4ft 7in trainee teacher in China falls short of diploma because of her height

University blames rules enforced by the province’s education department for refusing to pass the student, four years after she enrolled

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 03 July, 2018, 6:35pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 03 July, 2018, 7:20pm

A province in China is considering abolishing height requirements for teachers after a student with an education degree was denied her teaching qualification because she is less than 1.5 metres (4ft 11in) tall, a state news website has reported.

The student, who is 1.4 metres tall and was identified only by her surname of Li, was told she had failed the teaching qualification test after a medical examination in mid June, according to Cnwest.com on Wednesday.

Female applicants should be at least 1.5 metres tall and males 1.55 metres to become qualified teachers in the central Chinese province of Shaanxi, the education department’s rules state.

“My four years in college will be for nothing and I may even breach the tuition waiver agreement with the school if I cannot get the teaching qualification,” Li was quoted as saying. She was admitted as an English major student at Shaanxi Normal University in 2014.

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Students who enrol for teaching degrees in certain universities and sign contracts to become teachers in public schools after graduation receive full scholarship, which covers their tuition fee and living expenses, the report said.

“The university should have informed me four years ago when I was admitted,” Li was quoted as saying.

“The university is just doing what it was told to do,” a spokesperson for Shaanxi Normal University told the website. “We are not rule-makers. We follow the instructions of the Shaanxi Education Department.

“It’s not just [Li]. There have been students who failed to receive teaching qualifications due to height every year.”

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An official surnamed Yang from the education department told the website there were reasons for the height requirement. “We have set a relatively low standard for elementary and secondary schoolteachers,” Yang said.

“We will handle this case accordingly and plan to drop the requirement for good next year.”

Shaanxi would be the latest of several provinces to remove the height requirement for teachers, following others including Sichuan, Guangxi and Jiangxi. There is no national height requirement for teachers and each province makes its own ruling.

The official said her department has asked universities to notify incoming students about the height requirement.