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Shanghai to take lead in improving teachers

By WANG HONGYI in Shanghai  (Chinadaily.com.cn)

14:26, September 14, 2012

Shanghai will take the lead in China to raise the qualifications of teachers.

Primary and middle school teachers will have to pass an assessment held once every five years to retain their jobs, under a program launched by Shanghai Municipal Education Commission.

Currently, teachers in China can retain teachers' certificates till retirement after passing the entry tests, unless they resign or are fired.

"The once-in-five-years evaluation system (in Shanghai) will motivate teachers to continuously improve themselves," said Zhou Jingtai, an official from the commission.

Starting this year, new teachers in Shanghai will need to receive a one-year training before they officially teach at a classroom.

This year, Shanghai will have more than 5,000 new teachers in middle and primary schools. Under the city's development plan for 2011-15 period, more than 800 middle and primary schools will be established, which means the number of teachers will continue to rise.

The training system, featuring lectures by veteran teachers, is important to improving the quality of new teachers, Zhou said.

Parents hailed the moves.

"A good teacher will have a positive effect on the growth of children. The evaluation every five years will push teachers to improve," said a man surnamed Yang, who has a 6-year-old son.

"Students and parents should also be part of the evaluation system. They should be allowed to make comments and give suggestions to teachers," he said.

Zhang Zhiyun, an editor at Shanghai Education Publishing House, said the quality of teacher will be much important for enlightening students, and a regular evaluation is necessary.

But teachers appear less enthusiastic about the new policies.

They will have "very limted effect," said Yu Zhouyuan, a teacher of English in the city's Qingpu district. "Teachers have very huge stress during daily work. Such evaluation will only add burden."

"Each teacher has his or her own characteristics and teaching method. If want to improve teachers' comprehensive ability, authorities should make more targeted training and have an assessment system that is based on teachers' different characteristics," he said.

Tan Qiulin, vice-president of High School Affiliated to Shanghai Jiao Tong University in Jiading district, worries that the evaluation system will turn out to be a mere formality.

The Shanghai education commission did not provide details about the assessment.

Zhang said the assessment should focus on teachers' daily work in the classroom, and reflect their practical ability.

Other measures Shanghai is taking to improve the quality of teaching include joining a unified national certificate test for aspiring teachers.

Previously, those applying to become teachers in Shanghai only needed to pass the entry test organized by the city.

The city will also encourage teachers to train overseas. According to the plan, about 320 Shanghai teachers will sent to study at training centers in countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany. They will receive a subsidy of 100,000 yuan ($15,800) from the government.

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