EDUCATION

Communist Party orders a course of Marxism for China's universities

Universities told to expand classes on ideology for teachers and students

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 20 January, 2015, 12:58am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 20 January, 2015, 11:00pm

Mainland universities have been told to step up propaganda and teaching of Marxism and Chinese socialism, amid calls from President Xi Jinping for greater "ideological guidance" for teachers and students.

Citing a joint directive from the State Council and the General Office of the Communist Party's Central Committee, Xinhua reported that improving ideological and propaganda work was a "major and pressing strategic task" on campus.

Universities should "equip teachers and students with 'socialism with Chinese characters'", and become key bases for "learning, researching and disseminating" Marxism, the directive said. Theories of Chinese socialism should get into not only "textbooks and classrooms", but also "[students'] heads". Colleges would be assessed on their use of set textbooks on Marxism.

The orders come after Xi called on the authorities last month to step up the party's "leadership and guidance" in universities as well as "strengthen and improve ideological and political work".

Universities and academics are new targets in Xi's ideological campaigns, amid ever-tighter controls on the media, social critics, religion and the internet. Several liberal college teachers have been either sacked or demoted in the past two years for their outspoken views.

In November, Liaoning Daily went so far as to criticise college educators for "smearing" the state by discussing the party's failures and promoting "Western" ideas such as the separation of powers.

The document said applicants for university jobs would be assessed on their political views and teachers would lose their posts for breaching "teaching ethics".

Education on "core socialist values" - including prosperity, democracy and social harmony - would be strengthened. Students would also be taught the importance of national security to "resist infiltration by hostile forces".

A journalism professor at a southern university said the leadership was further tightening control over universities, leaving less space for a system already constrained by heavy bureaucracies. "[But] a new administrative order may not get the job done," the professor said. "It may spur discontent among teachers and the measures may backfire."