This is the place to air your views on TEFL issues in Thailand. Most topics are welcome but please use common sense at all times. Please note that not all submissions will be used, particularly if the post is just a one or two sentence comment about a previous entry.
I am writing in response to the letter posted by Justice for Chalkies.
Every person working in Thailand, who receives money for their labour, have the right to labour protection. If you are a Thai or foreigner, a doctor or a street sweeper, employed legally or illegally. You have rights under the Labour Protection Act of 1998 to fair working conditions, working hours, rate of pay, holiday, severance pay and so on.
However this is not true if you are a teacher or principal - foreign or Thai, working as a teacher at a Thai Private school. You are specifically excluded from the Labour protection Act, as from January 2009. And it appears there is no law in place that protects your rights as an employee.
The implication of this is immense.
Effectively it means that a private school can do whatever they like, provided that it does not violate the conditions of a signed contract. For example. If a contract states that the school will deduct xxx baht if you are late a few times, or for leaving your aircon running overnight, they are in their rights to deduct this money - even if it is strictly prohibited under existing Thai Labour Law. Even though it would be unlawful if any employer in the Kingdom deducted money from their employees paycheck to impose a fine, its fine to do so if you are private school.
It also means that they can hire and fire you at will, and do not need to give you a reason to terminate you on the spot. If the contract states that you work say 10 hours a day, or 12, and you have to work 6 days a week, or 7 without a break, and you signed it, you are bound by it.
It also means that you have no right to legal recourse if you are on the receiving end of any unfair labour practice. You would also not have any claim to severance pay. So if you have worked for a school, regardless of whether it is on a rolling, or fixed contract, you will have no right to severance, no matter how long you have worked for them.
This has immense implications on the powers a private school has over its teachers. It implies that they have carte blanche on just about anything, and as a teacher, you have even less rights than the illegal/legal burmese worker that has been hired to clean your classroom.
Effectively it leaves a glaring hole in Thai labour Law, one which would need to be challenged in a Supreme Court.
I am not sure how an amendment like this got passed by the parliament , without anyone working for a Private Thai School not raising the alarm on waiving their most basic right as a worker in the process.
It is utterly demoralizing that this amendment gives free reign to private schools to use and abuse professionals at their will.
It will be interesting to see if, and when, someone wakes up and sets right this appalling oversight which effectively gives an illegal labourer in the Kingdom more rights than a Thai citizen.
No Justice to the Chalkies
Well, I had hoped to bring some good news to the foreign teachers of Thailand, but alas it is not to be. In fact, it is very bad.
Our case went down like the Titanic today. We had our labor law book and even the attorney that wrote the book. We had done our research and were trying to get ready to petition the school for further damages when we pulled the school registration and then the bomb went off.
I cannot address the issue of severence other than if the school is private it is up to the kindness in their hearts on this matter. But they have no law to force them to give out severance pay. However, public or for-profit schools are forced to pay. I did not ask about the international schools.
Several of us from a well know private school went to file a class action against the acts committed against us, ie..unfair dismissal, failure to notify, failure to abide by the Labor Protection Act, failure to follow contractual disciplinary guidelines, and also severence pay. What we found out was as follows.
For the rights of teachers at private schools. You have none. PERIOD. We just left our attorney and it has been shown that private schools are above all Thai laws. In fact, there is no law to regulate them. The only thing they must go by is their contract with the teacher. That is correct....They do not fall under any law or provision of the Thai Labor Protection Act. They are exempt.
It has now been shown without a doubt that the school owners have found a way to avoid paying benefits, severences, or exercising any form of labor rights for its employees while they get richer.
If you as a teacher work for a private school you are to expect nothing more than the contract they give you. So buyer beware......They can terminate at will, work as they chose, offer or not offer what they want and you have no recourse under Thai Labor Law. If you do not believe me you can go to a reputable lawyer of which we did and he/she will show you the law. And before you ask, "Yes, the Thai Supreme Court upheld this right to the private school".
It is simply amazing that the Thai government will not protect even it's own Thai citizens from the type of neglect and abuse from owners that have chosen to get around the labor and social protection laws to make themselves richer.
