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    China Bans Imported Textbooks for Primary, Middle Schools

    Textbook authors and editors are now required to hold political values that fall in line with the ideology of the Chinese Communist Party.

    China’s education ministry published a new set of regulations Tuesday forbidding the country’s primary and middle schools from using textbooks imported from foreign countries.

    The Ministry of Education said all primary and middle schools, which together make up the country’s nine-year compulsory education period, cannot use teaching materials from overseas. The laundry list of varied instructions on the management of teaching materials spans nearly all levels of education.

    During a press conference Tuesday, a ministry spokesperson said the new guidelines were introduced to “adhere to the correct political direction and value orientation.” In September 2018, the ministry had launched a one-month “comprehensive” inspection of teaching materials to keep schools from using foreign or self-published textbooks.

    According to the new rules, universities, vocational schools, international high schools, and international programs at domestic high schools are still allowed to use imported teaching materials, as domestic teaching materials “aren’t sufficient to meet teaching demands.” However, such institutions will be encouraged to choose versions that have been translated and distributed by Chinese publishers.

    On the other hand, all primary and middle schools, as well as vocational institutions, must adopt the country’s unified teaching materials for Chinese language, history, and politics, which tend to have a strong ideological slant and may involve content related to state sovereignty, security, ethnicity, and religion.

    The regulations stipulate that authors and editors of teaching materials must “hold a firm political stance” in line with that of the Communist Party of China. The authors of articles selected for inclusion in textbooks should also have “positive historical evaluations and a good social image.”

    The new regulations received strong support on domestic social media, with people calling for more patriotic education, even as local authorities have already been pushing for more nationalist curricula. In 2018, the eastern province of Jiangxi announced plans for a set of “red culture” textbooks across different levels of educational institutions starting from kindergarten.

    In 2016, Chinese President Xi Jinping said students should be educated in a way that helps them “develop firm beliefs and confidence in lofty communist ideals, and ‘socialism with Chinese characteristics.’” The following year, the country’s education ministry said it would introduce a more patriotic version of Chinese language, history, and law and ethics books for primary and middle schools emphasizing traditional culture, revolutionary history, and ideology.

    Editor: Bibek Bhandari.

    (Header image: Xizi608/Tuchong)