(TibetanReview.net, Mar31, 2015) – Local government authorities responsible for primary and secondary schools in Great Britain are allowing China to incorporate its false propaganda in Confucius Classroom language curriculum being run in these schools, possibly totaling 100, reported telegraph.co.uk Mar 30, citing London-based Free Tibet campaign group.
The group has said a total of 64 councils, who are responsible for the delivery of education, were contacted to request their minutes pertaining to the Confucius Classrooms and none had so far provided any evidence of substantive discussion in advance of the Classroom opening. It has also said that in 37 out of 95 schools, governors had not been critical of a programme that had been accused of advancing a skewed view of Chinese culture and for its lack of transparency. Only one governor was said to have questioned “the potential for indoctrination and expressed a need to pursue [the programme] with caution”.
The group has accused China of “buying their way into our education system” with hardly any questioning from the government and school authorities responsible for providing quality education to the school children. It has said despite previous controversy over the projects, a Freedom of Information request by it has shown that schools in the UK had allowed the teaching project to be implemented in their premises without discussion of its content and purpose.
The report quoted Isabel Hilton, a broadcaster and writer whose own work was censored by the Confucius Institute, as saying: “State control undertaking in China in the teaching of culture means contestation is not really allowed. If this is happening in our schools where people are not familiar with the Chinese buying their way into our education system, we ought to ask serious questions about whether that’s a good thing.”
While appreciating the challenges schools face in providing Chinese-language teaching and the need for increased contact between the people of China and the people of Britain, Free Tibet director Eleanor Byrne-Rosengren has said in a letter to the schools: “Our concern is that in the case of Confucius Classrooms, schools are facilitating that teaching and contact on terms effectively determined by a government that suppresses free speech inside its own borders and which is responsible for widespread human rights abuses, particularly in Tibet. This carries risks for both school and pupils.”
Confucius Institutes were launched by the Chinese government more than a decade ago in a programme developed by Hanban, the Office of Chinese Language Council International. It provides funding and teaching facilities, including propaganda trained teachers, in universities and schools around the world agreeing to set up Confucius Institute classes, as a part of China’s soft-power diplomacy efforts.
These classes have been controversial in many schools and universities in the USA and Canada for their censoring of subjects and topics disapproved by the Chinese government.
Last year, the Toronto District School Board in Canada voted overwhelmingly against any Confucius Classrooms in their schools.
And in the US, an association of American professors warned that the institutes were against basic standards on academic freedom and should be rejected. Several universities have discontinued their Confucius Institute classes.