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Blacklist Nomination: Kong Jiang Shanghai
I have been teaching at Kongjiang High School, in Yangpu District of Shanghai for about 3 months - and thank God that's all the time I have to be here for. As often seems to be the case, the administration has turned the experience into a nightmare. Let me say from the outset however, that the teachers here are very friendly, and the students are very intelligent and pleasant to teach.
Admin. Though does not have a clue and really doesn't seem to care less. Communication, no matter how polite you are, is almost impossible, and you feel like you're being treated with contempt. The list of problems I had, and which never even an attempt at addressing was made include:

1) Accommodation - Forget about an apartment or anything like that, even by SH standards of apartment living. What you will get is a room in a dormitory building also occupied by students. The room includes a bathroom, but you have to share the kitchen with up to 7 other people. The rooms all have non-existent acoustic insulation - what this means is that you will hear every, and I mean every, little noise that is made on the floor above your head. Seeing as this floor is occupied by eight students coming and going from 6AM - 10PM, this is a lot of noise, all day long.

2?jThere is a telephone that will accept calls, but they have steadfastly ignored my requests for a line that calls outside the school to be installed. This means there is no way you can connect to the internet, nor phone out using an IP card, nor even call emergency numbers in case of fire or what-not for that matter!

3) What you agree upon with administration will probably be ignored. When I got my timetable it turned out to be the opposite to our agreement. They gave me "overtime" classes and expected me to teach them, but there was never any arrangement about overtime at all, just a vague promise that I would be paid at some stage (which I haven't been yet). The classes were at times and on days we had previously agreed they would not be on, and there were simply too many (29 a week). When I pointed this out I was told the timetable was now impossible to alter. I had to literally strike certain classes to get my way.

4) As far your workspace, you get a small desk in a crowded office which has one computer with very slow and unreliable internet shared with six other teachers (and this is in Shanghai!). There are no printers, and photocopying is heavily discouraged. If you ask for more than 50 sheets, they are just as likely to say "No". This, of course, makes it really hard when you are told to "just teach writing" (or whatever), and you have to provide all your own resources. 

5) Two months into my stay, the admin decided to renovate the whole dormitory building, completely disregarding the fact that I and another foreign teacher still live there. After a few days of incessant and constant hammering and drilling, I demanded alternative accommodation. As is usual here, I am still waiting 4 weeks later, and the renovation still continues right above my head, 7 days a week, 6AM - 6PM.

In short: The main problem with this school is that, as a foreign teacher, you feel like you simply do not exist as far as the admin is concerned - because whatever you ask, no matter how polite or culturally sensitive you try to be, absolutely and I mean absolutely nothing gets done about it. My advice: Avoid Kongjiang High School (yangpu District - Shanghai).

Daniel du Prie
12 June 2004
PR China