Zhejiang province in eastern China is to be the first in the country to add Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) course to the school curriculum.

Children as young as 12 (in final year of primary school) will take the courses, which have been developed by the renowned Zhejiang University of Chinese Medicine

A series of textbooks has been prepared for pupils taking the courses, which aim to make complex ideas about medicine and health easily understandable to even the youngest children taking the course. Series editor-in-chief, professor Fang Jianqiao, told China Plus: “Combining historical stories and figures with the basic content of TCM, including TCM basic theory, health care, exercise, diet, emotion, acupuncture and massage, should make the material accessible to fifth grade pupils,” said Fang.

Despite these efforts the initiative has reportedly divided onion locally between those who see traditional medicine as central to Chinese culture, and those who see it as an obstacle to progress in the modern scientific world. To assuage the concerns of parents who oppose the introduction TCM course in schools, the Zhejiang courses will not form part of school exams.

Local commentators predict that regions of China will follow the example of Zhejiang. They see a broader effort in China to elevate the status of traditional Chinese medicine, both culturally and economically.

In early 2016 the State Council, China’s cabinet, released the Strategic Development Plan for Chinese Medicine

(2016-2030), which aims to push knowledge of the medicine more deeply into campuses and homes and also – as part of a ‘soft power’ effort – promote Chinese medicine abroad.

The Chinese Government sees significant to grow exports of TCM products and has led successful trade missions on this area to Germany and Czech Republic where interest locally is strong.

Traditional medicine has been identified as an important growth industry.  The industrial output of traditional pharmacy had grown by at 20 per cent for the past five years, and last was valued at 786 billion yuan, accounting for a third of all national drug production, according too the South China Post.