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More male teachers needed for kids in China
Updated: 2005-06-01 19:56

Dressed in jeans and a T-shirt, Liu Zimiao doesn't look any different from his friends. Like most 24-year-old Chinese young men, he likes football, singing and partying with friends. One thing that makes him stand out is his job- kindergarener.

As the first and so far the only male teacher at the Changsha No. 3 Kindergarten in Changsha, the capital of central-south China' s Hunan Province, Liu did not expect to take up the profession when he graduated as an accounting major in 1999.

"I love my job and I can get a lot of joy from these kids," he said.

Liu, in charge of the physical classes at the kindergarten, is called "Liu Shuaige," meaning a handsome guy, by the kids.

"Male teachers are not as meticulous as females," said Liu Houqin, deputy chief of the kindergarten. "But they are brave and masculine, which complements their female peers."

"Just like a healthy family has a mother and a father, a nursery school needs it a'father figure'for kids," said Yang Yujuan, human resource manager of the Changsha Nobel Cradle Education Group, which runs four kindergartens. "Many kids in our kindergartens call the male teachers 'daddy.'" Male teachers account for one-third of the 30 teachers the four kindergartens employ.

Chinese pre-schoolers are surrounded by women, which is not healthy for kids to form an integrated personality, said Zhang Xiaohui, professor of child psychology from Hunan Institute of Children Project. Men teachers provide the masculinity and courage that females lack, giving children more well-rounded roll models.

In recent years, kindergartens in China's coastal cities, such as Shanghai and Shenzhen, have recruited a number of male teachers in the female-dominated profession. However, in the mid-region of the nation, male teachers are still rarity.

According to statistics from the Hunan Institute of Children Project, a training center for kindergarten teachers, of its 3,000 students only some 10 men are majoring in pre-school education. This year, only one man will graduate as a kindergarten teacher and several kingtergardens are vying to hire him.

Worse, many men kindergarten teachers quit their jobs after a year or two because of lack of respect from society and a low salary, said Zhang.

Most male nursery teachers don't get enough recognition from society, Zhang said. They usually stay in the career for three to five years and turn to other jobs once they begin to consider having a family. For those who do stay, they are often promoted to managerial posts. Zhang suggested higher salaries should be paid and more room should be provided for male kindergarten teachers to develop, Zhang said.

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