Becoming familiar strangers: an exploration of inland boarding school education on cultural wellbeing of minority students from Xinjiang province
The Inland Xinjiang Senior Secondary School Class Policy (Neidi Xinjiang Gaozhongban Zhengce, hereafter the Xinjiang Class Policy) was executed by China’s Ministry of Education (MOE) in September 2000. It allows and funds middle school-aged students, mostly ethnic minorities from southern Xinjiang’s impoverished rural and nomadic regions to attend boarding schools in predominately Han-populated cities located throughout eastern China. The purpose of this policy is to improve ethnic minority students’ political, economic and cultural status and to promote ethnic unity and Chinese nationalism. A systematic review of the literature is conducted in order to identify the research relevant to the execution of Inland Xinjiang Senior Secondary School Class Policy. Using Michel Foucault’s concept of normalisation, the paper examines how the goals of this Policy are accomplished through the provision of boarding school education. It suggests that while students are resisting integration through their attempts to maintain ethnic identity, better educational achievements and increased employment opportunities are nevertheless positioning minority students as ethnic elites in Xinjiang.
While previous research has focused largely on the experiences of minority students in boarding schools, the systematic review applied here finds that research exploring the cultural significance for parents whose children leave home to study in far-away places is extremely limited. This limitation thus constitutes the future focus of this research study.
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