What Would YOU Do? / Part 2

February 6, 2014

lier3444945Here’s the scenario: You recruited at one of the big fairs and caught-up in the moment, accepted a contract without reading any of the ISR Reviews on the school or location. The director seemed honest and sincere, and you took her word for everything until….a couple of weeks into the school year it dawns on you that you’ve been seriously “duped’!

The following is a real situation facing one of our ISR Members. What would YOU do if this was suddenly your reality?

You’d have to be HERE to understand — I “teach” (I use the term lightly) grade 10/11 girls and yesterday NOTHING was accomplished. The noise and chaos is unbelievable by Western classroom standards, and the girls as a whole have NO INTEREST in learning, BUT I’m told “You WILL give them 99s on their report cards!”

They shriek, leave the room, ignore you, do each other’s hair, talk, yell over all your lessons. Yesterday I was TRYING to read them a chapter of MOBY DICK and the poor 3 who actually WANTED to hear it COULDN’T and say as you will — There was NOTHING I COULD DO to SHUT THEM UP! Call an administrator to be told “You are the problem. NOT the girls.” ? If you, YOU there, are NOT here, you have NO IDEA, so do NOT think you do!

What would YOU do? Consult other teachers? Continue doing the best you could and let the report card reflect the students’ lack of effort? Call parents for support? Catch a one-way flight out? Or accept your mistake and make the best of the situation for now? Join the Discussion


Dr. Spilchuk, ISR Online TeacherConsultant / Say No! To Admin Bullying Behavior!

November 27, 2013

Dear Dr. Spilchuk,
Have you any suggestions for a civil case against a person/principal from the U.S. and who lies to the director to get a teacher fired?? Any way a letter, that would scare the pants off this principal, be written? or is it the same old story, “teachers just take it.” Is liability for emotional insult and injury to another person’s employment now one of those things no body can do anything about? Read more….

(Need assistance?   Contact Dr. Spilchuk for help with International School related issues)


Guilty Until Proven Innocent – by Dorje Gurung

August 8, 2013

dorje-medium“On May 2 they paraded me, in handcuffs, in front of five different prosecutors  in different rooms at the Public Prosecution office. I don’t know what the first four prosecutors and the guy taking me around exchanged between them – everything  was in Arabic. But, with the fifth one, they provided an English interpreter on my insistence. Otherwise it would have been Hindi or Urdu.

“The second trip to the Public Prosecution office on Sunday, May 5, I faced a prosecutor who spoke English. Again we had the same exchanges I had had the previous visit but with one important difference. I would have to produce witnesses in court to prove my innocence, he informed me. In other words, I was guilty unless I proved myself innocent.” Read more


Schools that Throw Teachers Under the School Bus

July 11, 2013

schoolbus1685625You assume that when you’re teaching in a foreign country, your school will take some responsibility for your well-being. We believe most schools will. But, history shows some schools will throw you under the school bus for the “good of the organization.” As despicable as it sounds, there are International Schools and Directors who will sacrifice your well-being to placate wealthy parents and protect the school image they’ve worked so hard to create.

Recently, at Qatar Academy, Qatar, Dorje Gurung (science teacher) was misquoted by a group of twelve-year olds. Based on Dorje’s account of the incident, it appears the school, headed by Eric Sands, threw him under the school bus when he was accused of insulting Islam and thereafter jailed for ten days.

From the Dorje Gurung Blog:
  The (third) meeting with the Director (Eric Sands) was held on Sunday, April 21. Both the Director and the Principal (Mike Hitchman) were there. The Director started the meeting by asking me if I had anything to say. I realized then that whatever I said would make very little difference to the decision he appeared to have already made. So I said, “No.” The Director told me I was dismissed. Furthermore, he told me, I would lose out on five-month equivalent of salary-cum-benefits. I was a little disappointed, not for being dismissed, but for losing the money. I asked if he could do anything about the monies, adding how I had been counting on them. He couldn’t.

Dorje’s story is not unique. On June 13, 2007, the middle school principal at Al-Bayan Bilingual School, Kuwait (under the direction of Dr. Brian McCauly) was on her way home to spend the summer months with family. At airport immigration, however, Kuwaiti officials detained her, enforcing a travel ban placed on her by the wealthy parent of a student. By court order she had been banned from leaving the country. The powerful Kuwaiti man who had initiated the travel ban later threatened he would “destroy” her, all because she had sent his son to in-school suspension for fighting on campus. To this parent, an in-school suspension and Guantanamo Bay were one and the same. On her own in Kuwait with no one to turn to, she contacted ISR’s Dr. Spilchuk who, with the full support of ISR, came to her aid and helped her secure safe passage out of Kuwait.

