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Xi’s ‘thoughts’ to be part of China’s school curriculum

After the constitution, it’s in the school curriculum that the Chinese President’s views will now be enshrined
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Chinese President Xi Jinping visits Barkhor street near the Jokhang Temple in Lhasa in western China’s Tibet Autonomous Region in July. (AP)
Updated on Aug 26, 2021 04:21 AM IST
By Sutirtho Patranobis, Beijing

After the constitution, it’s in the school curriculum that the Chinese President’s views will now be enshrined.

China will include “Xi Jinping Thought”, a collection of the Chinese President’s policies and opinions, in its national curriculum, to be taught from primary schools all the way to university, the country’s education ministry said.

The integration of Xi’s ideas into the curriculum will help establish “Marxist beliefs” among the country’s youth, the ministry said in a set of new guidelines issued on Tuesday.

“The ‘Guide’ clearly requires that Xi Jinping’s thoughts on socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era be fully integrated into the curriculum and teaching materials. It should cover basic education, vocational education, and higher education,” the ministry said.

While some universities in China have already included Xi’s views and analysis on political thought and diplomacy in its curriculum, it’s the first time that the President’s ideas and ideals are being included for all students of all ages in the national curriculum.

Formally known as “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era”, it is headlined by the central principle of the Communist Party of China’s (CPC) leadership over all aspects of Chinese life.

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The same “guiding principles” were added to the country’s constitution in 2018. No other leader since Mao Zedong had his ideology – similarly called the “Mao Zedong Thought” -- included in the constitution while in office. The Deng Xiaoping Theory was added after the leader’s death in 1997.

Inclusion in the national curriculum is an indication of how Xi has consolidated his own position and power in recent years, not least by the abolition of presidential term limits since he became the general secretary of the CPC in 2012 and the President the subsequent year.

In a speech to mark CPC’s 100 years, on July 1, Xi vowed to “enhance” the party’s leadership, uphold his own “core” leadership, and strengthen the unity of the Chinese people.

What’s in the views?

Xi’s opinions will now likely be the guiding principle of China’s academic curriculum.

Broadly, primary schools will focus on dedication to the Communist Party and the country. The middle and high schools will promote forming basic political opinion and judgements, and in university, the emphasis will be on theoretical thinking, propagation of socialist ideas and innovative research.

The education ministry is now preparing the “Student Reading Book of Xi Jinping’s New Era of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics” and “The Handbook of Xi Jinping’s Important Education Discourses” to be distributed in schools and colleges.

Han Zhen, a member of the National Textbook Committee, said the “Guide” fully integrates Xi Jinping’s thoughts into the curriculum and textbooks.

The so-called guide also says that abstract concepts and theories should be explained with “vivid examples” so that students can understand the theories and relate them to their reality; theoretical examples should be converted to relatable teaching material, it says.

The ministry is working on the inclusion of other major thematic contents, such as party leadership, national defence education, education on life safety and health, among others.

Presidential power

Since coming to power in 2012, 68-year-old Xi widely seen as the most powerful Chinese leader since Mao Zedong.

He will complete his second five-year term as head of the party next year, but unlike his predecessors, he is unlikely to retire. In 2018, the rubber-stamp parliament amended the constitution to abolish term limits -- clearing Xi’s path to becoming president for life.

The President’s power has also grown over time. “Xi Dada” (“Big Uncle Xi”), as he has been dubbed by Communist propaganda, has used crackdowns on corruption and calls for a revitalised party to become the most powerful Chinese leader in decades.

(With inputs from agencies)

After the constitution, it’s in the school curriculum that the Chinese President’s views will now be enshrined.

China will include “Xi Jinping Thought”, a collection of the Chinese President’s policies and opinions, in its national curriculum, to be taught from primary schools all the way to university, the country’s education ministry said.

The integration of Xi’s ideas into the curriculum will help establish “Marxist beliefs” among the country’s youth, the ministry said in a set of new guidelines issued on Tuesday.

“The ‘Guide’ clearly requires that Xi Jinping’s thoughts on socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era be fully integrated into the curriculum and teaching materials. It should cover basic education, vocational education, and higher education,” the ministry said.

While some universities in China have already included Xi’s views and analysis on political thought and diplomacy in its curriculum, it’s the first time that the President’s ideas and ideals are being included for all students of all ages in the national curriculum.

Formally known as “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era”, it is headlined by the central principle of the Communist Party of China’s (CPC) leadership over all aspects of Chinese life.

The same “guiding principles” were added to the country’s constitution in 2018. No other leader since Mao Zedong had his ideology – similarly called the “Mao Zedong Thought” -- included in the constitution while in office. The Deng Xiaoping Theory was added after the leader’s death in 1997.

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Inclusion in the national curriculum is an indication of how Xi has consolidated his own position and power in recent years, not least by the abolition of presidential term limits since he became the general secretary of the CPC in 2012 and the President the subsequent year.

In a speech to mark CPC’s 100 years, on July 1, Xi vowed to “enhance” the party’s leadership, uphold his own “core” leadership, and strengthen the unity of the Chinese people.

What’s in the views?

Xi’s opinions will now likely be the guiding principle of China’s academic curriculum.

Broadly, primary schools will focus on dedication to the Communist Party and the country. The middle and high schools will promote forming basic political opinion and judgements, and in university, the emphasis will be on theoretical thinking, propagation of socialist ideas and innovative research.

The education ministry is now preparing the “Student Reading Book of Xi Jinping’s New Era of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics” and “The Handbook of Xi Jinping’s Important Education Discourses” to be distributed in schools and colleges.

Han Zhen, a member of the National Textbook Committee, said the “Guide” fully integrates Xi Jinping’s thoughts into the curriculum and textbooks.

The so-called guide also says that abstract concepts and theories should be explained with “vivid examples” so that students can understand the theories and relate them to their reality; theoretical examples should be converted to relatable teaching material, it says.

The ministry is working on the inclusion of other major thematic contents, such as party leadership, national defence education, education on life safety and health, among others.

Presidential power

Since coming to power in 2012, 68-year-old Xi widely seen as the most powerful Chinese leader since Mao Zedong.

He will complete his second five-year term as head of the party next year, but unlike his predecessors, he is unlikely to retire. In 2018, the rubber-stamp parliament amended the constitution to abolish term limits -- clearing Xi’s path to becoming president for life.

The President’s power has also grown over time. “Xi Dada” (“Big Uncle Xi”), as he has been dubbed by Communist propaganda, has used crackdowns on corruption and calls for a revitalised party to become the most powerful Chinese leader in decades.

(With inputs from agencies)

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