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Accelerate the Building of Teacher Mobility System and Conscientiously Facilitate the Balanced Development of Compulsory Education

Dec 28,2012

By She Yu, Research Department of Social Development of DRC

Research Report No 118, 2012

The balanced development of compulsory education is an important channel for realizing the equalization of the basic public education services, yet the current situation is not at all optimistic. The craze for choosing top schools that is becoming increasingly acute has evoked intense public response and produced terribly negative influence, which needs to be put right urgently. The root cause for the "choice of schools" has been the disequilibrium in educational resources between various schools, particularly in the number of qualified teachers. For parents, behind the "choosing of schools" even lies the "choosing of teachers". To facilitate the balanced development of compulsory education is to set about the work on educational input, resources of teachers and school standardization, while the equilibrium in resources of teachers has remained critical.

I. Building the Teacher Mobility System Is of Great Significance

The core of the balanced development of compulsory education lies in the equilibrium in resources of teachers, while the equilibrium in resources of teachers depends on whether the mobility of teachers can be brought to effect. The major policy effect for the construction of teacher mobility system is that the regional resources of teachers can be adjusted in terms of knowledge structure, disciplinary structure, age structure, title structure and mainstay structure so as to gradually bridge the gaps among the schools, to conscientiously improve the teaching qualities of schools with flimsy foundations or schools in remote areas, to cool down the "school-choosing craze" and to finally make education more equitable. As a result, establishing the teacher mobility system is a critical move for facilitating the balanced allocation of educational resources as well as an important breakthrough to contain the "choosing of schools".

Internationally, construction of such a system is also the most effective policy means for facilitating the balanced development of compulsory education. For example, the "regular mobility system"1 for teachers of Japanese elementary and middle schools has been an extremely crucial channel for facilitating the balanced development of teachers among the schools to boost in turn the balanced development of education among the schools and to eventually realize the balanced development of the total education. By implementing the "education equalization" policy2 focused on the flow of teachers, South Korea has substantially enhanced the quality of its compulsory education across the board and has become a worldwide paragon of high education popularization, high educational quality and high educational equitability. By implementing the "zones of education priority" policy3 and by proceeding from teacher cultivation criteria and unity of wages of elementary and secondary school teachers, France has created conditions for flow of teachers on a large scale, thus equalizing the allocation of teachers to a higher extent and effectively boosting the balanced development of basic education.

However, quite a number of people now still worry about the "similarity of schools to be easily incurred by flow of teachers". Compulsory education is a mandatory free education practiced by the state in a unified way pursuant to law and is a basic right of the citizens. It can be understood from the equalization of the basic public education services that the core of compulsory education is to lay stress on boosting fairness rather than seeking distinctiveness with regard to basic school facilities (equipment, books and school buildings), teachers and unified criteria on management and, moreover, emphasis should be laid on the principle of "ensuring basic education with moderate levels" and "limiting both the lowest and the highest level of education facilities". International experiences also suggest that job rotation and equalization of facilities4 favors the equalization of teaching resources and truly reflects the accessibility and impartiality of compulsory education.

II. Interest and Institutional Barriers Should Be Removed for the Establishment of the Teacher Mobility System

It has been expressly put forward in the Outline for the National Medium-and Long-term Educational Reform and Development Plan (2010~2020) (hereinafter referred to as the Education Planning Outline) that "educational resources should be allocated reasonably" and that "the system for interchange of teachers and schoolmasters should be carried out within counties (regions)". In recent years, useful explorations have been made by various localities as to the teacher mobility. The advancement of the teacher mobility work, however, is rather limited on the whole across the country, and the implementation of relevant state policies and regulations varies in different localities. Even localities that have made useful explorations are also confronted, when carrying out the policies and regulations, with the problems on the interest and institutional levels that need to be solved urgently.

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1 The "regular mobility system" for Japanese teachers, which was started after World War II, has been implemented mainly among public schools (elementary schools, junior high schools, senior high schools and special schools). The system is aimed at constantly increasing teachers’ enthusiasm for work and their innovation capabilities and enhancing the accumulation of experiences of various kinds; reasonably allocating human resources and maintaining the equitability of educational levels among the schools; breaking down the sealing off of education and keeping the schooling full of vigor.

2 The policy roughly embodies: first, preferential appropriations, that are made for "disadvantaged schools" to vigorously improve their school conditions; second, flow of teachers, that is conducted once about every four years to ensure the equitability in resources of teachers; and third, the entering of nearby schools, which means schools will be determined by computer for school-age children in various districts after an overall rating of the children. In addition, the policy also involves the elimination of secondary school entrance examinations.

3 Regulations on the allocation of teachers relate mainly to three aspects: Firstly, special support should be provided for the allocation of teachers in "zones of education priority", demanding that high-quality and eligible teachers be allocated to those zones; secondly, the number of teachers in "zones of education priority" should be increased so as to strengthen individual coaching among children who are in unfavorable conditions and caught in learning difficulties; thirdly, wages of teachers in "zones of education priority" should be increased.

4 The "Code on Facilities of Elementary Schools" promulgated in Japan in 1891 laid down the criteria for school sites and buildings, types of teaching aid to be prepared and the unification and standardization of school buildings; the School Education Law formulated in 1947 provided the criteria for school running, as well as explicit standards on selection of school site, land size, area of school buildings, number of teachers, apparatus for experimentation and availability of books, and demanded that those criteria should be carried out rigorously according to law; the Related Law on the Establishment of Classes and Grades in Public Schools of Compulsory Education and on the Establishment of the Teaching and Administrative Staff was formulated in 1958 to standardize the size of classes and grades and the percentage of students and teachers; in addition, special care was given to schools in far-off areas in terms of modern information facilities. South Korea increased appropriations to "vulnerable schools" by formulating the policy of preferential appropriations to energetically improve school conditions.