Teachers left devastated by floods

Teachers left devastated by floods

The flood disaster is heaping misery on numerous foreign teachers

Many of Thailand's foreign English teachers face an uncertain and unsettling few months as the floodwaters, which have ravaged areas such as Ayutthaya and Pathum Thani, bear down on Bangkok. For many schools the new school term, which should have begun in the first week of November, has been delayed indefinitely, leaving teachers completely in the dark. Many chalkies are wondering if they'll even get paid for what is shaping up to be a long period of inactivity.

The situation is particularly distressing for those waiting to start a new job. On the ajarn Facebook page, one teacher wrote that he was due to start a teaching position at a new school on October 31st. The school contacted him to say that the floods had caused them to postpone the first day of term until the 7th. Then the 7th became the 14th and who knows what will happen beyond that? The teacher is lucky inasmuch as he has been given lesson preparation and worksheets to do from the comfort of his home, but that won't be the same story for everyone. Many teachers will just have to play a waiting game. Another teacher contacted ajarn to say they had no idea when their school would open. Every question aimed at the school admin staff is met with a shrug of the shoulders. What else is there to say?

It's even worse I suppose if you are not even in the country. There you are, suitcase packed, ready to leave for the airport - only to have the school tell you "please don't come now - we're under water" This has happened to one teacher whose three-week break in the USA has already turned into six and has no idea when his school will be open for business. "I've already switched my flight back to Thailand twice. The second time as I was about to leave for the airport. It's all incredibly frustrating"

Although a lot of schools have penciled in the 15th November as the start of term, it could still be optimistic. Even after the floodwater has receded, there are going to be gigantic clean-up operations necessary. One ajarn forum reader said that their school was inundated by over a metre of water. One can only hope someone had the sense and foresight to move all equipment, furniture and paperwork up to a higher level.

Although there are some optimistic reports in the media, stating that this could all be over within 2-3 weeks, some teachers are not taking any chances. One teacher, who lives near the Saen Saeb Canal in Bangkok, wrote "the school told the teachers that classes will tentatively begin on the 15th and the school term will be extended into March. Teachers are welcome to go back from the 10th November and claim full salary, but I'm not sticking around. My home is in a risky area being so close to one of the proposed drainage canals, so I'm bailing out to a neighboring country for an extended holiday"

The biggest worry for many teachers of course is are they going to get paid for the downtime? The more unscrupulous school owners and agents have never been slow to pick up on an opportunity to ‘nickel and dime' a teacher out of bonuses, overtime and holiday pay. Will a flood provide the golden opportunity to say ""well, the insurance companies aren't paying out so why should we?"

One teacher said on the ajarn forum that his school has promised all teachers half-pay for the time the school is closed and no lessons are being taught. There is also the promise that the school will ‘make up the money at a later date'. Any Thailand old hand will hear those words and know that it's probably best to dip into the salt bag and take an extra large pinch.

Worrying times indeed.

Are you a teacher caught up in the flood situation? Tell us about your situation in the comments section below.


I just recently started at an International school in Nonthaburi. I had been working there for 2 weeks when the school had to close for the floods. I haven't been able to stay at my home since then, it has been about a month and a half. My boss paid me my salary for the month of Oct. less 20% which he told us we would earn back in December with an extended school term. Now school has not started and we have not worked the whole month of November. I have been floating around Thailand, staying with friends, renting cheap places but am totally out of money. My boss has had ZERO communication about the situation and I have no idea if I will get my salary for November or have a job at all once the floods recede. I am looking for other positions but they are slim picking now, probably because of the floods. Sure picked a GREAT time to move to Thailand, hope I can stay, just starting to fall in love with it!

By Elizabeth, Bang Kruai, Nonthaburi (27th November 2011)

December 6th seems to be the new start date for Bkk govt and private schools. Living hand to mouth doesn't work in a disaster scenario, does it?

By Guy, Bkk (22nd November 2011)

hi to everyone who posted in response to the article, ive just 2 years teaching in china and been back home in England for 6 months planning my move to Bangkok was expected to leave by the new term of august bu then my dad got sick so stayed to see him until he was better then all the flood took over, and clearly from the media and news was not a good time for me to head out and now ive postponed my move until new year but seems not so many schools are hiring. feel for all the hard working teachers and expats suffering, i just have no idea what to do now seems all a bit sketchy and uncertain with employment i cant survive without a stable income obviously. so guess i may have to relocate somewhere else.

By Prashant Parekh, england (22nd November 2011)

I teach for a school in Pathum Thani, which has massive flood damage. I saw pictures recently and I can't even imagine how long it will take to clean it up.
I am still getting paid from my employer but noone seems to know when the school will reopen, or what will happen if the school can't reopen in the foreseeable
future. My concern is that my employer will let me go because they can't continue to pay me. I am new--only started in July, and there are not many openings at
other schools currently. My common sense would tell me that the teachers who have been here longer will be the ones to get transfered to the other schools - not a newbie like me. I'm hoping I won't have to start looking for another job.