You might be tempted to say, These incidents are just isolated cases. The truth is they are not! A teacher who worked in Guatemala shared the following story with ISR:

  I was teaching in Guatemala when an unfortunate incident took place. I had turned my back to write on the white-board when a middle school boy took advantage of the moment to crawl under the table with scissors in hand, stabbing another student in the leg. I was later called into the office to meet with the director and the boy’s dad (a very prominent military man and big-wig). The first question out of the director’s mouth was, “What is it about you that incites children in your class to act this way?” Needless to say this conversation was the beginning of the end for me at this school.

A teacher who worked in Thailand relates a similar story of betrayal by his School Director:

I was told that I would “take the fall” if anything came of a particular incident…. I had pointed my finger at a 3rd grade boy, saying in a stern voice to stop what he was doing (tapping & poking another student). The child began to cry. When the classroom teacher came to pick up her class, she noticed the boy’s red eyes and asked me, “What has he been up to now!?”
  This 3rd grade teacher reported that I had traumatized the child. I requested a Korean translator (The school had a large Korean student body) so the child could relate exactly what had happened. The director refused the request saying he wanted to keep this “hush, hush” from the Korean community. He also told the me that if anything came of it, I would be fired.
  As it turned out, the boy related the entire event to his mother who came to school to set the record straight about this misunderstanding. The director later told me I was lucky to have kept my job.

It appears we have the makings of a problem when you put wealthy parents with clout together with a school Director bent on keeping them happy at any cost to their faculty. That’s not to say all schools and Directors will sacrifice teachers for the “good” of the organization. Many will stand up for you when you’re in the right, and ease the blow when you’re in the wrong. They run the place like an institution of learning and not a country club for spoiled children. As we see it, a PhD does not make a leader–Leading is about character, vision and integrity, respect and a sense of right and wrong. These things can’t be taught in a course. Some people have it. Others not so much.

When you go overseas to teach you’re immersing yourself in a culture with rules, customs, procedures, expectations and a legal system beyond the scope of your immediate understanding. It’s easy to lull yourself into thinking you’re safe and sound when you’re not. It’s important to know who you are working for and if you can count on them. ISR hosts many reviews from teachers that say their Director/Principal always sides with the parents and the kids. We encourage you to share your experiences with colleagues. If you are comfortable in naming the School and Director feel free to do so. The two teachers in our example of Guatemala and Thailand asked their names and the school names to be removed.

Have something to share? Please scroll to post.


Qatar Academy Teacher Jailed Over Alleged Insults to Islam

May 9, 2013

Doha News  reports on May 9, 2013:

“Dorje Gurung, a chemistry teacher at Qatar Academy, was seen this morning leaving the court in handcuffs. If convicted, Article 256 of the Penal Code dictates that he could face up to seven years in jail.

“On Monday, April 22, Gurung said he had a sit-down chat with three 12-year-old boys who were making fun of him. Among other things, the seventh graders poked fun at his appearance, calling him ‘Jackie Chan.’ On Tuesday, April 23, the mocking again began in earnest while Gurung was in line for lunch. At first, he said the teasing was light-hearted, but then one student put his hand on Gurung’s shoulder and a finger up his nose. At this point, Gurung grew agitated and said remarks to the effect of ‘How would you like to be stereotyped i.e. called a terrorist?'”

The Qatar Academy confirms that after formal complaints were made ‘appropriate’ action was taken. Doha News reports: “On Wednesday, April 24, Gurung had a meeting with school management. On Thursday, April 25, he submitted his account of what happened and was told to go home. On Sunday, April 28, he was fired.”

A Qatar Academy colleague, who asked to remain anonymous, told Doha News that the ordeal has had a ‘chilling effect’ on faculty members:

“A lot of teachers are very nervous about their own jobs. If they reprimand or discipline students, what’s going to happen to them?

“It’s all very unfortunate. These 12-year-olds have really spun it out. Almost every year, a teacher has been let go for obscure reasons. Everyone is really upset and anxious.”

 

See ISR’s Letter to Eric Sands (Director of Qatar Academy)

Scroll Down to Share Thoughts  & Comments

Sign the Petition to Release Dorje Gurung


Are International School Directors Above the Law?

March 7, 2013

constitution19624112From the ISR Forum: “I find it difficult to understand how Americans who head International schools think they have the right to ignore American laws. I guess it’s just because they can!

