The Devil’s In the Details

detailsofcontract5114707As educators who hail from democratic nations, we have a tendency to falsely assume we are somehow immune to the proceedings of the developing nation in which we are living and teaching. Not so, as a group of 20 International Educators, soon to be deported, learned at Jakarta International School, Indonesia.

What happened is this: During an investigation into accusations of child molestation by members of the school’s ‘cleaning’ crew, authorities incidentally discovered that 20 of the 26 foreign-hire teachers were in violation of immigration regulations.

It came to light that the teachers’ work permits stipulated middle school teaching positions, but the teachers were actually working in elementary classrooms. You might say that this is really just a matter of semantics, but the teachers were charged with “falsifying a job description on Kitas documents”. All 20 foreign-hire teachers have been scheduled for deportation, leaving them jobless and the school in the lurch for teachers.

On June 6 the teachers’ situation took a surprising downturn when the parents of a kindergarten student came forward to report their child had allegedly been molested by a classroom teacher. The soon-to-be-deported teachers are now being detained in Jakarta for questioning by police.

In a seemingly unrelated move, The Indonesian Education and Culture Ministry (June 2) banned the word ‘international’ from use by foreign private schools, reporting there are 114 such ‘international’ schools in Indonesia. The new law goes so far as to further prohibit using the word in educational units, programs, classes and/or classroom lessons.

Not to diminish the gravity of the child molestation charges at Jakarta International School in any way ( ISR article Pedophiles Among Us), the deportation incident in Indonesia should serve as a heads-up for International Educators in all parts of the world. Yes! Upon arrival we are indeed subject to the laws of the land, even when they may not make sense to us.

 Comments? Please Scroll Down to Post

34 thoughts on “The Devil’s In the Details

  1. In response to Anonymous, the teachers were ALL licensed to teach elementary school and had done for years. Their job description didn’t match their visas because of quotas from the government. The teachers didn’t even know their job descriptions didn’t match since it was all written in Bahasa Indonesia and isn’t on the actual identity card they carry around.

    In response to ISR’s comment on the school being in a lurch for teachers, it is not true. Every single deported teacher will be allowed to reapply for their visa and return to work since this was a minor technicality.

    Lastly, not all the teachers who were set for deportation are being accused. Those few who are are suing for defamation as educators all know that kids have malleable memories. See the McMartin preschool trial.

    ISR condensed what is a very complicated and multi-faceted attack on Jakarta International School into a few short paragraphs on the deportation of teachers. For some balance, try reading this Sydney Morning Herald article on how the authorities in Indonesia have overreacted in so many ways.

    The teachers, all of them, have been innocent victims of politics in a contentious election year.


    1. Ignorance is no defence in the eyes of the law.

      Also I think that there is a question of whether you (as a school) believe that you can ignore local laws (even if these are caused by bureaucratic delays etc). There is a certain arrogance in taking shortcuts. And the school board in this case should not have approved running an unlicensed kindergarten.

      And this was a Vahey school too I believe? Which means that it is likely that the FBI has communicated with local law enforcement. Sure there will be more to follow.


    2. ” There is a certain arrogance in taking shortcuts. And the school board in this case should not have approved running an unlicensed kindergarten.”
      ….. I say there is just as much arrogance in casting judgement over things you know very little about …..


  2. ISR!!!! Do you have all the facts yet? The teachers being in elementary school but having visas under middle school is a “matter of semantics?” Seriously? Perhaps if they were legitimate elementary school teachers that had been slotted into a middle school visas for the job and were teaching in their field then YES, “semantics.” But….is it possible that they had middle school teachers or non-elementary licensed people teaching elementary school? I don’t think we know that yet. But…if that was the case it is fraud. Not just by the school but the teachers. Yes, we all know that school sometimes “bend the rules” to get teachers in and perhaps they had run out of a certain number of visas allocated to them and they grabbed what was left over BUT what happened here is only palatable if it was a visa game. If these teachers were knowingly teaching outside their field and degrees I have no pity for them and nobody else should either. Let’s hope that was not the case. I do really want to think these are all innocent teachers here…….


  3. Huh? Regardless whether the media coverage is factual, this is not an issue of developed-vs-developing nation practices. Think about it. If exactly he same thing happened in the USA, would the results be any different? No. Foreigners working on an incorrect visa would be deported, and probably fined. Criminal allegations, correct or not, would result in official investigations during which passports would probably be confiscated, at the least.

    I’ve heard this same knee-jerk thinking time and time again from my expat colleagues, unfortunately. We get so comfortable in our stereotypes that we assume any adversarial action by one of “those” countries is barbaric, when a bit a critical thought would show that our enlightened home countries do exactly the same thing.

