The Guardian reports that one of Britain’s top public schools is set to open six offshoots in China teaching the Chinese national curriculum at a time when the country’s authoritarian leader, Xi Jinping, is pushing to tighten the Communist party’s grip on the classroom.
According to the Financial Times, Westminster School will on Thursday unveil plans to create branches in six major Chinese cities in partnership with a Hong Kong education group called HKMETG. The first will open in Chengdu, capital of the south-western province of Sichuan, in 2020.
“The reason for opening the schools is that we’re quite excited about being able to influence education of Chinese pupils in China,” a spokeswoman said.
Unusually, however, the Westminster schools will reportedly teach China’s national curriculum to 6- to 15-year-olds.
Xiong Bingqi, an education specialist from Shanghai’s Jiaotong University, told the Guardian that was the only way Chinese authorities would allow a foreign school to offer Chinese students compulsory education.
However, as a result teachers are likely to skirt over politically sensitive topics such as the 1989 Tiananmen massacre, in which Chinese troops gunned down an unknown number of civilians, and Mao’s Great Famine, in which tens of millions died.
Steve Tsang, the head of the School of Oriental and African Studies’ (SOAS) China Institute, told the Financial Times he believed Westminster was making a mistake.
“I think they have no idea what they’re dealing with … If you set up a school in China, they will have a party secretary superintending the whole school and the party secretary will be responsible for political education.”
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