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Thursday, May 31, 2007

Teachers from B.C. muzzled in China

If I had my way I would bring the Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party to school and teach those kids the real history of China -- why keep those big lies alive -- that no students were killed in Tiananmen and that Falun Gong is an anti-China hostile force. Surely Shirley, you can do much better than that! Oh and check this youtube to see what is really going on in China's schools--not at all the neat polished Confucius image that is projected through the media. EH?

B.C. schools in China are making false claims if they say they are delivering the B.C. curriculum while also avoiding hot topics such as Tiananmen Square, China's relationship with Taiwan and its human-rights record, educators said Thursday.

Schools that are unwilling to tackle controversial issues are delivering a watered-down education that is not worthy of a B.C. graduation diploma, said Charles Ungerleider, an education professor at the University of B.C.

"An education is designed to lead you out from the narrow confines of your previous knowledge and experience," said Ungerleider, who was deputy education minister from 1998 to 2001. "If education doesn't do that, it has failed you."
Vancouver Sun: Janet Steffenhagen, Vancouver Sun - Published: Thursday, May 31, 2007 - Two B.C. schools in China instructed their B.C.-certified teachers last year not to mention controversial topics such as Tiananmen Square, Tibet, the Dalai Lama, or Taiwan in the classroom and to feign ignorance if students asked questions.

The teachers were also told to avoid talking about human rights but if the topic came up, they should direct criticism towards other countries, especially the U.S., according to confidential information distributed to staff at Grand Canadian Academy in Tongxiang and the B.C. Maodun High School.

"When dealing with such [human rights] topics, talk about other countries and avoid China," says the schools' 2006 handbook, which was leaked to The Vancouver Sun. "Chinese government is happy if we use U.S. as an example and be critical about its wrongdoings in human rights."

The two independent schools are certified by the B.C. Education Ministry to teach the provincial curriculum and graduate students with a B.C. certificate, which gives them easy access to post-secondary institutions in North America. The schools charge tuition fees and send a portion of that money to the B.C. government.

The teachers are all licensed by the B.C. College of Teachers. Some are from B.C., while some are from elsewhere in Canada, and abroad.

The confidential section of the handbook, titled Political Sensitivity in China, says the increase in foreign high schools in China has prompted the Chinese government to apply "more strict ideological scrutiny over the textbooks and instructions in these schools."

It cautions teachers to avoid talking about Tiananmen Square, Taiwan, Tibet, Falun Gong, Japan, China's democracy and Chinese leaders, especially Mao Zedong.

Regarding the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989 that resulted in many civilian deaths, the handbook says the Chinese government and the western world hold entirely different opinions about the event and the Chinese government wants people to forget about it. "Totally avoid this issue. If asked about it, 'I don't know' is the safest answer."

Teachers were told that Taiwan should be referred to as a region of China, not a separate country, and Tibet and the Dalai Lama should never be mentioned.

The warning about Falun Gong is sterner. "This is a forbidden religion in China for its political tendency. Totally avoid this issue. If asked about it, 'I don't know' is the safest answer."

Education Minister Shirley Bond had little to say about the handbook when contacted Wednesday.

"Our job is to ensure that B.C. curriculum is being taught by certified B.C. teachers and that is exactly what's taking place," she said, adding that the topics mentioned in the handbook are not among the prescribed learning outcomes for students.

"There are cultural and political views, obviously, that vary from nation to nation. They may not be consistent with my own personal views. But our job is to ensure the curriculum is being taught and I've been assured that is exactly what's taking place.

The schools are owned by Michael Lo, a Vancouver businessman who was forced to close two post-secondary institutions in Vancouver -- Kingston College and Lansbridge University -- after they were found to be violating provincial laws.

His B.C. agent for the Chinese schools, David Maljaars, said in an e-mail response to a Sun query that the section of the handbook dealing with political sensitivities has been deleted.

The school principals declined a Vancouver Sun request for an interview, he added.

A former Madoun principal, who quit his job in January, described the instructions in the handbook as anti-democratic. "It's a betrayal of the Canadian education system," Doug Roy said in an interview Wednesday. "It flies in the face of what education is all about -- but that doesn't matter to people who are only interested in making money."

Roy, who resigned after 10 months on the job, said Chinese officials try to keep "a tight lid" on what is being taught in B.C. schools and some owners go along with that.

New Democrat MLA Rob Fleming said schools that award B.C. graduation certificates should be required to meet the same high standards. "It's legitimate to have cultural sensitivities but when you talk about the education curriculum, it should be held to the same standards abroad as we have here.

"You can't just jettison parts of it."

He said Bond should take a hard look at what the school is teaching, especially given other concerns that have surfaced on the Internet.

Grand Canadian Academy and Maodun are among nine B.C.-certified schools in China, although only two are owned by Lo's Kingston Education Group. There is also one B.C.-certified school in Egypt.

The handbook cautions teachers about any lesson involving Japan. "China and Japan are enemies in tradition and friends in appearance. Currently their relationship is tense because 1.) Japan claims to protect Taiwan, 2.) official worship to the dead soldiers killed in the war with China, and 3.) the territory of the East Sea.

Be careful about China's sentiment about Nanjing massacre," the handbook says.

In speaking about China's leaders, the teachers should avoid all criticisms, it adds.

"The people of every country tend to think their own government is lousy. However, in the "family-type" cultural structure like China, the local people may feel offended when the outsiders are critical about their government leaders, including the past leaders like Chairman Mao and the current leaders.

"Avoid negative comments even when the students and Chinese colleagues are being critical about them."

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