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.

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Health Cover in Thailand schools

Health Cover in Thailand schools

The recently declared pandemic has brought to light the terrible situation that exists regarding health insurance for teachers working in Thailand.

Many schools and agencies provide only the most basic accident cover. Those that do provide some sort of health insurance, generally only issue very basic cover with daily limits that severely restrict the sorts of things that can be claimed for.

This is not a situation that is simply confined to agencies and low end of the market jobs, such as government schools but also one that affects many so-called ‘international’ schools. Many of these schools require professionals who have education-related qualifications to fill their roles. I don’t believe that it’s unreasonable to expect decent medical cover.

Some may argue that it’s the teacher’s responsibility to provide cover for themselves. However, salaries are already very low in Thailand for teachers and the cost of living has risen sharply over the last 5 years. Additionally, lots of schools and agencies are only providing their staff with 9-10-month contracts and decent health cover could amount to more than a month’s wage for many.

It is fair to say that the government should probably provide some sort of cover for foreign teachers who work here legally. However, recent comments made by the health minister are indicative of the contempt in which Westerners are held by this current regime.

Even without the outbreak of Covid-19, Thailand now has some of the worst air pollution in the world and some of the deadliest roads.

Ultimately, when making a decision about where to teach, one should consider the level of health cover being provided by an employer. If you find yourself in a contract that does not provide adequate cover and you don’t feel safe, now might be a good time to consider your options.

When this pandemic comes to an end, there will be a plethora of schools and agencies across the region looking for teachers. Make sure that you put your own well-being first and when looking for a new job in the future, you chose a nation and school that takes good care of their staff.

Ant, Bangkok

Thank you for the kind words and encouragement

Thank you for the kind words and encouragement

Thanks for your support guys (Tony and Tim on Postbox). I know I have it easy compared to many and have little to worry about. Yes, I could go elsewhere but I have a wife/family here so not so easy. I had a great offer from China recently, but that's a no go now due to the Coronavirus outbreak. I was never really sold on China anyway, despite the great offer (around 130,000 baht a month).

We plan on living in the UK in the end, as I can't stay out in Asia forever. I'm thinking of pensions, possible medical bills as we get older if we stay here, not to mention the difficulties in staying here (visas) if you need a few months off sick (I'm never ill, nor is my wife, but as you get older you never know, of course).

Let's be honest, as soon as you're of no immediate use to the Thais (or anywhere in Asia for that matter) you've got to go (unless you have a huge pension in place or are a millionaire). "You've got a Thai wife? What's that? Been here twenty years without as much as a parking ticket? Paid a ton in tax? Off you jog, son. And do it today or else."

There is no loyalty from the authorities (or most schools if you say, broke your legs in a car crash that wasn't your fault and needed two months off) here. No pressure groups on TV lobbying government for your rights to stay, like back home in the West. It's a one-way street when it comes to rights for foreigners as far as Asia and many other countries are concerned. Not saying they're wrong either, it's just the way it is. And I accept it and that it's not going to change anytime soon.

And yes, I could stay here longer (but lets' see what happens with this damn Coronavirus first!). I have been offered a job now about 10,000 baht / month less than I would normally expect as a minimum, but it's a good school and I also have just been accepted for an online teaching job with Dada (China), so my overall income will be reasonable, at least, but I'll be working hard for it! Pretty much 7:30 a.m. to 8.00 p.m, doing two jobs (weekdays only though). I will get about 8 weeks paid holiday though.

Therefore, we can live in a house near a beach for 3 or 4 years and save about 30,000 - 35,000 baht a month until we go back to the UK (the wife has a job too, but will need a new one when we move). So, I should, and will, stop moaning. It could be much, much worse. It is what it is out here. I accept that. Thanks again guys, and good luck to you too.

Old Bloke, Bangkok

Bitter aging one

@Old Bloke (I can't get the top teaching jobs anymore, Postbox 2nd March) Just don't worry about age, I'm still here well past my retirement age and I love it. The jobs are there. So what if some younger cowboy got the job. It shows them up for the kind of school they are for not hiring you, right? With your credentials you could be doing well and at 50 still have plenty of time.

Tony Roberts

But why Thailand?

Regarding the teacher who said that he can't get the top teaching jobs anymore (Postbox, 2nd March), why is it a binary choice between Thailand and going home to teach? There are many countries in the world that need native English speaking teachers and don't suffer from the pig-ignorance that Thailand has and will never rid itself of.

I have a Thai friend who works as a PA. She's 40 years old, she's been in the same job for 12 years and is bored stiff. However, once you get to 40 nobody new will want you, so your only option is to rot away in the same job for another decade or two. No wonder so many Thais think of their kids as a pension fund that will support them to retire in their 40s.

No middle-aged foreigner should be working in Thailand in my opinion. It's asking for trouble and almost guarantees misery as one moves into later life.

Tim, Kaohsiung

I can't get the top teaching jobs anymore

I can't get the top teaching jobs anymore

Ageism has been an issue in Thailand for a while and it's not going away, sadly. It's even worse for Thais. Just go on any Thai jobsite and try and find jobs for anyone over 35. It's similar for us foreigners too, but the 'age limits' vary and aren't nearly as downright nasty as they are for Thai nationals.

