Jacob Harlan, founder of the China Horizons placement programme, and programme director Alyssa Petersen, were detained in September in Jiangsu Province, on charges of “organizing others to illegally cross the border”, according to the New York Times.
Harlan’s company is one of many recruitment agencies vying for foreign graduates to teach in China. The country’s private language sector alone employs 400,000 foreign teachers, two thirds of them teaching illegally, according to the local press.
Teacher shortages have increased following the introduction this year of stricter visa rules. Foreign teachers must now obtain a Z visa before entering the county, and need to have a passport from an English-speaking country, a first degree, and either a 120-hour TESOL certificate or two years teaching experience (See page 31).
Research by the EL Gazette reveals that China Horizon teachers were being placed in state schools and private boarding schools. They were offered one week’s Tesol training on arrival in Beijing and were not required to have teaching experience. Teachers’ visas were arranged by the company.
Two Chinese nationals were convicted earlier this year of bringing in foreign teachers without the required qualifications or Z visas.