A primary school teacher in southern China is at the center of a controversy about whether educators should accept gifts from their students’ parents.
According to a report Tuesday in Southern Metropolis Daily, the case came to light when a mom claimed that she and her child’s sixth-grade teacher at Shenzhen Second Foreign Languages School in Guangdong province had exchanged several gifts valued at 500 to 800 yuan ($70-$110). However, another parent surnamed Deng told the newspaper that the mom was using chat screenshots to blackmail the teacher and secure special treatment for her child.
“The parent did not achieve her goal, so she used these tactics to threaten the teacher,” Deng told Southern Metropolis Daily. “She (the teacher) has always been fair and dedicated to her job, and we hope she is not treated unfairly.”
The school told the newspaper that it is investigating the case but declined to comment further.
Given the high level of competition for coveted spots at China’s top-flight high schools and universities, parents have been known to lavish teachers with gifts in hopes of creating better opportunities for their kids, even as Chinese authorities have tried to curtail such practices. In 2014, the Ministry of Education passed a regulation “firmly prohibiting” teachers from accepting money or other gifts from students or their parents.
Meanwhile, local governments have taken additional steps to discourage corruption in education. In 2015, Shanghai’s education bureau forbade teachers from accepting gifts from students or their parents, warning that anyone caught violating the rule would be ineligible for promotions or pay raises. Then in January of this year, Beijing banned teachers and parents from exchanging red envelopes — or digital currency — in chat groups on WeChat, China’s most widely used social platform.
The Shenzhen case has been gaining traction on Chinese social media, with many debating the ethics of transactions between teachers and parents. By Thursday evening, a related hashtag on microblogging platform Weibo had been viewed over 110 million times.
“Such parents are just trying to scheme — but it’s best for teachers not to accept gifts,” one Weibo user commented below a post about the case.
Editor: Bibek Bhandari.
(Header image: Sino View+ RF/VCG)