Just because its on university grounds

Just because its on university grounds

There are many great schools in Thailand, with excellent administrators and wonderful staff. However, the opposite is also true. Some schools have been formed with the express intention of attracting students through apparent connections and links to universities. This connection is little more than a tenant and landlord arrangement, yet the schools will openly advertise themselves with the name of the university on whose grounds they rent buildings and sell courses to local parents, believing their children will receive the best quality education and facilities.

In Southern Thailand there are a number of cities that attract foreign teachers because of their proximity to popular holiday destinations like Koh Samui. Most of the schools in these areas are conscientious and the administrators are genuinely interested in the welfare of both staff and students. Other schools in these regions pray upon the common beliefs that universities offer higher levels of education, are prestigious and vehicles for future success. The idea of working at a university, even if the school is simply a primary school built on a remote corner of the university grounds, is appealing to many. This is a false premise and everyone, no matter how experienced they are teaching in Thailand, needs to be cautious.

One particular school, on the grounds of a university in Southern Thailand, has now lost most of its Native English Speaking Teachers. This is due to regular and significant delays in paying staff their legally entitled salaries (monthly too) with little more reason than someone 'forgot' to sign the cheques. It is due to constant harassment about petty bureaucratic matters when serious educational matters, classroom conditions and resources are ignored month after month, year after year. It is due to the utter indifference the director and other senior administrators have for teachers in general and foreign staff particularly. It is due to the poor salary and the fact that teachers are required to pay 5000 baht for work permits that most other schools arrange at their own cost. It is due to the thousand and one nuisance tasks that have little to do with education.

You have probably read this already but I need to repeat it. DO YOUR HOMEWORK. Check the school's hiring patterns. Many teachers subscribe and would be happy to offer opinions about particular schools. Be sensible. If foreign staff turnovers are high its for a reason, and its usually negative. Check how often schools appear to be hiring and if they are hiring continuously 'out-of-season'.

Thailand can be a wonderfully rewarding place for teachers. It can also be a dismal and unhappy place if you are working for an employer who doesn't care about either the outcomes for students or morale of staff. So enjoy, but take care too.

Gayle Smith


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