2020-09-09 10:09:54

A high school teacher in eastern China’s Fujian province has been removed from her post for coercing students into giving gifts to faculty for the upcoming Teachers’ Day, domestic media outlet Shangyou News reported Monday.

The Fuzhou Chaode High School in the province’s capital city has demoted the staff member — formerly a head teacher — under the school’s zero-tolerance policy for behavior that “violates teaching ethics,” according to the media report. On Saturday, a student surnamed Wang posted chat screenshots online, complaining that the teacher had sent messages asking students to prepare gifts for her and their other teachers.

A staff member at the school told Sixth Tone on Wednesday that the dismissal had been a “severe punishment,” and the local education bureau is now looking into the case.

According to the media report, the head teacher had asked students to vote on whether to allocate money the parents had donated for class activities toward gifts for their children’s 12 teachers.

“With Teachers’ Day approaching, students should be grateful for teachers’ hard work,” the educator wrote in the class’s chat group. “We will be using the fund to prepare a gift for the 12 teachers on behalf of the class, so you won’t have to buy gifts for them yourself.”

According to screenshots included in the media report, students were able to vote “agree” or “disagree” on the proposal. Those who chose “disagree” were required to suggest an alternative plan.

Several students who questioned the proposal in the class chat group were chastised by the teacher. “It’s OK (not to buy anything), but then don’t ask the teachers for help in the future,” the teacher wrote. “You can transfer to another class — you’ve already caused me a lot of trouble.”

In 2014, China’s Ministry of Education passed a regulation “firmly prohibiting” teachers from accepting money or other gifts from students or their parents. The same year, the Fujian provincial education department issued its own related notice for local schools.

This is not the first time a Chinese school has received unwanted attention over teachers demanding gifts from their students. Two months after the national regulation, a high school teacher in Harbin, capital of the northeastern Heilongjiang province, was removed from her position and barred from teaching after verbally abusing her class for not preparing a Teachers’ Day gift. She ultimately forced the students to collect money among themselves and used the 600 yuan ($90) they raised to buy herself a gift. 

And last year, a head teacher in the central Hunan province was removed from his position after he was found to have misused money from a student fund to buy gifts for himself and five of his colleagues.

Editor: David Paulk.

(Header image: A student prepares a handcrafted gift ahead of Teachers’ Day at a primary school in Hai’an, Jiangsu province, Sept. 9, 2020. Xiang Zhonglin/People Visual)