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October 20, 2009

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Teacher moonlighting targeted

CONTROVERSY has erupted over a plan by east China's Shandong Province to completely ban teachers from earning money from tutoring or running private classes.

The province plans to hold hearings in late October on a regulation that states teachers in primary and middle schools are not allowed to tutor for money during holidays or in their spare time.

Some other provinces and municipalities have enacted similar restrictions, including Beijing, but none has imposed a total ban.

A junior high school teacher in Jinan, capital of Shandong Province, said on condition of anonymity that paid private teaching is common among educators. Many believe the phenomenon is a result of the exam-oriented educational system and the fact that many students are the only children in their families.

"I think teachers should be banned from teaching privately organized groups on a large scale," the teacher said. "But if some parents come to ask for our help, it's only fair that they pay for tutoring."

For a privately organized class of 50 students, a teacher can earn 10,000 yuan (US$1,465) a month if each student pays 200 yuan. For one-on-one tutoring, the fee could reach 200 yuan an hour.

Figures from south China's prosperous Guangdong Province in 2008 showed the average monthly salary of teachers was around 1,200 yuan, while urban workers earned nearly 3,000 yuan on average in the first half of 2009.

Li Jianguo, a parent in Jinan City, said teachers should be able to offer paid private teaching, but only if it doesn't affect regular classes.

A 31-year-old Beijing mother surnamed Guo said there should not be a total ban as some students need extra help from teachers and the teachers' work should be rewarded.

"If teachers and parents could reach an agreement on payment, why not?" she said.


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