China will begin compiling a list to evaluate teachers' work ethics and deal with misconduct by naming educators who fall short of expectations, according to an official statement.
The statement, issued by the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the State Council on Wednesday, aims to raise teachers' professional ethics through improving the disciplinary mechanism regarding academic and personal misconduct.
"Misconduct occurs now and again, and though rare, seriously harms the dignity and reputation of teachers," said the statement.
On Jan 11, Chen Xiaowu, a professor at Beihang University, was fired from his faculty post after a former female student accused him on social media of sexual harassment.
Three days later, the Ministry of Education announced it had stripped Chen of his Changjiang Scholars award, the highest academic honor for individuals in China. The ministry said it would not tolerate activity that harms students and will look into setting up a robust mechanism to prevent sexual harassment.
An open letter from an anonymous citizen posted on China's Q&A website Zhihu.com on Jan 11 accused Xue Yuan, a professor at the University of International Business and Economics, of sexual harassment and unwanted physical advances since 2016.
The university said it had launched an investigation into the matter.
According to the statement, the country plans to cultivate millions of "exemplary teachers" by 2035, aiming to make the teaching profession a more desirable one, enjoying great societal respect and fostering a sense of achievement.
"China will build a sound system on the training of teachers, improve their social status and raise their salaries to make sure primary and middle school teachers make no less money than local government officials," the statement said.
Teachers' comprehensive quality, professional level and their abilities to innovate will see remarkable improvements by 2035, according to the statement.
Chu Zhaohui, a researcher at the National Institute of Education Sciences, said the statement is a step in the right direction and shows that the country has laid more emphasis on the cultivation of teachers, yet its implementation faces certain challenges.
"In terms of preventing teacher misconduct, it has not specified which body should be charged with supervision, leaving room for local authorities and the school to pass the buck," Chu said.
More detailed definitions and standards for exemplary teachers are needed, so that the "millions of exemplary teachers" slogan will not be an empty phrase, Chu said.
China had 15.78 million certified teachers in 2016, according to the Ministry of Education.