Flush with knowledge


What value can be placed on a good education? In many countries, a debate is growing about whether college graduates recoup the costs of their schooling in terms of later salary and career prospects.

And in Wuhan – a city whose cluster of universities prompted a visit from UK leader Theresa May last month – there was some unwelcome news for graduates last week. With the city turning out so many students, it seems that a degree is no longer viewed as a prerequisite solely for higher-flying jobs in areas like banking or management consultancy. Wuhan officials said they were also asking the workforce at its public toilets for evidence of a higher education.

Not surprisingly, the announcement prompted derision among netizens. But China’s public conveniences have been a topic of some debate during Xi Jinping’s period in office and their often lamentable state prompted a three-year government programme from 2015 to improve standards.

“Toilet issues are not petty matters, but are an important aspect of improving infrastructure in urban and rural areas,” the president was quoted as saying by Xinhua.

Perhaps that prompted Wuhan’s government to demand more qualifications from its toilet teams? Officials from the city’s urban management committee told Chongqing Morning Post that its job advertisements for public toilet managers had been misinterpreted. The employees would be managers overseeing multiple public toilet facilities. “They’re not cleaners,” the official told the website.

“Our committee values talent. Getting talented people to run toilets shows the high importance we attach to public toilets.”

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