New allegations raise questions about trade-offs . . .
Canadian schools in China are being pressured to censor certain topics lest they run afoul of Chinese government oversight. That is according to a Globe and Mail report based on interviews with teachers and principals who have worked at these schools. Canada has a total of 89 schools in China, all of which are accredited to deliver a Canadian provincial curriculum. B.C. has the highest number (37), followed by Nova Scotia (16) and New Brunswick (15). These schools not only provide revenue for Canada in the form of various fees, but also produce a desirable source of applicants to Canadian universities – applicants that have a Canadian high-school education but pay international student tuition rates.
Cracking down on classroom discussions . . .
In theory, education at Canadian overseas schools is equal to that of the corresponding Canadian province. But the Chinese government requires students at these schools to learn about Chinese culture and history from a local teacher using a Chinese curriculum. A draft law released earlier this year will allow Chinese authorities to extend their reach into areas normally considered part of the Canadian domain. Specifically, it will require foreign teachers to attend 20 political education sessions and broadly forbids teachers from harming Chinese sovereignty. In effect, the new law will create a firewall against discussing episodes or aspects of Chinese history or politics that an increasingly censorship-inclined Chinese government would find objectionable.
Deep dilemmas about values . . .
Canadian overseas schools are not new to controversy. In the past, however, those controversies have mostly been about quality-control issues. These latest revelations create a much more challenging dilemma: whether to continue to provide a Canadian liberal education in a context that is forcing it to become increasingly illiberal. According to the new APF Canada public opinion polling released this week, 83 per cent of Canadians “feel that Canada should stand up to China” when Canadian values like the rule of law, human rights, and democracy are at stake. Canada’s overseas schools might provide an early test for that position.
- APF Canada: 2020 National Opinion Poll: Canadian views on Asia
- The Globe and Mail: China censors Canadian curriculums and international schools
- The Globe and Mail: China drafts new rules to ensure foreign teachers protect national ‘honour’