China and Türkiye's Experience in “Education Security”


Although there is no clear definition of education security, China and Türkiye have explored this issue in the process of educational modernization consciously or unconsciously. Typically, in Türkiye, religious and moral education has become a compulsory subject after a long period of debate and adjustment, while in China, the connotation of moral education has expanded and the ideological and political education has developed. ...

Between Nation and World:
China and Türkiye's Experience in “Education Security“
- with a focus on moral education

During the Republic period in China and Türkiye, modernization emerged as one of the most paramount concerns, with educational modernization standing out as a crucial aspect. However, in the process of educational modernization, the absence of national noumenon has also caused some problems, such as the emergence of a moral vacuum, the cultural penetration of foreign forces and so on. In this case, the return and strengthening of the nation-state has become a trend. Although there is no clear definition of education security, China and Türkiye have explored this issue in the process of educational modernization consciously or unconsciously. Typically, in Türkiye, religious and moral education has become a compulsory subject after a long period of debate and adjustment, while in China, the connotation of moral education has expanded and the ideological and political education has developed. At present, educational modernization is still an important theme, but modernization can not be simply equated with Westernization. China and Türkiye share similar historical backgrounds and problems on this issue. Approaching education security from the perspective of moral education, it can be seen that cultural consciousness and confidence, advancement with the times and symbiosis of diversity, autonomy and global balance are the experience gained in the exploration process of the two countries.

Keywords: education security; moral education; educational modernization; non-western modernization; ideology

In the era when global power relations and the world order are undergoing profound changes, when de-globalization and “new Cold War“ have become a new trend, the concept of non-traditional security is becoming increasingly important. Education is related to the future of a nation. As president Xi Jinping pointed out in the report of the 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party, “What kind of people we should cultivate, how, and for whom-these are the fundamental issues that education must address." This also makes the concept of education security emerge. As important representatives of non-Western countries, China and Türkiye have experience that can be learned from each other in the modernization process. At the same time, as two important forces in the multipolar world, China and Türkiye play an important role in regional and global peace and stability. Therefore, initiating a discussion on the topic of education security in both China and Türkiye not only holds reference significance for the two nations but also plays a guiding role in the global balance of power.

1.1 Security and Education Security
Before delving into the issue of education security, it is essential to explore the concept of security and its evolution. While it is widely acknowledged that security research emerged as an academic field after World War II, it is important to note that research on security existed, albeit with relatively little intellectual interest, between the two world wars. During the Cold War, security studies underwent a distinct separation from traditional studies of war and military history, giving rise to a new discipline known as "International Security Studies." Following the end of the Cold War and the cessation of the global confrontation between the two camps, the primary axis of worldwide security issues vanished. This led to a broadening of the scope of the concept of security, extending beyond traditional military security to encompass areas such as the economy, environment, identity, and social dimensions etc.[1]

Under the contemporary security studies framework, there are numerous subfields, with two prominent ones being international security and national security. If international security begins with the impact of globalization, then national security gradually highlights its importance in the context of de-globalization. The book National Security Studies published by China University of Political Science and Law in 2004 marked the official emergence of the discipline of national security studies.[2] On April 15, 2014, Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed the concept of “Comprehensive National Security“ for the first time. As China's security strategy, this concept covers 16 security types including political security, territorial security, military security, economic security, cultural security, societal security, technological security, cybersecurity, ecological security, resource security, nuclear security, overseas interest security, biosecurity, space security, polar security and deep-sea security. It is important to note that this concept is still in the process of continuous development, and the possibility of adding new security types in the future cannot be ruled out.

This study also discusses education security in the framework of national security. It can be seen that there is no expression of education security in the 16 types of security mentioned above. In fact, there is no term for education security in China, let alone its definition, the same is true globally. In fact, although education security is not a specific aspect of the overall national security concept, some awareness of educational security has emerged in the leaders' speeches and government documents. In the 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party, there is a statement about education as follows: “What kind of people we should cultivate, how, and for whom-these are the fundamental issues that education must address. The most basic aim of education is to foster virtue.“ This makes the concept of educational security come into being, and the importance of moral education goes without saying.

