2/3 Of Foreign Teachers Working Illegally!?
New guidelines target rogue recruitment agencies
Mohsine el Baghdadi always wanted to be an English teacher in China, considering such a job to be ideal.
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A friend who taught English in China told the 27-year-old Moroccan that foreign teachers are in high demand, there are boundless opportunities and the jobs are well paid.
Baghdadi’s own experience confirmed this. Replies flooded in after he posted a message on Facebook, stating: “Hello from Morocco. I am an English-language teacher searching for a good job with a good salary in China.”
Many of the replies were job invitations from recruitment agencies, while others came from language institutes. For the most part, they told Baghdadi that applying for a job in China was straightforward. It was sufficient merely to submit a resume.
The salary also was tempting. Baghdadi teaches English in Morocco, where he is paid $500 a month. However, those who approached him from China offered a monthly salary ranging from $1,500 to $2,500, with a bonus.
But he said some of those who replied appeared too eager to hire foreign teachers, and Baghdadi said he was even given “illegal advice” about getting a job.
The regulation on foreign experts’ work permits states that overseas language teachers in China must obtain a work visa and be a native speaker with a bachelor’s degree or higher, have at least two years of related teaching experience and no criminal record.
This means that Baghdadi, who is not a native English speaker and does not have sufficient experience in teaching the language, may never have the chance to work in China as a teacher.
“But some agencies told me that they could help me apply for a Chinese business visa, and I could become a teacher in China, come what may,” he said.
Teaching English is a lucrative business in China, as the country’s opening-up to the world means more people are looking to learn the “universal language”. For foreigners, their nationality and even their skin tone can, at times, be their ticket to securing a teaching job.
According to a report last year from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, 300 million people in China were learning English. There were 50,000 English-language training institutions in the country and the training market was worth as much as 500 billion yuan ($72 billion), the report said.
The high demand for English-language instruction had made finding a job for most foreigners, particularly those who are white, little more than a formality.
According to a survey by Banyuetan, a Xinhua News Agency magazine, in 2017, there were more than 400,000 foreign teachers working in the education sector in China, but only one-third of them were employed legally.
In recent years, the country has been rocked by a number of high-profile scandals resulting from a lack of vigilance in hiring foreign teachers. In some cases, people with questionable backgrounds have landed jobs.
However, the situation is expected to change soon. On July 15, the Ministry of Education, together with five other central authorities, issued new guidelines on after-school training to specify the qualifications, requirements and supervision needed for such services.
The guideline states that educational institutions must publicly display the personal details of any foreign teachers they employ, including their names, photographs, teaching qualifications and previous academic and professional experience.
Institutions should rectify any “problems” before the end of June next year, or could face punishment ranging from a fine to being suspended or closed, the guideline added.