To show respect for substitute teachers equals respecting rural education, says a commentary in Southern Daily. An excerpt follows:
A recent report in Southern Farmers' Daily covered the poor living conditions for substitute teachers in rural Guangdong. Though the report only covered the Xinyi region, it is common for substitute teachers to earn low wages and live in poverty. And this does not only happen in Guangdong Province.
Substitute teachers are those directly hired by rural schools to meet the shortage of local teachers. They are not on the State payroll.
The Ministry of Education announced last year that more than 448,000 substitute teachers around the country would all be dismissed. A new system of appointment would be promoted in rural areas.
Rural substitute teachers took their jobs without official authorization. The authorities decided to dismiss these teachers in an effort to guarantee qualified rural teachers. But we should realize that this group emerged because of insufficient government input to poor remote areas. These substitute teachers may not have high teaching levels but they have been a pillar of rural education.
As substitute teachers fade into history, the government should pay necessary respect to those substitute teachers who have contributed much in the past.
Can the poor rural regions really keep good teachers? Judging from reality, we believe that rural education in poor remote areas will still depend on such teachers even if they are no longer addressed as "substitute". Thus it is vital to give substitute teachers needed attention. The government should train them instead of removing all of them.
(China Daily March 28, 2007)