    Be a voice for calm and reason, ISR, don’t go all tabloid on us.


  4. United Nations the American Embassy! Stop all the partying and get organize and lets legislate in America before we arrive in these countries.


  5. I can say that this is very common in Indonesian schools that hire expatriates. I’ve seen it almost everywhere having worked there for more than 10 years and actively involved in the network of schools. I cannot blame these schools. They would like the easy way out of the visa immigration red tape which by the way is so complicated, like how it takes at least 6 months to renew a visa…

    Schools need to be extremely careful with this. This is surely giving everyone a ‘heads up’ on how we conduct our work. The government of Indonesia is cleaning up its system, which is a good thing, to protect everybody.

    Again, it is developing country and I am quite pleased that they are learning to improve on their system. It is just ironic that this has to happen at the expense of the children.


    1. Well, you could start with actually asking JIS or some of the teachers involved who ARE NOT still in Indonesia, instead of blindly repeating Indonesian media drivel & lies ….


    2. Okay. It’s easy to make blanket statements with no substance. Tell us the real truth as you know it.


  6. Robbyp2001, that’s actually not true for all schools/companies. I will be going over to the UAE in August and I will arrive having my work visa. My work visa will come at the same time that my flight info comes to me. Once there, I will then be given a resident visa also. It is against the law to work in the UAE without a work visa. Anyone going to teach there should positively make sure they have their work visa BEFORE starting to work!


    1. Your “work visa” says you have been hired, but it is not written in stone. You will still have to give up your passport for the RP, do final labor law requirements for issuing the final visa and likely be told they have a 3-month probationary period in which they can decide that you are not a good fit. So, until you have passed the probationary period, you are fair game to suddenly not be a “good fit” and be sent packing.


    2. Yes that is all very true but that isn’t what my comment was about. I didn’t think we were talking about probation period. I thought we were discussing working with/without a work visa. I merely stated that it is not true when he stated “I have never heard of any teachers arriving already armed with an employment visa as there is usually a fair deal of administration to be done”. There are teachers, many of them, that arrive with a work visa. They do have to go through the medical and such and there is a probation period but this doesn’t have anything to do with them arriving with a work visa. I didn’t state that the work visa was a written in stone type of thing. I just stated that teachers do arrive with a work visa waiting on them. Nothing is written in stone really, is it?


    3. I find that rather interesting that you will arrive in the UAE with a work visa. Hm, I live here and it is not the norm.

      You have signed a contract to employ with your school, you have probably scanned them copies of your documents, originals are then up to you to have apostiled ( home country) and attested ( UAE Embassy in your home country). Copies of these are made and either scanned to your school or handed to them once you arrive. Said copies are sent to the ministry who will decide whether you can actually be employed ( though by this time you are working). This is written in your contract usually at the bottom, somewhere from memory. They too are tightening up.

      At this point in time you are on a visitors visa, on 3 months probation, depending on your school, you may get your residents permit quite quickly, after you’ve had the necessary medical, etc tests. Your visitors permit is for 30 days + 10, in that time you may need to do a visa run or 2 while your school does what they do. You don’t get a work permit. Your residence permit when you get it has the dates from and until and where you work, the permit is for that job at that school. should you leave that employment then all is cancelled.

      You eventually get a labour card, should you be working.

      If you are on your spouses sponsorship your spouse has to give you permission to work, which may mean they won’t get medical, flights, etc., on your work unless they are generous or unless your spouse gets a job. Best to get your own visa rather than a spouse.

      Back to the original email, of JIS. This is common, I have worked in many developing countries and all have had their quirks, none the same, some similar, some I doubt to this day whether what was in my passport was ever a work/ resident/ anything that would hold weight permit!!! others well best left unsaid.

      Schools do change the roles of staff sometimes because they can and hey we are flexible right!!! some because of need, whoops too many elementary teachers, sure they can teach middle school right!!! Due to the nature of our global community our various home country rules for teaching and what our degrees say we can teach as far as level goes, there are many variances and being the flexible open minded people that we are and wanting the job we may with all earnest mention at interview or in passing sure I can teach at that level, whoops in hind sight a bit of a mistake perhaps.

      I’d like to think I have learnt a lot after being around the circuit a while, learn by your mistakes, take a leap of faith, come what may, you base it on past experiences, knowledge bla bla. You can and you can’t, it is a hit and miss, times are a changing, the laws of the land change, we all need to be on our toes.


