Universities must make ideology classes "trendy" and appealing to young people, Education Minister Chen Baosheng said on Sunday in the latest move to tighten the Communist Party's grip on the next generation.
Chen's call on the sidelines of key annual political meetings in Beijing follows a meeting in December in which President Xi Jinping ordered tighter ideological control in tertiary institutions.
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"When we investigate at colleges and universities, we find that attention levels at thought and political theory classes are not high. People are there in body but not in spirit," Chen said.
"Why is this? The content does not suit their needs. Perhaps the approach is outdated, the tools are rather crude and the packaging is not that fashionable."
Students needed to be led by the core values of Chinese socialism to ensure their healthy moral growth. They should also study traditional Chinese culture, revolutionary culture and "advanced socialist culture", Chen said.
Beijing has been trying to strengthen ideological controls in the education system in recent years, including requesting professors not to "smear socialism in the classroom".
In December, Xi said universities had to become ideological "strongholds" of the party and they must serve the party's rule and promote socialism.
Chen's predecessor, Yuan Guiren, said in 2015, that content promoting Western values must be kept out of university textbooks and Western values were "not suitable for classes", resulting in an outcry at home and concern overseas.
"We must fight a tough war on improving the quality and standard of political and ideological education," Chen said.
A range of extracurricular activities must be organised to immerse students in ideological education, he said.