Committee on textbooks to 'build cultural consensus'

Updated 2017-07-10 10:02:36 Global Times

Following the announcement that China will establish a national textbook committee to guide textbooks and curricula in colleges, middle and primary schools, experts stressed the move is necessary to build national and cultural consensus.

The committee will be responsible for discussing strategy and annual planning of textbook compilation and supervising curriculum standards, according to a circular released on the State Council's website on Thursday.

Vice Premier Liu Yandong has been appointed head of the committee.

"This committee can help solve existing problems in current texts, such as excessive praise of foreigners while belittling the Chinese people's image in some primary school textbooks," Zhuang Deshui, a professor at Peking University, told the Global Times.

The issue of some primary schools' Chinese textbooks advocating Western culture while disgracing the Chinese people has triggered online controversy and accusations toward one book publisher since last year.

Online pictures showed stories from textbooks used Russian children's names in one lesson about friendship, while a Japanese child was the protagonist of a story about honesty. In contrast, the article highlighted a story featuring a lazy and selfish Chinese character.

"It is good to absorb excellent foreign culture and knowledge, but it's also important to promote more of the essence of traditional Chinese culture in the textbooks," said Zhuang, adding that learning from Western culture should not be equal to fawning on it.

The circular also mentioned that the committee will examine ideology-related content.

Zhuang noted that it is not just an educational issue, but also a political issue, as most countries examine historical and ideological content in their national textbooks. "Most countries do this to make sure of ideological purity in the country," Zhuang said.

"The move will help further promote excellent national and traditional culture in the country and build national and cultural consensus via education," he added.

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