    4. Ok you might already live there and it might not have been the norm for YOU…..and maybe others. I grew up in Dubai, have lived in the UAE and traveled extensively while growing up with my dad working overseas. While it wasn’t what happened for you, I can positively tell you that is how it will be for me. I’m not sure how you living there now makes you aware of how things will happen for me. Everything you said that has to take place before a work visa is true. I have done all those things already. Been working on all this since late last year. I have NOT just scanned copies of my documents, I have in fact had them authenticated and attested by the US and the UAE embassy. These have been sent to my employer in the UAE, where they are now being used to obtain security clearance and my work visa. I will arrive in the UAE with a work visa that will be sent to me via email along with my airline ticket that my employer purchased. I will NOT have to do any border runs because I will NOT be on a visitor visa. Once I arrive, I will turn over my passport and WORK visa, I will do my medical check and they will begin work on my residence visa, which I have been told can take anywhere from 3 weeks to 2 months. NO during this time I will NOT be already working on a VISITOR visa. I think we should be careful assuming that just because we are already in a place and that’s how your employer did things that it’s a blanket practice across the board. It is not. And it is illegal to work in the UAE without a work visa. Just because people do it doesn’t make it legal. It just means nothing has happened for them to get caught yet. But I feel it is something people should be careful doing. Again, that’s what my original statement was. Someone can’t state that they’ve never heard of ANY teachers arriving with their work visa already. I’ve had quite the opposite, meaning majority of the teachers headed to or already teaching in the UAE that I know arrived having their work visa already.


    5. Dawn…not possible that teachers show up with work visas in hand and and I will tell you why. If you have grown up here Dawn you would know you can’t get your employment visa until your blood work/TB test “medical” is done HERE in UAE as part of the process. You will not be arriving with that work visa “in hand.” but maybe a little letter saying you have a job offer. Just so you know….We are leaving Dubai in 2 weeks after many years here working and many new hires have come and gone and we are well aware of the process so it is nice that you grew up as an expat kid but i am pretty sure you have never worked here.. Yes….it is illegal to start work without the permit and maybe you will get here many weeks early to have that sorted before you start working but I am guessing not likely since they will cattle call you and all the other new hires to the middle of the desert to get that medical done and we know many many teachers at big name employers that go half the year or longer before it is done. You will enter as a tourist and it will be converted by your employer once they get your medical back. Don’t think you will not be entering however with a work permit in hand. Good luck with that!


    6. Dawn, let me clarify. It is technically “possible” but is only a 30 day temporary visa. Not the actual work visa. be clear on that. You cannot get the actual work visa until you have your resident visa processed and that can’t be done until you have your medical. And by the way… this can be done in 1 day not the 3 week + you mentioned and I know b/c I did it myself instead of the employer doing it for me. Handled everything, So….you don’t exactly know everything do you? 😉


    7. True! I relocated to the ME ready for a new life, only to be deported in Nov with TB… Which upon further testing back in the US, it was determined I did not have. Thousands of dollars burned on that little adventure… Only just recently back on my feet. A profound new respect for the people who risk even more for the opportunity to work in my home country.


  7. In response to “deported teacher” regarding the advice not to travel to GCC countries without first having an employment visa, I cannot specifically comment on Kuwait laws, however in every other GCC country I have worked, it is normal procedure to arrive in the country on a visitor visa and afterwards go through the procedures to obtain an employment visa. In fact, I have never heard of any teachers arriving already armed with an employment visa as there is usually a fair deal of administration to be done. Setting up a work visa from abroad would be almost impossible. These countries have strict policies regarding which nationalities can enter the country, however if your country is on the list of ‘approved nations’, then you do not even require to have an onward flight ticket to gain entry. I currently work for the UAE government and arrived on a visitor visa. I continued to work there for about 6 weeks or so, whilst my work visa was processed. I had no problems. What I am unsure about is how this temporary state impacts on employment law and medical insurance, but I presume that if even the government employees have to do this then safeguards will be in place.


    1. Actually it is now illegal in most countries to arrive with a visitor visa and then get the work visa. Some used to allow it, but not anymore. I work in China and we had to have our work visa before we arrived or we wouldn’t have been let in. I’ve spoken to several parents from different countries and other international teachers/principals, and countries all over the world are cracking down on this issue. In fact, a friend of mine is going to work in Indonesia and was told 6 teachers at a nearby school were being deported because the school brought them in on tourist visas and then switched them to work visas. It is apparently illegal to do that in Indonesia as well. By the way, what you did in the UAE (working for 6 weeks on a tourist visa) was illegal. I wouldn’t trust any school that would bring me in that way. Always check the laws before you go!


