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年过半百,经历坎坷.少年遇"文革",下乡八载,虽历经磨难,唯斗志不减,农耕间隙自学不辍,终守得云开日出,考进大学.大学毕业后先后经历了中学执教,国企管理,外企高管,最后回归重执教鞭.目前在家精心培养有志掌握英语的中小学生. 我最大的愿望就是看到孩子学有所成,桃李天下.

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我新发表的文章《代课教师需要公正待遇》  

2014-06-30 10:43:47|  分类: 默认分类 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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Justice for substitute teachers

 

Wu Guangqiang

 

QIN KAIMEI, a 42-year-old female teacher at a primary school at Haokou Township, Qianjiang City, Hubei Province, would have remained anonymous all her life if she had not heroically saved her young students from imminent death from a man who took them hostage on June 10 with explosives, a gun and a knife. 

Everyone who has heard of Qin’s heart-stopping experience of confronting the man marvels at her calmness and bravery. The hostage-taker, a 60-year-old local farmer who reportedly wanted to retaliate against an official, had spilled gasoline on the classroom floor and threatened to ignite it with a lighter in his hand if his demand was not met. 

Frightened at first, Qin calmed down and persuaded the man to release all the children on the condition that she stay with the man as a hostage, hence ensuring the safety of the children. Later, a local official volunteered to swap himself with Qin as a hostage. When the hostage-taker was about to hurt the official, he was shot dead by police. 

Qin’s heroism won her ample praise and honor, and her unexpected public exposure drew attention to her profession: a substitute teacher. 

Qin has worked as a substitute teacher for 26 years and has been laid off and rehired twice because of teacher shortages. Qin will become a regular teacher soon, thanks to her excellent performance. 

Qin’s story reminds me of another substitute teacher who was in the news. Zhang Lili from Harbin, Heilongjiang Province, saved two of her students from a runaway bus, only to lose both of her legs. She, like Qin, was deemed the “Most Beautiful Teacher.” 

Pathetically, despite their merits and dedication to education, both Qin and Zhang were unfairly treated as substitute teachers. They were paid half as much as regular teachers and enjoyed none of the benefits regular teachers are entitled to. Zhang was not even covered by a health plan as all regular teachers are. 

Congratulations to Qin and Zhang on becoming regular teachers, which means a better life for them, but the fates of hundreds of thousands of substitute teachers around the country remain unchanged. There has been a constant outcry for change in this unjust system, but if changes will be made is unclear. 

Substitute teachers have been around for a long time, and they exist even in developed countries like the U.S., the U.K. and Canada. But substitute teachers in Western countries are not the same as those in China. In America, a substitute teacher is a person who teaches a class only on a temporary basis when the regular teacher is unavailable because of illness, personal leave, or other reasons. But in China, a substitute teacher does everything that a regular teacher does for less pay and no benefits. Some substitute teachers may become regular teachers if they are lucky, but many of them work as substitute teachers for their entire career. Their job is so precarious that they can be fired at any minute. 

Many wonder how “substitute teachers” came into being and why this unfair practice is so persistent. 

The key cause is the “manning quota,” that is, limited positions of regular teachers who are funded by the State. Substitute teachers are commonly paid by local schools, which usually have limited funds. Due to the huge discrepancy between the limited manning quota and the actual number of teachers needed, particularly in rural areas, substitute teachers are used in large numbers. 

But there is widespread abuse of the manning quota nationwide. In a county in northern Anhui Province, the local government usurped 500 spots reserved for teachers for administrative staff. In rural areas, it is commonplace for State teacher openings to be taken by non-teachers so that these usurpers can enjoy all the benefits provided by the State. 

Some local governments take advantage of the substitute teacher system to save expenditures so they can have more money to splurge on their vanity projects and drinking binges. In the eyes of some local officials, substitute teachers are just cheap labor. 

It’s high time that this outdated and inhumane system be terminated. In an era when social harmony is our national goal, loopholes that allow inequality, prejudice and humiliation must be closed.

 

(The author is an English tutor and freelance writer.)

 

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