Nearly a quarter million teachers in China do not have the educational background required by the government. The good news is that according to education officials that number is steadily decreasing. The problem simply stated is that qualified teachers do not want to teach in the countryside. They want to teach in the cities.
A senior official confirmed that the number of unqualified teachers holding classes at state schools has dropped in the past year.
Guan Peijun, director of the Department of Teacher Training said in an interview that the number has dropped from 300,000 by the end of 2007 to 243,000 by the end of 2008. Which is moving in the right direction.
Legally, primary school teachers must have at least a high school diploma, junior high teachers must have at least an associate’s degree (two to three years of college) and senior high teachers must have a bachelor’s degree.
As colleges and graduate schools have expanded enrollment in the past decade, the percentage of teachers with the required higher education background is increasing quickly.
Some 71% of primary school teachers in China now have college diplomas. More than half of junior high teachers have a bachelor’s degree.
A university instructor from Beijing said, when she graduated from university with a bachelor’s degree a decade ago, she and her classmates could find a good job teaching at college.
She went on: "But now, only people with a master’s degree or even PhD can get employed by universities. With a bachelor’s degree, a college graduate can only land a job in a high school in cities."
Zhu Xiaoman, center director and vice-president of the Chinese Society of Education, said the rural areas still lack well-educated teachers.
She said the higher education reform since 1994 has given college graduates the freedom to choose where they want to work. And most people want to work in the cities, not the rural areas.
She said, "In China’s cities, perhaps 10 graduates are competing for one teaching job. But the rural areas have much harsher living conditions, and therefore it is difficult to attract educated young people."
China Daily reported that at least 70,000 university graduates will be recruited to teaching jobs in rural schools this year.