China Muslims: Xinjiang schools used to separate children from familiesJuly 04, 2019
Records show that in one township alone more than 400 children have lost not just one but both parents to some form of internment, either in the camps or in prison.
Alongside the efforts to transform the identity of Xinjiang’s adults, the evidence points to a parallel campaign to systematically remove children from their roots.
Campuses have been enlarged, new dormitories built and capacity increased on a massive scale. Significantly, the state has been growing its ability to care full-time for large numbers of children at precisely the same time as it has been building the detention camps. And it appears to be targeted at precisely the same ethnic groups.
In just one year, 2017, the total number of children enrolled in kindergartens in Xinjiang increased by more than half a million. And Uighur and other Muslim minority children, government figures show, made up more than 90% of that increase. As a result, Xinjiang’s pre-school enrolment level has gone from below the national average to the highest in China by far. In the south of Xinjiang alone, an area with the highest concentration of Uighur populations, the authorities have spent an eye watering $1.2bn on the building and upgrading of kindergartens. Mr Zenz’s analysis suggests that this construction boom has included the addition of large amounts of dormitory space.
Mr Zenz found one government document that details various subsidies available to “needy groups”, including those families where “both a husband and a wife are in vocational training”. And a directive issued to education bureaus by the city of Kashgar that mandates them to look after the needs of students with parents in the camps as a matter of urgency. Schools should “strengthen psychological counselling”, the directive says, and “strengthen students’ thought education” - a phrase that finds echoes in the camps holding their parents.