Teachers and education in China - underfunded and undervalued

Despite many ongoing improvements to the education system in China, for many children, standards of education in China have been falling in the past decade or so since the start of the economic reforms. The numbers of children receiving adequate education are dropping with the exclusion of an every growing number of them. Drop out rates also appear to be on the increase and there has been a corresponding rise in child labour. This lack of decent education corresponds to the increasing number of child workers.

In 2001, the education budget was reportedly only 3.19% of the CGP. Although this is the highest rate since 1949, it is still much less than the average education budget in the world - around 5% of GDP. Wages for teachers are increasingly difficult to find and it has been estimated that teachers throughout China are owed several million Yuan in back pay. In many rural areas, lack of funds has seen a huge decrease in available candidates for teaching. Many poorer schools are asking children to work in schools to raise funds – often with devastating consequences.

China Labour Bulletin has produced several short reports on the issue of education and teachers rights in China.

These can be found at

Community (minban) teachers versus Public (Gongban) teachers – a social and financial divide

Education:A short background

Teachers in China: Increasing protests and lack of basic rights

Child Labour in China: Causes and solutions

Lack of Funds Leaving Rural Teachers Unpaid

Crumbling Classrooms - "Teacher, teacher, the more you teach, the less you eat!"

Village School Explodes

Child labourers uncovered in Fujian.

CLB has also monitored several cases of teacher’s protests and strikes in recent months and years. For more details on these cases, please see

January 2004: Summary of Workers Protests

December 2003: Summary of Workers Protests in November 2003

7 November 2003: Schoolteachers in Suizhou urge the Government to fulfill its promises – teacher’s representatives face restrictions on movement.

5 November 2003: 1,300 Suizhou schoolteachers launch protests against unequal wages

June 2003: Some 200 Private Schoolteachers in Suizhou urge Government to pay severance allowance

14 December 2002: Retired Teachers in Jiangsu Protest over Wage Cut

13 December 2002: Teachers in Jiangsu Marched against Wage Cut

November 2001: Shandong Teachers on Strike over Wage Arrears

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