China has recruited nearly 17,000 new teachers to serve in rural areas teaching children for their nine years' compulsory education, according to Wang Xumin, Chinese Ministry of Education spokesman.
Of those 17,000, a total of 68.4 percent are university graduates, said Wang Xuming at a regular press conference on October 25. This represents an increase in graduate recruitment of 86 percent over the previous year.
China launched a special teaching program last year to encourage Chinese university graduates to act as teachers in the rural areas for compulsory education including education at primary school and junior high school levels.
The program, co-funded by central and local governments, recruits college graduates to serve a three-year term in rural schools and also offer them favorable policies for their future careers after they leave their teaching posts.
Under this program, the central government allocated 15,000 yuan (around US$2,000) for each teacher recruited, and if the average yearly income in certain areas is higher than 15,000 yuan, the local government must allocate money to subsidize these teachers. And this year, the central government input has been increased to 18,960 yuan per person annually.
By now, 32,700 teachers have been recruited for the program, including 23,500 in junior high schools and 9,200 in primary schools.
"The quality of the teachers is crucial to education in rural areas and this program not only provides lots of qualified teachers for rural schools, but is also an innovative way of recruiting teachers," Wang said.
The Party and central government have attached great importance to education in rural areas, he said.
"Since 2006, the central government has exempted rural students from tuition and miscellaneous fees for compulsory education in central and western regions. This year, this policy has been expanded to all rural areas in the country," he noted.
Tuition fees range from 140 yuan to 180 yuan a year for primary schools, to 180 Yuan to 230 yuan for junior high schools.
(Xinhua News Agency October 27, 2007)