Kelsang Dekyi was born in 1978 to a farming family in Gendeng Village, Bangxin Township, Medog County, southwest China's Tibet. At the age of seven, she entered a private primary school. She remembers her school as "having a thatched roof and decaying floorboards, leaking when it rains, and no lunch". At that time, there were only a dozen or so children who went to the school. The school offered three courses: Chinese, Tibetan, and mathematics. However, there were no teachers or textbooks to teach second grade and above.
Since the mid-1980s, China began opening Tibet classes in middle and high schools in inland areas of the country to intensify education of talented Tibetans. In 1994, Kelsang Dekyi was admitted to the Tibet class at Yueyang City First Middle School in Hunan Province.
During her study in the new school, Kelsang Dekyi saw the gap between her hometown and the rest of China. She believes that education is the key to narrowing this gap. In 1998, Kelsang Dekyi was admitted to the Nationalities College Attached to Hebei Normal University. After graduating in 2001, she returned to her hometown in the mountains.
"We really need teachers there. I want to make some contributions towards my hometown's education," said Kelsang Dekyi.
At that time, the Bangxin Township Primary School had already built a new school building, but the living conditions were still poor. More than 30 students were crammed into a single dormitory, and there were few vegetables in our daily dining. The teachers used their salaries to raise chickens and pigs, and every Friday they led the students to grow vegetables. Many students dropped out of school, with the direct cause of bad dining and poor living conditions
However, a deeper reason lay in the local people's economic burden and their lack of educational awareness. Parents were more willing to have their children stay at home, which would help save expenses and share many household chores. For a long time, Kelsang Dekyi's main job was to visit parents and persuade the children to go back to school. She said that she never gave up on "getting students back into the classroom."
In 2013, the Medog Highway opened to traffic, promoting local economic development. Kelsang Dekyi said that ordinary people's lives are getting more prosperous, and parents are more willing to send their children to school. Modern facilities such as multimedia classrooms, science laboratories, and music rooms have also improved teaching conditions.
"Before, teachers came and left in groups, but now it is relatively stable," said Kelsang Dekyi.
By the end of 2018, Medog County had 20 schools of different levels, 276 teachers, and 2,175 students. The primary school enrollment rate is 99.9 percent, and the middle school enrollment rate was 104.7 percent.
Kelsang Dekyi said that compared with the past, basic education in Medog County is much improved. But she also said that they are still lacking in the number of professional teachers, "particularly math, physics, and chemistry teachers, and music, sports, and art teachers."
During the ongoing annual "two sessions" this year, she hopes to make suggestions on quality training of minority teachers and to encourage more minority students to study pedagogic specialty and come to Medog to teach.
Editor: Tommy Tan.