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China Selects College Graduates as Teachers to Strengthen Education in Western Rural Areas

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The college graduate has finally got a chance to pursue a master's degree at Ningxia University, but he is considering giving it up.

Because 23-year-old Kong Weida has also been chosen as a teacher in his hometown, Hongsibao in northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region.

"As a teacher I won't be feeling any pressure about unemployment. And it has always been my dream to teach," he said.

He said he could imagine life as a rural teacher: a school off the beaten track, poor living conditions, and a group of children eager to change their lives by learning.

China stopped assigning jobs for graduates in 2000. During the next six years few students wanted to go to rural areas in the west of China, and now many schools are facing teacher shortages.

In 2006 China launched a project to recruit 20,000 to 30,000 college graduates a year as "special position teachers", to tackle the problem of a lack of teachers for schools in western regions.

The project covers 11 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities across western China and parts of Hubei and Hainan provinces.

Students chosen for the project teach in the impoverished regions for three years, before making their own decisions to continue or not.

"Special position teachers" can avail themselves of favorable policies for their future after three years' teaching. For example, they can take a course for a master's degree in education without having to pass an entrance examination.

For the scheme, 59,200 college graduates were recruited from 2006 to 2008. And as many as 50,000 graduates had been recruited in 2009, an official with the Ministry of Education said.

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