Staffing Problem in Hot Spot

Dear Dr. Spilchuk,
I would like to get your professional advice on a ‘catch-22’ situation. In fact, I recently built a state-of-the-art Grammar school in a small city of Pakistan. I intend to hire one Principal, two Administrators (Entry Level) and two English teachers from abroad, and advertised in different newspapers. However, all the interested candidates are very much concerned about the security of Pakistan. I tried to the best of my ability to convince them that the city where the school is located is very peaceful and people are friendly and there is no security problem. Furthermore, the school building has been made in such a way that it fulfills all the requirements (e.g if you close 3 main gates of the building then nobody can enter into the school building.) If it is possible, please check the website for further information.

In conclusion, please help me in this matter.


Makhdoom Nazar Hussain
Tel: 0333-4225259 / Off Tel: 042-36665077


Hello Makhdoom Nazar Hussein
I can certainly understand the concern of the ex-Pat teachers you have been in discussion with already in accepting a contract to teach in Pakistan at this time. World news does not encourage ex-Pats to travel and/or work in Pakistan. One of our staff members lived and taught in Lahore from 1999 – 2001 and absolutely loved it. In general, the world changed since then and I can understand teachers’ hesitation.

Here are some things you can offer to encourage Western Administrators and teachers to come to your school.
1. Offer a strongly competitive pay package.
2. Include housing in a secure area in the package
3. Include medical insurance in the package
4. Include professional development funds/opportunities in the package
5. Include flights for immediate family members to and from Pakistan as well as on land transportation to your small city in the package
6. Include free school registration for children of the administrators/teachers you recruit in the package
7. Include a clear and comprehensive evaluation plan that includes immediate land and air evacuation for the administrators/teachers and their families, paid for by the school in the event of hostility, in the package
8. Offer serious prospective teachers the opportunity to travel to your city in advance of signing a contract to check out the security and safety situation for themselves, prepaid by the school. (At their expense but reimbursed upon the commencement of work, either in full or partially)
9. Be open to other individual clause negotiations with potential administrators/staff
Note: Our ISR staff member reports that his contract in Pakistan included all of the above, except #8. The contract additionally included a vehicle provided by the school.
It is very difficult for me to carte blanche support International teachers traveling to teach in Pakistan without seeing the situation myself. An additional suggestion I would make to you is for you to offer to bring an executive member of ISR or a teacher recruitment agency to your city in Pakistan to observe firsthand the situation. From that experience he/she might be able to report on the safety of the location, with some credibility, to the international teaching body.
Best of luck to you,
Dr. Barbara Spilchuk
Online Teacher Consultant
International Schools Review
Do You Have Anything to Add In Regards to Dr. Spilchuk’s Advice – Particularly Point #9 Above? 

18 thoughts on “Staffing Problem in Hot Spot

  1. Late to this conversation, my internet browser wouldn’t open the link to the school as it is ‘suspicious’. Googling the school, the site appears to be in better shape than July 2014. Going to an unstable country, being close to or in a major city would be key for me, not three hours away. Pakistan could be a wonderful destination, but considering the current geopolitical situation combined with this school’s newness and location, make this a very weak option.


  2. Some quick comments (apologies if they have been touched on already):

    One can only make decisions based on information at one’s disposal-not on what you are being told is information. With that in mind:

    1.) On the school’s website, 4 of the 7 tabs (Projects, Team, Careers, Contact Us) are under construction. The fact that there is not even a phone number or email address on the website raises an immediate red flag with me.

    2.) When you click on the “read more” section under the “Home” tab on the website, it automatically re-routes to the “About Us” tab.

    3.) Under the “History” tab on the website,”Kamalia Grammar School started its ground breaking in 2001″. Yet it’s commencing operations in 2014. So it’s taken 13 years to complete construction? Another red flag, and indicates a host of potential issues with the place.

    The website alone would be enough to put me off from working at this school-if in fact, it really exists.

    Now, some uncomfortable truths about Pakistan. If you have never lived in or spent extensive time in a Muslim country, know this: you will be living in an extremely socially conservative country where Westerners may be viewed very dimly by the locals. If you are Jewish, best not to mention it, or better still don’t bother going. Rape and sexual assault are significant problems in Pakistan (plenty of information on the internet about this), so if you are a single woman, particularly if you are blonde, expect some sort of harassment. The mildest forms may take the form of verbal comments or being touched or groped. I speak from having personally witnessed this among Muslim males in the Middle East.

    Finally, you would be going to a country that has an active insurgency in the form of the Taliban. Car bombings, mortar attacks on civilian locations, suicide bombings, attacks on military installations, the list is as long as my arm. Have no illusions that because you won’t be in a province that borders Afghanistan that you will somehow not be at risk. In this day and internet age, there is absolutely no excuse for anyone going to any dangerous location and saying “I didn’t know” when something bad happens to them, then running to the embassy and asking for help getting themselves out of a situation they should have never gotten themselves into in the first place.


  3. I sent an email to makhdoom, at the address he supplied, and it bounced back. Is this a real school and is he a real person?

    ISR Reply: Yes this is a real school and email address. I have written to him at the followng address and received a reply

    Paul @ ISR


  4. Working for an international recruitment agency in the UK, I can assure you that even with the good advice that Spilchuk mentions in this article, we woiuld not advise teachers to take jobs in Pakistan because we cannot vouch for their safety. The same is true with Nigeria and other countries where there is civil unrest or war.

    If an agency does offer you work in these kinds of places then you really need to think hard as to why they want you to go. Yes the package may be great and yes the school may well be a genuine school with good intentions but in these cases most agencies will be thinking about the profit they will make rather than the teacher and their family’s safety


  5. There are really only 3 schools that a seasoned western teacher should consider in Pakistan today. ISOI, LAS and KAS. All three check the above list. That said, it is a difficult country to live in presently. Direct kidnapping threats against western hire teachers have been made recently.