1.2 Moral Education
“Moral education“ (德育in Chinese) as a term is a modern construct. Immanuel Kant's philosophical ideas have a profound impact on moral education. He referred moralische Erziehung (moral education) specifically to the education of free men in accordance with moral laws. In 1860, the British scholar Herbert Spencer clearly divided education into “intellectual education“, “moral education“ and “physical education“ in his book Education: Intellectual, Moral and Physical. Since then, the term “moral education“ has gradually become a commonly used term in pedagogy. By the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, the term 'moral education' was introduced into China. According to existing findings, the term “moral education“ first appeared in the Japanese bibliography(《日本书目志》)[3]translated by Kang Youwei.[4]

In Chinese academia, there are five representative thesis on the interpretation of “moral education“. First, “Single element thesis“, which distinguishes “moral education“ to “Political education“ and “Ideological education“. The second is the “Three elements thesis“, which defines “Moral education“ in broad sense and narrow sense, and considers that “Moral education“ in broad sense includes moral education, ideological education and political education; in the narrow sense includes education in moral cognition, emotion and behavior habits. The third is the theory of “Four elements of moral education“, that is, moral education is closely linked with ideological and political standards and moral norms of law and order, and moral, ideological, legal and political qualities are brought into the elements of moral education. Fourth, The theory of five elements of moral education, that is, the content of moral education is divided into public moral education, national conditions education, legal education, discipline education and mental health education. Fifth, the theory of “Multi-elements of moral education“, that is to say, moral education mainly includes ideological and political education, ethical and moral education, democratic and legal education, emotional and attitude education and so on.[5] The essence of these five thesis is to expand the extension of the concept of moral education, which is represented by the so-called “general view of moral education“, which is also the current mainstream view of the concept of moral education in China.

2. Exploration of Moral Education in Türkiye and China
For modernizing countries that are in the process of catching up, the pressure to keep pace with development is exceptionally intense. Breakthrough progress in driving forces of modernization, such as technology, knowledge, and human capital, is challenging to achieve in the short term. Hence, the significance of educational modernization becomes particularly pronounced.[6] The modernization of education is designed to enhance individuals, fostering their modernity and cultivating a contemporary personality. However, it is essential to recognize that as human society progresses into the contemporary era, the crisis of modernity becomes increasingly severe. Therefore, the developed countries began the second modernization from the industrial society to the post-industrial society. As the late-developing and exogenous modern countries, China and Türkiye must develop modernity and face the crisis of modernity. Therefore, to develop modernity, we must go beyond modernity and take a road of comprehensive modernization. Currently, educational modernization in China and Türkiye should not only advance human modernity but also prevent the excesses of modernity. It involves the correction and reconstruction of modernity by integrating traditional and post-modern elements. All these aspects are clearly evident in the history of moral education development in both countries.

2.1 The Resurgence of Tradition: taking the religious and moral curriculum as an example
Intuitively, moral education in Türkiye is conducted mainly in a course called Religious Culture and Moral Knowledge (Din Kültürü ve Ahlak Bilgisi, DKAB in short). After the establishment of the Republic, the new government introduced a series of educational reforms. First, education is entirely managed by the Ministry of Education; second, the boundary between secular and religious education is becoming clearer. Religion has evolved from a traditional core to a cultural symbol. The moral education in Türkiye, which takes religious culture as an important element, experienced three stages: rectification and stagnation (1923-1946) , wandering and returning (1946-1980) , establishment and development (after 1980), now it is still in the process of moderate revival, which is the continuation of the result of religious education's return and development.[7] But from the perspective of a general view of moral education, the moral education curriculum also includes The history of the Turkish Revolution and Kemalism (T.C. İnkılâp Tarihi ve Atatürkçülük), Human rights, Nationals and Democracy (İnsan Hakları, Yurttaşlık ve Demokrasi), and Knowledge of Life (Hayat Bilgisi).

2.1.1 Rectification and Stagnation (1923-1946)
When the Republic of Türkiye was founded, the Atatürk-led government reformed education and enacted the Uniform Law on Education (Tevhid-i Tedrisat Kanunu). The Uniform Law on education provides that the Ministry of Education is responsible for the establishment of the academy for the training of senior religious experts and the establishment of the İmam-Hatip mektep for the training of Imam, Hatip and other clergymen.[8] As one of the most important laws in the field of education in Türkiye, the law sets the tone for the secularization of education in Türkiye. However, as can be seen from the legal provisions, the main aim is to solve the problem of the fragmentation of education, trying to unify the administration of education and not expecting to establish an educational system completely free of religion. Consequently, the religious curriculum in regular schools was not immediately abolished. Nevertheless, starting in 1929, urban schools gradually phased out religious classes, and by 1939, rural primary schools were also gradually discontinuing religious classes.

