Elite Chinese school tells would-be primary teachers they must have a PhD to get a job

  • Beijing school affiliated to country’s leading scientific academy is latest to set the bar high when looking for new staff members
  • Exclusive educational institutes are increasingly willing to pay more for highly qualified teachers, even though it widens gap between haves and have-nots
PUBLISHED : Saturday, 08 December, 2018, 6:01pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 08 December, 2018, 10:52pm

One of Beijing’s leading schools has said it will only hire people with PhDs to work as teachers in its primary and middle schools.

The Experimental School, which is affiliated to the Chinese Academy of Sciences, posted a recruitment notice on its website last Thursday, stating that all available positions need a PhD qualification related to the teaching subject.

The school, in the exclusive district of Chaoyang in the heart of Beijing, is currently hiring teachers for subjects including physical education, maths, English, and “morality and law” for its primary and middle school.

Other requirements include a stellar academic record, a high-level teaching qualification, and a “patriotic and law-abiding” mindset.

The requirement is in line with other elite schools in China’s top-tier cities, which also demand highly qualified staff and are usually willing to offer generous salaries to attract them.

But the trend risks widening the gap between the haves and have-nots as underfunded rural schools struggle to secure sufficient staff or equipment.

The Experimental School’s latest recruitment drive has seen it post similar adverts on the employment websites of some of the country’s leading universities, such as Shandong Normal University.

Chinese education bosses sacked after exam results outcry

The PhD-only requirement was confirmed by a recruiter at the school surnamed Liu, who did not give further details about the salary on offer.

“The salary is dependent on the requirements of each position as well as the qualifications of the candidate,” said Liu.

Similar teaching positions at the Beijing 21st Century International School offer salaries of 100,000 to 140,000 yuan per year (US$14,400-US$20,100), according to the recruitment website Liepin.

By contrast, starting salaries at some rural schools can be as low as 1,000 or 2,000 yuan a month.

The job listing also states that teachers are given “a wide variety of high-level specialist training to promote the improvement of their specialist accomplishments”.

The science-focused school was established by the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and the Beijing Chaoyang district educational committee in 2014.

It educates pupils between the ages of six and 15, and currently has 2,275 students and 260 teachers according to the recruitment notice.

The listing also boasts that students receive regular visiting lectures from Nobel Prize winners and top scientists at the CAS and Chinese Academy of Engineering.

The CAS is China’s largest and most prestigious research institution dedicated to science and technology, with over 60,000 researchers at branches all over the country.

Elite school overturns admission changes after parents’ backlash

The strict requirement is a sign that the race for the best teaching talent is heating up in China’s elite schools, which are known for having incredibly competitive entry standards.

Teaching positions at Tsinghua University High School in Beijing are only open to graduating master’s students and upwards, while the Affiliated High School of Peking University requires applicants to have exceptional bachelor degree results at the very least.

Both high schools in Beijing are known as China’s top academies, and are attached to its two leading universities – which are often compared to MIT and Harvard or Oxbridge.

Meanwhile, Shanghai High Schools requires its teachers to have a master’s degree or PhD – except for graduates with a bachelor’s degree from Tshinghua or Peking.

Wang Dan, a professor of education at the University of Hong Kong, believes that these elite requirements for teachers are the result of market forces in China’s booming education sector.

“The expansion of higher education has resulted in more university graduates, and people with master’s and PhD degrees are becoming more and more common,” said Wang.

Chinese parents spend up to US$43,500 a year on after-school classes

“The market simply cannot absorb so many people with high educational qualifications, so many of these people may be willing to teach in primary and middle schools.

“Therefore, this creates a niche for elite primary schools that can take in these highly qualified teachers who have not been able to find work elsewhere.”

Elite schools are often concentrated in major Chinese cities, and benefit from attracting the best talent through their geographical location and reputation, added Wang.

As the teaching quality continues to reach new heights in prestigious urban schools, underfunded rural schools will inevitably struggle to catch up.

The Chinese government has launched several policies in recent years to reduce the urban-rural education gap, but experts have said that this is due to economic inequality between urban and rural areas.

“I can’t say that these schools’ requirements are unreasonable, but the market allocation of teaching talent definitely results in more and more unequal conditions,” said Wang.