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Rural Teacher Salaries to Be Centralized

The central government plans to allocate up to 40 billion yuan (US$4.94 billion) to cover the salaries of teachers in rural areas, and to gradually stop the "temporary teacher" practice, China Business News reported on Monday.

Dogged by financial problems, local governments in the rural areas have not been paying teachers their salaries or bonuses, according to Lu Yugang, a senior official with the Ministry of Education. It is estimated that unpaid salaries of rural teachers in 2004 totaled 10 billion yuan.

500 yuan a month for a primary school teacher, and 800 yuan a month for a middle school teacher amount to a annual expenditure of 44.6 billion yuan for the 3.8 million teachers working in rural areas, Lu said.

The ministry plans to include the rural teachers' salaries in its annual budget to ensure they get paid and on time.

The "temporary teacher practice", under which rural schools hire people without teachers' certificates to work as full-time teachers, will also be stopped, Lu said.

China's rules stipulate that only those with a teacher's certificate can teach in schools, but rural schools cannot offer high enough salaries to attract and maintain such qualified people. They end up hiring someone who is willing to take the job but has no license. In some places, junior high school students are being taught by "temporary teachers" who themselves have only junior high school education. That practice cannot ensure the quality of education.

The newspaper said there are about 500,000 "temporary teachers" in rural areas. Previous media reports have said these teachers have made a great contribution to China's education, but many of them are paid only 40 yuan a month, and some for as long as for the last 20 years.

Lu said the ministry will work out a plan to "properly arrange the future of these 'temporary teachers'."

(Shanghai Daily December 20, 2005)

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