China’s teachers have been forced for years to serve as enforcers of the authoritarian regime’s ideology, swapping school education with government propaganda.
by Han Sheng
Over the past weeks, education departments in Hunan, Sichuan, and other provinces issued recruitment notices for teachers from primary and secondary schools and kindergartens to work as teaching instructors in Hong Kong and Macao. The primary qualification criteria are not teaching skills but membership in the CCP, “firm political stance,” and “support for the central government’s policies on the work in Hong Kong and Macao.”
Selected teachers are to incorporate the teaching of Mandarin into curricula of Hong Kong and Macao schools while carrying out “teaching research” in cooperation with local teachers and developing school-based curriculum to adapt ideological education to each school’s context and peculiarities.
The recruitment drive that came amid the CCP’s plans to impose sweeping anti-sedition laws on Hong Kong is seen as an attempt to “re-educate” its residents to follow the CCP line at an early age. It is a continuation of the campaign called Program for Exchange and Assistance Between Teachers in Mainland China and Hong Kong, dating back to 2005. It proves that the CCP had started infiltrating Hong Kong’s education system already 15 years ago, disguised as “exchange and assistance.”
According to a notice distributed in May 2019 by the Office for Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan Affairs of the Ministry of Education of China to education departments in 21 provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities, 60 teachers were sent to Hong Kong last year. Most were primary school Chinese language and secondary school history teachers. All were qualified as “special-grade teachers” who underwent specialized training before leaving for Hong Kong.
Similarly, the CCP has sent numerous teachers, primarily Chinese language instructors, deep into Xinjiang to forcibly assimilate and indoctrinate the next generation of Uyghurs. Many teachers complained that this political task is more important than teaching children.
Teachers from schools in the mainland also report about increasing political indoctrination over the past two years. A teacher from the central province of Henan, who is a member of the CCP, told Bitter Winter that in one month, she had to read Excerpts from Xi Jinping’s Important Exposition on “Don’t forget the Original Intention; Keep the Mission in Mind” and Learning Outline of Xi Jinping’s Socialist Ideology with Chinese Characteristics in the New Era. She also had to write at least ten self-study notes and an ideological report, at least seven-page long. Should such reports be deemed insufficient, she would be declared as “having problems with her ideological consciousness.”
“The Communist Party knows that we won’t read these texts, so they pressure us using various methods,” the teacher said, referring to Xi Jinping’s speeches that teachers are forced to read. She hates that these meaningless political tasks take over the time she could use to prepare for lessons.
On top of studying President Xi’s speeches, she also had to watch patriotic movies and write about them, take part in “red education activities,” like “Renewing Oath to the Party,” and visit political exhibitions. She, too, had to find time to use the “Xi Study Strong Nation” app and attend training sessions at “revolutionary sites” on some weekends.
“Even when applying for a scholarship or a stipend, the first requirement is proof of support for the Party’s leadership,” she added. The teacher believes that all these over the top measures are a demonstration of “Xi Jinping’s lack of confidence.”
A student from the southern province of Guangdong told Bitter Winter that at the height of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong last year, teachers intensified indoctrination efforts in class. “Our English language teachers criticized Hong Kong’s residents for lacking patriotic consciousness and admonished protestors as ungrateful to the government for returning Hong Kong to China,” the student recalled. “History teachers called Hongkongers ‘rats who always spoil a good soup,’ while commanding us to love the Party. We didn’t pay much attention to these statements at first, but with time, as all teachers started making similar remarks, we began to feel negativity toward Hongkongers.”
The student’s mother is appalled with the education her daughter receives. “I sent the child to the school to gain knowledge, but she is being indoctrinated,” the woman told Bitter Winter. “This is a tragedy, but nothing can be done about it.”