China’s top education authority is reminding teachers to respect professional boundaries following instances of harassment and discrimination against students.
The Ministry of Education on Monday released eight specific cases serving as examples of what violates professional teaching guidelines. The cases include discrimination against students, after-hours classes, sexual harassment, and “inappropriate relationships” with colleagues.
Here are some of the cases the ministry highlighted.
Discrimination against students
The ministry referred to a case from a middle school in the northern city of Tianjin to underscore discrimination against students based on their parents’ economic status.
In February, authorities suspended the educator’s teaching license for “insulting and discriminating against” a student based on their parent’s income. The teacher is said to have received a five-year teaching ban.
“Don’t blame me if I looked down on you. The money their (another student’s) mother makes annually is more than what your mom would earn in 50 years,” the teacher was heard saying to the student in a viral video.
Organizing after-hours classes
Chinese students are often overburdened with extra classes after school to gain a competitive edge over their peers — a practice the ministry has forbidden since 2015.
The ministry referenced a 2018 case from a middle school in the northern Hebei province involving a teacher who had “abducted students” to attend his after-school classes for an additional fee. The teacher in question was given an “administrative warning” with no performance-related incentives for one year.
In February, the education ministry also announced that primary schools should no longer assign homework, a policy aimed at reducing pressure on both children and their parents.
Imposing personal celebrity preferences
The ministry is asking teachers not to force their personal celebrity preferences on their students.
Citing an example from the northwestern Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, the ministry said a teacher was ineligible for any awards for two years after a student indicated they disliked a celebrity she admired. The math teacher had reprimanded the student for their social media alias indicating disapproval of the actor and singer Xiao Zhan.
In May, authorities also slapped a one-year teaching ban on a primary school teacher from the eastern Jiangsu province after she had asked students to dance to one of Xiao’s songs to support him on social media.
Sexually harassing students
Authorities are yet again reminding teachers of the consequences should they be found guilty of sexually harassing students.
In October, a university professor’s teaching license was revoked for five years after a female student accused him of harassment. The literature professor had allegedly touched her inappropriately, as well as harassed other students verbally.
In 2018, students from several Chinese universities shared stories of sexual harassment — the first of what would soon become many. The following year, the education ministry issued a new guideline banning teachers found guilty of sexual misconduct, and the country’s newly enacted civil code states that schools should establish mechanisms for processing sexual harassment reports.
Last month, Shenzhen became the first city in China to publish a guidebook for preventing and punishing sexual harassment at schools, businesses, and government institutions.
“Illicit relationships” with colleagues
According to the education ministry, engaging in romantic relationships with colleagues violates the teacher’s code of conduct.
Referring to two teachers from Taiyuan Normal University in the northern Shanxi province, the ministry said it was unacceptable for an employee to have an extramarital relationship with a colleague. The ministry said the teachers had “violated public order and good societal customs.”
“This case surprised me,” Cui Le, a Ph.D. student at the University of Auckland’s Faculty of Education and Social Work, told Sixth Tone. “Universities’ punishment for teachers involved in ‘inter-marriage derailment’ is vague, and crosses the boundary between public and private, violating the sexual rights of teachers.”
Earlier this month, the ministry also issued a draft regulation that would prohibit romantic relationships between teachers and students, a provision that isn’t clearly spelled out in current laws.
Editor: Bibek Bhandari.
(Header image: People Visual)