London, Sept.2 : Over 170 million Chinese schoolchildren were forced to see and hear a two-hour propaganda broadcast on the Olympics and China's response to the Sichuan earthquake in May.
According to The Telegraph, on Monday evening, the first day of the new academic year, the Ministry of Education ordered all primary and middle school children to watch The First Lesson of the New Term, a brightly-lit variety show which skillfully weaved together China's "Olympic spirit" and its fortitude in the face of disaster.
Parents were required to sign a chit to certify that their child had watched the spectacle.
The state media said the show would teach children practical lessons for "self-protection in such natural disasters as earthquakes, fire, snowstorm or floods".
However, the effect of the show was to mythologise the strength and ingenuity of the Chinese.
Several schoolchildren from Sichuan were filmed watching happily from light blue school desks dotted around the studio as the set filled with rainbows and sunflowers.
The children who perished in the crumbling middle schools in Dujiangyan were glossed over, however, as were the hundreds of orphans who still have to find a home.
The upbeat message went down well with most students.
In Sichuan, 3.4 million schoolchildren returned to school for the first time since the disaster struck, with only a third able to resume classes in their former schools. Some children have been moved to other provinces, while a further third will start the year in pre-fabricated buildings.