Nearly a quarter million teachers in China do not have the educational background required by the government, but that number is steadily decreasing, according to education officials.
The number of unqualified teachers holding classes at state schools has dropped in the past year, a senior official said.
The number has dropped from 300,000 by the end of 2007 to 243,000 by the end of 2008, Guan Peijun, director of the ministry's Department of Teacher Training, said during an online interview with people.com.cn Thursday, which was the 25th annual National Teachers' Day.
The teachers' law stipulates that primary school teachers must have at least a high school diploma, junior high teachers must have at least an associate's degree (two to three years of college), and senior high teachers must have a bachelor's degree.
"This is an important sign showing the quality of teachers in China as a whole is improving," he said.
As colleges and graduate schools have expanded enrollment in the past decade, the percentage of teachers with the required higher education background is increasing quickly.
Some 71 percent of primary school teachers in China now have college diplomas, he said.
More than half of junior high teachers have a bachelor's degree, he said.
A university instructor from Beijing surnamed Ye said when she graduated from university with a bachelor's degree a decade ago, she and her classmates could find a good job teaching at college.
"But now, only people with a master's degree or even PhD can get employed by universities. With a bachelor's degree, a college graduate can only land a job in a high school in cities," she said.