"Teaching is the most splendid profession under the sun," said Premier Wen Jiabao on Tuesday, while meeting with a group of elementary and high school teachers at his office in central Beijing, to mark Teachers' Day, which falls on September 10 every year in China.
Premier Wen Jiabao (front) talks with a teacher as he shows a group of elementary and high school teachers around in the Zhongnanhai compound, where both the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and the State Council are headquartered in central Beijing on September 9, 2008. Teachers' Day falls on September 10 every year in China. [Xinhua]
Prior to their meeting, Wen showed his visitors around at the former office room of late Premier Zhou Enlai, in the Zhongnanhai compound, where both the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and the State Council are headquartered.
As a beloved State and Party leader for the Chinese people, Zhou has been a banner for all with his lofty character and style, said the premier, who is also a member of the Standing Committee of the CPC Central Committee Political Bureau.
During their talks, the premier asked the guests to give their comments on the proposed long-term outline on the country's educational reform and development.
Tan Guoqiang, principal of the Yingxiu Elementary School in Wenchuan County of Sichuan Province, urged the government to deal with the issues of payment, academic titles and housing for rural teachers.
Wen told Tan that the government will give top priority to rural education and improve the teaching conditions in the countryside by "building schools in the safest places."
Wenchuan was the epicenter of the deadly May 12 earthquake, which left more than 80,000 dead or missing and millions of homeless, including thousands of young students who died in collapsed school buildings.
Tan is the only one among the eight visitors to come from outside Beijing. The other seven also gave their opinions on a series of issues including the current educational reform, and professional training, compulsory education for schoolchildren of migrant workers from rural areas.
In his speech, the premier urged entrepreneurs to contribute more to the educational sector. "For entrepreneurs, the best way to pay back society is to invest in education," he said, in reply to a proposal by Liu Pengzhi, president of a local high school, who called for multiplying the resources of investment for education.
Wen supported Zhong Zhu, a 33-year old teacher from the No. 35 Middle School of Beijing, in his call for establishing parental schools and increasing awareness about responsibilities, rights and psychological health among students. He urged teachers to love students, students to respect teachers, and society to give priority to education.
"Set students free, and not only allow them more hours to play, as well as give them more time to conduct sporting, thinking, practicing, and understanding society," said the premier.
In his keynote address, Wen called education a "foundation stone" for the nation. China will be built into a first-class country with a first-class education system and first-class talents, he stressed.
Teachers should be far-sighted, patriotic and faithful to their profession, said the premier. He urged teachers to set a good example for students, be more creative so that they can train more creative talents, and make greater efforts to obtain new knowledge to keep pace with the times.
At the end of his speech, Wen showed his profound gratefulness, love and respect for teachers, especially those working in remote, rural and poverty-stricken areas.
After the talks, Wen had a brief lunch with his visitors.