The Ministry of Education released an updated code of ethics for primary and middle school teachers on Tuesday, with a new rule instructing teachers to "take care of their students' safety."
The ministry issued draft rules in June for public comment. After two months of collecting opinions, the ministry decided to add new content, such as "teachers should pay more attention to the health of students".
Chinese netizens conducted a heated debate about how teachers should ensure their students' safety even before the draft rules were released.
Fan Meizhong, a middle school teacher in the earthquake-hit Dujiangyan City in southwest China's Sichuan Province, triggered the debate. He ran for his life when the 8.0-magnitude earthquake struck on May 12, and left his students behind in the classroom.
Fan was nicknamed "running Fan" by netizens, most of whom criticized his behavior. Others thought it was understandable.
Some of Fan's colleagues gave their lives protecting students and were labeled by the government and media as model teachers. Fan was fired by his school shortly after the earthquake.
Most of the people who commented online on the draft rules agreed that "teachers should protect their students first".
Ministry officials said they had been considering a safety rule since 2004. The case of "running Fan" merely reinforced their decision, they said.
Also, compared with the old ethics code, which was revised in 1997, the new rules require teachers to "be patient with students and teach in accordance with each individual student's ability".
Teachers are also required to respect students' parents and be "good team workers", broaden their minds and keep their knowledge up to date, the new rules state.
(Xinhua News Agency September 4, 2008)