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Retired teachers return to keep shining in sector

Recruitment to make full use of their experience for high-quality education

By ZHAO YIMENG | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2024-02-28 08:58

China aims to draft 20,000 retired teachers every year and make full use of their experience to support high-quality teaching, according to a circular recently released by the Ministry of Education.

The experienced teachers are encouraged to help private schools — especially at higher education institutes, and in western areas or regions with ethnic minority populations — to cultivate the professionals urgently needed in industries and enterprises, the circular said.

The teachers will provide supportive services in teaching and academic research for no less than one year, and qualified teachers are encouraged to stay on long term, it added.

The services mainly focus on course instruction, teaching guidance and building teachers' teams, supplemented by lectures and online education.

China launched an action plan targeting retired teachers in 2018, aiming to make up for a shortage of teachers in primary and secondary schools. In 2020, the plan was expanded to higher education institutes, especially at newly established universities in less-developed western areas.

Last year, the National Silver-Age Teacher Action Plan was released by 10 departments including the education ministry.

More than 20,000 retired teachers from primary and secondary schools and 1,400 retired university lecturers have been recruited, the ministry said in November.

It is estimated that about 120,000 retired teachers will be covering higher, vocational, basic and lifelong education in three years under the initiative.

Ding Houyi retired in 2017 and now works at a primary school in Tonggu county, Jiangxi province. The 67-year-old devotes himself to teaching calligraphy, delivering lectures and organizing after-class activities.

Ding gives lectures responding to the policy of reducing students' burdens from homework and extracurricular training, initiating multiple plans for after-school activities and art education.

"Returning to classes after retirement is a lucky chance," he said. "It's worthwhile to make a contribution to the education sector and participate in school business as we should never stop learning."

Li Yiling, a media commentator focusing on education, said dispatching retired teachers to private schools shows the country's supportive attitude to nongovernmental education, which also shoulders the responsibility of public service.

Supporting private schools with retired teachers is an important measure to promote the high-quality development of nongovernmental education, Li told Red Star News, a news outlet based in Chengdu, Sichuan province.

With more diverse disciplines, nongovernmental higher education institutes have nurtured talent with professional skills but are not entirely recognized by society. High-quality teaching resources have been a bottleneck for them.

"One of the goals of the plan is to support private colleges and vocational institutes that lack qualified teachers," Li said.

Detailed plans for dispatching retired teachers to other teaching positions, such as vocational education and lifelong learning, are being studied and will be released soon, according to the ministry.

By the end of 2022, China had 18.8 million full-time teachers in schools at all levels, according to statistics released by the Ministry of Education.

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