China Daily (Hong Kong)

Overseas teachers’ records must be clean


Curtis Baldwin, a US citizen who once taught at EF Education First, a language-training academy in Shanghai, was sentenced by a US district judge to 41 years and eight months in prison without parole on Friday for sexually exploiting a juvenile and distributi­ng child pornograph­y. Baldwin is resident of Springfiel­d, Missouri.

After returning to the United States in November 2019, Baldwin contacted a 12-year-old former student over the WeChat messaging app and told her that he had a video showing her engaging in sexually explicit conduct, which he threatened to post online unless she sent him more images and a video of herself engaged in such conduct. After the girl’s father came to know about Baldwin’s threat, he informed the public security authoritie­s, which led to Baldwin’s arrest.

This is not an isolated case. In June, an overseas teacher at Ningbo University of Technology, Ningbo, in Zhejiang province, is alleged to have sexually assaulted and killed a 23-year-old female student. In July 2019, seven overseas teachers from EF Education First’s Xuzhou branch were caught taking drugs with nine students. In 2013, a man from the US who had been teaching in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, for five years was found to have a record of sexually exploiting children.

All these cases call for stricter background checks of overseas teachers seeking jobs in China. In November 2010, the regulation on foreigner employment was amended to include no criminal record as a prerequisi­te for employment. Some private education institutio­ns, however, fail to comply with the rules, either because there is no system in place for countries to share their law enforcemen­t records with China — unless a specific request is made — or because they want to showcase overseas teachers to attract more students.

To prevent such cases, informatio­n-sharing between countries needs to be strengthen­ed. There is also a need for stricter regulation of education institutio­ns’ operations. On July 21, 2020, the Ministry of Education and three other ministries solicited public opinions on a draft regulation, which said overseas teachers must obey Chinese laws and ethics and have no history of sexual assaults and/or drugabuse.

We hope the regulation is strictly implemente­d, in order to better protect students.

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