Three Chinese officials are sacked and 24 more punished over maths textbook illustrations that depicted ‘ugly’ children
- China’s education ministry has punished 27 officials after illustrations in maths textbooks sparked outrage
- The ministry said the national textbook department lacked sufficient guidance and supervision but criticised the publisher for not strictly following protocol in reviewing the textbooks
China’s education ministry has punished 27 officials over illustrations in primary schools’ maths textbooks which were said to depict ‘ugly’ children.
The investigation was sparked because of online outrage at the illustrations, calling them ugly, sexually inappropriate, and that the clothing style was secretly pro-American.
In response to the investigation the ministry announced Monday that they had removed Guo Ge, the editor-in-chief of the state-owned Peoples Education Press, the most recognized textbook publisher in mainland China.
Communist Party secretary and publisher at People’s Education Press, Huang Qiang, received a severe warning and a demerit, as did Tian Huisheng, director of the ministry’s national textbook department, according to South China Morning Post.
The ministry fired two other officials who worked on the textbook and gave disciplinary punishment to 17 officials from the publisher and five from the ministry.
China’s education ministry has punished 27 officials over illustrations in primary schools’ maths textbooks and in a statement put out on Monday, the ministry said the illustrations were ‘problematic’ ‘not uplifting’ and that they fell short of the ‘basic requirements of moral education.’
Peoples Education Press apologised in May after facing criticism from social media that the illustrations were ‘ugly’ and ‘sexually suggestive.’
China ordered a nationwide review of the textbooks after online users complained that the characters in the textbook, were ugly, had too small eyes, which could be perceived as racist, that the illustrations appeared to show children’s genitals and that the style of clothing the children wore with patterns such as stars and strips was secretly pro-American.
In a statement put out on Monday, the ministry said the illustrations were ‘problematic’ and ‘not uplifting’ and that they fell short of the ‘basic requirements of moral education.’
The education ministry said the images pictured did not meet the standards
‘The overall style does not meet the public’s aesthetic taste. Some characters in the illustrations are ugly and in bad spirits, not properly displaying a positive image of the children in our country,’ the statement said, according to the South China Morning Post.
The ministry said it would strengthen party leadership over the development of teaching materials to make sure they stick to the ‘correct political direction and values’.
The statement also said that the ministry’s national textbook department lacked sufficient guidance and supervision but criticised the publisher for not strictly following protocol in reviewing the textbooks.
A comprehensive review of 2,500 primary and secondary school textbooks, teaching materials and readings will now be conducted by the education ministry.
In recent years Beijing has tightened control over textbooks and curriculums going out to primary and secondary schools to guarantee they align with the party’s ideology.
A fourth grade, second volume maths textbooks pictured above shows an image of one of the controversial illustrations.
The ministry put out a statement blaming a lack of sufficient guidance and supervision for the illustrations.
The Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing will be illustrating the new textbooks set to release in the fall.
The government has prohibited the use of textbooks from overseas publishers and has ordered a new set of standard texts to be used to teach the Chinese language, history and politics.
People’s Education Press ordered illustrations for the new textbooks, which will be done by a team from the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing. So far, they have had a positive response from social media.
‘Beautifully drawn and much better than the previous ones,’ one commenter wrote on Weibo, China’s heavily censored equivalent of Twitter.
Another said: ‘This is what textbook illustrations should look like.’.
The ministry announced they would be ready for the Fall semester next month.
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