China regulates teachers' conduct
Last Updated: 2013-11-30 08:10 | Xinhua
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Chinese educational authorities have moved to further regulate teachers' conduct, vowing to punish those who use corporal punishment, molest students, accept bribes or earn additional money by giving lectures outside school.

A draft document issued by the Ministry of Education on Friday to solicit public opinion before Dec. 18 specifies a code of conduct for primary and middle school teachers.

The 10 offences for which teachers will face punishment are: comments or actions against Party and state policies; refusing to take care of students' safety in emergencies; treating students unfairly; cheating or seeking personal gains in student enrolment, teaching assessment, promotion or academic studies; using corporal punishment; humiliating or discriminating against students; molesting students; accepting bribes; seeking profits by forcing students to buy teaching materials; giving paid lectures outside school.

Penalties include giving warning, demerits, demotion or dismissal, according to the draft, which regulates teachers working in kindergartens, primary and middle schools, vocational schools, children's activity centers and other educational institutions.

The document responds to an increasing number of reports of teachers violating codes of conduct. Since the start of 2012, the media has exposed 48 cases of teachers using corporal punishment, with 33 of them occurring in 2013.

A spate of sexual assaults involving teachers and their students has particularly shocked the nation. A 62-year-old primary school teacher in east China's Jiangxi Province was sentenced to 14 years in jail in October for molesting seven second-grade girls in class and infecting six of them with STDs.

The media has also focused on Fan Meizhong, a middle school teacher who ran for his life when an 8.0-magnitude earthquake struck southwest China's Wenchuan County on May 12, 2008, leaving his students behind in the classroom. Fan, who was nicknamed "running Fan" by netizens, was fired and fiercely criticized across the nation, with the story triggering heated public debate about teachers' performance.

To prevent corporal punishment, authorities should introduce peer evaluation and supervision by parents committees in order to safeguard students' interests, said Xiong Bingqi, deputy head of the 21st Century Education Research Institute.

Meanwhile, parents' giving of gifts to teachers has come under fire as an example of society's bribing culture. Meng Fanhua, vice president of Capital Normal University, said accepting gifts has become an important channel for teachers to gain economic profits, which ruins the educational environment and equity.

The teacher-student relationship should be "pure and sacred" and gifts sent by students should embody heartfelt wishes, such as greeting cards or handwritten letters, Meng said.

The expert suggested setting a limit on the value of gifts accepted by teachers by referring to bribery rules for national civil servants.

The Ministry of Education's document also stipulates that teachers who seek personal gains by asking students to attend additional classes outside school should be punished. However, experts also suggested teachers' salaries be guaranteed and should not be lower than that of local government workers so that they can devote themselves to their jobs.

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