By Yu Dan - Women of China

As the millions of students are busy choosing their future universities after the National College Entrance Examination, the news of free teacher’s training places for male students in southeast China’s Fujian Province has attracted much attention.

According to the official document issued by Fujian Provincial Education Department along with other three local departments, five teacher’s training universities in the province will launch a pilot project by enrolling 500 male students in total and providing them with a free education in primary and kindergarten schooling.

The project reflects a problem facing primary and kindergarten education in China today — gender imbalance prevails and is especially rife in the youngest places of learning. The measures call for more male teachers to join the profession, revealed Xu Zhihuai, director of student recruitment and employment at Minnan Normal University, a participant institution of the project.

According to statistics, female teachers make up 61.6 percent in Fujian’s primary schools, rising to 83.2 percent in the urban areas. Kindergartens are confronted with a worse situation and most have failed to any recruit male teachers for years.

Unsatisfactory pay, low social status and limited career prospects are the main causes of fewer male teachers at primary schools and kindergartens, pointed out experts at Fujian Academy of Social Sciences.

To strengthen “masculine” education has become one of the biggest challenges facing schools. In this context, the Fujian provincial government has initiated the project in the hope of easing the severe gender imbalance among primary and kindergarten staff.

In addition to free education, accommodation and generous grants, the male students will also be assured of the full support of the local government in employment. They will be invited to exclusive job fairs with as many positions available as graduates.

For those having failed to find a job at the fairs, they will be provided with offers of teaching at public primary schools or kindergartens in their hometowns. Moreover, graduates who have taught for two years in their hometowns will be recommended as postgraduate candidates exempt from admission exams.

On the other hand, male students in the project must sign a contract with the local education department and vow to teach for at least ten years in primary schools or kindergartens. If they default on their promise, students would be liable to reimburse all the fees exempted during their education, along with a penalty sum.

(Source: China News Service/Translated and edited by Women of China)