Greater effort is needed to upgrade teacher competence among the nation's teachers -- especially those in primary and middle schools -- the Ministry of Education said at a Beijing news conference Wednesday.
Latest statistics indicate that the country has more than 9.24 million primary and middle school teachers, a sufficient number.
While about 80 percent of them have reached the state-set qualification standards, the rest 20 percent are set to receive professional training programs within the next five years.
And all teachers across the country will receive specialized training courses in their spare time over five year spans to help update their skills, officials said.
Those who still fail to meet the state-set qualification standards after two or three attempts at training will be dismissed from their positions, the ministry's Department for Teacher Training said.
The number of primary school teachers in better developed cities is even over-supplied. That's because the number of pupils has dropped since the 1990s when the cities implemented family-planning policies earlier than other areas, Yuan Zhenguo, a department official told China Daily.
Ways of making employment arrangements for redundant teachers vary from city to city.
In some cities, schools divide students into very small classes in order to give jobs to these teachers. In other cities, redundant teachers have to step aside to wait for teaching posts and upgrade their competence by furthering their studies, according to Yuan.
But he did not name those cities or schools, saying that "it is difficult to arrange those redundant teachers... and it is up to regional educational departments to rationalize the arrangement of teaching teams."
Yuan's department has started forecasting studies on the demand and supply of teachers nationwide from now until 2020, on the basis of population predictions from the China Population Information Study Center.
To help update teachers' skills, the ministry started a national computer-aided training program this September. The program will be continued year-on-year to provide life-long study chances for teachers throughout China, said Tang Jingwei, the ministry official who is in charge of training affairs for primary and middle school teachers.
Hu Zhonghua, a teacher with Tianjin Normal University in north China's Tianjin, said the university has reduced recruitment efforts for students who are targeted for work at middle schools after graduation. Middle schools in this city have posed a higher requirement demand for qualified teachers and invite graduates from other famous normal universities in the recent two years.
Traditional ways of training teachers have lagged behind of schools' need in today's market economy, Hu said in a telephone interview with China Daily.
(China Daily December 25, 2003)