“Our new Director states in job ads that he is looking for teachers under a certain age. Bingo, age discrimination! There is no retirement age here and the school’s former Director hired qualified teachers and did not care about age. There is a fairly large exodus happening at the end of this year which suits our new Director just fine. Now he can hire all the ‘little Miss Sunshines’ he wants who will bow and scrape and worship his ‘vision’.

“This year I tried to form a Teachers’ Association. Over sixty teachers and staff members signed up, but our new Director is trying to shut us down. He can barely contain his resentment and arrogance even though the American Constitution gives us the right to convene as stated in the Bill of Rights. He wants me to produce ‘data’ for the Talent Committee to submit to the Action Committee which is made up of administrators who get the final vote on whether or not a TA will be allowed. Ridiculous! In the US he would certainly be facing a law suit.

“I don’t understand how an American, one who heads an “American School” with students from the US embassy, is able to completely put aside US law, leaving us all vulnerable to his whims. I was toldcriminal that an American who breaks US constitutional law is subject to legal proceedings in the US, even though his actions took place on foreign soil. I’m not saying I am going to start a law suit, but I would like very much to hear from International educators on the topic of International Teachers’ Associations and teachers’ rights.”

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What’s It Really Like to Live Here?

February 7, 2013

What’s It Really Like to Live In The Middle East

mosque Whether you hope to explore the ancient city of Petra or rock the night life of Tel Aviv, we’d love to hear what you have to say about living in The Middle East.

Do YOU have comments & insights to share  with colleagues regarding the pleasures & challenges of life in The Middle East? Please do! International Educators Keeping Each Other Informed is what ISR is ALL about!

Share your thoughts with colleagues:
• What is the BEST & the WORST of living in The MIddle East?
• Do you recommend living in The M.E. or are you counting the days?

What’s It Really Like to Live in The Middle East?
Scroll down to JOIN the Conversation!

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See all the continents included in the
What’s it Really like to Live Here Series
Asia / Africa / the Americas / Europe / Middle East

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Teaching Lord Fauntleroy

November 29, 2012

We International Educators teach at thousands of schools across seven continents. We teach in every imaginable climate, in urban and rural settings, and in societies that range from predictably stable to utterly chaotic. Yet there is one detail that unites pretty much all of us no matter our tier, continent or subject area: We teach rich kids.

Some of us teach the top 25% of our host country’s socio-economic ladder. Some of us teach the top 1%. Some of us teach a slice of the global elite so exclusive their parents think nothing of flying to PTA meetings in their private Lear jets or gifting Rolex watches to faculty at the end of the year.

Even when a student’s family income wouldn’t turn a head back home in our own country, the family money is still many times what it would be for the majority of Chinese…or Bangladeshis or Indians or Africans. You get the picture.

Wealth facilitates a great deal of what we do, from the tuition money that keeps our schools running to the budgets that fund our departments to the salaries that put food on our tables and pay off our school debts–if you went to university in the US that is. Endowments give many international schools the freedom to make improvements to their facilities that would take significantly more time and paperwork in many state systems.

At the same time, affluent student populations present considerations we would be less likely to encounter in a state system back home. Students from affluent families may come to the classroom with unrealistic notions of how the world works and how it should serve them. They might be lulled into academic disengagement because they know, or have been told, their future is assured for them no matter the effort they put forth.

In this season of giving (and getting), let’s trade ideas on the perils and perks of being teachers and administrators of the affluent. The following questions strike me as important to tackle:

  How can we best realize the IB’s  goal of fostering “the intellectual, personal, emotional and social skills to live, learn and work in a rapidly globalizing world” if our students are only interacting with a small percentage of that world?

  How can we teach for social justice when the true sacrifice required to achieve it would be unpalatable if not unthinkable to many members of the elite?

•  How can we teach socio-economic awareness across the curriculum?

•  How can service learning projects be meaningful, life-changing experiences instead of token charity work?

  How can administrators deal with particularly powerful parents?

  How can we instruct students and families that money, perhaps more than at any moment in the history of the planet, needs to be a force for creating good rather than a badge for advertising status?

Weigh in on this topic. Scroll down to post


Speaking About Bullying

November 1, 2012

 Crisis in the International Classroom

Bullying is a deservingly hot topic right now. It is not just physical aggression such as a kick or a surreptitious pinch. It is also behavior such as purposeful exclusion and saying hateful words to others. Bullying behavior is not just direct meanness, but also indirect meanness, such as when a child or group of children tells everyone not to play or interact with one child. Bullying is also destroying a child’s reputation and likeability via the Internet, know as cyber bullying.

