Under the leadership of Xi Jinping, courses on Marxist and Maoist theory have been bolstered, while students who have failed to take their ideological education seriously facing disciplinary measures.
But while a communist curriculum is viewed as essential to the authorities grip on power, some students feel it is all a waste of time, Bitter Winter reports.
According to the Italy-based magazine, covering religious affairs and human rights in China, a number of changes have been introduced at the university level.
In October 2019, for example, the Jiangxi University of Traditional Chinese Medicine Technical College announced that students would have to take closed-book examinations on the basic principles of Marxism, Maoism and Chinese-style socialism. Those who failed to pass those exams were barred from graduating.
“It’s getting much harsher than in the past,” one student told Bitter Winter. “Government requirements in this field are getting more and more rigorous.”
At Jiangxi Agricultural University, students were likewise required to increase their study of communist and socialist principles, with students willing to give presentations on the topic or otherwise share their opinions during class being given extra credit on final exams.
One student at the university, however, told Bitter Winter the 90-minute ideological course intended to promote “the greatness of Marxism” was “nothing but torture.”
“The school also punishes those who do not actively participate in these classes. The teacher required to attend each class, threatening to deduct two points from the final exams’ score otherwise. No such strict rules are applied for any other courses,” the student said.
Since 2018, the university has also required both students and teachers to take an online course called “Young People Study Xi,” which another student described as “exceptionally dull.”
Participation in other so-called themed activities are required if students hope to graduate.
The changes being witnessed at Chinese institutes of higher learning stem from a speech given by President Xi Jinping at the National Conference on Ideological and Political Work in Colleges and Universities in December 2016.
During that conference, Xi stressed that a proper ideological education played a part in just what type of students were matriculating through Chinese universities. Universities heard his message loud and clear.
And while some students have been critical of the changes, a teacher of ideological and political theory in a college in Jiangxi’s Nanchang also baulked at the pressure educators were being put under to perform.
“We have to teach according to the set requirements, and if we don’t promote patriotism during classes, we’ll be accused of failing in our work and have our wages deducted,” the teacher said.