Yunnan Province Teach For China Fellows currently serve in primary and secondary schools in four prefectures in western Yunnan province, close to China's border with Myanmar. Of the 11 counties in which Teach For China serves in Yunnan, 8 counties are on the list of high-poverty areas identified by the Chinese government.
Public schools in rural Yunnan are chronically short of teachers. Yunnan Province has the third highest student-teacher ratio in China, with average class sizes exceeding 50 students. Students receive little individualized attention and support to help them overcome the challenges they face in and outside of the classroom.
Many of these communities are home to large numbers of Chinese ethnic minority groups. Local teachers in these communities face a myriad of challenges as they navigate not only socioeconomic disparities but cross-cultural friction and language barriers. Many families respond to economic pressures by sending family members to work as migrant laborers in remote larger cities, leaving their children to grow up with one or both parents chronically absent. As a result of this, students often lack support when faced with serious challenges in their academic and life path.
Guangdong Province Teach For China Fellows are
serving in 23 primary and secondary
schools in Shantou and Chaozhou
districts in Guangdong.
Although Guangdong as a whole
has been at the forefront of China's
economic expansion the last two decades, Shantou has been largely excluded from this growth and has been designated by provincial authorities as a high need area. As a result of Shantou's proximity to the booming manufacturing centers in Guangdong, students there face substantial pressure to forego their studies in order to work. Elementary and middle school students often work on evenings and weekends at home or in nearby factories to help support their families.
Shantou schools are plagued by persistent teacher shortages. Class sizes run far above the national average in the range of 60-90 students per teacher. Furthermore, teachers have little or no access to support and evaluative systems, such that new teachers do not receive the training and guidance needed to succeed in challenging classrooms.