Guangdong Cracks Down on Unqualified Foreign Teachers

By Jesse Pottinger, August 8, 2019

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As a country with a high demand for English teachers, the issue of unqualified foreigners working in schools and training centers is not a new one in China. And with parents paying top dollar for their children to get a quality education, many are rightly concerned that they’re not getting what they pay for.

According to China Daily, the latest act in the ongoing battle to tackle underqualified teachers in China comes from the Guangdong Provincial Department of Education. The department issued a notice stating that all educational institutions, from universities and colleges to training schools and kindergartens must enforce rigid background checks on all foreign teachers, and create files for each individual by September 15.

The new rules come in response to increased complaints by parents that teachers lack proper credentials, with some said to be on tourist visas. 

Posted on the Guangdong Provincial Department of Education website, the notice says that foreign teacher files will be submitted to local departments of education, public security, science and technology and foreign expert affairs.

“None of the foreigners are allowed to be recruited as teachers before they have been granted work permits and residence permits,” it reads. 

It also asks education institutions to critically assess the morality of foreign teachers during the process of assisting in work permit applications, and states that all schools are bound by Chinese laws when hiring foreign educators.

READ MORE: 5 Foreign Teachers Caught Without Proper Work Visa in Foshan

The State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs mandates that all of China’s foreign teachers must be native speakers who have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher, with a minimum of two years experience in a related field and no criminal record in order to obtain a teaching permit. 

Professor Chen Tianxiang of Nanfang College of Sun Yat-sen University told China Daily that foreign teachers should be held to an equal standard with their Chinese counterparts when teaching in China. 

“Chinese people need to be granted teachers’ certificates before they become teachers and give their students lessons, and therefore foreigners should also need to be granted work permits and relevant certificates when they want to work as teachers in Guangdong province,” says Chen.

Four hundred thousand foreigners worked in the field of education in China in 2017, according to the State Foreign Expert Affairs Department, and two-thirds of them were either without the correct visa or work permit, reports China Daily.

READ MORE: 16 Foreign Teachers and Students Detained for Drug Use in China

The recent announcement in Guangdong follows two high-profile cases of criminal activity involving foreign teachers. 

Last month, 16 foreign teachers and students were arrested for drug use in Jiangsu, and weeks later, a Colombia native was arrested for a January incident in which he molested a sleeping student. The man was quickly handed a five-year jail sentence.

Those involved in online teaching are not free from the nationwide education crackdown either, with the announcement in July that the personal information of China’s online foreign teachers would be made publicly available. 

Only time will tell if the latest regulations prove consequential for Guangdong’s less-than-qualified foreigners, but with the recent bust of five foreign teachers in Foshan, there’s no doubt that the issue is on the government’s radar.

[Cover image via Pixabay]

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