Reciting 72 classic literary works a must: Chinese education authorities spark controversy

Updated 2018-01-17 13:50:00

China's educational regulator said the new decision on requiring high school students to recite 58 more literary works aims at promoting Chinese culture, following ongoing public debate.

The new high school curriculum guideline, issued by the Ministry of Education, requires students to recite 72 Chinese classic poems and essays from the previous 14.

Shen Jiliang, an authority from the ministry, asked for understanding during a press conference on Tuesday, saying that the curriculum is put in place for students to practice traditional culture based on their learning abilities.

"Please don't take it as a burden," he said.

However, the school format prompted online outrage with one user calling 72 works "too many," claiming "some of them have never been taught in classes."

Another user said: "I felt relieved because I have already graduated from high school."

While many have conveyed their negative attitude towards the new arrangement, others have voiced support.

One user commented: "People will think you are well-educated if you can copiously quote authoritative works."

Another wrote: "The country has been attaching importance to education. It could change the picture of China in the decades ahead."

It is the latest of a number of examples of "lightening students' workloads," which has caused outrage in China.

After their children had been asked by authorities to sleep more than nine hours a day, some Chinese parents said the requirement was "unrealistic" earlier this year.

The education authorities stated on its official website that the new guideline is trying to improve personal qualities overall, not only to focus on helping students enroll to universities.

According to authorities, the guideline efforts to present the achievements of China including: "The Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era" and "Lucid waters and lush mountains are invaluable assets," which is an assertion initiated in 2005 by Chinese President Xi Jinping as an instruction of environmental protection.

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