Efforts needed to make teaching an attractive job in China

By Liu Lulu Source:Global Times Published: 2018/3/4 23:08:39

Education minister Chen Baosheng pledged to raise teacher salaries on the sidelines of the ongoing session of the 13th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. "We will put a big share of finances into people in the education sector," Chen reportedly said, committing to efforts to ensure teachers' income is not lower than the average level of local civil servants.

The significance of education cannot be emphasized more. It is a key contributor to the tremendous achievements China has seen over the past four decades since its reform and opening-up, and is a prerequisite for the country to act as a real global actor and catch up with leading developed countries. "People in the education sector" are undeniably the basis for China's competitiveness.

However, obstacles stand in the way of China's educational development. The teacher-student ratio in China's primary school was about 1-17 in 2016, highlighting the shortage of educators in the country's public education sector. The situation in rural villages is even worse. Less-than-expected pay is to blame. A large number of teachers in rural areas, yearning for better salaries and working environments, have migrated to cities in recent years. Who would teach in a shabby classroom with a meager salary if he or she could choose to work in a well-equipped office with better pay?

More funds should be allocated to make teaching an admirable occupation. The latest data from the Ministry of Education suggests that China spent nearly 3.9 trillion yuan ($565.6 billion) on education in 2016, the fifth consecutive year that the country expended above 4 percent of GDP on education. The increase in education expenditure was unanimously approved in every session of the National People's Congress, according to media reports.

The figures and facts are encouraging compared with India where spending on education as a share of the central government's total budgeted expenditure has been falling for the past three years, as The Times of India reported. But China still lags behind other advanced states. Statistics show government expenditure in education is about 7 percent of GDP in the world and 9 percent in developed countries.

Teachers in China deserve better treatment. More preferential policies should be introduced to retain educators, especially those working in rural areas.

This is the basis for educational equality as well as the country's rise. Chen's commitment reflects the government's determination to reinvigorate the nation through education. This is a good political start for China's educational development in the new era, but more efforts should be put into the implementation of these policies to make teaching an admirable job for the new generation.

Posted in: OBSERVER

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