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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

EF Indonesia, English First Indonesia

Your intrepid sleuth came across the following diatribe on his wanderings. The article is in serious danger of becoming extinct as it has been heavily censored on some sites and has even been completely pulled on at least two others. Here it can be preserved for posterity. The Inspector isn't too sure who wrote it but will be very happy to acknowledge the author if he cares to drop him a line.

"The biggest advances that man can make are achieved through knowledge and education. Education in Indonesia is usually only thought of in terms of the primary, secondary, high schools and universities of Indonesia. But what about the English language schools which are operating throughout Indonesia as privatized businesses? Who is accounting for THEIR academic standards? THEIR employments standards? THEIR employment practices?

English First is the biggest and most well known chain of franchised English language schools in Indonesia. They are well known, by name, by Indonesian students and are trusted by Indonesians to be an establishment that sells the highest academic excellence in the ESL industry. Having been an employee of this chain, I would challenge any claims of academic excellence and I am miffed at the recruiting techniques, contract negotiating, academic standards and treatment of their academic staff. I would also challenge English First to their competence in providing solid methodologies or techniques in teaching the spoken English language.

I am also miffed as to how this school can continually circumvent Indonesian employment laws, circumvent the immigration laws and visa regulations as well as circumvent Indonesian laws in regards to contractual employment agreements. As a former upper management staff member of an English First school, I was under the impression that Indonesian law required expat teachers to have qualifications to teach spoken English in Indonesia. I was also under the impression that to acquire a KITAS, foreign English teachers were required to be NATIVE speakers of English and MUST be from Australia, Canada, USA, New Zealand or England. So why does English First have many teachers throughout their franchised system who are from countries other than the countries not on the list? And how do these teachers from OTHER countries have KITAS visas when they are full time ESL teachers at a language school?

Currently, the largest numbers of employed teachers from OTHER countries are from the Philippines and their contract salaries are considerably less than that of those from the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand or England. I was also under the impression that teachers were required to have verifiable qualifications to TEACH spoken English. How and why does English First continually hire what are supposed to be Professional teachers when the majority of their teachers have NO experience teaching spoken English, no qualifications to TEACH spoken English or are not even native speakers from the 5 stipulated countries clearly written in Indonesian Employment codes?

Why are English First teachers required to meet an “Agent” in Singapore, wait 3 months for a legal work permit and during the “waiting period” must be hidden from view when immigration agents show up at the school?

I am also curious to know why English First can consistently sign teachers to 1 year contracts yet not provide LEGAL KITAS work permits for 4 or 5 or 6 months, sometimes longer, for teachers even though the contract has been already signed. Is there a loophole in the law? Is it not the legal responsibility of English First to provide legal work papers at the time of contract signing?

Why is it that English First is allowed to change the terms of the contract of the teacher AFTER the contract is signed by both parties? And how is this done with no legal representation for the party whose contract is being changed?

Why are Native teachers required to sign a contract that stipulates that if they leave prior to the final date of contract they must pay $1000-1500usd, prorated for time of service, for the KITAS work permits when they are provided no receipts or proof of cost for the work permits? Where are these work permits coming from?

Why are there Native teachers honoring their contracts and teaching yet they receive no legal working paperwork for up to 6 months after arrival? Education is the future of Indonesia, the future of all who live on our earth. The President of Indonesia, a few months ago, stated that the acquirement of the English language is a priority of this country. Why is the future of Indonesian students treated with such passive carelessness?

Why can a school like English First consistently market themselves as academic professionals when it is obvious to professional English teachers that they have no competence in the industry which they represent? Indonesian students of English should be demanding educational competence from these privatized schools and demanding qualifications from the teachers who are teaching them or your children before they enroll. More over, companies that choose to be in the education industry should be required to meet basic academic and employment standards that are equivalent to the countries they represent. Meaning, privatized English schools should not be allowed to operate within’ Indonesian borders unless they can meet the minimum academic and employment standards of the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand or England.

English First has spent 7 years in making themselves an “Image” name in Indonesia. A statement they proudly and repeatedly clarify in their operating manuals. And according to their operating manuals they are ONLY an image name in Indonesia. They are not an “Image” native teachers want to list on their CV’s because reputable other ESL employers find EF to be less then sub-standard in academic delivery. They are not an “Image” name on ESL teacher forums on the internet where they are blasted for management and academic incompetence on a daily basis. They are not an “Image” name amongst international ESL Academic’s such as TOEFL, TOEIC, IELTS and the de facto ESL accrediting agency, The British Council."



Inspector McHammered of the Lard in Val Ferret, Switzerland

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Sandy McManus said...

This item might also be of interest to EF-watchers everywhere:

Surely another case for the redoubtable Inspector McHammered of The Lard!!

Anonymous said...

Ahhhhhh, yes! A lard after my own heart. After suffering the indignation of working for EF in Indonesia, I can whole-heartedly concur. As a very experienced, qualified teacher, I was salaried the same as a first-year teacher off a CELTA course (ok, I knew in advance, but still not good practice).
What they offer, is a quality teaching establishment, what they actually provide is a franchise in marketing.
They do have good teachers, in spite of what they pay and how they manage their schools, but they certainly are not there because of the teaching excellence or salaries on offer.
If you really want a laugh, try reading one of their job ads - the bit about a tropical island always wins over the highly qualified Tefler. In fact, they even employ 'teachers' without any TEFL qualifications.
I worked at EF Surabaya which is known as the best in Indonesia - god help the rest. From the very start I wondered why EF thought that they could produce course books better than Oxford, Cambs. or the many other good publishers. Could it be that they, like Callan and certain others had found the new way forward? Or, could it be a marketing ploy to make the kids think that they were getting more for their money? Cynical old me?!?

As to visas, one must understand that 'paperwork' means 'bribes' and that the system here runs on backhanders, so they are doing as all other schools do and as long as they cross the right palms, the teachers are quite safe and 'legal' (I use the term in its loosest sense).
One also has to consider the students, most of whom only go because they are made to and just see it as a social meeting place. There are very good schools here, where, invariably, when the students want to study IELTS etc, they move on to.
There you have it, a balanced view that completely agrees that EF are indeed a crap organisation.

Abused and underage said...

Not gonna give my name, because I am currently illegally employed by EF. Constantly finding myself frustrated. The worst part for me is that it is now nearly May and they've been holding my passport since FEBRUARY because they have to send it off to an "agent" every month to renew my social visa. I don't have a Kitas, I'm not allowed a bank account in my own name, and I'm frustrated as hell. I don't want to leave, however, because I really want the end of contract bonus.
I hate that the first line on their website is about how they legally employ teachers.