Since the first day of the new semester, the CCP has been intensifying patriotic education and anti-religious propaganda in primary and secondary schools.
by Li Guang
On September 2, the first day of school in Hong Kong, thousands of students disobeyed orders and, instead of going to classes, they took to the streets to join a two-day strike and rally for democracy.
Compared to students in Hong Kong, their counterparts in mainland China, who are indoctrinated daily with communist and atheist propaganda, seem docile, taking orders from authorities, with no choice in the matter. And this is what the CCP prefers – the submissiveness of young people helps in raising and educating loyal successors of the regime.
The first day of school starts with indoctrination
At 8 p.m. on September 1, the day when the school year started in mainland China, primary and secondary school students and their parents were required to watch a special TV program called First Class of the Semester. The program, co-produced by the CCP Central Propaganda Department, the Ministry of Education, and China Central Television, is broadcast nationwide on or around the first day of school every year.
In this year’s First Class of the Semester, the theme of which was “I’m Proud of the Chinese Flag,” the host Dong Qing instructed the nation’s primary school children: “Today, we must cherish the Chinese flag just like we cherish life itself.”
The program, intended to cultivate Party and country-loving, Chinese flag-worshiping sentiments in students, recounted the CCP’s revolutionary history and the bravery of its heroes.
The parent of a primary school student from Chanhe district of Luoyang city in the central province of Henan told Bitter Winter that students were demanded to write down their impressions of the program and post their compositions to the class’s group on the messaging platform WeChat, along with photos depicting them and their families watching the program.
“I’m going to study hard and contribute to the country,” a student wrote on WeChat.
“Without the bloody sacrifices of revolutionary martyrs, there would be no new China, nor would we have the happy life of today,” a student’s parent commented on WeChat, after watching the TV program.
In private, however, not all agree with this viewpoint. Some parents remarked to Bitter Winter that such programs are meant to indoctrinate children so that they solely worship the Communist Party. Of course, the people we talked to didn’t want to disclose their identities, fearing repercussions.
Similar “red education” programs have become compulsory for primary and middle school students in mainland China as well.
A middle school teacher in Henan’s Anyang city revealed that the school’s principal demanded each class to select one person to read aloud daily passages from “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era” in the morning, before afternoon classes, and when raising the national flag. Besides, students are assigned to transcribe four “Xi Jinping Thought” articles each week; those who don’t complete the task are punished.
Students at a primary school in Anyang are required to watch Xinwen Lianbo (literally “News Simulcast”) every day and write down the main content of the news, especially about Xi Jinping. The school’s principal stated that these activities are part of working on “Xi Study Strong Nation” – a mobile app used to indoctrinate China’s citizens with the president’s thoughts and opinions. Students who do not complete this task are required to run 50 laps around the school’s playground as punishment.
Atheist education through fear
The start of the new school year also began with anti-religious propaganda. On September 3, the Education Bureau of Fuyang district of Hangzhou, the capital of the eastern province of Zhejiang, issued a notice requiring primary and secondary schools to promote atheist ideology during the morning reading class.
The next day, multiple primary schools in the area watched anti-religious videos in class and took photos of the activity. “If we don’t do it, we will be criticized, and our wages will be docked,” a primary school teacher told Bitter Winter helplessly.
Some local students reported that their teacher showed images related to Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism during their morning self-study class and told them not to believe in any religion. The teacher also encouraged them to call the police or tell a teacher if they hear anyone saying things like ‘God created Earth and mankind.’ Because, she claimed, anyone who says so “believes in a xie jiao.”
A teacher at another primary school revealed that the school’s principal warned students during a class to report anyone at home who is a member of The Church of Almighty God. “If you don’t report them, then you’re betraying the Party and will be arrested. People who believe in Almighty God will be put in prison and sentenced to death by shooting,” the teacher recounted the words of the principle.
And the “indoctrination by fear” seems to be working. The teacher said that after the class, one of the students pledged to report any people who believe in God to evade arrest.