The Ministry of Education has, in cooperation with five other state agencies including the Organization Department of the CPC Central Committee, the State Commission Office for Public Sector Reform, the National Development and Reform Commission, the Ministry of Finance, and the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, issued a Circular on Reinforcing Rural Teacher Development in the New Era. The Circular outlines targeted innovative measures focusing on gaps and shortfalls in the context of poverty reduction in support of rural revitalization, in a bid to achieve sustainable supply of trained teachers and ensure equal access to quality education in rural areas.
The Circular stresses the need for building capacity and motivating teachers to dedicate their careers to teaching in rural areas, and increasing opportunities for their career development. Specifically, the document calls for (1) stronger teacher ethics, political awareness, attachment to their workplace, and leadership capacity in rural development; (2) innovative teacher training models reflecting the needs of rural education, better public-funded teacher training programs, and incentive-based teacher education institution enrollment of rural students; (3) reinforced rural teacher training through the development of an integrated professional development system for rural teachers covering teacher development institutions at all levels, professional teacher development base schools, and Famous Teacher/Principal/Tutor Offices; and (4) use of new technologies such as 5G and AI to optimize teacher training curriculum reform, implement the IT application capacity building project 2.0 for primary and middle school teachers, and strengthen county-level public service platforms for educational resources.
The Circular also emphasizes the importance of deepening reform in rural teacher management, alleviating talent shortages in rural schools, and increasing supplies of rural teachers. It maintains focus on: (1) tapping the potential of innovative public school teacher management, by encouraging local education authorities to explore job rotation systems, making full use of existing teaching positions in rural schools, and adjusting them in accordance with the overall priorities across cities or counties and academic subjects; (2) keeping urban-rural integrated management channels open and clear, by improving county-wide rotation systems and deepening reforms to realize centralized management of teachers by county-level governments and decentralized employment of teachers by local public schools, while improving urban-rural rotation mechanisms in both directions and recruiting rural teachers through multiple avenues; (3) increasing career development opportunities and adopting favorable policies in professional title appraisal for rural teachers; (4) cultivating leadership in rural education, through capacity building in principals of rural schools and implementation of the Master Teacher Plan in Rural Primary and Middle Schools in Central and Western China; and (5) creating an inclusive environment for teacher development, by carrying out Programs of Masters of Education in Rural Schools and other policies in the education system.
The Circular also puts a high priority on ensuring rural teachers enjoy proper welfare and the social status commensurate with their role and providing adequate assurance for their career development. It calls for: (1) an increase in the social status of teachers, by researching on the issue of rural teacher development, offering incentives to engage more rural teachers in rural governance and rural revitalization, and increasing publicity and giving more honorary awards to boost morale in rural teachers; (2) rises in the average salaries of teachers to the level of local public servants, optimizing the system of performance related pay to favor small-scale rural schools, boarding schools, and schools in ethnic minority areas and poverty-stricken border areas, providing differentiated life subsidies to rural teachers working in concentrated destitute areas, and gradually improve housing, health care, assistance policies for rural teachers to increase their sense of gain; and (3) optimization of professional development for young teachers, by launching diversified rural teacher development programs, offering cultural and moral guidance, and encouraging their voluntary engagement in rural communities.
The next steps will include: (1) strengthening coordination and synergies with other government agencies under the lead of educational authorities; (2) setting clear roles and responsibilities and securing funds to ensure all policy measures are put into practice; and (3) building a high-performing, vigorous workforce of adequate teachers who are dedicated to serving rural areas.