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China puts teachers' ethics under stricter scrutiny

Xinhua | Updated: 2013-09-03 18:50

BEIJING - Teachers' professional ethics will be put under stricter scrutiny by a national evaluation system in China after reports of teachers molesting or raping students recently.

An annual evaluation and problem-reporting system regarding teachers' ethics has been established in order to "purify" the profession with "dynamic supervision," the Ministry of Education said in a document released on Tuesday.

The ministry will conduct regular surveys and analysis on teachers' ethics and gather public opinion, according to the document.

"Recently, a very small number of teachers seriously violated their profession's ethics, which draws extensive social attention and damages the image of the teaching force," it said.

China currently has more than 14 million teachers.

The document requires education on teachers' ethics to be included in normal school courses and teachers' pre-work training.

"Teachers' ethical performance should be a prerequisite to promotion," and those who fail an appraisal will be vetoed in any assessment, promotion and professional title evaluation, it said.

An effective platform for complaints should be set up in order to eliminate any violation of ethics, said Xu Tao, director of the ministry's teachers' department.

The ministry will publicize punishments for middle and primary school teachers violating professional ethics.

Those who cross the line will be given a warning, receive a demerit, be demoted, removed from their teaching post or dismissed based on each circumstance, and those suspected of committing crimes will be transferred to judicial authorities, according to the ministry.

"We'll not condone any violation of teachers' ethics," Xu vowed.

Teachers' ethics awards should be created to exemplify outstanding figures, the ministry urged.

Its document requires local educational authorities and schools to establish respective and detailed rules to correspond to the national evaluation system, based on different local conditions.

Many parents have complained about teachers' moral degeneration, exemplified in acts like molesting or abusing students, accepting bribes to favor the giver's child and moonlighting to teach in after-school classes for money.

Xia Xueluan, professor of sociology at Peking University, attributed some teachers' moral downfall to the money-oriented social trend and the lack of values and faith.

In May, a primary school headmaster and a government employee in the city of Wanning in south China's Hainan Province were detained by police for allegedly sexually assaulting six female students.

And on June 25, a school principal was sentenced to 18 years in jail for raping and molesting girls in Qianshan County in east China's Anhui Province.

Xiong Bingqi, vice president of the 21st Century Education Research Institute, said teachers' ethics should be clearly differentiated from the law.

"Molestation committed by teachers on campus breaks the law, not just an ethical code," Xiong said, adding the key to curbing campus molestation is to seriously and swiftly punish criminals according to law.

The ministry said it will cooperate with police to remove abusive teachers from schools, adding that education authorities and schools will be held responsible if sexual assaults occur due to failures to properly screen and monitor teachers.

Teachers' ethical norms should be formulated and evaluated by teachers themselves, said Xiong, adding that educational authorities should allow more freedom for school management and supervise schools by law.

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