China has ordered a nationwide review of math textbooks after illustrations in them nearly a decade ago sparked bizarre controversy..
Some considered the images ugly, racist, pro-American and sexually suggestive, while others feared “politicizing the issue,” according to a CNN report.
Some social media users in China criticized photos of children with small, drooping eyes and wide foreheads, describing them as ugly, insulting and racist..
Others are angry at what they see as sexual connotations in the drawings, with some images showing shy little children in their school uniforms.
In a controversial illustration of children playing, a boy is shown placing his hands on a girl’s chest while another pulls her bottom..
In another illustration, a girl’s underwear appears as she jumps on a rope.
Others have accused the illustrations of being “pro-American” because they show too many children wearing star-studded clothes, stripes and colors of the American flag..
In contrast, one of the drawings was described as “anti-Chinese” because it showed an incorrect shape of the Chinese flag stars..
Discussions about illustrations in math textbooks have continued since Thursday on social media, when the images of the drawings first circulated online and garnered tens of millions of views on the popular Chinese Twitter-like platform Weibo.
While many expressed shock that such “low-ranking” illustrations had been turned into textbooks quoted by the state-owned Public Education Publishing House, others questioned how such texts went through the rigorous publication review process. known locally and how they went unnoticed. its nationwide publication in 2013.
Well-known loyal figures of the Chinese Communist Party soon blamed what they described as “Western cultural interference.” The issue went beyond this to their claim that the painters worked secretly for foreign countries, especially the United States, without presenting any evidence of this..
Amid the commotion, the publishing house said Thursday it would redesign the illustrations, but its announcement failed to quell public outrage..
On Saturday, the Chinese Ministry of Education intervened, ordering the publisher to “correct and reform” its publications and ensure that the new version would be available for the fall semester, and also ordered a “comprehensive exam” of textbooks in nationwide to ensure that education materials “adhere to precise political orientations and values and promote particular Chinese culture and match the aesthetic tastes of the audience.”
On the other hand, the decision of the Ministry of Education has alarmed some experts and parents who fear that the campaign will turn into a political hunt and will represent an unnecessary tightening of the strict censorship that already exists in the country against cultural publications..
The campaign will not only focus on aesthetic and moral values, but will also have an ideological component.
Textbooks have been the focus of efforts by Chinese leader Xi Jinping to strengthen ideological control over the country’s youth and to avoid the influence of “Western values”.
Under Xi, the Chinese government banned foreign educational materials, including textbooks and classic novels, in all public primary and secondary schools, saying all educational materials “should reflect the will of the Party and the state.”
Chinese students returned to school in the current school year 2021-2022, holding new textbooks promoting Xi Jinping Thought..
And the Ministry of Education had said, at the beginning of the school year, that it would include in the national curriculum Xi’s political ideology with vague frameworks, ranging from primary schools to the graduation stages, with the start of the new school year. on Wednesday. ..
Primary school teachers should “sow the seeds of love for party, country and socialism in the hearts of young people,” according to an earlier government statement on the new curriculum..
The new book models contain eloquent quotes from the president’s speeches and photos of his smiling face. Elementary school textbooks include chapters on the achievements of Chinese civilization and the role of the Communist Party in the fight against poverty and the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
As for what will be modified in math textbooks, Dali Yang, a professor of political science at the University of Chicago, told CNN: “I fear this will become a politically charged issue.”
Paul Huang, the father of a 5-year-old in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou, said that while he was happy to see poorly designed illustrations as they were removed from textbooks, he was concerned that the issue was politicized..
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