 In a Bullying Questionnaire (Dr. Dan Olweus), 524,000 American elementary, middle, and high school students responded, anonymously. Nearly 20% of elementary school students reported they had been targets of bullying behavior at least two or three times during the past month and in that same study, between 5% and 10% of elementary school students admitted to bullying others two to three times in the past month.

It is especially alarming to learn how little we teachers know about bullying that occurs among the students we teach. In a Canadian study, researchers observed behavior on the playground and in classrooms, and recorded an incident of bullying behavior on average of every seven minutes. Adults intervened in only 4% of these incidents. Even more amazing is the fact that when they observed classrooms, researchers noted that adults intervened in only 14% of the incidents that happened when they were present, while 71% of these same adults reported that they “nearly always” intervened in bullying incidents.

ISR would like to start the Bullying Conversation here. Does your school have a policy in place to deal with Bullying, including Cyber-Bullying? Do parents and administrators get involved with identifying and stopping those who bully at your school? Have you found techniques that work in your classroom and/or the social areas of school (hallways, cafeteria, playground) to prevent bullying? Do you, as a teacher, see an increase in Bullying amongst international students?

Weigh-in now with your thoughts on Bullying in International Schools: Scroll to read/post comments


Host National Principal Vs Foreign Hire — Is One Better Suited for the Position?

August 30, 2012

Dear Dr. Spilchuk / ISR On Line Consultant

The issue of the principal being a host national as opposed to foreigner is a big debate here. As I am the only educator on the School Board, I battle sometimes about prioritizing the schools needs. As a result, I have been requested to write an analysis of the qualities of a successful international school, mainly the characteristics of a successful international school principal. I tend to stress the need for a native English speaker and a qualified foreigner in that position; solely because we haven’t found a host national who fulfills the leadership role properly AND speaks competent English

I’d like to know what qualities are the most valuable in a principal: e.g. nationality, language silks, educational background, good relations with the teachers, academic knowledge leadership skills, competing skills,  social networking, business skills, administration skills, etc. If you can give me  a prioritized list or general description, I would really appreciate it…Click HERE to read complete statement & Dr. Spilchuk’s response.

Scroll down to share your opinion on this topic.


Just4Parents

July 19, 2012

For those of us who are international educators with children, picking a school can be less about our career needs & much more about the package that best meets our children’s educational, emotional & social needs while in lands far from home & family support.

As parents, we want to know which schools are academically solid? What art/music/drama/extra-curricular/counseling programs are considered outstanding? What team sports can my children play? Which schools offer a top-notch education? Is the school population diverse–will my child make friends & be accepted? These are pertinent questions for international parents of students. The big question is, where do you find the answers?

Our newest ISR Blog, Just4Parents, was created specifically with YOUR need-to-know in mind. If you’re looking for a place with open discussions on specific schools, or a focus on more broad-reaching concerns to international parents of students, ISR encourages you to take advantage of the Just4Parents Blog. As expat parents we want to pave the way for our children with wise decisions. After all, our children are our most precious resource!


How Do I Get Outta Here?

May 17, 2012

ISR is receiving disturbing reports from teachers moving on to new schools at the end of this academic year. The word is, some teachers are receiving little, if any, guidance or support with the processes required to correctly and legally exit their current school and host country.

Teachers are reporting the following:

  • Information on school checkout policies is incomplete or non-existent, making it difficult, if not impossible, to complete the required procedures and receive final pay checks.
  • How to legally exit the country permanently has not been discussed at some schools, leaving teachers afraid they will encounter problems and/or detainment at the airport.
  • Information on how to make final payments to utility companies and/or landlords to assure no residual problems has not been covered.
  • Details on how to receive reimbursement for airfare and shipping of personal goods has not been shared with leaving staff.

What we’re hearing at ISR is some schools “wined and dined” teachers on their way in, but are now giving those same teachers the cold shoulder as they depart for new horizons. Left to one’s own devices in a foreign country, exiting safely and legally can be a daunting experience.

If you’re in this predicament and need advice, you’ll want to post your questions on the ISR,  How Do I Get Outta Here? Blog. Chances are another ISR reader has been at your school or lived in your host country and can offer advice. If you had a memorable experience departing a particular school in the past, you may want to share with colleagues so we can all avoid the same experience in the future.


