Blatant advertisements, frequent typos and inaccuracies in historical accounts are just a few of the common errors found in Chinese students' textbooks that have aroused public outcry for tighter supervision on educational materials.
One web user surnamed Wang in Zhaoqing City of south China's Guangdong Province complained on a messaging board after discovering several advertisements in his middle school daughter's English textbook.
"Six pages of promotional materials on a talking pen, tape and other teaching aids are found in the 144-page book," Wang wrote in the post on Tianya, fueling a week-long discussions about textbook quality in China.
The book is published by Beijing Ren'ai Education Institute, the first and only private textbook compilation agency approved by China's Ministry of Education, according to the institute's website.
Nearly 11 million such English textbooks have been used in the country's 22 provinces, cities and autonomous regions, accounting for nearly 20 percent of the total market share, said the website.
"I don't like too many commercial elements appearing in my child's textbook. They will affect the value, and the purpose of educating others is not to make money from them," a parent surnamed Wang from Shenyang City,Liaoning Province wrote on microblog Sina Weibo.
The Ministry of Education reiterated in a statement posted to their website last Thursday that they have strict requirements on textbook compilation and examination for primary and middle school students. "No advertisements are allowed in textbooks," the statement said. It said they will have authorities investigate the problem.
China has allowed publishers to issue different textbooks for primary and middle school students based on common curriculum. Often, both good and bad books are mixed together in such cases.
They are supposed to be examined and approved by the Ministry of Education before being listed into a catalogue for schools to choose from.
"Each city chooses its own textbooks from this catalogue," said Fu Taimin, head of Shenyang Institute of Education.
"There may be no advertisements when the authorities examine the book. But the publisher can add promotional materials later on," he said.
In addition to advertisements, a string of errors in textbooks have shocked many parents and students in the country.
Zhang Lyushi discovered the People's Education Press had inserted the wrong photo of his grandfather Zhang Zuolin, a famous warlord in Northeast China, in a history book for senior high school students before 2007.
In 2010, Hubei Education Press printed the wrong word in a poem from famous Chinese poet Li Bai, resulting in teachers having to correct the mistake over and over each time they taught the lesson.
Li Hongsheng, former editor of Dolphin Books, said in the profitable textbook publication market, some publishers go after quantity at the cost of quality like shortening the proofreading time to make more money.
"The country should raise the market access threshold, tighten supervision on textbook publication, and adopt punitive measures on publishers," Fu Taimin said.