With nearly 260 million students in more than half a million primary and secondary schools, China has in recenty years undertaken several reforms and financial investments to support teachers and improve their training.
According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), China is investing 6.4 billion yuan (roughly $1 billion) to support training for more than 6.5 million teachers in rural areas in central and western China. Under the program, new teachers take at least 120 class hours of training prior to entering the classroom.
OECD also reports that China has instituted a requirement that each teacher in public primary and secondary schools must take at least 360 class hours of training every five years: “Trainings are designed according to teachers’ professional responsibilities, and aim to improve their professional ethics and skills.” Their strategy also includes a new program that enables outstanding teachers and headmasters to take half-year sabbatical leave every five years, during which they are able to join study programs abroad.
China also is providing new training resources for school principals and other administrators: “New school principals or aspiring principals are required to take over 300 class hours of training that focus on the skills needed for their positions. Principals are required to take no less than 360 class hours of training every five years. This programme is designed to help school principals learn new knowledge and skills, improve managerial skills and exchange experiences with other school principals.” Overall, China has increased spending on education an average of 19 percent per year over the last decade, a higher rate than virtually any other nation.
Meanwhile, the United States is currently debating proposals to arm teachers with guns.