The Ministry of Education of China has uniformed and “sinicized” the curriculum, and is training teachers to use the new materials to criticize the West and promote atheism.
by Deng Jie
Since the autumn of 2019, all primary and middle schools across China started using uniform nationwide teaching materials prepared by the Ministry of Education. The material refers to three courses, Chinese language, history, and “morality and the rule of law.” High schools across China should follow suit with respect to Chinese language, history, and politics. Prior to this, a “one guide-multiple text” policy curriculum had been applied for 30 years in Chinese schools.
Why were the new national textbooks introduced? Tian Huisheng, the director of the Teaching Materials Bureau of the Ministry of Education, stated at the press conference held on August 27, 2019 that “the textbooks for the three courses have serious ideological attributes and reflect the national will and the core socialist values. They will play a particularly important role in educating students.”
Video: News on the Ministry teaching materials
Bitter Winter interviewed some teachers from several provinces who had attended the training. They gave an account of how the experts interpreted this reform.
Rejecting Western democratic values
“During the training, the expert said that the reform was introduced mainly because the previous curriculum for the Chinese language, history, politics ‘worshipped’ Western values and suffered of serious Westernization. It failed to ‘implement the Party and the state’s major guidelines on teaching materials work,’ so that the trained students may long for Western democracy and freedom and would not know patriotism. To solve these problems, the state had to establish a high-ranking institution that coordinates the nationwide work on teaching materials,,” a Chinese language teacher from the southern China’s Guanxi Zhuang Autonomous Region told Bitter Winter.
A history teacher from the central province of Henan received similar “education” in the training. He told Bitter Winter that the training emphasized the defects in Western democracy, claiming that there are actually no human rights in the West, as people have become greedy and undisciplined under the Western democratic system.
He told Bitter Winter, “When we taught foreign modern history, we all admired Western countries, as they already had democracy. This curriculum reform demands to only teach the goodness of China’s autocracy and the limitation of democracy. We are asked to constantly introduce the core socialist values and patriotic sentiment into our lessons.”
Some Chinese language teachers noticed that the number of foreign works was reduced in the newly revised textbooks, while the number of those from traditional Chinese culture was greatly increased. According to https://youtu.be/BJFnhyzF-Y0 in mainland China, 128 ancient poems are included in the Chinese language textbook for primary schools nationwide, increasing by 87 percent compared to the previous version, and a text from the Analects of Confucius is included in the grade-one curriculum, while it was originally presented to older students. Ancient poems in the Chinese language textbooks for middle schools increased by 51 percent. As the teachers explained to Bitter Winter, these Chinese texts, having replaced the Western ones, should be presented to the students by following the notion of Chinese culture promoted by President Xi Jinping and the CCP.
“The newly compiled teaching materials must reflect the core socialist values, national confidence, cultural confidence, and institutional confidence. Teachers are not allowed to evaluate democracy positively, and even less allowed to criticize the authoritarian system. If your curriculum is really good, why are you afraid of its comparison with others? Doesn’t this obviously show your lack of confidence? How come that longing for freedom, democracy and religious liberty is called ‘worshipping foreign things’?” the same teacher from Henan questioned.
Eradicating religious content
Religious content is banned in the new version of textbooks. Several teachers revealed that one of the principles for compiling new teaching materials was the ban on pictures and texts related to religion, including pictures of temples and mosques.
Some teachers noticed that the terms with “God” “prayer” “Christ” or “Bible” have been deleted from the Ministry-compiled textbooks.
“The training experts claimed that religion fetters people, and teachers must adhere to atheism, and not include any reference to mysticism and supernatural power and beings in their lessons, even less should they mention religious doctrines, teachings or rules,” the same teacher from Henan said. “The CCP is afraid that schoolchildren are influenced by the religious and democratic ideology of the Western culture, so some foreign works have been deleted and all the terms related to religion have been replaced in some works. This is disrespect to the authors, to say the least.”
For what are the students trained?
The training especially emphasized the issue of “for what the students are trained.” According to the training experts, a person who uses his or her talent and education to “engage in ethnic separatism” and “defame his or her country and people” should be punished.
Several teachers told Bitter Winter that the training experts took Hong Kong for example. They said that the “riotous” youth in Hong Kong did not acknowledge their Chinese identity, and this was the fault of substandard teaching materials, because “every curriculum creates its students.”
“For what the students are trained” is one of the three major questions raised by Xi Jinping regarding the education work, the two other questions being what kind of students are trained and how they are trained. In March 2019, Xi Jinping gave an indirect answer to this question at a teachers’ symposium for ideological and political theory classes at schools nationwide. He stated, “It is necessary to cultivate generation after generation of useful talents who support the CCP leadership and the Chinese socialist system, and who are committed to a lifelong struggle for the cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics.”
According to statistics made by training experts, 34 patriotic texts promoting the CCP leaders and revolutionary thoughts are included in the Ministry-compiled primary school Chinese language textbook, amounting to 10.67% of the total texts.
“It can be perceived that Xi Jinping pays close attention to ideology, acting as Chairman Mao did,” a teacher who has been active in Chinese schools for over ten years told Bitter Winter. “The training is mainly about the topic of ‘loving the country and the Party,’ demanding us to promote thoughts such as ‘without the Communist Party, there would be no new China.’ It obviously aims to train students into young people who are loyal to the Party.”