Teacher's Day switch stirs debate

Updated: 2013-09-09 10:53


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In Taiwan, Sept 28 has been set as Teachers' Day for decades in commemoration of Confucius.

Since 1985, Teachers' Day has been designated as Sept 10, only a few days after the school year begins. It is an important day in China, where high value has traditionally been put on education and where teachers are widely respected.

For some years, experts and legislators have been promising to change the date of Teachers' Day. Li Hanqiu, a scholar in traditional Chinese culture, suggested in 2004 that Teachers' Day should have historical and cultural associations and should fall on the birthday of Confucius.

Although many applauded the change, some are still skeptical of the possible effects.

In an online survey at Sina.com, one of the country's major web portals, 66 percent of people support the change as of 4 pm Friday afternoon, as it avoids the hectic beginning of the new school year. The 30 percent who oppose the change mostly believe it is nothing but formalism.

"Compared with the date change, improving teachers' well-being is far more important," said Yan Jialong, principal of Yinshanfan Middle School in poor, mountainous Jinzhai county in East China's Anhui province.

Two new college graduates get only 1,500 yuan (243 US dollars) every month teaching in the township school, far less than their peers in urban schools, said Yan.

Yu Lu, an instructor at Yangzhou University in East China's Jiangsu province, said it is hard to accept the new date psychologically, as Teachers' Day has fallen on Sept 10 for almost three decades.

Meanwhile, Yu doubted if Confucius could receive general acceptance, as Teachers' Day should also be an international holiday.

The rising trend of parents and students sending gifts to teachers on Teachers' Day over the past decade has soured the holiday.

"I suggest canceling Teachers' Day, as it only tells children to give presents to teachers," said Qin Lan, an Internet user who posted on Sina Weibo, a Twitter-like microblogging service.

The essence of respecting teachers is respecting them in heart and in action, said Qiu Puzhong, another netizen.

Improving teachers' wages and benefits is a top priority for the government.

Salaries vary for Chinese teachers according to school level and the cities they teach in.

Teachers in a top middle school in Beijing can earn as much as 10,000 yuan (1,621 US dollars) a month, while their counterparts in poor village schools get less than 1,000 yuan a month.

Teacher's Day switch stirs debate

Teacher's Day switch stirs debate

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