As all developed countries, China also has both public and private education systems and in this post I would like to point out a few major differences between these two, which mostly affect teachers. So if you are a foreign teacher and you are planning to come to China, you will need to know these things before deciding in what kind of school you want to teach.
- Different salary and benefits packages
As you might know, public schools get their funds from the local government, while private schools are funded by profits from the fast growing markets. Therefore the salaries in private schools will always be higher than the ones in public schools. To give you an estimation, private schools will pay you around 3000 RMB more than a public school in the same city.
Now if we talk about benefits, in both situations you should get you flight reimbursed, medical insurance and free accommodation or stipend. But these can be different too. For example, most of the private schools will rent you a nice apartment, while the public schools might give you a room in their dorms or give you some stipend that might, or might not, cover your entire rent.
- Different working time and holidays
Public schools follow the national academic structure. So, in between the Spring Festival, the National Day Festival and the Summer Holiday, your free time will sum up to more than 3 months.
Your working schedule will be from Monday to Friday, 8 hours a day. But your actual teaching hours won’t exceed an average of 2 – 3 hours a day, the rest being office hours.
For the private schools things are a bit different. Each school provides a variety of extracurricular activities that will occupy more time, therefore in each school the teaching schedule and the holidays are arranged a bit differently. The schools have to give you 2 free days a week, but, most often, they are on week days. You will be working around 20 – 25 hours a week but your time can be a little more flexible. In most cases, after classes are over you are free, no need for office hours, no matter week days or weekends.
- Different teaching objectives
Public schools follow the national curriculum. Because of this, teachers will be provided with specific materials and textbooks that they must follow. Leaving not much freedom for the teacher.
For the last couple of years, parents started giving their children extra after-hours classes because what they learn seems insufficient. This is where private schools come in. All of the after-hours English classes are provided by the private schools giving the public schools children the opportunity to improve their language skills by focusing more on speaking and listening.
As you can see both systems have their advantages and disadvantages. In both situations, as a foreign teacher, your salary will be higher than the average earnings of a Chinese teacher.
So, if you want to have more free time, to travel and to discover more about the Chinese culture and traditions, than public schools should be your choice. But if your main objective is to earn more money, than you should so for a private school.