China shoots off own foot

Not really a newsflash but something has got me thinking: China is sabotaging the education of it's children.

I sit typing this in Urumqi (Wikipedia link), I am lucky enough to be on a school trip here. I won't be able to view this post when I am finished because the Chinese government blocks access to Blogger and Wordpress blogs amongst others. isn't blocked, just everything with blogspot in the URL.

Last year during the Summer holidays I went to Beijing to do a Mandarin short course, I had set a wiki based assignment for my science students to work on. However, the Chinese government was also blocking PBwiki so for two weeks I could not give my students any feedback on their work.

The Chinese government blocks blogs and wikis because it fears them as tools of freedom of expression. There have been a number of high-profile cases where Chinese citizens have been persecuted for what they have written. I don't wan't to get into the politics of right and wrong. That is the Chinese government's decision to make.

However, while the growth of use of Web 2.0 tools in schools in other countries is proceeding apace, China, with its reluctance to give people access to these tools is potentially cramping the educational opportunities for its students.

Of course, students could access these tools through a proxy so why does the Chinese government bother?

This post might be flagged by some bot and read by a member of the communist party because of key words in the text. So if you are Chinese, and reading this in China as part of your job as an internet sensor. Think about how this restrictive policy may affect the future of your country and have a word to your bosses about it. Maybe it is time to change.