Roof of the World: Tibet in Context. Why is China setting up Colonial Boarding Schools in Occupied Tibet?

Conversation with: Dr. Gyal Lo la

by Team FNVA

Conversation with: 

  • Dr. Gyal Lo la, is a Tibetan activist, educational sociologist, and a leading expert on China’s assimilation and education policies in Tibet.


Hosted by Kate Saunders, FNVA


This session with Dr. Gyal Lo la on Colonial Boarding School is divided into two parts: 


Dr. Gyal Lo la was born in Tibet, he obtained his master’s degree from the Tibetan Language and Culture Department at Northwestern University for Nationalities in Lanzhou, China. Subsequently becoming an Assistant Professor in the same department, where he taught for the next decade and undertook extensive research on Tibetan education. He obtained his PhD at the University of Toronto, Canada, and returned home in 2015 but was refused his past employment due to political sensitives over his time abroad. However he eventually attained a professorship at Yunnan University in 2017. Yet, three years into his contract, his position was terminated amidst a worsening political climate in China. Dismissed on the grounds that he was a “foreign Tibetan with a western background,” which eventually pushed him to leave his home country in December 2020.  

The conversation with Dr. Gyal Lo la sees him engage about his life in occupied Tibet. He explains how he studied in Tibet and how he eventually was given faculty and professorship in universities in Tibet. Likewise, he tells us how he first came to notice about the creation of such Colonial Style Boarding schools which began in the late 1990’s and was accelerated when Xi Jinping became president of The People’s Republic of China. Furthermore, he states how in his own region in Tibet, it was on September 2016 that he witnessed Chinese Colonial Boarding Schools for Pre-School/Kindergarten Tibetan children, who had no choice but are forced to attend.

He is a key primary source of @tibetactioninstitute report “Separated from their Families – Hidden from the World: China’s Vast System of Colonial Boarding Schools inside Tibet” leading to various testimonies at several global institutions across the world. Dr. Gyal Lo la also testified in such spaces shedding light on this draconian system that is ‘Killing the Tibetan in the Child’ said by Lhadon Tethong during a testimony at @ChinaCommission . He also shares with us his engagement with different leaders of the world on this subject since being pushed to flee his own homeland of Tibet. His advice to India and the larger international community when it comes to dealing with the Communist Party led People’s Republic of China.

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