China has fired or reprimanded 27 officials after they became angry over illustrations in a series of math books for primary school children. After the investigation, the Ministry of Education stated, among other things, that some of the children depicted were “ugly” and the illustrations “do not project a positive image” of Chinese children.
The ministry said in a statement that the drawings did not meet the “basic requirements of moral education”. In addition, it is stated that “the general style of the illustrations does not match the aesthetic taste of the audience.” “Some of the characters are ugly and have a bad mentality and do not show a positive image for the people of the country,” she added.
In May, there was an uproar on Chinese social media about some books from the Chinese Textbook Publishing House. Some have described the drawings as racist, because they show children with slanting eyes. They also found it inappropriate for some boys to have a visible bulge in their pants. It was considered that some children wore clothes with pro-American stars and stripes.
On WeChat, the Chinese Twitter, the publisher issued a public apology shortly after the media storm. New school year books have been updated. The ministry said the publisher did not understand the purpose of the educational texts. She promised to strengthen the Communist Party’s authority over educational materials, to ensure that they “always maintain the correct political direction and value orientation.”
According to the Chinese state newspaper, Global Times The design studio in question is no longer allowed to make illustrations for textbooks. The newspaper wrote that the ministry is investigating illustrations in all teaching and reading books in primary and secondary education. It is checked whether it “represents the correct values, conforms to Chinese culture and conforms to aesthetics”.
In China, rules for educational materials have been tightened in recent years to encourage patriotism among children. For example, schools are not allowed to use textbooks from foreign publishers. Also, children’s books should not encourage minors to engage in behavior that is perceived as immoral or violent. Furthermore, content that may be harmful to their physical and mental health, such as horror or atrocities, is prohibited.
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