Remove English from universities: China’s nationalist turn

Xi’an Jiaotong, one of China’s most prestigious universities, has eliminated English exams as a prerequisite for graduation. A decision reflecting growing nationalist sentiment in the country was strongly supported by President Xi Jinping, who called on citizens and public institutions, including schools and universities, to strengthen “cultural trust”, that is, love for one’s culture. Reject “Western influence”. It’s an invitation that is increasingly welcomed in the education sector as the English language comes under scrutiny.

In fact, before Jiaotong, other universities had also reduced the role of English in their courses, reversing a trend that began in the 1980s when China began to open up to the outside world. In 2001, when the country entered the World Trade Organization, Beijing decided to make English a compulsory subject in primary and secondary schools. At many universities, as early as 1987, passing the College English Test, an internationally recognized standardized exam, had become a graduation requirement. But things have changed in the last few years. Some universities have replaced the College English Test with their own exams or eliminated English as a graduation criterion altogether, as in the case of Jiaotong University. Even in schools, there are those who remove foreign languages ​​from final exams, as in Shanghai, China’s most cosmopolitan city, in 2021.

The nationalist trend does not please more progressive Chinese, but it has broad support among the public, as messages on Weibo, the country’s main social network, show. “English is important, but with the development of China, English is not that important anymore,” reads a post by a well-known influencer, CNN reported. Addressing his 6 million followers, he added, “It should now be the turn of foreigners to learn Chinese.”

But English is not the only victim of the country’s rampant nationalism: CNN reminds us that in schools and universities, teachers are banned from using Western textbooks or talking about “Western values” such as democracy, freedom and independence of the press. judgment.

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Source: Today IT