As schools across the US started to close and switch to online learning because of the lockdowns, schools in Utah embraced a Chinese online learning platform from a company that has fired American teachers for discussing things in a way that is “at odds with Chinese government preferences.”
In mid-March, the online learning platform, Lingo Bus, which focuses on education for children aged 5-12, was “donated” to schools in Utah.
Lingo Bus is a subsidiary of China’s largest online education startup VIPKID which has over 60,000 teachers in the United States and in March 2019, it fired American teachers for using maps that depict Taiwan as independent of China and discussing the Tiananmen Square Massacre.
VIPKID has also received funding from the Chinese conglomerate Tencent – a company that facilitates CCP censorship via its multi-functional utility app WeChat and has collaborated with the Chinese Communist Party several times to create “patriotic” games that push CCP propaganda.
Zheng Yamin, a Chinese teacher who works at Cascades Elementary School in Utah and was recommended to teach in the United States by the Confucius Institute, a public institution that is affiliated with China’s Ministry of Education, admitted in February that her lessons go far beyond teaching the Chinese language and involve teachings on “Chinese morality and values.”
“On National Day of China last year, the children watched a grand military parade with me. They thought President Xi Jinping was cool. Later, when they saw President Xi Jinping delivering the New Year’s speech, they thought President Xi Jinping was very kind.”
These revelations also come amid wider concerns of pro-China propaganda about the coronavirus being spread on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter with recent reports indicating that Chinese propaganda ads reach up to 45 million people via these platforms.