Brian Raymond Barrons gives an English class at Jilin Medical University in Jilin province. [Photo provided to China Daily]
China will establish a national information and service platform for foreign teachers to better regulate the increasing number of expats working in the country due to burgeoning demand for English-language training, according to a draft guideline issued on Tuesday.
The draft guideline, jointly published by the ministries of education, science and technology, public security, and foreign affairs, said education authorities should establish a national platform where education institutions such as schools and tutoring institutions will be able to register, report and seek information about foreign teachers. The information will also be shared among different authorities. The public can comment on the draft until Aug 21.
The country will also establish a credit system for foreign teachers, which will take into account both good behavior and violations of regulations and laws, the guideline said.
Those whose behavior is in accordance with Chinese laws and their work contracts, and who teach ethically and well, will have that recorded in the credit system and find it easier to obtain work permits in the future, it said.
The credit system will also record those who breach their contracts, commit crimes, use drugs, mistreat underage students or illegally engage in religious education. They should be fired and reported to the education authorities.
All foreign teachers must have no criminal record, infectious diseases, or a history of mental illness, sexual harassment or drug use, it said.
Foreign teachers working at schools should hold a valid work visa, have a bachelor's degree or higher and have at least two years' related teaching experience. Those working as language tutors at training institutions should hold a valid work visa, be a native speaker, have a bachelor's degree or higher and specific qualifications for teaching a language, it said.
Education institutions that hire unqualified foreign teachers or falsify work permits or other credentials will be fined from 1,000 yuan to 10,000 yuan ($143 to $1,430) per teacher, and those who seriously violate regulations will have their business permits revoked, it added.
In the past, as more foreigners came to China to meet the large demand for language training, incidents where they violated regulations and laws triggered floods of criticism on social media platforms.
According to the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, 300 million people in China were learning English in 2018 and the country has 50,000 English-language teaching establishments.
Last August, Daniel Oswaldo Mayorga Heredia, a teacher at a kindergarten run by RYB Education in Qingdao, Shandong province, was sentenced to five years in prison for molesting a girl during nap time.
Seven foreign teachers from the Xuzhou branch of EF Education First were detained in Xuzhou, Jiangsu province, during an anti-narcotics crackdown last July.
Chu Zhaohui, a researcher at the National Institute of Education Sciences, said greater regulation is urgently needed as the large demand for English-language teachers means that finding a job is little more than a formality for many foreigners.
Many institutions often require no background checks, references or proof of qualifications, Chu said.
Waiting for the market to weed out institutions engaged in malpractice in hiring foreign teachers meant students were still at the mercy of unqualified teachers, and the authorities must step up scrutiny of all educational institutions, he said.