Local loyalty proves key to teacher recruitment
Many of the 2,005 mountain village kindergartens in Tongren city, Guizhou province, are located in remote areas, which means it’s difficult to recruit and hold onto qualified teachers for 2,000 yuan ($297) a month. In response, the local government has devised an incentive mechanism to attract talent and ensure quality preschool teaching.
Official kindergartens in towns or townships with jurisdiction over facilities in mountain villages are responsible for offering guidance, so they regularly send teachers to remote areas to offer advice on teaching practice, said Long Lihong, director of the Tongren City Education Commission.
For two and a half years, Su Shulan, a teacher at the Gaolouping Township Kindergarten, has also been acting as the executive director of a kindergarten in Muziping village. She helps the teacher to draft tuition plans and provide themes that are reflected in photos, drawings and other items pinned to the classroom walls.
“The theme this month is autumn. We have provided an autumn-themed wall for the children’s artworks made from fallen leaves, and also guide the kids to draw pictures about autumn and play related games,” the 26-year-old said.
Advisors such as Su also replace teachers in remote locations if they need to take a vacation or sickness leave.
Teachers at mountain village kindergartens enjoy preferential policies if they want to take exams to win a life contract with the local government, Long said.
One principle underpinning the project is building kindergartens near the children’s home. Many teachers are recruited locally as well, so they will feel settled in their workplace.
Liu Fen, 26, worked in a private kindergarten in downtown Tongren before she applied to teach at a kindergarten in a mountain village. “There is no big difference in salary, but now I work close to my home. Before, I could only go home once a week, but now I can go back everyday ,” she said.
In addition to a teacher, almost all mountain kindergartens employ a childc are worker, who earns 1,600 yuan a month, and is responsible for sanitation, including cleaning the classroom and sterilizing the children’s tableware.
Teacher Su Shulan, 26, talks with children after their noon nap at the Muziping Village Kindergarten.