Going Home to Stay

March 15, 2012

With the school year coming to a conclusion, some of us are anticipating moving home for more than just the summer recess. This transition can be both exciting and most certainly, daunting. There’s so much to consider and so many tasks to accomplish. It’s just like staring over! Fortunately, advice and comradery is not far away.

Claudia: “For me, coming home was a brand new adventure, and it’s amazing how even though family tell you how much they want you back, they have all moved on with their own busy routines that don’t include you. Even my parents! My husband and I found out about gatherings and outings we used to be included in well after the fact and we felt like outcasts. It was a weird time.”

Russ: “None of my friends really wanted to hear about my trip, or see pictures and they REALLY got tired when I kept bringing up stories and situations about how another culture solves the problem so easily. This is especially true of other teachers who don’t want to hear how great my students were, or how much easier things were.”

Edmond: “We’ve been out long enough. We have money in the bank, seen a good chunk of the world and are thinking of trying life Stateside again. It just feels like time to go home. We find we miss the football games, seasonal celebrations and the myriad of family gatherings. If we do go home and find it’s not as wonderful as we are imagining we can always go back out again. This might be easier said than done.”

ISR invites you to participate in our GOING HOME Blog to share experiences and concerns, ask questions and offer advice on this very important topic.


Still On the Fence About Teaching Internationally?

March 1, 2012

Are you considering going international & not quite sure the overseas life style is for you? You are not alone. A States-side teacher recently wrote to say: “I live in the U.S. & have a pretty great life. I have a stable teaching job that pays well with good benefits. I like the area where I currently live & am blessed with great friends. HOWEVER, I keep getting this pull in my gut towards travel & adventure. I want to see places & meet new people, explore exotic cultures, eat weird foods, be thoroughly challenged…”

f these comments resonate harmoniously in your psyche, you’re no doubt looking for some answers to help you get off that fence. Good news! Our States-side teacher posed 5 insightful questions, the answers to which are certain to help you decide which side of the fence is the right side for you. ISR invites experienced international teachers to lend a helping hand & shed some light on the following questions:

1. If you could go back in time, would you teach internationally or stay at home?
2. Are you financially better off teaching internationally?
3. Has it been easy to make friends or has it been lonely away from home?
4. What have been your favorite countries and/or schools?
5. What are the best things about teaching internationally? What are the worst?

I was Happy Until I found ISR

February 9, 2012

“I recently accepted a post at a school and start in August. I’m beginning to sell house, car, everything. But now, two weeks later, I am really worried…I just discovered ISR! Ouch! There’s one bad review after another about “my” new school! I wish I knew whether these reviews were teachers just letting off steam after a bad day, or if I should be seriously concerned. I am giving up my whole life here at home for this post abroad. Now I’m just not sure what to do. I was happy until I found your web site! Now? Any suggestions on what to do next?”


“What Do YOU Want in Your Letter of Reference?”

January 19, 2012

“Dear ISR: Asking for a letter of reference seemed like a standard request. The expectation was that my principal would actually be flattered to reflect on my work at the school. So, when my request was met with, “Why don’t you write your own letter and put it in my box? I’ll rework it and get back to you,” I was disappointed that my years here had gone completely unrecognized by my boss.

Perhaps he lacks the knowledge/time/interest to compose an insightful, professional letter of reference. Or maybe I’m too sensitive. But once I got past my initial reaction, I could see I had been presented the perfect opportunity to promote myself and (hopefully) land a job in a better, more academic and exciting school. I want to make the very best of this!

Being a newbie to the international teaching circuit (this being my first position) I’d like to ask seasoned overseas educators to offer some advice on what sort of things I should include in this letter of reference.

My current school has no curriculum–it’s an ‘everyone does their own thing’ sort of school. I don’t think I want that in my letter of recommendation! Nor the fact that most of the students cannot speak enough English to follow simple instructions or commands. I want to make my contributions and time here shine, while not pointing out the obvious flaws of the school. Any advice? It would be greatly appreciated. And once again, Thanks ISR!!”


WARNING!! Signs that Tell You Not to Take the Job

August 3, 2011

“Looking back on my interview, there were definite warning signs I should have heeded, not the least of which was the director dozing off intermittently. Okay…he was tired from the flight. Beyond that, the fact that the contract was not ready should have been a clear-cut indication to decline the job. Why hadn’t he taken 10 minutes to jot down everything he just offered me verbally? Was he making it up as he went along? Was there any validity to what he was promising?

