Male teachers needed at Chinese kindergartens

It's that time of the year again, when millions of college graduates in China brace themselves for the brutally competitive job market. But if you're a male graduate, at least one profession welcomes you with open arms.

A young man, in a traditionally female profession.

Liu Qiang graduated from college this year and holds a black belt in Taekwondo. He's been interning at this kindergarten in Northeast China since last year, and intends to make it a full-time job.

Liu Qiang, intern of Harbin Shangzhi kindergarten, said, "This profession is in urgent need of men. Male teachers are very popular."

His male colleague Wang Zhongshan says he decided to stay, not because he's needed, but because he loves what he does.

Wang Zhongshan, intern of Harbin Shangzhi kindergarten, said, " This is what I enjoy doing. I love kids."

Male teachers are rare at Chinese preschools, rarer at kindergartens in China. With five campuses, 1800 students and 320 teachers and staff, this kindergarten in Harbin has just six male teachers.

Song Liling, president of Harbin Shangzhi kindergarten, said, "If our choice comes down to one male teacher and another female, we would almost certainly go for the male. There are simply too few of them."

From lecturing basic physics, to leading outdoor activities, to fixing office supplies. Experts say the presence of male teachers is crucial to a pre-school education.

Male teachers receive credits from the other side of the schooling process.

Despite the high demand and praise, male teachers are in incredibly short supply in this country.

According to statistics, only 3000 male teachers work in China's preschools and kindergartens. That's one male in 300 teachers. Many of them switch careers in just a few years because of low income, high pressure and difficulty in finding spouses, because of the social bias towards this profession.

Sheng Jie, teacher of Harbin Shangzhi kindergarten, said, "I have also thought of leaving this job. But seeing my students grow makes me happy. That's why I have decided to stay."

June 13, 2013

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