OVER 90 percent of teachers working at nonpublic kindergartens in Shenzhen earn less than 4,000 yuan (US$582.29) per month, according to research conducted by several lawmakers who urged higher pay for these teachers during the city's "Two Sessions" earlier this year.
In response, the Shenzhen Municipal Education Bureau replied Tuesday that a mechanism to ensure teachers working at private kindergartens receive the same level of remuneration as their counterparts in public kindergartens will be rolled out soon.
"As the deputies of the Municipal People's Congress put forward, teachers from private kindergartens receive a relatively low income, which usually leads to brain drain in the industry," according to the bureau.
Meanwhile, the bureau is going to provide a special allowance for high-end talents in preschool education. More professional training programs will also be provided for preschool education practitioners, said the bureau.
It has also been disclosed that the city's housing and construction bureau is mulling a new round of reform that will include teachers at private kindergartens as beneficiaries of favorable housing policies.
In fact, apart from the low-incomes, kindergartens in Shenzhen are also facing other issues, according to a deputy of the Shenzhen Municipal People's Congress, Zheng Xueding.
By the end of last September, Shenzhen only had 62 public kindergartens. The figure only accounted for 3.7 percent of all the kindergartens across the city and was much lower than the rates in Shanghai, Hangzhou, Beijing and other metropolises.
"The city will have approximately 260,000 newborns each year after the release of the second-child policy, but the existing kindergartens, especially public kindergartens, provide nowhere near enough places for the children," said Zheng.
Zheng also pointed out that the city has not invested enough in preschool education. He addressed that the investment in preschool education in 2016 was around 1.5 billion yuan, merely accounting for 4.3 percent of the government's education-related investment.
For comparison, Shanghai spent over 10 percent of its educational funding on preschool education.
In terms of the inequality among public kindergartens, the education bureau also admitted that the structure of preschool education is severely unbalanced. Much more effort is needed to improve the current situation, according to the education bureau.
One of the plans is to invest more in preschool education and build more public kindergartens. "We are planning to add 150 public kindergartens in 2018," said a person in charge of preschool education in the bureau.
The municipal government has also approved a proposal to increase fiscal investment in preschool education to help families shoulder the cost of their children's preschool education. The authority is drafting favorable policies regarding taxes and land for nonpublic kindergartens.
Another issue brought up by Zheng and his fellow deputies is the worrisome environments at some kindergartens. The deputies' research found that at least 260 kindergartens failed to meet standards for their poor and unsafe environment, especially those located in crowded urban villages.
The education bureau responded that they are going to install surveillance cameras at all kindergartens across the city to protect children and teaching staff. The surveillance system is connected with the local public security department's monitoring system, and it is believed it will largely improve the status quo.