【China Daily】Ministry scrutinizes university textbooks

Date:2015-3-25 From:China Daily

The Ministry of Education declined to comment on Tuesday on a report that it had launched an investigation into the use of imported textbooks at Chinese universities.

Universities in Beijing and a few other provinces were asked to fill out questionnaires last week detailing their use of foreign materials in teaching, according to media reports in Beijing and Hong Kong on Monday.

Contacted on Tuesday afternoon, Xu Mei, spokeswoman for the Ministry of Education, said the ministry had no comment.

The news report came two months after Minister of Education Yuan Guiren said, "Never let textbooks promoting Western values appear in our classrooms." He also said no attack on the Party or socialism should be allowed in the classroom, according to Xinhua News Agency.

Materials in the humanities and social sciences, including political science, economics, sociology, history, journalism and communication were the priorities of the investigation, Beijing Youth Daily reported.

"Investigating foreign teaching material doesn’t equate to banning the use of it. It might be a temporary policy and a move to learn more about the situation," said Wang Huiyao, President of the Center for China & Globalization, a Beijing-based think tank.

"Marxism originated in the West," he said.

"I think we need to look at the academic standard. For subjects like math and engineering, there are international academic standards. For humanities and social sciences, some screening might be reasonable, but we need to keep open-minds and allow students to be exposed to different ideas and opinions."

At a conference on Party-building for institutions of higher education held late last year, President Xi Jinping ask the universities to seize the initiative for ideological education.

The State Council then issued a guideline on ideological education for universities last month.

"Some signs and tendencies are worth noticing", and new communication methods should be employed in the ideology promotion among college students, it said.

The survey last week looked at the number of foreign textbooks used, the proportion of total books they represent, how they were acquired and how the universities manage their use.

Among the 13 questions, one asks: "Has any foreign textbook been used without the approval of the university? If so, how was the lecturer held accountable?" Beijing Youth Daily reported.(By  Tang Yue and Zhao Xinying)