By Yuzhou Hu
The job market for foreign teachers of the English language is no doubt a hot one in China due to high demand from parents seeking to provide their little ones with a good head start. But improper training remains an issue in the industry, with unqualified teachers recently being exposed in learning institutions around China.
Earlier this month, an administration manager of a private kindergarten in Beijing surnamed Xia was sentenced to eight months in prison along with a fine of RMB10,000. This was handed down at the People's Court in Tongzhou District of Beijing after he was found guilty of purchasing fake diplomas from a foreign teacher agent surnamed Wang, who received the same sentence, according to The Paper.
Image via Sohu
Back in 2017, Xia recruited two foreign 'teachers' to his kindergarten (one from Serbia, and the other from Ukraine), who possessed neither academic credentials nor valid visas.
According to the State Administration of Foreign Expert Affairs (SAFEA), foreigners must have a bachelor's degree or above and a minimum of two years' relevant work experience to obtain a work permit. Therefore, both expats were not qualified to work at kindergartens or apply for working visas.
To validate their stay in the kindergarten, Xia bought fabricated diplomas from Wang for RMB16,600. However, the fake diploma was recognized on the spot when one of the foreigners was applying for a working permit at Beijing Administration of Foreign Expert Affairs. When asked where these fake diplomas came from, Wang replied, "I made them on Photoshop." The two expats have since been repatriated.
Image via Sina
Xia's case is not an isolated incident. Wang Yishi, an official from SAFEA, told People's Daily that there were around 400,000 foreign teachers working in training centers around the country last year, and only one-third of them were said to be holding the appropriate certificates.
Last summer, Shanghai cracked down on over 500 disqualified learning institutions, which were requested to stop recruiting students and withdraw inauthentic advertisement. However, many of them are still currently in operation. One of the operators even referred the education industry as "the most stable industry to throw your money into."
This rogue behavior in the education industry may be due in part to a growing number of children commencing their English language studies before entering primary school. "I signed my daughter up for English classes when she was only 5," a parent surnamed Lin told Sohu. "I thought I was already foresighted. However, when I got there, a staff member asked what took me so long. According to her, other five-year-old kids had been learning for over two years."
Incidents like these are no doubt a cautionary tale for both parents and teachers alike.
[Cover image via Sohu]
A version of this article was originally published by our sister magazine Urban Family Shanghai. For more articles like this, visit the Urban Family website, or follow the Urban Family WeChat account (ID: urbanfamilyshanghai).