I'm 50 now, have an education degree and twenty years' teaching experience. However, I can't get a 'top job' anymore, despite excellent references and experience. Recently, I applied for a job paying 70,000 up. It stated that you must have an education degree/QTS etc. I applied and they didn't even reply to my email. However, they did reply and offer a job (at 85,000 a month) to a young handsome chap I know with no B.Ed or QTS. Fair play to him for applying without credentials deemed 'essential' in their advertisement.

There was no 'age limit' mentioned in the ad, but obviously there was. There was no other reason to reject my application out of hand (they just asked for Certs, CV and a photo to be sent). And yes, I know how to write a good CV.

I'm happy for the chap. Good luck to him. But it has made me realise that I need to look at going back home to teach there. In Thailand, it's all down to private schools wanting pretty young faces representing their schools on the website, on the billboards and just for the parents to swoon over. Young, fresh-faced teachers help to sell the schools here. And money is important to those running some of these rackets, I mean schools.

I'm still getting some good offers, but not at the level I'm used to. And it's only going to get worse as I get older. I've now realised that you can't help feeling angry and frustrated at times due to the rampant ageism here, but that you need to just let it go. They aren't going to change. Cash is king.

Old Bloke

Poor pay means a higher turnover

Poor pay means a higher turnover

When you pay poorly you will always get either lower level candidates or high turnover. Teachers, like the rest, need money to live.

Years ago, I delivered sailing yachts all around Europe, the Med, from Europe to The Caribbean and the States, etc. The vast majority of these deliveries were through agencies. The pay meant it was long-term, non-viable. However, it was always sold as "But it's the lifestyle, right?" Sure, for a time. Long-term it was unsustainable though. Same with any job the world over. In that industry, there was always a fresh and regular turnover of yacht skippers sold on the lifestyle. Dress it up how you like, but until that underlying issue is addressed, it'll be same-old, same-old.


Ways to recruit more foreign teachers

(Regarding the news that the Thai government wants to recruit thousands more foreign teachers) I sincerely believe that the issue isn't just one of pay. Of course, professionally qualified native English speakers demand high pay, but that's not what 95% of Thai schools actually need. You don't hire chefs at MacDonald's.

More (and better) people willing to teach would be lured to Thailand AND STAY LONGER if the conditions were changed. And there are many ways this could be done. Offering a path to citizenship, reducing the ridiculous red tape and expenses, having government-approved contracts covering hours and pay, etc, offering health and accident insurance... the list goes on. Despite what you may have heard from one government official, there are no serious, meaningful attempts to recruit able 'teachers' from abroad - and there never will be.


Vietnam is calling

Vietnam is calling

(Regarding the news that the Thai government wants to recruit thousands more foreign teachers) First of all, you need to increase the pay with inflation. Consider the countries you're competing against for teachers, which are paying higher. Also, you need to make it easier for teachers to stay. As it stands, there is an education degree requirement for the teachers license; teachers with no degree in education can only get a couple of waivers, and then have to leave after a few years thus depriving the country of individuals who have a few years experience under their belt, who are familiar with the culture and the language, in favour of backpackers who mainly just want an extended working holiday. As it is, having no education degree, I have one more year here and then I'm going to have to bid my home in Chiang Rai a fond farewell, and set my sail in the direction of Vietnam.


Please support The Hope Fair

The first Hope Fair of 2020 will be hosted on March 26th at the prestigious Anantara Siam Bangkok Hotel, in the center of town, a few steps away from BTS Ratchadmri.

The Hope Fair is renowned on the Bangkok scene for its selection of 100 artisans and entrepreneurs offering quality products and services which can not be found elsewhere.

For the past 5 years, the Hope Fair has provided a unique shopping experience to the public offering crafts, art, fashion, and delicacies such as smoked fishes, foie gras, cheese, tamarind vinegar, vegan bread and pastries along with other treats prepared with love for all to enjoy!

Don’t hesitate to indulge yourself with clothes, accessories, home decor, and organic cosmetics. Or make your life easier by learning about innovative tools to support your daily life. Parents can also spoil their little ones with educational games, clothes and fun accessories .

Furthermore, all the vendors - designers, artisans and entrepreneurs - donate to the Mercy Centre, an orphanage in Klong Toey which supports the kids of the slums with financial and material aid.
During the fair, the foundation will be collecting shoes, clothes, or anything useful that can be reused by the less fortunate. Make some space in your cabinet and bring your donation treasures on March 26th!

Stay tuned! :

Posted by Ajarn

I made far more as a postman!

Most government schools here are paying about 30,000 baht a month - and they want you to have a degree! When I lived in Australia, I worked as a postman for a while and I was paid $27 an hour, then after 8 hours it went up to 1.5 times your hourly rate. After 10 hours it went to double time. The problem in Thailand is that the students want everything to be fun but do not want to put in the hard work. Thailand has caused it's own problems and there is no easy fix. If you are wondering why I didn't teach in Australia, go and ask any teacher what it is like working there!


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