  6. The school website is very incomplete and the contact page has no email address or phone number. The spelling ‘Grammer’ which appears on the window tab and the incorrect Latin motto – should be ‘clamantis’ (‘a voice of one one crying in the wilderness’) – do not give confidence! I was in PK for 6 years until 2013. The children, including teenagers, are wonderful, but there are bombings and kidnappings more or less weekly which do not get reported in western media. The school appears to be in the boondocks, and expatriates would need physical security, walls and guards, and some comforts, including the company of other expatriates, to make their stay bearable. I think at this stage Mr Makhdoom should focus on people of Pakistani descent who have western training but who can speak Urdu and get by more easily in the country.


  7. It doesn’t help that the word grammar is misspelled on the home page: “Welcome to our web site Kamalia Grammer School”

    I have friends from Pakistan, and they are wonderful people. There is no place on earth that is “safe.” However, there are areas and situations that should be avoided. Not saying this is one, but anyone who goes there should go in with their eyes wide open, aware of the dangers.

    Dr. Spilchuk has given excellent advice.


  8. My experience tells me to stay away from places of conflict, get information, get information get information, ask questions and continue to ask. Recently I was interviewed for a HOS position of a new school, it was the post interview that irked me some what. The school due to open in September with building etc in infancy. I was asked to put together several documents to assist with the infrastructure, etc now come on someone hadn’t done their homework and this was prior to any contract. This was in late June for a September start. The writing for me was on the wall. A no go. I wish that school all the best of luck.

    I have worked in a few unpleasant countries and they take their toll and you personally, staff when you can get hold of descent ones and students. Not a great recipe for success. Once again best of luck to the school.


  9. I have spent a lot of time teaching at schools in locations that are rather off the typical path to include 2 schools in conflict zones. When I reviewed the mission statement of the school mentioned above I immediately noticed the school has a religious affiliation and religious mission statement. Personally the school’s mission statement,because of its religious component/affiliation, would not attract me as a candidate. Just to be clear, I did work for a school in the Middle East but religion was not a major focus of the school just something compulsory from the government and delivered by special religion teachers.

    Perhaps it would be useful for the person doing the recruiting to identify religious organizations in the USA , UK, Australia and Canada who support the Islamic beliefs of the school and advertise directly with those organizations? Surely there must be some mosques in those countries who have in their membership trained teachers?

    It is also unclear to me, from the website, who is accrediting/authorizing this school. The website says that this school broke ground in 2001, that was 13 years ago. What has been happening since then?

    So much information is missing from the website. Who has accredited this school? Where are the photos of the students and campus? Where is the explanation of the governance of the school? What about curriculum?

    Separate education for girls is mentioned from Class 1 onwards. This saddens me greatly.

    Overall this seems like a for-profit Islamic religious school whose student body will be composed of local national students.


    1. yup! a lot of these schools that call them “american” or “international” are just TESOL institutes.


    2. cee, What is a ‘TESOL institute’? The original, genuine TESOL qualification belongs to the Cambridge/Trinity* qualifications board and has proper standing, also leading to an academic pathway . Perhaps ‘TESOL’ was never patented. Could you, for clarity, refer to these places as TEFL institutes. They have their place but it is entirely different from the genuine TESOL* certification and training.


  10. As a solo female I travelled around Northern Districts of Pakistan including Lahore Oct-Nov 2000. I like it so much that I stayed an extra month. However, that was BEFORE Taliban. It was certainly not secure even then. One would be naïve and foolish in the extreme, especially if a westerner to think otherwise. There were daily incidents all the time that [probably] didn’t make it to CNN et al. By the way the school website depict photos of males only – no girls here. Liking a place doesn’t mean it is safe – sorry, Libya would be safer. Best of luck.


  11. Let’s not forget the professional academic considerations of accepting a job at this school. Good western teachers will want to work for a school that is professionally staffed and resourced, and managed by experience western administrators. The ownership and governance of the school will have to reflect a stable and professional environment in which teachers have appropriate input into decisions about the the management and operation of the school.

    There are a disproportionate number of international school in that part of the world that are incompetently managed and are abusive to western teachers. The school needs to present ample evidence it is not in this group.


  12. I worked in Pakistan. Everyone said “don’t go” because it’s too dangerous. The people there turned out to lovely and always trying to help. I had a late night experiences in Pakistan when my piece of junk car broke down on a rather deserted road. It would have turned out bad in the States but people in Pakistan pulled over in the pitch dark to help me and then wished me well as I drove away. Sure, there is an element in Pakistan that does not welcome Westerners and the news is full of sensational events that they blow out of proportion. I experienced events in Pakistan and hardly recognized them on the news after CNN and Fox (is that an “F” word?”) made everything look like the entire country had suddenly exploded into chaos. Best of success to Mr. Makhdoom. If I was not already in a job I would contact him.


  13. Hello,
    I would say after looking at the website that it is very important to have an up and running website. The many pages still under construction could make people suspicious or left feeling under informed. Especially, the career page should be complete, talking about the expectations of the job, what life is like there, salary, benefits, etc…But, good luck! I have had nice experiences with Pakistanis and see the need for better understanding between the U.S. and there, which hopefully your school will bring…


  14. I have found that the opposite was the situation for me! I went through a great interview process for an NGO school and was recommended for the job. However, I was turned down because I was 62 -and despite the fact, I’m in good shape!!

    I have several Pakistani friends, and all have said that working there can becavwinderful experience.

    I wish Mr. Makhdoom the best of luck with his venture!!


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