Professor's pay slip highlights teachers' dilemma
By Guo Qiang (
Updated: 2006-09-21 18:02

People may think that professors, especially those at famous universities, are wealthy, but they say they are rather poor.

Assistant professor at prestigious Peking University A Yi. [File]

Assistant professor at prestigious Peking University A Yi made it clear his monthly salary of 4,768 yuan (US$601) was not enough on his online web log and claimed there would be no way for him to make a living if he stopped 'zou xue' - a Chinese term meaning moonlighting.

A's move has raised concern over whether it is acceptable for teachers who are supposed to be focusing on students and teaching to do part time jobs.

There are no relevant laws or regulations prohibiting teachers from tutoring in China but most schools are not giving teachers the green light on the practice.

Schools are fearful that teachers will concentrate on their part time jobs rather than their teaching.

A is no expcetion.

A was formerly a host of CCTV's popular talk show Tell the Truth (Shi Hua Shi Shuo) and was appointed as an assistant professor at China's Cambridge University. But serving as a host or a guest brings both high praise and sharp criticism, which claimed A did not contribute to his job and called his virtue and professionalism into doubt.

However A rebutted the accusations, saying without moonlighting, he cannot make a living.

During an interview on Phoenix TV's talk show 'Yi Hu Yi Xi Tan', A stressed that it is natural for society to have elite and poor classes. Varied classes help motivate those that lag behind. "What I most fear is that elite class lacks care and love for the lower class," he said.

In response to speculation that A is lying to the public about his pay, A's colleague at Beida Kong Qingdong, backs up his claims.

Kong Qingdong. [File]

Kong noted in his web log that A's pay slip posted in his web log is absolutely true.

"My monthly salary is almost the same as his. We are quite lucky, to be honest because there are lots of young teachers who only earn 2, 000 yuan (US$250)."

The average monthly income in China is US$145, according to figures released by the National Development and Reform Commission.

In addition to be a solid supporter of A, Kong speaks highly of his colleague's courage, noting that he is unwilling to present his own pay for fear of shaming Beida officials.

Kong says he and A have no other intention in making their poverty known other than providing the public with a chance to know the truth.

"The masses should not criticize professors who are engaged in part time jobs," he said.

A's claims outline the teacher's situation in China - most complain their salaries are too low, especially those in remote rural areas. They are only paid several hundred yuan per month in spite of their hard work and tough living conditions.

The Chinese government moved to allocate up to 40 billion yuan (US$4.94b) to raise the standard salaries of teachers in rural areas, the China Business News reported.