Probe launched into Central China school for hiring 13-year-old as teaching assistant
Global Times

Teachers hands out face masks to students in Huizhi Middle School in Xi'an, northwest China's Shaanxi Province, April 7, 2020. Students in the final year of junior high schools or vocational schools returned to school on Tuesday in Shaanxi. (Xinhua/Liu Xiao)

A girl from Central China's Henan Province has picked up a job as a teaching assistant in a private traditional school her father founded after she graduated from junior college at the age of 13. Following widespread controversy among netizens, the local education bureau explained that the operation permit for the school had long been revoked, media reported Tuesday.

Zhang Yiwen, who enrolled in a local junior college at the age of 10 and graduated with a relatively high score three years later, took up the job this summer as teaching assistant at a sishu - a traditional private school - in Shangqiu, which was founded by her parents in 2012.

In a video posted on Chinese social network Sina Weibo, Zhang is seen teach-ing students ancient Chinese texts based on the philosophy of Confucius, as well as their English translations. According to Zhang's father, she is paid the minimum wage of 2,000 yuan ($292) per month, and will be awarded bonuses or receive deductions based on her performance.

Her duties include helping out other teachers and doing chores such as cleaning the classrooms, Zhang's father explained.

"We did think of letting her pursue her studies after her graduation, but she had difficulty catching up with higher mathematics," Zhang's father told Beijing Youth Daily on Monday. "Assistant teaching in my sishu would be easier, and she could also inherit our family business," he said.

Zhang Yiwen has never received a formal education. Since the age of 4, she has been learning in the private sishu, using textbooks that her parents had compiled. In just one year, she completed all the primary school courses, which normally take six years in a formal education.

"Our highly efficient education will not only save you time, but also save money in raising a child," Zhang's mother explained in the video. At the front gate of the sishu, a digital screen displays the rolling slogan: "Going to junior high at 9, and college at 15."

The local education bureau explained that the operating permit for the sishu, which registered a few years ago as a bilingual training institution, had been cancelled in 2013. The school has now been put under investigation, the bureau added.