Sunday, January 12, 2014

Police targeting illegal foreign teachers: foreigners as scapegoats?

Recently Chinese authorities launched some huge "man hunt" against foreigners working illegaly in China.
Looking at this, you can say it is a good thing. After all if foreigners work illegally, they don't obey the law. And they should be punished!

But in fact this is a very complex and messy situation. 
And targeting illegal foreign teachers instead of adressing a whole system makes no sense.

In Changsha police looks for illegal immigration, illegal residence, illegal employment.
"Police targets schools and training centers that have not received the proper qualification to employ foreign expert but do so on their own violation without explicit approval."
This raises a first issue. Only some schools and training centers are allowed to employ foreign expert.
Who gets the authorization to employ foreign expert and why? 
A lot depends on the school size, its network with local authorities. And Chinese students want foreign teachers. It means that schools who don't have foreign teachers won't do good business...
And this goes for all schools, even for kindergarten who teach 3 years old kids!
A strict implimentation of the law would result in a two system education: large schools and training center with money and network who thrive while recruiting foreigners vs small local schools and training center who could get out of business...

"Police targets teachers of foreign nationalities who do not have valid work credential or residence permit".
All are presumed to know the law.
Even though many foreigners are cheated to believe they have the right papers
They come to China to work for some school or go between company.
Once in China they have sometimes no idea that they work without the proper working visa!
Or they might find this out after a few months in China. Thus they could be stuck with a hard choice: going back to their home country or working illegaly, with the wrong paper...

I have heard countless stories of foreigners cheated like this! Chinese school will tell the foreign teacher that they take care of everything. They will reassure him with shameless lies.
They might even take his passeport from him... Of course foreigners are really naive to believe this. But many foreigners in China are young people, with little life experience. And they might never have faced this kind of scamm in their home countries!
Should they be punished? fined? jailed? banned to come back to China?

Too few foreign teachers
Many students want to study from a foreign teacher but foreigner teachers are too few. There is a huge gap between the demand and the offer.
I guess since it is really difficult for a school or maybe too expensive to hire a foreign teacher?

A few years ago only Chinese universities could hire a foreign teacher. Today some private schools can also recruit foreign teacher. But it is still complicated. I believe that universities put pressure on authorities so that not too many private schools are allowed to recruit foreign teacher. Universities pays foreign teacher twice less than private school! 
Your working visa only allows you to work for one specific school, university, company...
Even though private school will offer teachings to foreign teachers working elsewhere.

Complicity of police: working together with private schools and go between companies
Private school recruit foreign teachers who work elsewhere. 
Chinese go between company hire foreign teachers and send them to work for schools.
Local authorities are well aware of this. This system goes on for decades. Private schools and go between companies keep a good netwok with police: exchanging services, offering gift or money.
This is the same system as for prostitution, illegal alcoohol, illegal cigarette, narcotic, illegal betting, illegal construction and the list goes on...

Foreign university professors have little salary and little work
Foreign experts have little salary.
Working as a university professor, the salary varies between 4500 to 7000rmb in big cities.
It has been the same for last 10 years while life in China is much more expensive.

Foreign experts have little work.
At the same time and to compensate, there is little workload, working as a foreign teacher in some Chinese university. Else universities wouldn't be able to find any foreign teacher.
But there is worst: foreign experts are not paid during the two months summer holiday! How are they supposed to "survive" if not working illegally.

Universities don't want to pay too much for a foreign teacher
In fact universities don't want to pay more. They would rather recruit some foreign expert who has little working experience and pay him little. This makes no senses as many Chinese universities are not poor. They spend lot of money building facilities for instance.
In the end many foreign expert in Chinese universities are young people with little experience or unemployed middle aged people who try their luck in China. And many don't stay. This is what Chinese universities want: they would want to renew too many times the yearly foreign expert contract.
After a few years they try to find a better job. They often become teacher for some private school as the salary is much higher (10000rmb or more) or move back to their home country.

By the way, we can note that the same goes for Chinese university professor... Most of them have two jobs or give extra teachings to earn more.

Foreigners as scapegoat?
So here we are.
The Chinese police could shut down go between companies for recruiting foreign teachers and making them work elsewhere.
The Chinese police could shut down huge Chinese training center institutions for hiring illegal teachers or recruiting part time university professor.
The Chinese police could launch some internal survey.
Authorities could allow more schools and training centers to recruit foreign teachers.

There will be nothing of this.

The system can go on.

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