BEIJING  -   China plans to recruit 4,000 retired teachers to give classes in rural schools during the 2019-2020 school year, in an effort to improve education in rural areas. The “silver-age” project is open to veteran headmasters and teachers under the age of 65, the Ministry of Education said in a statement.

The volunteer teachers will serve for at least one academic year, and those who pass assessments will be encouraged to extend their service, the ministry said. In addition to giving classes, they can also evaluate other teachers’ work, hold open lectures or workshops, give guidance and help schools improve their management. According to official statistics, China had over 2.9 million teachers in rural areas by the end of 2018.

Education authorities have stepped up measures to boost development of rural education and improve treatment for rural teaching staff.

In 2018, 1,800 retired teachers in good health registered to teach at rural schools. Meanwhile, 19 provincial-level regions dispatched 4,000 teachers to support education in Tibet and Xinjiang, said the ministry.

Moreover, financial support has been offered to rural schools. The central budget financed 4.5 billion yuan (670 million U.S. dollars) last year as an allowance for 1.27 million teachers from over 80,000 rural schools in China’s central and western regions.