Education authorities in southern China are training male preschool teachers in an effort to provide suitable male role models in kindergartens, traditionally dominated by female teachers.
Yang Linyun is among 100 men who are being trained as a preschool teacher in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. They will be eligible for a government subsidy.
Before going to work in Guangxi’s kindergartens in two years time, Yang and the other men stood in huge contrast to a number of young women on enrolment day earlier this month at Guangxi College for Preschool Education in Nanning, capital of Guangxi.
Yang applied for the course because he said he thinks he has strong communication skills, is great with kids, and most of all, it will not cost him anything as all his expenses are covered by the Guangxi government.
“In kindergartens, female teachers make up the majority, which means there is a better chance for me to find a good job after graduation,” said Yang, who is from Leye County in Guangxi.
The men said they do not care whether others look down upon them for choosing to be “male aunties” in what is mostly a female dominated profession in China.
The program was announced by Guangxi’s education department in June.
The men will get two years of free training, then have to work in Guangxi’s preschools for at least six years.
The program has attracted many students from poor, rural areas. Once recruited by the college, the male students are exempt from tuitions and accommodation costs. In addition, they are eligible for subsidies, scholarships and grants.
Only one in every 300 kindergarten teachers is a man in Guangxi. Education authorities hope the program — the first of its kind in the region — will alleviate a lack of preschool teachers in general, and male teachers in particular.
Parents and education experts alike are concerned that the preponderance of female teachers in kindergartens is not good for the development of children.
Kindergartens may well have a strong demand for male preschool teachers, but there is an acute shortage of them across the country.
Zhang Wenjun, dean of the education department, said the Guangxi College for Preschool Education has already compiled a training schedule for the male students. He said they will have no trouble finding a decent job after graduation.