The keyword essay on “Education” allows readers to understand different forms and styles of education across centuries. In general, there are two forms of education, which are vocational and liberal, respectively. Vocational education aims for preparing children to work as a prospective adult, while liberal education equips students with broader range of knowledge to function appropriately in society. Elisabeth Gruner specified in her essay that different kinds of education can be given to children based on their genders and class status, with girls from the wealthy received formal instruction later than boys coming from the same class status. In particular, religious and vocational education was primarily imparted to the poor.
In the story The Choctaw Girl which took place in the 19th century among tribes of Indians that rooted in the United States, education to young children was based on religion and happened in the churches and open school which educated the Indians to preach the gospel among “western Indians”. Later on, in the American Indian Stories we read, Zitkaka was sent to a boarding school where she was forced to assimilate into western culture and was instructed to learn English and become Christians. Back in the 19th century, the day schools and boarding schools run by church missions were aimed to destroy Indian children’s connections to their own cultures.
From the YouTube video “Life Inside China’s ‘Re-Education’ Camps” by Wall Street Journal, we see both Uighurs and Zitkaka are being educated against their own will. The Xinjiang autonomous region in China’s far west has had a long history of discord between the authorities and the indigenous ethnic Uighur population. Over the last several years, anti Chinese attacks have increased as the Uighur want their independence. To suppress demonstrations and activists going underground and to improve ethnic unity, reeducation camps in Xinjiang are operated secretly and outside of legal system aiming to erode Uighur identity. Like Zitkaka being forced to learn English, children of all ethnicities whose native language is Turkic language inside the camps are educated in Mandarin, the national language. Similar to what Zitkaka had experienced in boarding school, there are also corporal punishments and psychological pressure taking place inside the camps. However, instead of being promoted to Christianity that American Indians encountered, “students” inside the internment camps are told repeatedly “there is no such thing as religion”. I have absolute no intention to criticize China’s policy on Xinjiang, it is just we see history repeating itself.
Both Zitkaka and Uighurs are “civilized” and forced to assimilate to majority culture. However, education in any kind of form should be mainly the passage of knowledge and under no circumstance it should be depriving one’s right or against one’s will.