Twenty-seven people have been punished by the Ministry of Education for dereliction of duty after textbook illustrations published by the People's Education Press caused public uproar for being ugly and containing inappropriate material, the ministry said on Monday.
Huang Qiang, Party chief and head of People's Education Press, was given serious warning and demerit, while the Editor-in-Chief of the publisher Guo Ge was removed from the post, issued a serious warning and demerit, the ministry said in a release.
Two other people were also removed from their posts and 17 others were given disciplinary punishment, the release said.
Tian Huisheng, director of the ministry's Department of National Textbook, was issued warning and demerit by the ministry. Five other officials at the department were also given disciplinary punishment.
Three people, Wu Yong, Lyu Min and Lyu Jing and their studios that were responsible for designing the textbook illustrations, are no longer allowed to design national textbooks.
The cartoon illustrations in math textbooks used by primary school students caused an outcry after they were posted by netizens in May and hashtags on the illustrations became top trending topics on social media platforms for days.
Many people found the images offensive and unpleasant as students had small eyes, weird facial expressions and smiles, and readers could even see the shape of male private parts through the pants of the illustrated boys.
Headed by senior officials of the ministry, it launched a thorough investigation into the incident.
The investigation found that the illustrations were "not beautiful and uplifting" and did not conform to public aesthetic habits. Some of the illustrated figures were "ugly" and did not reflect the bright and uplifting image of Chinese children.
Certain illustrations had mistakes and some may have caused misunderstanding, the release said.
The publisher's selection process of illustration designers was not thorough and well-regulated, its reviewing process was not strict and it did not value reader's suggestions, the ministry said.
The ministry's Department of National Textbook did not give enough review, guidance and supervision on textbooks, it added.
In a separate release, the ministry said the publisher has finished re-doing the textbook illustrations and all new textbooks will be available before the new semester begins in September.
The new illustrations have been revised seven times and reviewed three times and approved by the National Textbook Committee, the release said.
The ministry has asked 350 experts to conduct comprehensive review of all 2,487 sets of textbooks used by primary and secondary school students.