‘Ethnic extinction’ in northwest ChinaJuly 09, 2021
This part of the “ethnic extinction” process was enforced by removing children from their homes. First, nearly all schools above eighth grade became residential schools, where students are held behind walls except on weekend home visits. Then, beginning in 2017, many elementary schools and nurseries also became residential schools. In this way, Uyghur children of all ages were increasingly separated from their parents. At the same time, as documented in thousands of job advertisements posted by Social Security Bureaus across Xinjiang, the teachers in Uyghur schools were replaced with newly hired Han elementary school teachers and daycare workers from other parts of China. The basic requirements for these jobs, aside from Mandarin fluency, was “support for the Party’s line, guidelines, and policies, conscientiously safeguarding the unity of the motherland, ethnic solidarity and social stability, while adamantly opposing ethnic separatism and illegal religious activities, and not believing in religion or participating in religious activities.”
A group of nearly 90,000 newly hired avowedly non-Muslim educators pushed existing state-employed Uyghur educators to the side. In a 2020 conversation, a Uyghur woman now living in North America told me she asked her mother, a former school teacher, about the conditions of the elementary school near Kaiser’s village. “She told me, ‘None of our people are teachers anymore. Those that are older, like me, have retired. The younger ones now work as cleaners in the school.’” In order to remain in teaching positions, Uyghurs had to prove they could speak and teach Chinese language with near-native fluency and have spotless family backgrounds. For most Uyghur educators, this was simply impossible.
Uyghur children across the region are now effectively raised in a non-Muslim, Mandarin-speaking environment. Beginning on September 1, 2017, primary schools across the region began to change their “bilingual” curriculum to a Chinese-only “mode 2” program. An announcement published by the education department of Bortala County, a county in a prefecture near Kaiser’s home, noted, “In the end, only Chinese will be taught.”