Teachers reap financial gains
On the 20th Teachers' Day in China, which fell on Friday, people were amazed to find that teachers in major cities, once paid less than factory workers, now enjoy higher salaries and bonuses than some white collar workers in companies, according to the Beijing Youth Daily.
In the past one or two years, when most wage-earners saw just a steady and moderate income increase, a large number of teachers and professors in Beijing found their actual income has doubled or even tripled, according to individual income tax statistics provided by tax departments.
In the first six months of this year, teachers at 53 colleges and universities in the Haidian District of the national capital paid a total in individual income tax of 115.65 million yuan (US$13.9 million), a jump of 69 per cent, official figures show.
The individual income tax volume paid by some Beijing-based colleges and universities rocketed 160 per cent during the past six months, said an official with the Haidian District tax department. The phenomenon has been attributed to the rapid growth in the salaries of lecturers as well as the great importance the Chinese Government attaches to education.
Relevant figures from the Ministry of Education show that during the past two decades, the annual salary for college lecturers and professors soared 18.8 fold, and that of teachers in middle and primary schools rose 11.9 fold.
At the start of China's reform and opening-up some 25 years ago, the average salary of teachers was counted among the bottom of the social wage scale in the country.
"I still remember very well the days of the early 1980s when college professors were worse paid than a grandma selling ice-cream on the street," recalled Professor Ao Fan with the Sichuan University's Foreign Language Department.
But now in Beijing, even high school teachers, if willing to give some additional tutorial courses to their students on weekends or holidays, can earn up to some 10,000 yuan (US$1,200) a month, much more than ordinary government employees who average around 2,500 yuan (US$300) in Beijing, and more even than some company white collar workers.
"Teaching is becoming an increasingly attractive profession as the social status of teachers improves and salaries grow," noted a source with the Ministry of Education.
Statistics showed that in 2003, the average annual salary of teachers working in colleges and universities reached 23,300 yuan (US$2,800), up 2,261 yuan (US$270) over 2002 and 22,100 yuan (US$2,670) over 1985; that of teachers working in middle schools or primary schools reached 13,300 yuan (US$1,600), up 652 yuan (US$80) over the previous year and 12,200 yuan (US$1,470) over 1985.
The remarkable jump in the income of teachers not only contribute to national tax revenue, but also helps teachers realize the dream of owning houses and even private cars, said the Beijing Youth Daily.