During this period, Türkiye attempted to seek a moral education completely separate from religion, but the basis and framework of this new moral education have not yet been determined, which fundamentally led to the failure of this attempt.

2.1.2 Wandering and Returning (1946-1980)
In 1946, important changes took place in Türkiye both at home and abroad. On the one hand, the era of multi-party system in the country has begun, and Islamic thought has also begun to receive renewed attention. Religious figures have begun to use the atmosphere of social freedom to express their dissatisfaction with secularism, not only demanding the revival of Islam, there was also a call for the revival of Islamic education; on the other hand, influenced by the Cold War, it had been suggested that religious values should be given to children in order to prevent the infiltration of communism.

In 1948, the newly formed Hasan Saka government set up a committee to discuss the issue of religious education, and on 19 November of that year, an agreement was reached on the issue to provide voluntary religious education.[9] Since then, Islamic religious education has been gradually returning to the regular school classroom. The period from the 1960s to the 1980s was marked by relative political turmoil in Türkiye. In the 1970s, Türkiye experienced a significant ideological conflict resulting in frequent social violence and economic crises. The deteriorating economic conditions directly contributed to the rise of religious nationalism and Muslim sentiments. During this period, under the dual influence of the democratization of domestic politics and the return of International Islam, Islam began to gradually return, although religious curricula have generally returned to ordinary schools, but it was never legally established.

2.1.3 Establishment and Development (1980-present)
On September 12, 1980, another military coup took place in Türkiye. The military government at that time held the belief that the secular education system established during the Kemalist era excluded religion, potentially leaving groups without religious education more vulnerable to the influence of politically oriented religious groups. As a response, the military regime advocated for the inclusion of religious culture and religious morality in primary and secondary school education. The 1982 Constitution, which enshrined freedom of religion, also, for the first time, mandated religious education in regular schools. [10]

At present, religious and moral curriculum has been a compulsory course in compulsory education stage for 40 years, although this course is controversial, its compulsory status has not been shaken. After entering the 21st century, under the influence of multiculturalism from the United States and European countries, the educational field of Türkiye has also emerged the trend of cultural pluralism. Religious minorities, represented by the Alawites, have repeatedly challenged the legitimacy of the compulsory religious education curriculum. Therefore, the main problem facing Türkiye in religious education has gradually shifted from the traditional secularity problem to the challenge posed by multiculturalism.

2.2 The Expansion of concept: taking political and ideological education as an example
Since its founding in 1949, the People's Republic of China has carried out a series of practices and reforms in the course of establishing the socialist system and exploring the political development of the socialist system with Chinese characteristics. Therefore, moral education has always been regarded as the most important in the educational cause. In the official discourse system, cultivating socialist builders and successors with all-round development of moral, intellectual, physical, aesthetic and labor has always been the first goal of the educational cause. However, the connotation and emphasis of moral education are always in the process of dynamic change and continuous enrichment.

2.2.1 Politics-centered Period (1949-1992)
In the early years of the establishment of the People's Republic of China, the development of education largely followed the Soviet model, and the political theory courses introduced mirrored this pattern. The Soviet educational system was well-suited for the political and ideological control needed in the early stages of nation-building, addressing the requirements for nurturing and instilling specific ideologies and aligning with the characteristics of the economic system. The moral education in this period had a strong political character, which was closely related to the intense ideological struggle in the Cold War era.
From 1949 to 1992, most of the time in the relevant documents the moral education curriculum was called “Politics“. The names of the courses varied from generation to generation and grade to grade, such as “Mao Zedong's youth“, “Chinese revolutionary common sense“, “Current affairs policy“, “Sino-soviet relations“, “Youth culture“, “Political common sense“ and so on.[11] In the 1980s, within ten years after the reform and opening up, the Chinese government began to downplay the ideological and political education curriculum. However, after the June Fourth Incident in 1989 the government restrengthened the importance of ideological education.

2.2.2 Multidimensional Period (1993-present)
From 1993 to 2003, with the deepening of China's reform and opening up, the construction of moral education curriculum entered a new stage. In 1993, the ideological and political curriculum was adjusted in primary and secondary schools nationwide, with the introduction of a course called Morality and Life in grades 1 to 2 and a course called Morality and Society in grades 3 to 6, junior high schools offered Ideology and Morality and senior high schools offered Ideology and Politics. The content includes mental health education, legal education, a brief history of social development and education on national conditions. It can be seen that the political nature of the course is relatively diluted, and the ideological, humanistic and comprehensive features are more prominent.