By Andi, Bangkok, Thailand (22nd November 2011)

I'm having to take a job in Nong Bua Lamphu in Isan because i'm running out of money. The school told me no pay for no work. I'm not sure what they expect me to do but their attitude seems to be that since i'm farang I can pull money out of my ass.

By Derrick Fields, Bangkok (22nd November 2011)

I personally know of 4 different teachers in the BKK area who haven't been paid--and were told they wouldn't be--for November and some or all of December. Two of them have gone to work in Vietnam, one to China, and one to a different part of Thailand. There may be a 'void' when a lot of these places reopen and they find out their teachers have split. What do they expect?

By Matt, Thailand (22nd November 2011)

My sympathies go out to those still having problems.Keep your chin up guys things will improve soon.

By Chris Bell, Ayutthaya (21st November 2011)

2 months flood two months no salary! too bad for me.

By sigh, Pathumthani (14th November 2011)

I stay in Bangkok, but work in Nonthaburi. My school has been flooded badly, 1.5m. I can consider myself lucky as I have been paid full salary for October and I was supposed to be back at school on the 24th October. Because of floods everything was postponed. I am too positive if I say that I can back to school at the beginning of December.

By Thunder26, Bangkok (7th November 2011)

October was contractually a paid holiday. My school was suppose to start back up on the 1st of November. That date changed to the 7th and now the 15th. I had to leave for a visa run in October and I decided to stay away until things looked safe to return.

My apartment area isn't flooded yet, but it's on the alert list and the school is in serious danger of flooding badly. I'm scared to return, but I should get the rest of my valuables out of there and try to get paid. But what if the airport floods and I'm stuck there? I have plenty of job offers elsewhere. Do I try to go back and get my stuff and risk it or just plan on kissing my pictures and valuables goodbye as well as a month's salary?

By Sandy, Asia (6th November 2011)

First of all Wendy, your prayers are most welcomed but you only have about 2-years experience teaching in Thailand. Let me be as polite and straight to the point (this will be a first for me). You do not want to pray that everything returns back to normal unless you're referring to the flood disaster specifically. It is automatic that schools will return back to normal soon and normal is what you don't want if you have many years experience teaching in Thailand. Secondly Liam you are not lucky but rather smart. Good-luck on everything. Hey Guy, bring your own after this year is finished, as I am pretty much writing off the Bangkok area and the remainder of 2001, and before Phil jumps all over me this is 100% strictly my oppinion only. Lastly Paul me for one and I am sure every teacher here appreciates your prayers. We can use your money more though a good gesture. You're probably lucky you got sick because you might have failed the required physcial, meaning they sometimes check your blood pressure before taking your 80-200Baht for two certificates. Greg you are the winner.

By Donald Patnaude, Bangkok (6th November 2011)

My boss refused to pay me during these days. Seems that a contract in Thailand means little if anything.

By Greg, Bangkok (5th November 2011)

My sympathies goes out to my friends in Thailand from HatYai, Bangkok, ChiangRai to Doi Maesalong.
I can imagine from reading the news that BangKok and indeed the whole of Thailand is in for a very severe time ahead in the next several months at least. Like the Japan tsunami but on a smaller scale though.

I was actually due to start on a course of Tesol at BKK, 01 August 2011 lasting a month and then begin teaching up Northern Thailand. All that went out the window when I was taken ill in Singpore enroute to Bkk in July.

My heart goes out to teachers who are in a tight spot financially as it would have happened to me too if I had proceeded in Aug with my course.

Hang in tight Buddies and learn from the Thais in accepting what you cannot change and be strong in Mind/Spirit.

Vancouver, BC

By Paul Jackie Chan, Vancouver, BC , Canada (4th November 2011)

All I would like to say on the subject is, God Bless Thailand, its people and pray everything will be back to normal soon. I have recently left Bangkok after teaching for two years, and this has not deterred me from returning after my study next year.

By Wendy Liveset, Blackpool, UK (4th November 2011)

I'm one of those teachers staying at his home in the US until there's a green light for the new term. However, my biggest worry isn't being paid ... it's whether there will be bottled water and food available when I return. At the moment, my prayers are with all Thai people who are enduring this unimaginable hardship.

By Guy, usa (4th November 2011)

I've had to leave my apartment because the area is completely under water. Luckily my gf's company have placed us into safety all paid for. I've been off since mid October and was paid the full month.

I guess I'm going to be off for most of this month, too. We've been assured we are all getting full pay. I'm a very lucky boy. If I wasn't get paid and having to pay for hotels everyday, my savings would be massively dented.

I know a lot of teachers have no savings and will not be getting paid. That would suck.

By Liam, Pahon Yothin Road (4th November 2011)

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