Medical Students' Protest 'Not Resolved'

Job openings in Tibet fall behind the numbers of students graduating.

tibetan-students-protest-305.jpg Hundreds of Tibetan medical students protest in front of government offices in Lhasa, Sept. 2, 2010.
Photo: RFA

Demands by Tibetan students of traditional medicine seeking jobs have gone unanswered, with many graduates still out of work, according to sources in Tibet.

“On Sept. 2, 2010, hundreds of Tibetan graduates of the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) Institute of Tibetan Traditional Medicine protested in front of TAR offices in Lhasa,” the Tibetan writer Woeser reported on her website. 

“They carried banners demanding an increase in available jobs,” Woeser wrote, adding that the protesters did not march in a group, but assembled individually in front of the government offices.

In an interview, a Tibetan closely associated with the school said that school officials then spoke with the group.

“However, they did not agree to increase the quota of available jobs from 60 this year for graduates of the school.  Their only concession was that graduates would be allowed to take the examination intended for graduates of the modern medicine school.”

“This is also unfair, since the Tibetan students were trained in traditional medicine and would find the examination difficult to pass,” he said.

Reached for comment, an official of the Institute of Tibetan Traditional Medicine would not say whether any of the protesting students had been detained.

The situation “has not been resolved,”  she said.

Language difficulties

National board examinations requiring proficiency in the Chinese language present further difficulties for Tibetan students, according to the source in Tibet. 

“If they are tested only on the vocational skills they have learned, Tibetan students perform well.  But [many of] these candidates are eliminated when they have to take the national examination in Chinese,” he said.

Most of the students at the Institute of Tibetan Traditional Medicine come from western and central Tibetan areas such as Nagchu, Lhoka, Shigatse, and Lhasa, the source continued.

“Tibetan students who did well in Tibetan language by the time they graduated from middle school and high school prefer to enroll in the TAR Institute of Tibetan Traditional Medicine.  There are hardly any Chinese students studying in this institution.”

Tibetan students coming from Yunnan have to study Tibetan for a full year to catch up with the other students, though, he said.

In most prefectures, Tibetan traditional medicine is offered by only two or three doctors working in small clinics inside larger medical facilities, he added.

Only 60 out of 256 graduates of the Institute of Tibetan Traditional Medicine were hired this year, he said, with this reversing a brief surge of hirings last year when a Chinese official toured remote areas of Tibet and identified an “urgent need” for additional practitioners.

The source pointed to the difficulties of organizing protests like the one of Sept. 2.

“Many Tibetan students who have texted [by cell phone] among themselves have been detained,” he said.

“It is hard to learn the details, but many have disappeared.”

Original reporting by RFA’s Tibetan service. Translated by Karma Dorjee. Written in English by Richard Finney.


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