In 2016, the Ministry of Education announced the adjustment of the ideological and political curriculum in primary and secondary schools, the three-level curriculum of Morality and Life, Morality and Society, and Ideology and Morality in primary and middle schools of compulsory education stage was merged into a unified Morality and Rule of Law,[12] the high school curriculum is still called Ideology and Politics. This marked the first time since 1949 that the term "law" appeared in the political course name at the compulsory education stage. In an interview in 2016, the editor-in-chief of a new textbook on Morality and Rule of Law said that the revision of the textbook focused on the spirit of the Constitution, it aims to enhance awareness of rules, procedures, responsibilities and integrity.[13]

According to the curriculum regulation, the curriculum standard of Morality and Rule of Law in compulsory education in 2022 points out that the curriculum is political, ideological, comprehensive and practical. This course aims to cultivate the five core qualities of political identity, moral cultivation, concept of rule of law, sound personality and sense of responsibility. At the same time, the evaluation of the course focuses on social participation and social practice.[14] From the perspective of curriculum content, there has been an increased proportion of legal education in the curriculum. On the one hand, a Rule of Law Special Volume has been published at the junior high school level, focusing on cultivating qualified citizens and making constitutional education a primary task. On the other hand, there has been an expansion of the coverage of legal content at various stages of compulsory education.[15]

As a course of moral education, Morality and Rule of Law have distinct ideological attributes and civic education characteristics. The content of the course includes both the knowledge that a citizen should know, such as the system and law of the state, the core values, the status of the state and foreign policy, and the skills that a citizen should acquire, such as thinking judgment, social participation and so on; it also includes the conduct that a citizen should have, such as patriotism, self-esteem, sense of responsibility and so on.[16] The moral education curriculum is guided by the mainstream ideology of society, serving as a yardstick to foster the socialization of future members in the ideological, moral, and political aspects. Thus, on the path to building social consensus, cultivating modern citizens, and achieving national prosperity, the moral education curriculum has provided impetus to the construction of a modern country.

3 Experience in Education Security
In today's globalized world, China and Türkiye, despite their distinct historical experiences, share profound similarities as non-Western and late-developing countries. From the perspective of moral education, the two countries' development path can provide reference and experience for each other and the whole world.

3.1 Foundation: Cultural Consciousness and Confidence
In today's era of globalization, countries and societies are undergoing cultural shocks and exchanges, underscoring the significance of understanding one's own culture. Cultural consciousness involves a deep comprehension of a nation's culture, encompassing the appreciation of cultural traditions and respect for cultural differences. Cultural confidence is a concept that evolves from cultural consciousness, emphasizing a state of confidence in one's own culture. Nations or societies with cultural confidence can project their cultural identity onto the international stage, avoiding blind imitation of other cultures. It is important to note that cultural confidence does not imply the exclusion of other cultures; rather, it emphasizes respecting the foundation of multiculturalism while adhering to and promoting one's own unique culture.

The education systems in China and Türkiye actively maintain cultural consciousness and emphasize the preservation of traditional values. This kind of self-consciousness not only includes the inheritance of language, history and literature, but also embodies in cultivating students' respect and understanding of the cultural foundation. For Türkiye, this cultural foundation may mean Islam and Islamic tradition; for China, it may include Confucian culture and so on. This provides a useful reflection on how to preserve and pass on the unique cultural genes of the country in education so that the new generation can better identify with their own cultural identity in the pace of modernization.

3.2 Development: Innovation and Inclusiveness
Both China and Türkiye show vitality and tension in the development of moral education, showing their unique characteristics. The exploration of Chinese moral education embodies the spirit of keeping pace with the times, which means that Chinese moral education is not a rigid concept, but closely with the development of the era and constantly updated. This flexibility and innovation make China's moral education system more adaptable to the needs of contemporary society, and train students with future-oriented moral concepts and social responsibility. At the same time, in the Turkish moral education experience, the multiple symbiosis has become a prominent feature. This reflects Türkiye's concern about the important role of moral education in promoting coexistence and mutual respect between different cultures. Türkiye focuses on training students to understand and respect the ability of different cultures, through the guidance of moral education to achieve the harmonious coexistence of multiple cultures within society.

To sum up, China and Türkiye's exploration in the field of moral education shows their own unique development path, but the core of both emphasizes innovation and inclusiveness. This kind of comprehensive moral education idea helps to cultivate a new generation of citizens with more creativity, social responsibility and international vision, and provides a solid foundation for the sustainable development of society.

