There are plenty of reasons that a person might be unfit to teach, but you wouldn’t think that height – or lack of it – would be one of them.
That is exactly the case for a woman in Shaanxi province who, after graduating from university, was told that she couldn’t be a teacher because she’s just too short.
When the woman, who goes by the alias Li, signed up for the four-year teaching program at Shaanxi Normal University, nobody told her that she did not meet their steep requirements, according to Sixth Tone.
Only upon graduating from the 2018 class, when she was denied a teaching license despite already being contracted to teach for a school, did the English major find out.
"In four years, no one has noticed that the teacher qualification certificate has a height limit," Li said to Shaanxi News, according to BBC. "My dreams of becoming a teacher have been shattered."
There's no nationwide standard for a teacher’s height set by China’s Ministry of Education. However, provincial governments are allowed to implement province-wide regulations. In Shaanxi, male teachers are required to be a minimum of 155 centimeters, and females a minimum 150 centimeters, following changes made in 2009.
With a special application, exceptions can also be made for individuals wanting to teach at a nursery, but only five centimeters shorter is allowed. At 140 centimeters, Li still didn't make the cut.
When asked why they had not notified her prior to her degree, university staff were quick to pass blame onto the provincial government.
“The school just upholds these standards; it doesn’t make them,” said Yang, a staff member tasked with managing the school’s teaching certification process.
But they did promise to stand by Li and address the problem with the provincial education office.
Weibo users were also quick to support Li and express their frustration online.
"This is blatant discrimination! How can the education department judge by appearances like this? As a teacher, I’m furious. This isn’t a beauty contest!” said one user, who received over 2,000 upvotes, according to Sixth Tone.
"Being limited by your height in having the ability to educate people and spread knowledge – the education department should review this," reads another, according BBC.
Yet Shaanxi isn’t the only region with height requirements. BBC reports that many others have the same rules, arguing that it is in students’ best interest for the teacher to be able to reach the blackboard.
Since the story has circulated, Sichuan and Jiangxi provinces, as well as Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region have all eliminated similar height and weight requirements. Shaanxi also plans to abolish the rule in 2019.
With the number of stories that circulate about teachers behaving questionably, and often downright horribly, a height requirement seems like a trivial standard to uphold. We hope to soon see xiao Li at her rightful place in the classroom soon!
[Cover image via Wikimedia]