It has been reported that hundreds of college students in Shanxi province were recently the victims of a scam after they signed up for a volunteer teaching summer program. 支教 (lit. educational support) programs, through which volunteers go and teach for free in remote or underdeveloped areas, are quite popular among Chinese college students. In this case however, after arriving at the place where they were supposed to volunteer on July 16th, the students realized that what they had signed up for was really a trap — the organizers not only did not have the relevant qualifications for recruiting volunteer teachers, but also charged the local students for the extra classes, which they promoted as review classes (补习班).
The organization behind the scheme, the “Shanxi Love Educational Support Alliance” (陕西爱心支教联盟), was found out to be a business called Shanxi Shangsi Education Technology Co., Ltd (陕西尚思教育科技有限公司). According to Wang Li (a pseudonym), a first-year college student, the organizers came to their class in college and encouraged the students to participate in their volunteer teaching program. After interviews consisting of three to five minutes of teaching presentations, eligible students received an offer to sign a contract with the organization and spend 30 days on their volunteer teaching program. Almost everyone passed the interview.
After their arrival in the area where they were going to teach, the college students were told to go to the streets and hand out flyers promoting the program. Wang Li then noticed that the flyers had the prices of the classes written on them, varying from 6 to 8 RMB per lesson. It raised some questions in his mind: wasn’t volunteer teaching supposed to be for free?
One of the flyers handed out by the “Shanxi Love Educational Support Alliance”
Source from: YNET.COM
However, the college students did not realize it was a scam until village officials came and questioned them on whether they had business license. “We were very regretful. A lot of villagers called us liars. We paid for the students’ tuition fees ourselves and wrote a letter of apology”, Wang Li says. After coming back to their campus, Wang Li and his classmates asked for an explanation from the two people responsible but were unable to reach them.
Governmental officials claimed that the relevant departments at the district and national levels have investigated and banned the company involved. After the incident, several universities in Xian issued a document warning students not to be taken in by such organizations.