3.3 Position: Autonomy and Global Balance
Autonomy and global balance are to maintain balance and stability in international affairs while pursuing national independence. While autonomy is reflected in the independent decision-making and control of the state over its own affairs, global balance requires equality and harmony in international relations, especially in a multipolar environment.
Both China and Türkiye emphasize the autonomy of education and focus on global balance within this framework. Both countries advocate for the protection of their core values and ideologies through means such as the development of courses in revolutionary history, while ensuring an edge in global competition by linking up with the world education system. This combination of autonomy and global balance provides the country with the space to achieve self-development in the field of education.

The concept of education security ultimately entails avoiding the imposition of Western standards but instead striving to find a balance within the nation-state and on a global scale. This means that the education system should remain independent and not be governed by external standards, but should also adapt to the world, learn from international experience, and integrate the preservation and innovation of indigenous cultures. This balance reflects both the appreciation of traditional culture and adaptation to the era of globalization. Educational security is not the expression of closed self, but a balance between autonomy and globalization, which not only maintains cultural independence, but also promotes the exchange and cooperation of global education on the basis of openness. This balance helps to shape educational systems with cultural confidence, an international perspective and global competitiveness and to create more favourable conditions for the development of countries and societies.

Moral education is an important means of finding a balance between the nation-state and the world. First of all, moral education should be an important means to shape students to stick to the cultural foundation. By means of moral education, the students are trained to identify with their own culture and to have the ability of identifying and making independent choice to the outside culture. Moral education should emphasize traditional moral norms and cultivate students' sense of social responsibility so that they can adhere to correct values when balancing their own country and the world. Second, the education system should focus on cross-cultural moral education. Dialogue and understanding between different cultures are important ways to achieve balance. Through education, students are trained to be open-minded and to respect multiculturalism. Moral Education should guide students to understand and actively integrate into the global pluralistic society, so as to establish a more harmonious relationship between the nation-state and the world.

[1] See Açıkbaş, Alp Emre. “Türkiye’nin Milli Güvenlik Politikasi.“ Avrasya Sosyal ve Ekonomi Araştırmaları Dergisi, 9.2 (2022): 50–65.
[2] 刘跃进. 国家安全学. 北京: 中国政法大学出版社, 2004.
[3] Japanese Bibliography was translated by Kang Youwei, a modern Chinese politician and thinker, and published in Shanghai in 1898. This book series introduce new Japanese books and periodicals since the Meiji Restoration to China in order to understand the changes in all aspects of Japanese society. See康有為. 日本書目志. 1898.
[4] See于晨芳and张荣伟. “‘德育教育’之说的规范性探析.“ 北京科技大学学报: 社会科学版 39.2(2023): 214.
[5] Ibid.
[6] 田正平and李江源. “教育制度变迁与中国教育现代化进程.“ 华东师范大学学报: 教育科学版 20.1(2002): 39.
[7] The classification method used in this article is mainly oriented towards political development, and there are other classification methods in the studies of other authors. For example, Ali Güler divided the educational policy of the Republic of Türkiye into five periods in his book Historical Periodization of Turkish Educational Policy: the nationalization period (1923-1938) and the humanization period (1938-1950). the Americanization period (1950-1960), the planning period (1960-1980) and the neoliberal period (after 1980).
[8] See T.C. Cumhurbaşkanlığı Mevzuat Bilgi Sistemi. Tevhidi Tedrisat Kanunu.
[9] Kanbolat, Erhan. “Cumhuriyet Dönemi Eğitim Kurumlarında Laikleşme Süreci ve Ahlâk Eğitimine Dair Tartışmalar.“ Kastamonu Education Journal 26.3 (2018): 992.
[10] See T.C. Cumhurbaşkanlığı Mevzuat Bilgi Sistemi. Türkı̇ye Cumhurı̇yetı̇ Anayasası.
[11] 刘建德.“道德与法治: 课程定位与演绎——以初中道德与法治为例.“中小学德育 2(2018): 26.
[12] 新华社. “教育部: ‘思想品德’ 教材统一更名‘道德与法治’.“ April 28, 2016.
[13] 教育部. “新编义务教育道德与法治教材总主编就有关问题答记者问.“ August 31, 2016.
[14] 教育部. 义务教育道德与法治课程标准(2022年版).北京: 北京师范大学出版社, 2022.
[15] 刘建德.“道德与法治: 课程定位与演绎——以初中道德与法治为例.“中小学德育 2(2018): 27.
[16] Ibid: 28.

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Continents ( 5 Fields )
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