A recruitment advertisement offering schoolteachers in southern China the chance to earn up to 280,000 yuan (US$39,500) a year – more than three times the industry average – has sparked a massive response on social media. Published by the Longhua district education bureau in Shenzhen , Guangdong province, the advert said it was looking for 400 high, middle and primary schoolteachers. As well as an annual salary of between 260,000 yuan and 280,000 yuan, depending on qualifications, the very best candidates would receive a bonus of between 30,000 and 80,000 yuan, it said. New recruits would also be entitled to 165 days’ leave per year, though the advert – published on Tuesday on WeChat, China’s most popular messaging platform – did not make clear if that included weekends. The hashtag “Shenzhen middle schoolteachers are being recruited for almost 300,000 yuan a year” racked up almost 60 million views on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like platform. While some people praised the authority for trying to attract the best possible candidates – it said itself that hundreds of teachers currently working in the district were graduates of China’s top universities, including Peking and Beijing Normal – others said that even with a sky-high salary most young professionals would find it hard to get by in Shenzhen. “Do you know how expensive houses are in Shenzhen?” one person wrote on Weibo. “You need to wait several years after graduation before buying a house, unless you already have money.” “Even if your starting salary is 200,000 yuan or 300,000 yuan, you’ll still need to wait 10 years before you’ve saved up enough to buy a house,” said another. The education bureau has not released any additional information about the recruitment campaign and calls to its offices on Friday went unanswered. However, it said in a recent Q&A on its website that teachers’ salaries were in line with those of civil servants in the district, and had been steadily rising under a reform of the pay system. Longhua is not the first district in Shenzhen to offer attractive salary packages, however. In May, 21st Century Business Herald reported that authorities in Yantian district had recruited 20 teachers from Beijing with the offer of between 290,000 yuan and 330,000 yuan a year. According to central government figures released in May, teachers in China’s public schools earned an average of 92,383 yuan last year. While Shenzhen has grown from a once sleepy fishing village to a vast metropolis, and is now slated to become a model city for China, its education facilities have failed to keep pace with other areas of development. It also faces competition from more established centres, like Beijing and Shanghai. Despite having a population of about 15 million, the city has just 344 primary schools. By comparison, the provincial capital Guangzhou, which has a similar population, has 961 primary schools and about 17,000 more primary schoolteachers. According to official figures, of the nearly 80,000 students who applied for places at public secondary schools in Shenzhen last year, just 35,000 were accepted. That left the parents of the remainder having no option but to pay for places at private schools in the city or, in some cases, send their children overseas to study. The problem is set to get worse as Shenzhen’s preschool system is already straining under the pressure of the city’s high birth rate.