01/08/2020, 16.18
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Beijing cracks down again on education, banning foreign textbooks

A new directive came into force whereby “Teaching materials in primary and secondary schools must reflect the will of the party and the state”. In Tibet, the authorities order families to keep their children away from religious activities during the winter school break.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The Chinese Communist Party has published new guidelines banning the use of foreign teaching materials in the country's primary and secondary schools.

The latest government directives require authors, publishers and teachers to promote the ‘spirit of Xi Jinping Thought’ in all textbooks, from primary through high school.

This highlights China’s strict control over youth education, but is not limited to classrooms.

Tibetan human rights activists report that, for the third consecutive year, Chinese authorities have ordered families in Lhasa to keep their children away from any religious activities during the winter break.

The new regulations, dated 19 December, were posted on the official website of the Ministry of Education. “Teaching materials in primary and secondary schools must reflect the will of the party and the state,” they read.

Instead, the guidelines stipulate that all texts must be subject to political review by experts in Marxism, traditional Chinese culture and revolutionary values.

Textbooks and other classroom materials will be discontinued if there are "problems with the political direction and value orientation of the textbook content”.

"Compulsory education schools (up to the age of 16) may not use overseas teaching materials," the directive states. "Senior high schools must follow national policy when selecting overseas teaching materials."

On 9 December 2016, Chinese authorities launched a campaign to intensify ideological and political education at a conference on ideological and political work in universities (思想 政治 教育, IPE).

Speaking at the event, President Xi Jinping strongly reiterated the supremacy of Marxism and socialism in Chinese higher learning institutions, pushing for greater ideological and political efforts to indoctrinate the country’s 37 million university students.

Last August a ban was imposed on words like God, Bible and Christ in a textbook for elementary schools. Such words have been censored even in books by foreign authors in an attempt to reduce the appeal of religions (particularly Christianity), or forcibly sinicise them.

Certain references were removed from Chinese-language translations of four classic stories published by the People's Education Press, including The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Anderson and Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe.

Beijing's educational policies in Tibet have also come under closer scrutiny in recent times.

The International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) point the finger at a 31 December directive sent by the Chengguan Haicheng elementary school in Lhasa to the parents, containing guidelines on winter break school tasks and projects, healthcare and forbidden behaviour, including religious activities.

The winter break runs about two months starting on 31 December.

The directive also urged parents to uphold the ‘Four Forbiddens’ – ice-skating on rivers, entering internet cafes and other entertainment venues, carrying knives or other dangerous items, and going out alone.

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