Chinese students return to school with new textbooks sprinkled with “Xi Jinping Thought,” as the Communist Party aims to extend its personality cult to children as young as seven and raise a new generation of patriots.
- New curriculum says elementary school teachers must “sow the seeds of love for the holiday”
- Lessons interspersed with quotes from Xi Jinping on patriotism and duty
- Some parents in China have reportedly expressed unease with the program
The education ministry said it will integrate Mr. Xi’s loosely defined political ideology into the national curriculum, from elementary schools to graduate programs, starting in the new school year on Wednesday.
Primary school teachers must “sow the seeds of love for celebration, country and socialism in the hearts of young people,” according to a government notice on the new school curriculum.
Buses full of schoolchildren wearing new shoes and red scarves over their uniforms were dropped off at the school gates on Wednesday, weighed down by oversized backpacks.
The new textbooks are decorated with the president’s pithy quotes and pictures of his smiling face, elementary school students served chapters on the achievements of Chinese civilization and the role of the Communist Party in poverty reduction and fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
The lessons are interspersed with quotes from Mr. Xi on patriotism and duty, as well as anecdotes from his meetings with citizens.
âGrandpa Xi Jinping is very busy with work, but no matter how busy he is, he always joins our business and cares about our growth,â says a textbook.
His âthinkingâ encompasses 14 principles including âabsolute party leadershipâ over the army and âimproving living standards through developmentâ.
He was enshrined in the constitution at a 2018 legislative meeting that abolished mandates and paved the way for him to rule indefinitely.
The principles are now regularly cited by officials in widely varying contexts, from the fight against the coronavirus to literature and art, and universities have opened institutes dedicated to Xi’s thought.
The push to indoctrinate children with its political thought brings the Xi ideology to its youngest audience to date.
âCan we refuse this? “
It comes as the CCP is waging a broader campaign to combat what it sees as corrupting influences on youth, from video games to celebrities and foreign educational tools.
Textbooks for older children tackle more complex topics such as the country’s aerospace industry and the path to becoming a “modern socialist great power”.
Several parents privately expressed unease about the program, but declined to be interviewed, fearing they would be in trouble if they had spoken to foreign media.
But the policy has been rebuffed slightly by anonymous internet commentators.
âBrainwashing begins in childhood,â wrote a user of the Weibo social media platform.
Wang Fei-Ling, professor of international affairs at the Georgia Institute of Technology, said the textbooks were an example of the Communist Party’s efforts to “bet on a cult of personality in a powerful leader like Mao “.
“However, considering what has happened in Chinese society over the past four decades, I think many parents may not like it very much, and many students may find it boring – but few would or could protest it publicly, âadded Dr. Wang.
“Most are likely not to take it very seriously.”
While China has long provided school children with patriotism and political education, the new curriculum aims “to promote the cult of Xi as much as to instill a greater sense of nationalism,” Chinese researcher Adam Ni said.
State media touted Xi’s expectations for Chinese youth, the state-run Xinhua News Agency citing his urging young people to “strive for pure hearts, healthy personalities and integrity.” in an article this week marking the new school year.