If you are working in Thailand or planning on coming to Thailand to teach, you need to be aware that you have not one single right under Thai Labor Protection Act if you work for a private school and they know this. They exploit this and the Thai government support it. Go elsewhere if you can. We are all leaving this great land and recommend it to no one except for a vacation.
schools that are not private or non-profit are accountable to the laws. If you have a renew letter or intent to renew a contract the contract is not viewed as a fixed term but a continuous contract. All laws apply to any other schools not in the above category. If our school were not private we were to be awarded seven months total pay plus our final 2 months and bonus.
We were just dumbfounded that the government would allow this obvious ruling to get around the law. It makes us think a major payoff was committed at a very high level. All in all, our law firm was just great. In fact, because we were dropped dead in the water, the law firm wavered all fees and charged us nothing. That in itself really impressed me.
The key is for teachers not to work for private schools. Nearly all the complaints we have found where teachers did not get paid was from privates and those paid were not privates. The worst schools seem to pay the best salaries just to keep the teachers in line and compliant. I do not have any information on international schools or how they are regulated. If I have to teach here agian, my first question will be are you registered as private or non-profitable? However, I highly suspect I will be leaving Thailand asap. China and Vietnam offer better pay and at least it cannot be any worse.
Justice for Chalkies
I guess the majority of ESL teachers in Thailand regard the Thailand Teacher's Council requirement to either complete a nine month weekend study Graduate Diploma of Teaching, or pass a set of exams (which all the evidence suggests are poorly written, highly subjective and for which the pass rate is pitifully low) as an unwelcome impost.
Nevertheless, for those of us who are committed to Thailand for the mid to long-term for whatever reason, this is a reality we have to deal with. At least two institutions in Bangkok offer a weekend study program leading to a Graduate Diploma of Teaching that fulfils the TCT requirements: Ramkamhaeng and St Theresa's. But nothing has been available for those many of us teaching upcountry.
Recently I inquired whether Ramkamhaeng would be willing to offer their weekend progam in Khon Kaen if there were sufficient numbers. Their response was yes, they will do it if we can find 14 people willing to commit. The price is 66,000 baht which is not chicken feed for those on a teacher's salary, but it is a lot less than St Theresa's program. They will accept payment in two instalments: the first two weeks before the course started (likely early June if numbers are there) and the second payment mid-term. We would probably host the program here at Mahathai.
I have at least three and possibly four teachers at Mahathai Boys School who want to do it. I wonder if there are other teachers out there in the KK province who would be seriously interested. If there are, I invite you to get in touch with me by email firstname.lastname@example.org. Please only do so if you are willing to make the commitment to enrol. General information about the program is available on the Ramkamhaeng website.
Is it true that The Ministry of Education requires teachers attaining the age of 60 to prove their capability of teaching ie ability, health etc.? My current school have said that an application has to be made to The MoE together with references before a contract is issued for the new school year. There is nothing on ajarn.com about this. Is it another nail in the coffin for foreign teachers?
Are there any female teachers out there who would be willing to compile a fashion guide aimed at those teachers of the gentler sex? We've already got a fashion guide for men on the ajarn website but I know one or two ladies are feeling left out. Many of you write to me and ask about the availabilty of lingerie and shoes for the larger foot, etc and I tend to just blush and go all quiet. If you fancy giving it a go, then get in touch.
Well I like the nice new colours on your revamped website, but in my opinion you missed the opportunity to make your site more teacher-friendly by increasing the number of days that resumes stay current from five days to seven i.e. weekly. Previous feedback from ajarn.com on this issue has been vehemently against such a simplified once-a-week procedure on the grounds that it makes it TOO easy (for teachers, presumably) - to which I would respond that life is hard enough already, so why make it any harder than it needs to be? I would be interested to hear ajarn.coms reason for keeping the counter-intuitive five-day requirement and whether I get a prize if you do change it.
