China has issued a new directive, in which it is calling for an improved system of “Patriotic Education” in its schools.
This edict — which was issued by the country’s Ministry of Education and its Communist Party organization and officially approved in January — has been relayed to “education officials,” reported upon by China’s state-run news agency, Xinhua, and re-posted by the New York Times. It also comes at a tenuous time in the country’s history as, also per the New York Times, debate continues to rage regarding potential de-masculinization within its overall school system.
According to the Ministry of Education’s memorandum, students in China need to be better molded to become “even more patriotic and devoted to the party,” even in cases where they are, in fact, cracking books in universities abroad.
This plan — which is part of President Xi Jinping’s “China Dream” for national revival — focuses on creating in-classroom curricula that work to “guide youthful students to establish and maintain correct views of history, the nation, state, and culture” in addition to helping “constantly enhance their sense of belonging to the Chinese nation.”
Key tenets of China’s Ministry of Education “Patriotic Education” plan include the following.
- Assembling students abroad in a “positive patriotic energy.”
- Building a contact network linking home and abroad.
- Conveying to students an overall feeling that “the motherland cares.”
“[We need to] organically instill the patriotic spirit into all subjects, curriculums and standards for primary, secondary and higher education in morals, language, history, geography, sports, arts and so on,” noted the memorandum, which China hopes will particularly help improve today’s youth’s respect for Chinese culture and tradition. In particular, the New York Times noted that officials want to instill support for China’s “authoritarian values” by having educators better highlight the government’s virtues.
Per China’s “Patriotic Education” plan, college-age students specifically need to be thoroughly “inoculated against liberal” stances, taught to “always follow the party,” and actively learn “about the dangers of negativity about the history of the party, nation, revolution and reform and opening up, as well as the vilifying heroic figures.”
In other words, China is looking to dissuade future generations from questioning the country’s own questionable past.
The news also comes just days after the New York Times also reported that Chinese officials were worried that a shortage of male classroom instructors has left the country with what it called “a generation of timid, self-centered students.”
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Per that report, officials announced plans to focus on helping “salvage masculinity in schools” by providing a “male-oriented education.” To date, this has led to (primarily Western) media outlets to question the Chinese government’s stance on gender equality and social identity while it continues to outwardly attempt to “make the labor market more meritocratic.”
The following is according to the New York Times’ Javier Hernandez.
“[This debate] reflects a general anxiety about boys in Chinese society. While boys outnumber girls as a result of the longstanding one-child policy and a cultural preference for sons, they consistently lag in academic performance. Some parents worry about their sons’ prospects in an uncertain economy, so they are putting their hopes in male role models who they believe impart lessons on assertiveness, courage and sacrifice. The view that there is an overabundance of female teachers that has had a negative effect on boys has, perhaps predictably, led to a backlash. Parents have accused schools of propagating rigid concepts of masculinity and gender norms, and female educators have denounced efforts to attract more male teachers with lavish perks as sexist.”
In both cases, the New York Times noted, China’s policies have raised concern among a number of critics be believe the country is putting undue pressure on students. Anyone who questions this statement need only look back to the 1989 student protests in Tiananmen Square in Beijing.
Chinese schoolchildren are taught from a young age that the Communist Party is the “sole engine of progress” in modern China, according to the New York Times’ Chris Buckley, who noted that students are taught that the political ideology helped rescue the country from “humiliating subjugation to foreigners [in addition to] restoring their nation to a position of respect and power” worldwide.
According to recent estimates from China’s Ministry of Education, nearly 1.7 million Chinese students are studying in schools in the U.S., the U.K., Australia, and Canada, with more than 300,000 calling China’s political and philosophical rival, the U.S., their home.
[Image by Feng Li/Getty Images]