What China's Talking About Today: Why Aren't Teachers Paid More?

By Massoud Hayoun

Chinese teachers' salaries are lower than in many other countries, according to a recent U.S. survey.

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A math class in Tianjing, Zhejiang. Reuters

Chinese teachers' wages ranked near the bottom of a survey of 28 countries, according to a survey recently featured in a New York Times article on upcoming book, Paying the Professoriate.

Studying the entry-level, average, and top salaries for public university teachers, adjusted for purchasing power parity, China came out 26th in a list of 28 countries. Canadian teacher salaries are the highest on the list and Armenia's the lowest. U.S. teachers came in fourth.

In terms of purchasing power, new hires at Chinese universities make $259 a month, placing the People's Republic far behind Ethiopia, where teachers' purchasing power is $864 per month.

News of the Chinese educator's low wages sparked a trend on Sina Weibo, where in little over a day roughly 360,000 micro-bloggers commented on the issue.

Some Weibo users didn't seem to have too much sympathy for Chinese teachers.

"#Chinese teachers' salaries are some of the worst in the world# Chinese teachers make more money than the entire universe outside of class, wrote user Louyisier. Some Chinese teachers receive red envelopes, filled with money to ensure that students receive sufficient attention.

Other users seemed to agree that teachers have means of receiving extracurricular money from students and their parents.

"Salary and income are two different things," joked Youzhixu.

Some users said that the American study is unfair for using a purchasing power parity index that according to the report, is based on a set of consumer good prices in the United States, although the study also takes into account teacher salaries verses their home countries' per capita GDP, in order to see how teacher remuneration compares with average national incomes.

"The price of consumer goods [in the U.S. and China] aren't the same. What B.S.," wrote user Xu Shunlin.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/04/what-chinas-talking-about-today-why-arent-teachers-paid-more/255513/