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After the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, the government began to pay great attention to the preparation and production of school textbooks and other teaching materials. In 1950, the Ministry of Education formulated curricular standards for primary schools. Afterwards, in 1956, 1963, 1978 and 1986, four conservative sets of syllabuses of subjects taught in primary and secondary and secondary schools were formulated, and eight sets of school textbooks were complied and published by the People's Education Press for nationwide use in compliance with the requirements set in these syllabuses.
In 1992, syllabuses of various subjects taught in full-time primary and secondary schools were drawn up under the guidance of the former SEDC to provide guidance for teaching and complying the textbooks used in primary and secondary schools within the 9-year compulsory education. The new textbooks for regular senior secondary education linking the 9-year compulsory education which was implemented in 1993 in under pilot exercise in Shanxi Province, Jiangxi Province and Tianjin.
As China is a vast country with significant regional disparities in economics, and social development, it is quite understandable that the conditions of different schools vary a deal lot, and consequently it is desirable to develop multiple sets of textbooks at various levels to meet the needs of different localities and with their own specific characteristics and styles. For this reason, in 1986, the former SEDC adopted a policy of diversifying the preparation and production of school textbooks in the whole country under the condition that unified basic requirements must the complied with. In areas where conditions permit, regional educational departments, educational institutions, experts, scholars and individual teachers are encouraged to compile textbooks for subjects taught in primary and junior secondary schools in compliance with the basic requirements set forth in the syllabuses of 9-year compulsory education schooling.
As a result, different sets of textbooks will compete with each other bringing a radical change to the old practice in which only one set of textbooks was used throughout the whole country and promoting the prosperous development of school textbooks. In addition, a lot of reference and manuals for teachers, illustrated booklets, atlas for school use, wall charts, slides and audio-visual materials for classroom instruction or dong homework have been produced to complement and supplement the textbooks. A number of items of computer software developed for school use have been produced. The textbooks for special education have been compiled (by the state Education Commission) to meet the needs of special education development. Many supplementary teaching materials with local color and flavor have been produced in many localities to meet the needs of local economic and cultural development.
To ensure the quality of textbooks and other teaching materials produced, a system of examination and approval of textbooks has been established in China. All textbooks for obligatory subjects taught in primary and secondary schools have to be examined and approved by the State Textbooks examination and Approval Committee before publication in terms of ideological content, scientific spirit and adaptability to classroom instruction. The textbooks approved are allowed to be used by the local educational departments. However, supplementary teaching materials with local figures are to be examined and approved by a provincial-level School Textbook Examination and Approval Committee and allowed to be used within the province concerned.