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Government Plans to Change Date of Teachers’ Day, Reactions

The image of Confucius.

The image of Confucius.

From Sina:

State Council Seeks Public Opinion: Plan to Change Teachers’ Day to September 28th Birthday of Confucius

Morning Post (reporter Zhang Lu) — The September 10th “Teachers’ Day” that has been observed for 29 years may henceforth be changed to another day. The Legislative Affairs Office of the State Council announced yesterday a “Revision Package to Education Laws Draft (Soliciting Public Opinion Draft)” amending and revising relevant clauses in Education Law, Higher Education Law, Teachers Law, and the Law on Promotion of Privately-run Schools. The draft plans to make September 28th every year Teachers’ Day. as well as adding qualification requirements for the position of school principals as well as a series of important items on issues such improving the status of private schools.

On 1985 January 21, the Ninth Meeting of the Sixth NPC Standing Committee passed the “Decision Regarding Teachers’ Day” and decided that September 10th of each year would be Teachers’ Day. On September 10th of that year, grand celebrations were held throughout the country to welcome the first Teachers’ Day in New China, and Li Xiannian, the president of China at the time, issued “A Letter to Teachers Nationwide”. 29 years have passed and though a series of profession-related holidays like Journalists’ Day and Nurses’ Day appeared later on, for our fellow countrymen, Teachers’ Day has the most influence.

The call for changing the date of Teachers’ Day has a long history, with large-scale campaigns beginning since 2004. One of the CPPCC [Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference] members of that time, Li Hanqiu, appealed that Teachers’ Day should be a day of deep cultural connotation and extends age-old historical tradition, suggesting that the birthday of Confucius be set as Teachers’ Day. Through research and calculations, Confucius was born on 551 BC September 28. In fact, Teachers’ Day is on September 28 in our country’s Taiwan.

In actual practice, September 10 happens to be at the beginning of a new semester, so teachers are usually very busy with all kinds of work for the new semester and barely have the time and mood to enjoy this holiday. If Teachers’ Day is changed to the end of the month, it can go along with Mid-Autumn Festival and National Day, which will be more convenient for teachers.

Controversy on the birthday of Confucius

This reporter learned that all large-scale celebrations of Confucius’ birthday are currently on September 28.

However, the article “Particular Research on the Birth Year and Date of Confucius” on Guoxue Net punished by Liberal Arts College of Liaoning University professor Bi Baokui shows a lack of evidence for having September 28 as the birthday of Confucius. According to written records, it can be confirmed that Confucius was born on 552 BC October 9, and other versions should be abandoned. In the article, he mentioned that after we stepped into the Republic of China era [1912-1949], the first celebration of Confucius was held on 1913 September 28, which led later generations to think this day was Confucius’s birthday.

Why set September 10 as Teachers’ Day?

Here, we must mention the historical background for why September 10th was set as Teachers’ Day at the time. At the beginning of the 1980s, the social status and position of intellectuals was raising, but many teachers still had deep psychological trauma with regards to their status as [one of the] “Stinking Old Ninth” in the past. At the end of 1984, the earliest progenitor of Teachers’ Day and Chinese Academy of Sciences academician Wang Zikun came across the idea that teachers ought to have their own holiday. Afterwards, he told Beijing Evening News this idea on December 9. The next day, Beijing Evening News published an article called “President Wang Zikun Proposes Month Celebrating Teachers and Education”, which brought forth a great reaction among readers. On December 15, Beijing Normal University [professors and teachers] Zhong jingwen, Qi Gong, Wang Zikun, Tao Dayong, Zhu Zhixian, Huang Ji, Zhao Qinghuan jointly and officially proposed establishing a Teachers’ Day. 1985 January 21, the Ninth Meeting of the Sixth NPC Standing Committee passed the decision and established September 10th of each year as Teachers’ Day.

Comments from Sina:

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lll09291211 [山东淄博]:

I am a teacher, I propose canceling [Teachers’ Day].

手机用户 [湖北武汉]:

I strongly urge canceling Teachers’ Day! It’s a hotbed that breeds corruption!

法与理2013 [河南许昌]:

If a country doesn’t have a minimum amount of respect for education and teachers, then the future of this country will certainly be a bleak one; if a people don’t have a minimum amount of respect for education and teachers, then this people are not far from the end… [泪]

手机用户 [四川成都]:

Abolish Teachers’ Day. Teachers these days don’t practice morality.

陈昌凤 [北京]:

I also support [the change]!

