Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Teachers Pig Out on Pregnancies

In the Shanghai Daily Top News of Saturday-Sunday 13-14 January 2007, we find the headline “Teachers pig out on pregnancies”. The mind reels with the possibly meanings and ramifications of this header! Teachers are eating pregnancies? Teachers are reacting oddly to other’s pregnancies? Teachers are getting pregnant wildly? Teachers are having too many pregnancies?

Most people are aware that the Chinese have 12 astrological signs that are denoted by animals – rooster, rat, dog, dragon, etc. In addition to the 12 animals, there are 5 elements – metal, water, wood, fire and earth. The traditional calendar then cycles through 60 combinations of animal and element. To be more precise about the next lunar year, it will be the Year of the Female Fire Pig (Chinese Astrology Online), more commonly referred to as The Year of the Golden Pig. Babies born under this combination of signs are believed to be destined for good fortune and a long life. With most couples limited to having only one child*, much is done to ensure the child is given the best possible start. And so, China is facing the potential for a baby boom during the next lunar year. Considering that a boomlet will have future ramifications on competition for school seats and jobs for graduates, one can only wonder how all of these children will manage their good fortunes.

In Shanghai, 30 to 40% of the teachers in primary and middle schools are young or middle-aged. Some schools have more than half of the teachers under the age of 35. The immediate consequence of the upcoming new year and the demographic of the teachers is that applications for maternity leaves are up in advance of this auspicious period. Schools are looking at doubling up teacher’s workload, recruiting retired teachers, hiring postgraduate students and shuffling the pregnant teachers into lower grades.

All quite interesting, but it still leaves you wondering...who wrote that headline?!

Please let me know what thoughts came to you when you read the article title.

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