School told to recall 'vulgar' homework book

Yang Meiping
Education bureau takes action after details of a sexually explicit story in a book for young students are spread online.
Yang Meiping

A school in the Pudong New Area has been asked to recall an English homework book after the local education bureau said a picture spread online showed it contained "vulgar" information.

The bureau has also asked the school to punish those responsible.

The picture spread widely on the Internet. 

It showed a page in the book for eighth graders at the SMIC Private School with a story called “Mommy’s Washcloth.” Students were required to read it and add their comments. 

However, the story mentions the private parts of a boy’s mother and also suggests that his father had been having sexual relations with a maid.

There was online criticism of the publisher for including such a story in the book and the school was condemned for failing to check content before handing the book out to students.

The education bureau said it immediately launched an investigation when it became aware of the online post. It found that the book, produced by a Shanghai company, was not a standard textbook but supplemental teaching material.

It told the school to recall the books and punish whoever was responsible for the incident. 

It has also asked all schools in the area to check their supplemental teaching material.

The school released a statement apologizing for failure to carefully check the book's content.

It said it would issue serious warnings and demerit records to two staff members, including a vice principal, in charge of supplemental teaching material.

A total of 48 books had been given out to students and 41 had been taken back after it received reports from students on January 16, the school said.

Five students were traveling abroad and one could not be contacted yet, while the parents of another had sent the book to the cultural market watchdog.

It also said it would be taking legal action against the producer.

According to local news portal Shanghai Observer, the book was a cooperation project between the company and the China Atomic Energy Press.

The two sides started a three-year cooperation in 2009 to produce the book. The company was in charge of content and sales, while the press was in charge of publishing.

The two also agreed that any content modification or republishing should be approved by the press, but it is said to have had no knowledge of its second-time publishing in November last year, which resulted in the current edition of the book.

The latest incident is the second involving the school to have hit the headlines recently. 

Last October, the school was caught up in a food safety scandal involving mildewed vegetables, expired seasoning, semi-processed food products, and the fabrication of production dates of semi-finished food. Three administrators, including the headmaster, were sacked.

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