  8. ISR, you really do need to do some fact checking. You have falsely assumed that what is printed in the Indonesian media is fact.


    1. Okay. It’s easy to make blanket statements with no substance. Tell us all the real truth as you know it. Or do you just like to knock ISR?


    2. The teachers have NOT lost their jobs, they are all returning in August with new, updated visas. I am concerned that it would appear JIS was not checked with before this topic/article was posted on ISR. All it took was Facebook messaging for me to find the teachers, and hence the students, are ok for next academic year.


  9. Teachers thinking about going to Kuwait to teach, take heed. Make sure you have a work visa before you go to Kuwait. Otherwise, you get over there and it takes one, two or three months to get the work visa. You are an illegal worker the entire time. Some teachers never get the work visa. It is very expensive for your employer and they might just string you along. This is the law of Kuwait (and other GCC countries). You must have a work visa to work. But to get a work visa you must go over there and work while they process your work visa. You can’t stay home and wait for your work visa, because you have to go over there and repeat all your medical work and they have to process your paper work. Bottom line: you can’t get a work visa without working illegally for a while. Potential employers will tell you, “do not worry about it,” “that is how we do it,” standard procedure,” “we have too many teachers to process at one time,” etc.. Kuwait has a system in place that protects the employers/school owners and puts you at risk. Do not go to Kuwait or other GCC countries without a work permit in hand. That really means: do not go to Kuwait or GCC countries to teach until they start following their own laws and give work visas to people before they leave their home countries.
    Deported from Kuwait January 2014


    1. I don’t know what school you worked for but my school generally processes work visas before teachers arrive. When they get there they do an additional medical and a few other things but they enter on a work visa because the initial medical and background check was fine. There are a few each year who enter on visit visas, myself included and are processed in a few months. It is all about timing. They have to have started the visa process a few months before your entry date or they wait for you to come. Generally, if you are hired by the spring you can enter in August. But if you are hired in late May or during the summer you will have to wait until you get there because you cannot enter while your work visa is in progress.


    2. Teachers in special needs schools in Kuwait have to be preapproved by the Public Authority before a work visa is issued, but they aren’t always “in session” and there is no way to know in advance if they will be “out of session” so sometimes entering on a visit visa is necessary. The schools here are mostly genuinely pursuing the correct documents and working through the system. Our school has never had anyone deported by the government for visa problems – or deported period! If a Kuwait school works within the confines of the law and through no fault of their own end up with one or more teachers on visit visas, neither the school nor the teachers are penalized. If the school administration is working against the rules of Kuwaiti law – there will be problems and those may include problems for the teachers, who will be offered the opportunity to move to another school. Deportation is only used for people who commit crimes of their own volition. The visa thing is NOT one of those.

      I have 8 years of experience in Kuwait as a school administrator.


  10. I believe that the facts in this case are possibly like previous ones that I have personally known about. HR or someone working under the Head of HR put these details on the applications because they are working under a quota to bring in a certain number of expatriate teachers. The teachers know nothing about it until perhaps they visit the Labour Court and then they find out what has been written on their work visa in another language. It happens a lot in the UAE but when the Labour Court find out they take the side of the Teacher not the school. Many Teachers need to stop believing some of these dodgy schools and if the paperwork is not in order then you can assume that it will be months or never until it is done. During this time you are on your own and illegal in the country and if anything happens where an investigation takes place everybody goes. It happened twice whilst I was in Kuwait where the police were called to incidents after hours and then discovered that lots of Teachers had no legal visas. The next plane out is usually the demand and it is complied with by the school. They should be prosecuted and fined for breaking the law – the school i mean not the Teachers. Thanks once again ISR for advising new expats that these incidents are real.


    1. In the UAE you can enter as a visitor and obtain a work permit after. Most teachers here work for a few months before receiving it. I have lived here 5 years.

      Although I’m sure these teachers were upset. Things happen for a reason. They will get back on their feet and continue to do the thing they love, teaching!


    2. I’m told that Emirates ID cards will be needed within 2 weeks of arriving, otherwise you won’t be allowed to stay. Lets see that happen!


    3. JR above is right you come in on a visitor permit for 30 days + 10 and depends on how quickly the school gets its work done, the tests take time and there is an order they happen no matter how frustrating they can be.

      As long as your visitor permit is up to date you are OK, the ministry has a huge influx of new teachers every year especially with the expansion of schools going on.

      Sorry anon above , you can’t get an emirates ID until you have your residents permit, they are ties together, once you get the permit, the school gets the ID, remember it is only for that school, should you leave then it is back to the beginning and you have to do it all again. Even your drivers licence, and bank account is tied to your school.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.