Foreign teacher rules tighten amid scandals

By Deng Xiaoci Source:Global Times Published: 2019/7/15 21:58:40

Online agencies ordered to provide more qualification documents

A foreign teacher gives a lesson to pupils in a local primary school in Shanghai. Photo: CFP


Multiple central government departments, including the Ministry of Education (MOE), are demanding all online education agencies in China to employ only foreign staff who meets the requirements of the country's relevant laws and regulations.

Documents showing the qualifications of teachers employed by online agencies are among the materials that must be submitted to the relevant authorities, and foreign staff will be required to provide additional documents to prove their education and work experience, their teaching qualifications and abilities, according to the notice released on the website of MOE on Monday.

"Employment of foreign staff must be in line with the country's relevant laws and regulations. And foreign staff's names, profile pictures and teaching qualifications, as well as their educational backgrounds, working and teaching experience must be displayed on the online agency's platform," the notice said.

According to the notice, a nationwide check should be completed before the end of 2019.

Once the nationwide check is completed, a national unified supervision system for online education agencies shall be established before the end of 2020, the notice said. 

A publicly available list will also be established showing whether an online agency has implemented the regulations, said the notice. 

Such moves, according to the notice, are designed to promote the sustainable and healthy development of the "internet and education," and to address emerging problems, such as under-qualified online teaching staff and some online platforms that have shown to have links to harmful and vulgar information or internet game-related content directed at their students.

Lü Yugang, an official from the Ministry of Education, said at a Monday conference that the authorities would raise the entrance bar for such foreign employees. 

Once they go against laws or regulations, they shall be dealt with in a serious manner with no appeasement, the official said.

A Beijing mother surnamed Li, whose primary-school son is taking online courses with a foreign teacher, hailed the new policies, saying the extra teaching qualification information would better assure parents. 

Strict selection of qualified foreign teachers has already been implemented in China as the country saw a sharp increase in the demand in recent years. 

VIPKID, one of China's largest online English learning platforms, said in a statement sent to the Global Times on Monday that they invest annually several million US dollars to conduct background check on its foreign faculty, including their criminal records.

Bruno, a senior French language tutor in Shenyang, Northeast China's Liaoning Province, told the Global Times that "to attain a legitimate work visa in China for language teaching is increasingly difficult, as one has to have a master's degree, at least two years of teaching experience and loads of paperwork, such as a birth certificate." 

Everything must be certified by the Chinese embassy in the foreign country, he said. 

Foreigners who want to be a language teacher in China must be aware that some so-called schools do not really have the license to hire foreigners. They may teach on a business visa, which is illegal, according to Bruno. 

The notice comes after seven foreign teachers from EF Education First's Xuzhou branch in East China's Jiangsu Province were detained last week for allegedly taking drugs, which sparked heated discussions online, with many calling for a crackdown on "unqualified" and "immoral" foreign teachers in the country.

More than 400,000 foreign teachers were working in the education industry in China in 2017 and only one-third of them are legal foreign teachers, according to a report by Banyuetan, a magazine under the Xinhua News Agency.

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