手机用户 [山西太原]:

Nowadays, the quality of teachers has changed, they twist students’ souls. It’s time for them to reflect. Teachers’ Day became an excuse for them to accumulate wealth. Better cancel it fast.

手机用户 [四川成都]:

If there is Teachers’ Day, we should also have Farmers’ Day, Workers’ Day, Doctors’ Day, and Parents’ Day… All existing professions should have their own holidays, as they are all contributing their lives to the development of society.

手机用户 [浙江杭州]:

A day where parents must think about giving gifts to teachers, and even kindergartens have this trend, ack!

手机用户 [江苏无锡]:

It’s just a change of date, with no inherent improvement to the treatment and status of teachers. Those who have been teachers all know that very few actually experience the phenomenon of receiving gifts as rumored throughout society. How can you extrapolate to all teachers from a few instances and insult teachers’ characters? The hardship of being a teacher is one only those who have been teachers understand. But as for the salary and treatment [teachers receive], it’s only average in society.

yajing99 [云南昭通]:

Years of fact show that Teachers’ Day is meaningless, and instead shows that teachers are a disadvantaged group in this society.

法与理2013 [河南许昌]:

I suggest canceling public schools and public teachers, and changing them all into old-style private school education! gza

手机用户 [福建福州]:

Why didn’t you mention that they get 3-months vacation every year? If you think it’s tough, then quit.

大国也 [上海]:

Expounding wisdom, imparting knowledge, clearing up confusion, just how many teachers these days are able to do such things? Instead of teaching properly in class, they make tutoring at home a trend [to earn more money]. If the teachers of the main academic subjects don’t receive gifts from the parents, their children can’t get fair treatment in class. China’s education [system] should reflect upon itself from the root. The existence of a Teachers’ Day is no longer necessary, or it will become a synonym for providing benefits and presenting gifts.

rover [北京海淀]:

I object. Reason No.1: The birthday of Confucius was calculated, no one knows for sure [when it was]. Using a fake birthday for Teacher’s Day makes people feel like they’re being duped. Reason No.2: The ideology that Confucius represents has brought disaster to China for thousands of years, and it is directly related to the reason for China’s backwardness, which is why the vast majority of intellectuals were anti-Confucius during the May Fourth Movement, against the constraints that his old/traditional thinking imposed on the minds of Chinese people, and then put forward the slogan of science and democracy. We shouldn’t go back in history. Reason No.3: Contemporary teachers have nothing to do with Confucius. Confucius imparted his own school of thought on his students, whereas contemporary teachers put the country first, serving the country and nation through teaching, which can’t be embodied on Confucius. Therefore, don’t equate teachers, who educate in a higher level, with Confucius, who is of the period of slavery and decline.

亩产十万斤 [安徽蚌埠]:

A lot of teachers have low characters and are immoral. Being a teacher is no longer the admirable and sacred profession that “imparts knowledge and clears confusion” it was before, but just a job to make a living. “A whole body reeking with money” stinks more than the “Old Ninth”! I propose canceling Teachers’ Day.

手机用户 [天津]:

Teachers’ Day is just the day for giving teachers gifts. Nowadays, teachers are without conscience. I propose canceling Teachers’ Day.

手机用户 [甘肃]:

Teachers’ Day is just Animals’ Day, Gift-Giving Day!

手机用户 [浙江湖州]:

First fix the morality of teachers, then have people respect them.

手机用户 [浙江湖州]:

Such bullshit!!!! Receiving gifts on Teachers’ Day? I have been teaching for more than twenty years. I’ve never had Teachers’ Day off and have never received any gifts! If you think teachers are bad, then please don’t send your kids to school! Some people these days, how come they don’t know how to respect others?

一条想吃人的狼 [黑龙江牡丹江]:

Has Ghosts’ Day been changed?

玫瑰余香 [辽宁锦州]:

If there was really so much [illegitimate] wealth to be had in the teaching profession, then how come we don’t see government officials doing everything they can to arrange for their children to become teachers? Why is it that those who become teachers are all the children of peasant farmers or commoners? Why is it that teachers are the ones competing to become civil servants/government officials while no civil servants are competing to become teachers? Fighting in the graveyard — poor ghosts killing hungry ghosts. [An old Chinese saying, here suggesting that jealousy of teachers earning a lot and receiving a lot of gifts is unjustified because teachers are actually poor.]

What do you think? Should there be a Teacher’s Day at all? If so, should it be moved to September 28th to coincide with Confucius’s birthday?

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