Chinese Campuses to get compulsory dose of moral fibre

South China Morning Post

Wednesday, March 30, 2005
STAFF REPORTER
A central government campaign to strengthen the nation’s moral fibre will reach university campuses in September with the introduction of compulsory classes on ideology and morals.
The new curriculum takes effect under guidelines recently issued by the Publicity Department and the Ministry of Education, and comes after a State Council circular on ideological and moral education last year.
Xinhua reported the guidelines stipulated that students must take four compulsory courses: basic Marxist theory; Maoism, Deng Xiaoping Theory and ex-president Jiang Zemin’s Theory of Three Represents; modern Chinese history; and moral and basic legal studies.
Teachers trained by publicity and education departments will introduce the amended curriculum to first-year students on a trial basis from September before it is formally rolled out nationwide a year later.
Beijing introduced moral and ideology classes at schools in 1985 and the curriculum was revised in 1998 with greater emphasis on Marxism and Deng Xiaoping Theory. Courses on Mr Jiang’s theory started in 2003.
The central government’s recent focus on university students comes after a State Council circular issued in February last year called for efforts to improve ideological education among juveniles.
Authorities have also stepped up censorship of the internet by harassing online dissidents.
Wang Sunyu, from Tsinghua University’s Education Institute, said every country was concerned about the ideological and moral education of its citizens.
“Nowadays, students have much easier access to all kinds of information and they may develop different values,” Professor Wang said.
“If there is no positive and correct direction, turbulence could emerge and that would not good for society or the reigning authority.”
However, second-year Shandong University student Zou Xie said the ideology classes were boring and widely disliked.
“Although they are compulsory courses and we must pass them to earn academic credits, the class attendance rate is very low,” Mr Zou said.
“We usually neglect them and try to cram some knowledge in before the exams.”
Professor Wang agreed the teaching was generally “inflexible and most of instructors just read out the boring notes from the textbooks.
“Instructors should make their lessons more attractive by relating them to real life,” he said.
“For example, we cannot avoid social problems, like corruption, unfairness and a disparity between the rich and poor. We should present the issues for criticism and analysis.”

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