The impact of rural teachers’ job characteristics on their subsidies: An empirical study in an impoverished mountainous area of southwest China

Year: 2019

Author: ZHONG, Wanjuan, CHU, Hongqi

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

For some years now, there has been a recognition of the unique challenges facing education in rural areas across many countries in the world, including China. A lack of qualified teachers and school principals plus limited resources are often cited as barriers inhibiting quality education in rural areas. In response to this situation, the Chinese Government released theRural Revitalisation Strategy and itsRural Teachers’ Support Plan that maintains improving rural teachers’ income holds the key to redressing the quality teacher shortage. According to the plan, differentiated subsidies are provided to teachers depending on the degree of hardship and distance, i.e. the more difficult the location, the higher subsidy level for teachers.

While current research in China has focused on rural teachers’ salaries and other issues affecting their work, little research has explored teachers’ job characteristics or if and whether teachers in rural areas have received differential subsidies or other compensatory income. This study aimed to meet a gap in the research by exploring these issues.

A mixed method research design was used. Eleven full-time rural educators from an impoverished mountainous area in South West China were interviewed to explore the status of teachers’ job characteristics and the level of subsidies received. These educators included staff from the local education bureau staff, rural school leaders and rural teachers. Based on the interviews, a questionnaire was developed and distributed to 842 teachers from this region. Of these surveys, 806 were suitable for analysis via SPSS2.10.

The research found that although China had promulgated a series of policies to improve the working conditions of rural teachers, the implementation of the policy fell short as there were still many problems in the distribution of rural teachers’ subsidies. The local education bureau failed to provide a protocol for the equitable distribution of subsidies which meant that teachers had not received the expected subsidies commensurate with their negative job characteristics. In view of these findings, this study puts forward two key policy recommendations: (1) The central and provincial government should increase financial and policy support for rural teachers’ subsidies based on differences in their job characteristics; and (2) All governments should attach greater importance to rural teachers’ job characteristics by improving their working and living conditions.