“Higher Education”: Scripture and Football of Tibet University | Asia Pacific News
Tibetan nuns in maroon robes debated the Dharma fiercely, while monks rushed across the artificial grass on the roof of the world to play football.
The Tibetan Buddhist Academy is one of the highest learning places on earth, with more than 900 students studying Mandarin, English and political science.
All this happened under the benevolent gaze of Chinese President Xi Jinping, whose portrait is the icing on the cake, which is located on a hillside at least 3,600 meters (11,800 feet) above sea level.
Beijing stated that it “peacefully liberated” the mountainous areas of Tibet in 1951, and insisted that since then it has brought infrastructure and education to previously underdeveloped areas.
The Chinese flag and Xi Jinping’s motto are all over the campus.
But there is no indication that the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader, fled the area in 1959 and established a government in exile in India.
Agence France-Presse participated in a government-led media visit this week to politically sensitive areas.
Since 2008, it has been almost impossible for journalists to visit unless organized travel.
In recent decades, sporadic protests have erupted in Tibet, including some monks set themselves ablaze in the center of Lhasa, and large-scale protests against Chinese rule in 2008, resulting in many deaths.
Human rights organizations say that it is extremely dangerous to express any anti-government views, and the turmoil that is brewing will soon be extinguished.
During the media visit, the college students were full of praise for their education.
Monks, nuns, and novices rehearsed religious scriptures, flaunted their English and displayed traditional Buddhist debates, and the speakers delivered emphatic rhetoric in the cobblestone courtyard.
“I have been here for more than two years,” said the 32-year-old monk Xirekewang. “We study from 6 in the morning to around 9 in the evening. I like to study here and don’t feel tired…Life is good.”
But China has been accused of deliberately downplaying Tibetan culture, including directing its education system.
Critics say that with the continued “sinicization” of the region, freedom of movement and freedom of speech are strictly controlled.
Scholars also stated that it has become extremely difficult to conduct research in the area, which makes it even more difficult to independently assess the local quality of life.
Gray Tuttle, a professor of modern Tibet studies at Columbia University, said: “The level of repression needed to control things in Tibet… tells me that things there continue to be tense.
On the well-funded Lhasa campus, students are all smiles at foreign media, which has a brand-new artificial turf football field and running track.
The university’s vice president Gesang Wangdui told the media that the university’s success is attributed to China.
“I am a party member. I am not a Buddhist, I am a communist.”