A foreign teacher at a kindergarten run by RYB Education in Qingdao, Shandong province has been arrested for allegedly molesting a female pupil, rekindling concerns about the qualifications of foreign teachers at private institutions.
The local procuratorate arrested the teacher after the region's public security department conducted an investigation, the People's Procuratorate of Shibei district in Qingdao said on Friday.
A video showed the teacher, from Columbia and identified as Daniel, entering a classroom and putting his hands into the girl's quilt during naptime for about one minute as the Chinese caretaker left for the bathroom at 2 pm on Jan 25, the Beijing-based preschool operator said in a statement.
The incident was uncovered after the child's parents reported it and the school reviewed surveillance tapes. Police detained Daniel on Jan 29, immediately after the kindergarten and the girl's parents reported the case, it said.
The news triggered a flood of posts on social media platforms, with some demanding the preschool to be shut down and others calling for the teacher to be deported.
The hashtag "foreign teachers at RYB kindergarten molesting a female child" has been read 340 million times, with 53,000 posts at Sina Weibo.
It's the second time RYB has been hit by a claim of abuse at one of its Chinese kindergartens, after reports of children at an RYB Education preschool being poked with needles and maltreated by a 22-year-old female teacher caused public outcry in 2017.
A Beijing court in June sentenced the teacher, surnamed Liu, to a year and a half in prison and barred her from teaching or caring for minors within five years of her release.
Another incident involving foreign teachers caused outrage after sixteen foreigners – seven teachers from the Xuzhou branch of EF Education First and nine students from nearby schools – were among 19 people detained in Xuzhou earlier this month in an anti-narcotics crackdown, according to the Xuzhou public security bureau.
EF issued a statement saying it absolutely forbids employees to possess or use narcotics or controlled substances, and the contracts of the teachers involved would be terminated if they were proved to be involved in illegal drug use.
The Ministry of Education said it would strengthen oversight of foreign teachers at after-school training institutions and any teacher found to have violated laws and regulations will be seriously punished according to the law, no matter who they are.
Lyu Yugang, director of the ministry's department of basic education, said at a news conference that training institutions that hire international teachers should follow relevant regulations for foreigners employed in China.
Teachers they hire should be filed with the education authority, including their basic personal information, employment history, educational background, teaching credentials and other qualifications, Lyu said.
In addition, training institutions should publish the information of all teachers, Chinese or foreign, and it should be made available to the public, including students' parents and other interested parties, he said.