by Zhang Wan -

When we think of kindergarten teachers, the first image that pops into our heads is usually of tender, versatile women. But nowadays more male teachers are willing to work in kindergartens and doing a great job. Still, many schools say it’s difficult to retain male kindergarten teachers because of low salaries and inadequate employee benefits. Zhang Wan takes a closer look.

Many kindergarten children in Nanjing city say they prefer to be taught by male teachers rather than female ones.

One boy says he likes male teachers, because they are stronger when it comes to physical education classes. (upsound) One girl says male teachers are handsome and can run faster than female teachers.

Lu Xianmin, the head of a kindergarten in Nanjing, says there are indeed some advantages with having male teachers.

“Children get more physical education with male teachers. Also male teachers can help them to become brave, persistent and lively in characters.”

Although the significant role that male teachers play in preschool children education is widely recognized by the public, there are less than 50 men teaching at public kindergartens in Nanjing.

Some of them have turned to other jobs after two or three years of working as a preschool teacher. Sun Yimin, head of another kindergarten, explains why.

“In daily communication among teachers, male teachers feel that it is difficult to be part of that. They tend to be lonely in kindergartens as most their colleagues are female.”

Zhao Rui, who was the first male kindergarten teacher in Nanjing, has become headmaster of a kindergarten in the city. He says there are several factors that cause male kindergarten teachers to abandon the classroom.

“On the one hand, male kindergarten teachers have yet to become recognized by society. On the other hand, men often play a very important role in supporting their families financially, but in kindergartens they don’t earn what they expect.”

Zhen Xiaolong is a kindergarten teacher in Nanjing. He says he enjoys the happiness his job brings him.

“I wish more men would be willing to work as male kindergarten teachers, as this is a very good job and will make you feel very happy.”

With fierce competition in the job market in recent years and more privileged enrollment policies for students who major in preschool education, more male college graduates have been willing to try their hand at teaching kindergarten.

But although teaching kindergarten has become more attractive for young men, there are some obstacles that schools face in trying to retain them. Lu Xianmin, head of a kindergarten in Nanjing, explains.

“First, it’s because of the low wages and benefits. Second, some male teachers who work in kindergartens are not included in the staff quota.”

Teachers who are included in the staff quotas authorized by local education authorities receive salaries and benefits directly from the national education budget. However, teachers who are not included in staff quotas receive their salaries from the schools in which they work, which are usually lower than that from the government.

Sun Yimin, head of a kindergarten in Nanjing, says nowadays many kindergartens want to have a higher number of male teachers rather than just one or two, so they can involve them in the school’s development.