SA English teachers still flocking to China

Classroom. File picture
Classroom. File picture
Image: Gallo Images/ IStock. File photo

South Africans are still queueing up to teach English in China despite several incidents of teachers being detained and deported for visa violations.

Two international teacher recruitment agencies confirmed they were receiving hundreds of job applications monthly from South Africans wanting to teach in China.

Jim Althans, director of recruitment for Gold Star TEFL Recruitment, said that it received about 120 applications a month, while another agency, Teacher horizons, said it had hundreds signing up every month for posts in Asia and the Middle East.

New Zealand education minister Chris Hipkins announced in October he was planning to recruit 6,000 overseas-based teachers, including South Africans, because of a teacher shortage in his country.

Meanwhile, the Chinese embassy and consulates-general in SA issued more than 1,200 work visas in 2018 to mostly South Africans to work as English teachers in China.

Those teaching English earn between R30,000 and R36,000 a month, and their perks include a free furnished flat, medical aid and a flight allowance.

Carla du Plessis, 25, from Johannesburg, who is teaching at an international school in China, said teaching English to Chinese children was very rewarding.

“I have adapted to this lifestyle, though it did take a while. It is quite difficult when you come to a place where most people can’t speak English and simple things like shopping for groceries are far more difficult than you would think,” she said.

“I would urge any South African who wants to work abroad to do proper research and make sure you don’t set foot in another country without a work visa.

“If you decide to join an agency, make sure you protect yourself by asking for a Z [China] work visa before going abroad.”

Noxolo Phungula, 26, from Hattingspruit in northern KwaZulu-Natal, said there were many South Africans, as well as Africans from the rest of the continent, in China.

“The teaching profession is highly respected in China, and parents and pupils usually go to great lengths to accommodate and please their teachers.”

Helaine Going, 29, from Durban, said there were many South Africans teaching at a training centre in China where she is employed.

Meanwhile, Tristan-Lee Niemand, 19, and six other South Africans were recently deported from China for visa-related violations.

International relations confirmed that 98 South Africans were detained in China in the past six months for visa-related violations.- TimesLIVE