Monday, September 29, 2008

Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics

We all heard of this quote “Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics”. I don’t know the who uttered these words first. Some attribute this to Benjamin Disraeli, colourful 19th century British Prime Minister, others ascribe the quote to Walter Bagehot, who is regarded as the philosopher behind the modern Conversative Party. I think it may be been Bagehot, he was the editor of The Economist for 17 years and wrote a great deal about government and constitutional matters. Both Benjamin Disraeli and Bagehot were the key figures who shaped the Modern Tory Party. I mustn’t write too much off the top of my head though, last time I did that a reader corrected me about the date for the US recognition of Mongolia.

Anwyway, I quite like the quote and everytime I read reports from China about Tibet, this quote keeps coming to mind. Last week the Chinese government issued another White Paper on Tibet, which contains an impressive set of statistics. I have always wondered how these figures are compiled. In the 1970s, the CCP tried to show that the PLA are really performing services to the “liberated serfs” of Tibet and used to rattle out figures for the number of how many free haircuts they carried out and how many tons of water they carried to the field. The CCP’s predilection for
statistics was pointed out by another blogger, who works as an English editor for Xinhua. He wrote “There is no attempt at understanding anything about what Tibetans are thinking. The argument is based purely on money and statistics”.

High Peaks Pure Earth found an interesting post written in Chinese on this blog. The author gives an interesting account of how figures are compiled at a local level at Chigdril Dzong
(gChig sgril rdzong) in Golok (gMog log).

Here is an English translation of the post:

An Account of the Serious Falsification of Data Concerning the Universal Nine-year Compulsory Education and the Elimination of Illiteracy Among Youths and Adults in Chidril County (Ch: Jiuzhi, Qinghai Province) by Luwo Tsetan

In 2007 when the Provincial Team Inspecting the Work Concerning the Universal Nine-year Compulsory Education and the Elimination of Illiteracy among Youths and Adults came to Chigdril County, they demanded that the enrolment rate of school-age children should be 100%. When the County authorities reported to the higher level of government organizations, they reported the enrolment rate at 99.6 percent. For 98% of school-age children, they reported 96.25 percent. The drop-out rate for primary schools was !%, and that of the junior high schools was 3%. The literacy rate for people between the age of 15 to 50 was 95% but it was reported to be 96.53%. The literacy rate for youths between the age of 15 and 24 was 95% but it was reported to be 96.53%. The rate for completing primary school for 16 year old youths was 98% but it was reported to be 98.2%. And for the rate of completing the Junior High School among 18 year old youth was 85% but was reported to be 86.72%.

This data was falsified by the staff charged to establish data for the Universal Nine-year Compulsory Education and the Elimination of Illiteracy among Youths and Adults, headed by Erko, the deputy magistrate in charge of Cultural and Educational Affairs in
Chigdril County.

1. It is absolutely impossible for the enrolment rate for school-age children and youth in the area to reach the percentage mentioned above. In order not to have their children to go to school, the herdsmen of the area would pay children of herdsmen from Ngawa (Aba) County, Machu (Maqu) County and other townships in the county to replace their children. For each student, they would pay about 20,000 Yuan. Over 200 young monks in the monasteries have not received nine-year compulsory education and between March and August of this year the number of drop-out students from the only Tibetan School was as high as 40. Thus the actual enrolment rate of the school-age children and youth can be logically imagined.

2. The statistics and the rosters of school-age children and youth in the primary schools of the various townships as well as the two middle schools are false. All students who are older than their peers were transferred to the junior high schools, and the original classes were mixed with others. When the Prefectural Inspection Team came to re-examine the second time, they asked the teacher how many students and how many female students there were in the class, but the teacher in charge of the class replied frankly whether he/she should tell them the real number or the fake number the county authorities demanded him/her to report. The Prefectural Inspection Team called the teacher a fool, and left.

3.The literacy rate for youth and adults and the enrolment rate for the junior high schools are also false. The literacy teachers would give the textbooks and exams to students in the Junior Middle School Section of the Tibetan School, and have them complete the homework and take the exams. Majority of Tibetan herdsmen in the countryside do not even know a single Chinese character, how is it be possible for the county to reach the literacy rate of 90%?

