The detention of foreign teachers in China for taking drugs sparked wide discussion on Chinese social media on Wednesday, with many calling for a crackdown on “unqualified” and “immoral” foreign teachers in the country.
Nineteen people have been detained in Xuzhou, East China’s Jiangsu Province for allegedly taking drugs. Sixteen of them are foreigners, with seven from an education company and nine foreign students, the Xuzhou police said on Sina Weibo on Wednesday.
One foreigner was arrested on suspicion of committing a criminal offense and the 18 others were given administrative detention.
Police said the case is still under investigation.
Xuzhou’s education bureau said on Wednesday that it had started investigating the case and that the bureau will take strict measures against illegal issues in a citywide campaign to regulate education and training institutions, news portal thepaper.cn reported.
The type of illegal drug involved and the name of the education company were withheld from the statement.
Media reported Wednesday that a number of foreign teachers from EF Education First (EF)’s Xuzhou center have been detained by police for allegedly taking drugs. EF is an international education company established in Sweden and has education centers in many Chinese cities, the company’s website said.
EF has launched its own investigation and said it subscribes to zero tolerance to the illegal behavior of its employees. It also bans its employees from taking restricted medicine or drugs, the company said in a statement sent to the Global Times on Wednesday.
“We will further strengthen teacher training and management to ensure that every foreign teacher understands relevant Chinese laws, regulations and policies,” the statement said.
According to its website, most of its foreign teachers are from English-speaking countries with TEFL (Teaching English as Foreign Language in China) or other professional qualifications. They underwent rigorous interviews and training before being hired.
The case has aroused widespread concerns among parents and students, with many calling for a nationwide inspection of the qualifications of foreign teachers at English learning organizations.
The hashtag “foreign teachers from EF detained for taking drugs” attracted nearly 120 million views on Sina Weibo as of press time.
A mother from Suzhou, Jiangsu Province who had sent her 3-year-old child to EF, told the Global Times that she won’t drop the class but will closely watch the behavior of foreign teachers in class.
Another mother of a 5-year-old boy from Hebei Province who intended to sign up with EF told the Global Times that after seeing the news, she worries the morals of teachers would have badly influenced her child.
Foreign experts engaged in language teaching in China must obtain a work visa and have a bachelor’s degree or higher, at least two years of teaching-related experience and no criminal record, according to China’s regulation on foreign experts’ work permits.
But some schools in China recruit unqualified foreign teachers for their own interests, who might have fake experiences or degrees or moral problems. And by using the “foreign teacher” gimmick, schools could earn more, education analysts and insiders noted.
Foreigners can easily teach at some private Chinese companies after a simple interview, and some would even recruit foreigners not from English-speaking countries to teach English as they are cheaper than a native English speaker, an industry insider surnamed Liu told the Global Times.
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.
In 2017, a Canadian teacher with a sexual assault history in his country worked at a private Beijing school for six years, Beijing Youth Daily reported.
Newspaper headline: Foreign teachers detained for drug use