(Minghui.org) According to a report published in December 2005 by the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), there were about 20 million children aged 6 to 14 in the 140 million floating population [rural people who migrated to the cities for jobs] in China. One-tenth of these children had no access to education. One UN official remarked that China’s investment in education was even lower than Uganda's.

This shows the dire situation of the education system in China, which deteriorated during the tenure of Jiang, the former leader of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) who recently died on November 30.

The Tradition of Valuing Education

Throughout history, people valued education. Confucius believed disciplining without education and guidance was called bullying. Emperor Taizong of the Tang Dynasty said, “All sages and kings have teachers since ancient times. How could people know how to behave without education?” Besides promoting education in the royal court, he also established schools in the country where scholars taught rituals, manners, and knowledge to ordinary people. As a result, society, in general, was respectful where virtue was preserved.

Kang Xi, an emperor of Qing Dynasty, followed suit. When inspecting Jidian (in today’s Hebei Province), he told governor Zhao Hongxie that people’s life was better than before. “But few people read books and it has to do with local customs,” he said. “We’d better set up free schools in rural areas, and encourage people to learn reading and writing.” After a major earthquake broke out, he reflected on his policies. As a result, he took action to improve people’s lives and promote free education.

When Education Becomes a Business

But the tradition of valuing education has gradually diminished over time. In 1998, Jiang Zemin appointed Chen Zhili as the Minister of Education. Having no experience in education, Chen followed Jiang’s instructions and started the commercialization of education, which soon plunged the education system into crisis.

College tuition increased sharply to over 5,000 yuan by 2000. At that time, per capita, disposable income of urban households was only 5,845 yuan and it was only 2,210 yuan in the countryside. The high cost rendered many families unable to afford a college education. Some parents in the countryside had to sell blood to pay for tuition.

China’s education budget was earmarked and even increased during Chen’s tenure. But the money wasn’t used to subsidize the tuition cost and many students thus lost the opportunity to attend college due to financial difficulty. Li Jinhua, Auditor General of the National Audit Office, indicated in the 2003 budget that 2.466 billion yuan from the Education Ministry meant to subsidize education costs at local levels had been reclassified as the central budget. As such, local governments had no oversight over the use of this fund.

Inciting Hatred

Han Yu, a renowned scholar in Song Dynasty, said a teacher’s role is “explaining principles (Tao), teaching knowledge, and clarifying confusion.” In the 23-year-long persecution against Falun Gong, however, what the Ministry of Education has done is totally the opposite.

Falun Gong is a peaceful meditation system based on the principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance. After Jiang started to persecute it in July 1999, Chen and the Ministry of Education quickly followed to spread slanderous propaganda against Falun Gong. Especially after the staged Self-Immolation Incident in Tiananmen Square that took place on January 23, 2001, Chen issued an order one week later on February 1, urging all schools in China to launch campaigns to condemn Falun Gong.

A million-signature drive was started to collect signatures from students. Numerous young minds have been poisoned and misled to hate Falun Gong. About 8 million youth in about 1,000 communities from 100 cities signed their signatures to smear Falun Gong and participated in various anti-Falun Gong activities. They distributed over 10 million copies of materials and put up more than 500,000 posters in about 200 events.

Also in February 2001, youths in over 1,500 communities launched campaigns and collected signatures from 12 million residents to oppose Falun Gong. In addition, Chen instructed colleges to criticize Falun Gong in various forms. Furthermore, she ordered colleges to provide technical support to censor and block information related to Falun Gong.

Under Chen’s directive, slanderous propaganda against Falun Gong was written into textbooks and exam papers, even including college and graduate entrance exams. In the admission guidelines used by schools, there were also rules that Falun Gong practitioners were not allowed to sit in entrance exams or not qualified to be enrolled.

Higher-education institutions were also turned into places to persecute faculty, staff, and students who practiced Falun Gong. Since 1999, at Tsinghua University alone, more than 300 professors, instructors, graduate students, and undergraduate students have been detained for their faith in Falun Gong. Among them, many were fired or expelled by the school and even sent to labor camps.

Based on information collected by Minghui, at least 72 teachers, staffers, and students across China lost their lives to the persecution. The youngest one was 17-year-old Ms. Chen Ying from Shuren High School in Jiamusi City, Heilongjiang Province. The oldest one was Mr. Zhou Jingsen, a 68-year-old professor from the Harbin School of Management (currently part of Harbin Institute of Technology in Heilongjiang Province).

Because of her loyalty to Jiang, Chen was promoted as State Councilor in 2003. When visiting Tanzania in July 2004, she was served notice of a lawsuit filed against her by Falun Gong practitioners for causing torture and killing of practitioners in China’s education system. Chen was summoned to appear in court and she was also the first official who appeared in court for their role in the persecution of Falun Gong.

A Moral Swamp

Because of the money-driven education system and the suppression of traditional values such as Falun Gong’s principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance, the education quality deteriorated dramatically in China. An article from Shenzhen Daily in 2002 revealed at least 500,000 people were using fake diplomas. “In one hour, and for about 38 dollars, you can get a false university degree in China,” wrote a 2009 UNESCO article.

Some estimate that 5-10% of the diplomas in China are fake nowadays. Besides diplomas, there is also other types of services. Paid ghostwriters could help write undergraduate theses, graduate dissertations, research papers, and other documentation needed.

Teaching, a once well-respected profession is now seriously polluted. Authorities in the Nantong City of Jiangsu Province found 85 school principals guilty of misconduct between 2007 and 2009. Together they took a bribe of over 30 million yuan.

In addition to polarization and bribery, sexual assault against students, including minors, also happened in many schools. Some school teachers and principals were found to be pedophiles. For example, a third-grader student in Shandong Province was raped by her teacher in April 2016. She was only 10. Some victims also became pregnant after being raped. There was one teacher who killed a student when she firmly refused to be raped.

The Hope of Our Society

During numerous political campaigns in the past few decades, the CCP has killed innocent lives, destroyed traditional Chinese culture, and suppressed the democratic movement. It has also corrupted the education system while inciting hatred against traditional values such as Falun Gong’s principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance.

The consequences are grave because, without a trustworthy education system and moral standards, Chinese society will head towards a path of no return. Many Chinese citizens are also worried. After the Ministry of Education published the “Code of Conduct for Graduate Advisers” in 2020, many were surprised to see one of the requirements is “no sexual harassment against graduate students.” One netizen wrote, “It is ironic that such basic moral standards have become a code of conduct for graduate advisers.” Another replied, “The CCP is atheistic and does not believe in cause-effect retribution. So there is no use no matter how long the code of conduct list is.”

Jiang Zemin has died and it is time to reflect on how his tenure, as well as that of Chen Zhili, has affected the Chinese education system. By learning from lessons, we can reject the CCP, and embrace traditional values and the common good to get back on track.