4. In October 2007 when the data for the Universal Nine-year Compulsory Education and the Elimination of Illiteracy among Youths and Adults was initially collected and established, it was required that the number of students in the Tibetan School in the county must reach about 1,300, and at that time the number of students in the school was 700. In the end of October there formed intensive classes with over 500 students. Among these students, some are graduates from a certain senior high school, and others were students who graduated from the Tibetan school but were herding at home. Still others were monks. They all came to school to deal with the inspection, thus, as soon as the inspection team left, the students could go home. Initially when the students came to register for the classes, the county authorities promised to give them salaries, and would provide them with houses to resettle the immigrants. Though they lived in the school for no more than two months, in the dossier it was recorded as a four-year intensive class. Eventually, the salary some students received was such materials as solar energy equipments used to help the poor given by the Department of the Civil Administration of the county (the value of these materials is 5,000 to 6,000 Yuan). However, up to now some students still have not received their salary, and some poor families filed their complaints to the provincial authorities because they did not receive the materials they were supposed to obtain from the county authorities.

5. The intensive classes in the various townships were also established to deal with the inspection. The students just came a few days ago, and they all came to earn some money.

6. There are over 40 full-time teachers in the Tibetan School of
Chigdril County, but the county authorities reported over 80 teachers. In the list of these “extra teachers”, most of them are staff in the Bureau of Culture and Education, including accountants, cashier, typists, drivers or office boys. They also included names of teachers who have already been transferred to other counties or retired teachers. Judging from the situation, how can they satisfactorily complete the task of teaching over 20 classes with over 700 students. How is it possible to even take the quality of teaching into consideration!

7. They implemented the system of vetoing with four votes, and the salaries for the teachers are in arrears.

8. Whatever is written in the report of the evaluation of the Universal Nine-Year Compulsory Education and the Elimination of Illiteracy among Youth and Adults is false. Leaders like Erko have brought great loss to the cause of education in the region. Is it right to guide the work concerning education like this? If the leaders in charge of education set such an example, how can the teachers who are on the forefront of education improve the quality of education? How is it possible for the local economy to develop!!!

I hope the government departments concerned redress the issue as soon as possible.

Here is the original post in Chinese:

[ 2008-9-28 11:06:00 | By: 罗哇才旦 ]

一,2007年第一次省级两基检查团到久治县检查两基时要求适龄儿童入学率100,上报时入学率99.6. 适龄少年98,上报96.25,小学辍学率控制在1, 初中辍学率控制在315周岁至50周岁非文盲率95,上报96.53. 15周岁至24周岁青壮年非文盲率95,上报96.53.16周岁初等教育完成率98,上报98.9218周岁初级中等教育完成率85



1. 本地区的适龄儿童和适龄少年的入学率根本达不到以上所说那样,本地区的牧民群众为了不让自己的子女上学从阿坝县,玛曲县和本县其它乡镇的牧民子女用钱买过来顶替,每人两万元左右。寺院僧人中有年纪小的200人以上没上过九年义务教育,今年3月到8月仅仅藏中辍学生人数达到40人,这样久治县的适龄儿童和适龄少年入学率就可想而知。

2. 各乡小学和两所中学的适龄儿童和适龄少年的统计和花名册都是假的,年龄大的都调到初中部,原有的班级都打乱了,州检查团第二次到久治县复查验收时问你班有多少人,有多少女生时,某班主任直接说;我说真的吗还是县要求的说假的。州检查团的说了一句傻瓜就走了。


4. 200710月份县两基建档时要求县藏中学生人数要达到1300余人,当时藏中实有学生人数700余人。10月底建立强化班500余人,这些强化班的学生有些是高中学校毕业的学生,有些是本县中学毕业后在家放牧的,有些是僧人,他们到学校只是为了应付检查,检查团走后学生们可以回家。刚开始这些学生到校报名时县领导答应给工资,配发移民安置房屋,学校内住了不到两个月,建起的档案中写得是四年的强化班。最后有些学生拿到的工资是民政局发给贫困户的扶贫物资太阳能 (价值5000元至6000元)有些学生至今还没拿到工资,贫困户们没拿到扶贫物资太阳能后告到省上了。

5. 今年各乡的强化班也是应付检查的,刚到不过几天,学生都是为挣钱而的。

6. 久治县藏中实有专职教师40余人,上报时有80余人,多余的这些教师名单中多部分是县文教局的工作人员包括会计,出纳,打字员,驾驶员,通讯员等,有一些是调到其它县的教师,还有一些是退休的教师,这样能把700余人学生和20多个班级的教学任务怎能完成,教学质量如何谈起、



尔科这样的领导给本地方的教育带来了多大的损失,这样领导教育是正 的吗?教育第一线的教师们怎能把教育搞上去,教育领导是这样带头的吗?本地区的经济怎样发展!!!


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