The best schools, and the best materials, are useless if you don't have teachers, also. Therefore, we focus a significant amount of our resources on Mosuo teachers. And there are significant challenges to face in this regard.
The areas in which most teachers will work are extremely poor; and most people who have a high enough education to be qualified as a teacher can probably get better jobs (ie. higher paying, in more developed regions). Of course, there are many very dedicated teachers who commit their lives to educating the youth, and who deserve a great deal of respect for doing so. However, the fact remains that there simply are not enough qualified teachers to fill existing needs.
In many communities, local residents have volunteered to become teachers. While they are to be highly commended for their willingness and commitment in doing so, the fact remains that many of these volunteers themselves have minimal education.
We seek to work with teachers at all levels, to provide the support and resources necessary to help them. Both by supporting existing teachers, and by bringing in new teachers. For up-to-date information on our progress, updates on new programs, and to give your own ideas and suggestions, please also check out our forum.
One of our most immediate goals is to provide teacher training for the existing teachers in Mosuo schools. This training will take two main forms:
1) Central Training – during major school holidays, when teachers are free, we will set up training programs at central locations. Teachers will come to those locations for a period of 5-7 days, and go through intensive training programs, to help increase their knowledge and skills. This training will be available to all teachers, regardless of their previous educational background; and we will provide financial support to cover their costs (transportation, accommodation, etc.) whenever possible.
2) On-the-job Training – during the rest of the year, when teachers are working at school, we will have trainers who will travel from school to school, and provide on-the-job training. This will involve seminars for the teachers in the school; and observation of classroom teaching; so that they can effectively identify the greatest needs, and focus efforts in those areas.
An important note here: schools throughout this region actually have a mixture of students from different minorities, including the Mosuo, Naxi, Yi, and Pumi, as well as Han Chinese. Therefore, most schools will have a mixture of students, and teachers.
We will have two criteria for teachers/schools who are involved in this program. First, we will accept any teachers who come from schools in which the majority of students are Mosuo, regardless of whether the teacher themselves are Mosuo or not; and second, we will accept any teachers who are Mosuo, regardless of whether or not they work in a school which has a majority of Mosuo students.
In future, certainly, we would like to expand the program to improve any and all teachers from this region, regardless of ethnicity; however, at present, our funding is limited, and we necessarily need to limit participation. It is our hope that, as this model proves effective and successful, and support increases, we will be able to extend support to all teachers and schools throughout the region.
While we see it as important to work with existing teachers, we also think it is of great importance to encourage a new generation of teachers. With this in mind, we seek to provide scholarships for Mosuo students who express a desire to become teachers.
In order to qualify, students must be Mosuo, and must have good academic standing in high school. They must also be willing to commit to a minimum of 5 years teaching in local Mosuo villages after graduating from university. In return, we will cover all of their costs – education, transportation, room & board, etc. – to complete their teaching certification at university.
As long as students complete 5 years of teaching in local Mosuo communities after they graduate, this support will be entirely free for them; if, after graduating, they take other jobs and do not complete the terms of this scholarship, they will be expected to reimburse us for the money we gave them (and they will sign a contract to this effect). After they have completed 5 years of teaching, they will then be free to do as they please; but it is our hope that they will continue to teach in their home communities.
We hope to also set up other programs to further encourage teachers to work in their local communities, such as providing stipends to supplement their teaching salary, or providing special awards to those who excel.
We are always happy to receive inquiries from people who would be interested in volunteering to teach in Mosuo schools. However, there are some requirements that we have for such teachers:
1) They must agree with and adhere to the Statement of Purpose of our organization. Anyone who violates this will be immediately dismissed from our organization.
2) For foreign teachers, you must be able to speak Chinese at at least an intermediate level; you must have previous teaching experience (preferably in teaching English); and you must have previous experience working in undeveloped communities (ie. No electricity, no running water, etc.). This can be a very rewarding experience; but it is also very difficult. You will be living in communities where nobody speaks English, and where even some of the most ‘basic' comforts are minimal or nonexistent. We will do very extensive screening of potential candidates…not to keep people out, but to do our best to ensure a positive experience for everyone involved.
In almost all cases, foreign teachers will focus on teaching English.
3) For Chinese teachers, you should have proper teaching accreditation, and preferably have teaching experience (although we are open to volunteers who have just completed university and have not started teaching yet). We are looking in particular for teachers who can teach English, and computers.
If you feel that you meet these qualifications, please feel free to contact us for an application form; if you have questions, or would like to express your ideas about this, you can also check out our discussion forums .