The Asian Voice

PhD holders teaching in schools a positive trend: China Daily contributor

The writer says there is increasing recognition of the teaching profession while also proving the success of the popularisation of higher education in China.

Students listen to a teacher on the first day of the new semester in Wuhan on Sept 1, 2021.
Students listen to a teacher on the first day of the new semester in Wuhan on Sept 1, 2021.PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING (CHINA DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Recently, the story of a candidate looking for a teacher's job in one of the top middle schools in Shenzhen went viral.

She said four out of the seven finalists for the post of biology teachers were PhDs, and she heard that for chemistry, all the finalists were PhDs.

The news attracted a lot of discussions online, with many saying that PhDs recruited as middle school teachers were a waste of talent.

Actually this is not the first time that PhDs have been recruited in the primary education system. Earlier reports have revealed that some top middle schools, sometimes even primary schools, have recruited PhDs or postgraduates from Tsinghua University and Peking University, two of the top Chinese higher education institutions.

Such news always captures the Internet, as many people still cling to the stereotype that someone with a doctorate should spend their career in research or something more higher, at least not just teaching children.

We are all taught that every profession is noble, but sadly, we still categorise work as noble and low. And unfortunately, for many years, teaching has remained a low-paid job, complex yet without much pay.

As a result, most talents are reluctant to choose teaching as a career. Therefore compared with other careers, the threshold for becoming a teacher is quite low.

However, with the popularisation of higher education in China, the education level for teachers is increasing gradually. According to the Ministry of Education, as of 2019, 97.3 per cent of primary school teachers had an associate degree or higher, 87.4 per cent of junior high school teachers had a four-year college degree or higher.

In that sense, the phenomenon of PhDs recruited as teachers shows an increasing recognition of the teaching profession while also proving the success of the popularisation of higher education in China.

Recruiting more talents to the primary education system should be a trend. Teaching is indeed a complex job. It involves not only knowledge transfer. It is the job of a teacher to teach problem-solving, teamwork, to encourage initiative, and to build self-esteem. It is a career that can shape the next generation.

More talents becoming teachers will improve the quality of education and inspire more students in every way.

However, we should also be vigilant against the involution of the job market. Recruiters should always choose the best candidate, not the one with highest academic title. Anyway, nobility is not in the profession, but in the individual.

  • The writer is a contributor for the paper. China Daily is a member of The Straits Times media partner Asia News Network, an alliance of 23 news media titles.