According to the Shanghai Times, classes in Huai’an in Jiangsu Province were shut down and students were bused to work at their local Foxconn plant where they were told to make iPhone 5s for rich Americans.
The strange turn of affairs came after the Foxconn plant couldn’t find sufficient workers.
One student who showed up at school expecting to be taught computing found herself and 200 other students driven to the factory.
They were paid $243.97 a month for their work, and were required to work six days a week and had to pay a fair chunk of that back to Foxconn for food and accommodation.
According to a China National Radio report, teachers from local schools admitted suspending routine classes over the next one or two months. They said the internships were a compulsory course for students to “experience working conditions and promote individual ability”, the report said.
But these claims do not really hold water because the students being recruited included finance, economics and law students who would not benefit at all from such work experience.
One Huai’an University student posting under the name of Dalingzhuimengnan said Foxconn was desperate for 10,000 workers, and being dragged into its factory was really stuffing up his academic plans.
To make matters worse the local authorities had ordered the schools to send students to assist Foxconn but said that the factory neither informed parents nor signed agreements with students.
If a student leaves the factory, they are punished by the school which sent them. While there is pressure on the students to sue their schools, most of them fear that they will not be allowed to graduate if they do.