Anger over Substitute Teacher Dismissals

The planned dismissal of 448,000 substitute throughout China has generated angry comments from netizens. A few days ago, ChinaHush translated news reports about the lay-offs and posted photos illustrating the difficult lives of China’s substitute teachers:

Starting 2010, 448,000 substitute teachers in China will be laid off (The word 清退 [qīng tuì] is used in the news. I looked up 清退in the dictionary it means to give back something that does not belong). Most of the already laid off teachers are struggling with difficult lives. And the teachers who are waiting to be laid off do not ask for more compensation, but they only want to leave with dignity, and hope that there will still be teachers for the children after they leave. Netizens are outraged, an article on Tianya (translated below) generated over 4000 comments in a day, and this post has also been re-posted all over the Chinese Internet. After the article, there are also pictures showing the hardships of these substitute teachers, so please keep scrolling.

A video on Youku follows one substitute teacher in a mountainous region of Sichuan. The video is in Chinese, but an English introduction has been posted on Youku Buzz:

The video above centers on a substitute teacher named Ge Yongxiu in Jiaomuiniu Village in Jinchuan County, Sichuan–a mountain village in a Tibetan cultural region of the province. She’s been a substitute teacher for 29 years. According to one of the comments by 凌海柏洋 (and we’re not sure of the accuracy of this), she only failed the college entrance exams by half a point, so she was unable to attend either Sichuan Normal University or Aba Normal Vocational College. When she started teaching in 1980, her salary was only 6.50 yuan a month — less than $2 at the exchange rate at the time. She now earns 500 yuan a month (about $70) a month, about one-sixth of what a minor government bureaucrat in Sichuan’s Tibetan regions makes. She says that she’s the breadwinner in her family of four (her children are both in high school), because her husband was injured in a fall and is unable to work a normal job.

Ironically, one of the textbooks that the children are reading is called Wei Zhonghua zhi jueqi er dushu, or “Study for the Rise of China.”

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