I am a female teacher from South Africa. I am a person of colour (or coloured) in my country. I do not have a degree in any field - only a diploma. When doing my TEFL course and doing research on the internet, people painted a picture of how easy it would be to find a teaching job in Thailand. This however does not appear to be the case.
I was fortunate to get my first job through a referral and I came to work in the province of Phichit in June 2011. Here I teach grade one and I enjoy it tremendously. This province has hardly any foreigners and there is simply nothing to do and no real attractions. But I like it all the same.
The only foreigners here seem to be Western men married to Thai women and Filipinos. When I arrived at the school there were only two foreign teachers - both male. Shortly afterwards, a female foreign teacher arrived but she left after two months along with one of the male teachers. Those two teachers were then replaced with two more female teachers. One of the female teacher’s boyfriends came to teach at the high school as well.
So in total we were now five foreign teachers, four white and me the only colored teacher. I started to notice odd behaviour from the school staff and so did the foreigners. The white teachers were always asked to be in photographs and were asked to introduce themselves to important people whenever the school had activities.
The Filipinos were also treated civilly. After speaking with some Thais I was put in the picture about skin color and the fact that it indicates your wealth or standing in society. A person working in the fields would be dark because of having to work outside all day. The person with a fairer complexion or white skin would have a better job such as working in an office. This I understand but as a foreigner I did not expect to be treated any differently from the white, blond-haired, blue-eyed teacher.
I have spoken to other colored teachers from South Africa and they have shared similar experiences. In short, we do not seem to be favored. This is a difficult situation to accept because we come from a country that had apartheid for many years. Many of us grew up during the time that changes happened and we were never victims. Now we arrive in a country where we seem to be shunned. The agencies often do not have a problem with us but the school wants white teachers. It’s as simple as that.
Secondly, as I have said, I do not have a degree and have difficulty finding a job without an agent. Agents have even suggested faking a degree - something that does not sit well with me. Many jobs on the internet also ask for degrees. I take the opportunity to apply but I am yet to receive a job offer from an application.
How is teaching during your gap year possible when you do not have a degree? How is it possible to get a teaching position in a province that you want to live in?