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Headmasters Face Grades to Get Ahead

Zhongshan government officials have decided to scrap executive titles and administrative ranks for headmasters of the city's primary and middle schools this year.

Instead, a new academic rank system will be introduced to help assess and grade headmasters, an official from the city's Bureau of Education said.

Primary and middle school headmasters in China have held their administrative ranks for decades, despite calls for returning to respect for the law in education and a reduction in government meddling.

The new academic rank system will divide the city's headmasters into five different academic ranks based on their academic standards and performances, the official said.

The new system will come into effect in September in this city in South China's Guangdong Province when the autumn school term begins.

The monthly salary gap between different academic ranks will be 1,500 yuan (US$180), according to the official who declined to be named.

Headmasters will also be awarded with special bonuses if they perform well, he said.

"The move aims to let the city's headmasters become professional personnel, scholars and experts, like their counterparts overseas," he told China Daily last weekend.

And the new academic rank system will break the "iron bowl" of the past in evaluating the city's headmasters to encourage them to do a better job in their posts through competition, he added.

The city's Bureau of Education has established a special task force to take responsibility for assessing and grading the city's headmasters.

The group includes government officials, senior professors and teachers and other professionals.

"The headmasters will be promoted to an upper rank every three years if they are qualified," he said.

But those who are not qualified will be demoted, or even removed from their posts, the official said.

The headmasters' work will be annually assessed.

The new academic rank system would help further improve Zhongshan's primary and middle school educational standard and contribute to the city's economic development, education officials believe.

Zhongshan has now more than 300 primary and middle school headmasters.

Academic rank

And Zhongshan will become the first city to introduce such a new academic rank system in Guangdong Province which borders Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions.

Currently the headmasters in Guangdong Province are actually officials ranking from village, township to even county levels.

Some of them are concurrently officials of local government, People's Congress and Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the official said.

And their income and other welfare treatment are almost the same as local government officials and civil servants.

An official from Guangdong Provincial Bureau of Education said the new academic rank system will not cover the whole province in the near future, saying that the conditions are not ripe.

But for a long-term development plan, the new academic rank system would be introduced in all the cities and counties in the province in the following years to keep in line with international practice, he said.

Most of the headmasters in overseas metropolises have no administrative ranks at all, he said.

And an official from Guangzhou Municipal Bureau of Education also denied that his bureau would scrap all the administrative rank for all the headmasters in the Guangdong provincial capital in the near future.

(China Daily June 21, 2004)

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