At least 12,000 teachers in Hubei province feel cheated as the diplomas they gained from a local normal college are recognized only within the province, and not nationwide.
Li Ping (not a real name), a teacher from Yichang, Central China's Hubei province, got a teaching job in Shenzhen in May. But Li lost her position recently because the employer found that her bachelor's degree could not be verified on www.chsi.com.cn, the sole website designated by the Ministry of Education (MOE) for higher education diploma inquiries, People's Daily reported Thursday.
In an effort to protest, Li brought her diploma to the China Higher-Education Student Information and Career Center affiliated with MOE. But the diploma still did not pass MOE's verification, with officials telling her that the Hubei College of Education that awarded her the diploma was not qualified to offer the online diploma program Li took from 2000 to 2002.
Li was just one of the total 12,000 primary and middle school teachers in rural areas of Hubei who paid 4,000 yuan ($590) to take the same online education diploma program offered by the college since 2000.
College officials promised that those who finished the two-year courses would be awarded associate's or bachelor's degree diplomas that would be recognized across the country, the report said.
"I can't believe the diploma I gained is a fake one that cannot pass the MOE's verification. It's annoying," Li was quoted as saying.
Jiang Xiaoyan, head of the publicity division of Hubei University of Education (the college's name since 2007), told China Daily yesterday that the program had been authorized by the provincial education bureau.
"We provided the program based on a document issued by the bureau in 2000. The diplomas were awarded to the teachers in accordance with stipulations of the document," she said.
The online program continued for three years and then was halted due to policy reasons. The diplomas are authentic within Hubei but it is unknown why they could not pass verification from the MOE, the report quoted an anonymous official with the university.
"We reported the issue to the provincial education bureau two months ago but we haven't gotten an answer yet," the official said.
Officials at the bureau could not be reached yesterday.
But according to the bureau's website, the pilot program was aimed at upgrading the academic qualifications of local primary and middle school teachers.
"The bureau plans to launch the pilot program at local universities including Huazhong Normal University, Hubei Radio and TV University, and Hubei College of Education," according to the document.
Except for the 12,000 teachers who took the courses at former Hubei College of Education, the total number of enrollees of the program is not clear.
Tang Jingwei, director of the primary and middle school teacher training division of MOE, told China Daily yesterday that the ministry did not endorse the training program in Hubei and had not heard about this problem until now.
"It is possible that an associate's degree diploma is only recognized in the province in which it was awarded, because provincial education departments are empowered to approve the associate's diploma according to the relevant regulations," he said.
But only the MOE can approve a bachelor's degree program, he said.
Zhou Lihua contributed to the story