I am a teacher in Thailand. I have been teaching here legally for 5.5 yrs now. I hold a BA in TESL (teaching English as a second language). I am being told that I have to study this foreign teacher education course if i want to continue studying (which I have taken already... but for some reason, what the Thai government required and accepted before is no longer acceptable). So I decided to go the whole say and try and enroll in the Chulalongkorn University Masters of Education program. I would have thought that would be better... I mean, if a B.ED. is acceptable, why wouldn't a M. ED. be acceptable (even one from Thailand's top university). But as I am being told now, that is also unnacceptable. I must only take this certificate thing, only good here in Thailand, which may or may not change again in the future, and it is only offered in one place across from Ramkamhaeng University. Does anyone have any thoughts or information on this? i tried to call the MOE and no one answers the phone. I dont know who else to call. I have been teaching legally with my degree in 5 Asian countries for fifteen years now. Why is it all of a sudden so difficult to be a teacher? Please let me know anything that may be useful in any way. Billywjr@hotmail.com.
Phil says - while it would be great for someone to get in touch and give Billy some feedback, I won't be putting answers in this postbox section of the ajarn website. To be honest Billy, you might have been better off putting questions such as this on the ajarn discussion forum and having some of the members help you out. Please think about this everyone before you submit an entry to the Postbox. Does my enquiry or my questions, etc belong in the Postbox or on the ajarn discussion forum?
I just read Mr. Spectre's post and how he's being treated. For me, eveything is just based on race and not your skills. I have nothing against white people and I dont blame them for what is going on anyway. It is the thai mentality that only whites can teach english, and for them being taught by a white is just great.
I have been teaching here for three years and i have been through a lot. I was the first black man to work in my first school.
My agency sent me to substitute someone from the US. I taught for a week and surprisingly the school liked me. I worked from Monday to Friday and was supposed to remain there since the old teacher was not coming back. My agency then called me on Sunday and lied to me that the teacher was back. I didnt go to school the next day and my agency sent another teacher from England. The school said no to him and they were all shocked. They called and they were all like, Sano what did you do?? the school said no to a native speaker, they want you. I went back there and started teaching again. The parents were informed and they all had a meeting. I was lucky that they all loved me there.
If you are white, or have a white skin you are fine. They talk about native speakers and there you have Russian, Algerians, Arabs teaching or working for them. I just tell them not to write "we are looking for whites" There are many agencies out there doing that but i dont blame them much. It is the Thai mentality and I dont think we can do much. The parents want their children to be taught by white skinned people no matter what qualification they have. The agencies or schools are looking for money, so they have to do what the parents want. It is a simple analogy. It is just good we all know about this and maybe something can be done. Lots of people go through this. I see Filipinos working for just 15000. they are being judged by their race and ethnicity and that is not fair. Some of them are great.
I worked at ECC before as a part time French teacher. I am fluent in both French and English. My students were told I was French but I always told them I was African - born and raised in France. If you dont like my teaching methodologies, they can bring in another teacher but i am not gonna lie about anything.
I dont think people here care so much about education anyway. I wish everyone out there best of luck. I believe we are here for a period of time and just try to make it. It might be easier for some and hard for most of us but we will all survive.
In response to "Where are all you good people?" (5 Jan 2010): I have been living and teaching in Bangkok for three years and I would love to know the answer to that question. When I first arrived here, I actually met a woman friend through the ajarn.com blog. We lost touch, but through her I met another woman who has become a very good friend. She's since left Thailand, but we email often and I know we'll see each other again.
So if you're keeping track, that means I have zero friends in Bangkok right now. Pitiful, huh? And sadly, that's the way it is here. Oh sure, I have lots of teacher room friends, but they're mostly male and mostly have Thai girlfriends. So, Vicky, I don't know the answer to your question. I wish I did.
How does a woman make friends in Thailand? Two weeks off the plane, did the fun part the first (er...end second, as it was the holidays). Found a lovely apartment at a good price by walking around Huay Kwang area as recommended by some locals on couchsurfing.com. It's Tuesday, the second day of my job search. Sent out five emails with resumes etc. yesterday. Is it true what they say that emailed job applications never get answered? Well, it's been less than 24 hours so I give them a chance.
So yes, things seem to go OK. I got a real degree and a real CELTA certificate as well as two very real years in Seoul teaching Koreans the finer points of articles and prepositions. I'm not too worried about getting a job, rather that I'll be lonely. People I met so far were couples and guys with Thai girlfriends. Couples seem to prefer hanging out with couples and guys, well, they seem to prefer hanging out with Thai girls. Thus my question. Where does a woman find good people who like to think, talk and laugh in Bangkok?
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