will now be taught in Mandarin Chinese. Specifically, the measure currently affects Language and Literature, to which History and Politics and Law will be added in the next two years.
Little by little, the Mongolian will be relegated to one hour of teaching a day, something that some citizens of this ethnic group – which represents only 17% of the entire population of the province – consider insufficient.
According to the director of the Center for Information on Human Rights in Southern Mongolia, Enghebatu Togochog, the majority of parents and students have launched a boycott of classes and there have been demonstrations and clashes that are increasing in size.
Our way of life has already been eliminated. We only have the language left , and that is why we are protesting against the new policy, ”said this New York-based activist.
Different videos recorded in the town of Tongliao record the demonstrations of groups of students in uniform shouting slogans in favor of teaching in Mongolian . Another clip shows government officials asking citizens, house to house, not to participate in the protests.
And there are also some fights with police officers, whom Beijing has demanded to guarantee stability. In fact, there have already been some arrests.
They are not mass events, but they are worrisome for the regime. An academic from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Xi Wuyi, has argued on Weibo, the Chinese Twitter, that the change in Inner Mongolia’s education system is in line with President Xi Jinping’s guidelines to “protect the ideology” of the Communist Party.
In an attempt to calm the spirits, the educational authorities of the province have assured in a statement that the bilingual system will be maintained and that the changes will only affect the three subjects mentioned.
But many fear that it is only the beginning of what they consider a strategy of cultural assimilation like the one that has been lived in Tibet and Xinjiang , where native languages have been reduced in the classrooms to their minimum expression.
“They say it’s to make sure our children learn Mandarin, but I don’t know why they wouldn’t if everything is in that language. We are a minority and, as such, we integrate with the rest through the hegemonic language, from which it is impossible to escape. What they want is to erase ours “, criticizes a mother who defends the boycott.
Others, however, believe that education in Mandarin Chinese – the standard in a country with a multitude of dialects – helps ethnic minorities to integrate into society and gives them more opportunities.
The Government always emphasizes that it respects the cultural particularities of different ethnic groups – curiously, in China the Mongolian alphabet is preserved, which was replaced by Cyrillic in Mongolia – but also on the need for them to be formed in the national language to facilitate their mobility, access different jobs and reinforce national identity.