Foreign teachers face stronger regulation

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Foreign teachers face stronger regulation -

On Aug 2, Mayorga Heredia Daniel Oswaldo, a teacher at a kindergarten run by RYB Education in Qingdao, Shandong province, was sentenced to five years in prison for molesting a female student.

The Colombian national was given the sentence by Laoshan District People's Court in Qingdao for abusing his position and molesting the girl during nap time in January, the court said in a statement. He will be deported after he has served his sentence.

Video footage showed the 35-year-old entering a classroom at about 2 pm on Jan 25, and putting his hands under the girl's quilt for about one minute while the caretaker visited the bathroom, according to a statement released by RYB Education, a preschool education provider headquartered in Beijing.

Earlier last month, another incident involving foreign teachers caused outrage, when 16 foreign nationals-seven teachers from the Xuzhou branch of EF Education First and nine students from nearby schools-were among 19 people detained in Xuzhou, Jiangsu province, during an anti-narcotics crackdown, according to the local public security bureau.

EF Education First, an international company that specializes in language training, issued a statement saying that it forbids employees to possess or use narcotics or controlled substances, and the contracts of the teachers would be terminated if they were found to have been involved in illegal drug use.

The incidents triggered a flood of posts on social media platforms, with some demanding that the establishments be closed, while others called for the teachers to be deported.

Foreign teachers face stronger regulation -

Soaring demand

But even if that happens, more foreign teachers will follow in their wake because the soaring demand for English-language teachers means that finding a job is little more than a formality for many foreigners.

Last year, 300 million people in China were learning English, according to the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, which noted that there were 50,000 English-language teaching establishments in the country and the market was worth as much as 500 billion yuan ($71 billion).

However, according to the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs, of the 400,000 foreign nationals working in China's education sector in 2017, more than 60 percent were reported to be illegally employed.

According to a regulation issued by SAFEA, all foreign teachers must hold a valid work visa, be a native speaker with a bachelor's degree or higher and have at least two years' related teaching experience. In addition, they must not have a criminal record.

Though RYB Education claimed that Oswaldo has a valid work visa, the regulations mean that as a Colombian citizen whose mother tongue is Spanish, he is ineligible to work as an English-language teacher.

An undercover investigation by China Central Television recently showed that salaries paid to foreign English-language teachers are much higher than those for Chinese nationals doing the same job.

For example, at one training institution in Beijing, a Chinese teacher of English can earn 300 yuan an hour, while foreign teachers can earn as much as 1,800 yuan per hour simply by talking to the students.

When the undercover reporter asked to see the qualifications and working visas of foreign teachers at one training institute, his request was refused because it "violates the teachers' privacy". A different institute refused to show the reporter the relevant documents because it was a "business secret".

At another online English training institution, the reporter discovered that two of the English-language teachers were Portuguese nationals, even though the institution repeatedly assured him that all of its teachers were native speakers.

Chu Zhaohui, a senior researcher at the National Institute of Education Sciences, said the market for foreign teachers is like a gold rush, with abundant opportunities, few regulations and big profits for those who want to make a quick buck.

"For foreigners, applying for jobs in English-language teaching at training establishments is straightforward-often, simply submitting a resume is enough, and usually they are not required to undergo background checks, provide references or proof of qualifications," Chu said.

He added that parents and students are more forgiving of foreign teachers' lack of teaching credentials, especially if they are white-skinned native speakers, because they assume that all foreigners have the ability to teach their mother tongue.

The incidents involving Oswaldo and the teachers in Xuzhou show that the education authorities and training institutions need to introduce more, stronger regulations for the rapidly growing sector, he added.

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