On September 8, the MOE held a press conference to present progress and achievements in teacher workforce development and national supportive measures in this regard. Officials of related government bodies attended the conference.
According to the latest statistics, China has 17.9297 million teachers in total, a figure up by 609,400 or 3.52% on the previous year. Within this rise, the increase in the number of teachers in special education, pre-school education and higher education increased by 6.11%, 5.44% and 5.34%, respectively.
Ren Youqun, Director of the MOE’s Department of Teacher Education, stated that the Special Teaching Post Project planned to hire 84,300 teachers this year, and that the Project had provided 1.03 million teachers for rural schools in Central and Western China since its inception 16 years ago. A special project for bringing retired teachers and headmasters back into education and initiated in 2018 has to date contributed an additional headcount of around 10,000 education professionals to teach in primary and junior middles schools in rural areas. In 2021, the Project aims to recruit 4,500 retired teachers and headmasters to serve in 18 central and western provincial-level regions.
An MOE program launched in 2020, also selected 146 “senior” teachers from 61 MOE-affiliated HEIs to work in the western part of China. Ren Youqun said that in 2021, 300 retired professors and associate professors from 75 HEIs would be sent to support teaching and research in 10 beneficiary HEIs in western China.
Ren added that, with more optimized faculty management and improved teacher compensation in recent years, average salaries of compulsory education teachers had been aligned with those of local public servants at least in budget. By the end of 2020, the policy of life subsidies for rural teachers had been implemented in all 725 counties in concentrated destitute areas of 22 Central and Western Chinese provinces, covering around 80,000 rural schools and benefiting 1.298 million teachers. Influenced by the state policy, in 2020, another 1.056 impoverished counties had also provided living allowances to rural teachers, which was ensured by local public finance.
In July, 2021, nine government bodies jointly launched a program to train outstanding teachers for under-developed areas in Central and Western China, aiming to recruit annually about 10,000 normal university students from 832 Central and Western Chinese counties lifted out of poverty or located in border areas.
In 2010, the MOE and the Ministry of Finance jointly launched the National Training Program for Preschool, Primary and Secondary School Teachers. Over the past decade, the Program has trained over 1.7 million teachers and headmasters. According to Ren, in the 14th Five-Year Plan period (2021-2025), the Program will focus on support for rural schools in the underdeveloped central and western parts of China and plan to provide training to at least 4 million teachers and headmasters.
The MOE also announced that it was planning to join forces with other state agencies to implement a Teacher Workforce Enhancement Program in the new era, to secure a talent pipeline for quality education.