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China Addresses Income Gap Between Urban, Rural Teachers
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The Chinese government was working to close the income gap between urban and rural teachers to encourage teachers to work in the countryside, said an education official on Tuesday.

"Under a planned new wage system, teachers, whether in cities, countryside and towns, will share the same basic income as long as they are in the same professional rank," Lu Yugang, vice director of the personnel department of the Ministry of Education, said on an online interview at www.gov.cn.

The Communist Party of China and the central government had paid great attention to teachers' wages and issued a series of policies to raise their incomes, Lu said.

China's Compulsory Education Law which took effect last September stipulates that the local average wage for teachers should not be lower than that of civil servant.

Teachers' wages generally comprise two parts: "basic income" and "structural income" which varies according to rank, school and region.

Gao Weiwei, a math teacher at a Beijing middle school, told Xinhua that her "basic income" was around 600 yuan (US$79) per month, which was the same as Wang Cuixiang, a rural teacher in north province of Shanxi.

But Gao said she could earn about 4,000 yuan (US$526)per month, whereas Wang only earned a monthly wage of 1,700 yuan (US$223.7), showing a distinct gap in "structural income".

Even so, Wang, the rural teacher, earns more than her relatives and friends in Shanxi, a major coal production base. "Teachers are generally well paid and earn respect," she said.

"Overall teachers' incomes across the country have seen a 10 percent increase," Lu said, adding college graduates who teach in the countryside could get a boost in wages.

Lu said teachers in remote areas could get subsidies.

"The current income gap between rural and urban teachers rests with different allowance standards for teachers in different places," he said, adding the revised Compulsory Education Law called for a unified professional rank standard.

The government should also guarantee the living and working conditions for teachers, safeguard their interests and give them more "care", said Song Yonggang, vice director of the ministry's normal education department.

The central government will continue financial support to rural teachers in central, western and some eastern areas, and local governments should strengthen transfer payment to poor regions.

(Xinhua News Agency September 11, 2007)

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