I recall that during the interview the director said, ‘Our kids are great, just a bit chatty.’  Translation? The kids turned out to be completely in control and they knew it. But, I really should have been suspicious when the interview became a sales pitch, focusing on the beauty of the country and the wonderfully supportive school community. In reality, the school was a hot bed of gossip with powerful parents, an inept principal and a director shaking in his boots.

I broke contract at the end of the first year and was soon thereafter blackballed everywhere by the vindictive director and principal. Hindsight is 20/20 — I should have heeded the warning signs flashing in my head, but I needed the job and took it against my better judgment.”

Have YOU had a similar experience? Or were you astute enough to turn down the job? ISR invites you to contribute to  our Interview Warning Signs Blog and share insights and experiences. Teachers Keeping Each Other Informed is what ISR is All About!


Is International Teaching a Career or an Adventure

July 21, 2011
The recent blog topic of whether or not teaching overseas is a good career decision prompted me to reflect more on my own desires and motivations to continue teaching overseas. A few people posted on this thread that teaching overseas was “just a job, not a career,” at least not a long-term one.  Among other worries, some expressed concern about the lack of job security, a pension, or a plan for retirement.
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Like many other people who posted, I share a love for travel, adventure, and learning about other cultures. While many of my stateside friends might not understand this love for adventure (note their eyes glazing over as you tell them about your recent safari or hiking in the Andes), I would not trade my experiences for anything. Well…maybe until now. I DO have fears about whether I will face age discrimination, whether professional opportunities and growth will be limited, and whether I am doing the right thing for our family and young child.
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My wife, also a teacher, and I are in our early 40s. We are at a stage in our careers where we don’t plan to ‘bounce’ around the world teaching at different international or American schools every 2-3 years. We have been at our current school for over six years, but plan to recruit next year. While international teaching has become more popular and while schools have grown and multiplied, I feel there are far too many schools that are “international” or “American” in name only.
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This all leads to my never-ending reflection and stress when I weigh adventure, lifestyle, and happiness with job security, pension, and retirement. What would life would be like if we returned to the U.S. to teach? How would our international experience be perceived by potential employers in the U.S. and would it be valued? Most importantly, would we be happy and would we miss our lifestyle?
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I am living my dream NOW – touring world-famous museums, hiking in the Himalayas, relaxing on beaches in Southeast Asia, learning new languages, and seeing things the average citizen of my own country could only dream of seeing – all things I am very grateful for!  How long can this go on though and is this idea of teaching overseas a career, an adventure, or a pipe dream?
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The author of this post received a complimentary one-year ISR membership. Do YOU  have  a Blog topic you’d like to share with colleagues around the world? – Click here

What’s Everyone Doing this Summer Vacation?

June 30, 2011

For me, the absolute greatest part of teaching and living overseas is the travel opportunities. From my current school it’s a quick, inexpensive, flight to just about anyplace in Europe.

Amid protests and guilt trips laid on me by family back home, I decided to travel this summer. My brother and his wife took over my house in the States years ago so returning “home” leaves me crashing on the couch or in the spare bedroom. An entire summer is just too long for everyone.

My first stop is Prague, I’ve rented a car and aside from the cost of gasoline I’m having the time of my life. I have a tent and a camp stove and plan to spend just one or two nights a week in hotels. I’m meeting people on summer holiday in camp grounds and really getting a feel for the people and places I’ve visited so far. I have no definite plans, just a map and lots of time.

I’m curious what other international teachers are doing this summer. I’m hoping ISR will post this letter so I can hear from other teachers traveling on summer break.

Thanks very much and have a great summer, Phil. / Tell us what YOU’re doing this summer


Why Did Tashkent Ulugbek International School Close?

June 23, 2011

The School Claims Uzbekistan’s Bureaucratic Obstacles were Too Great. Teachers Tell a Different Story. This Could Happen to ANYONE!

What the School Says:

We declare suspension of our educational services for safety and security reasons.

The Tashkent Ulugbek International School was founded in 1995 by the SilmEducational Corporation (%60) in cooperation with the Department of Diplomatic Services of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Uzbekistan (%40) and so far it has provided educational services that fully meet international standards. Our school is a regular member of ECIS (European Council of International Schools) as well as CIS (Council of International Schools) and it caters for students from twenty-four different nationalities from preschool through Year 12. Our school employs a fully international teaching staff selected from among qualified and experienced teachers from various countries such as Turkey, Uzbekistan, the UK, Canada, Australia, South Africa, the USA and India. Nonetheless, due to reasons which will be listed below, our corporation has had to discontinue all its educational services in Uzbekistan from 1 January 2011, without any purposeful bad intentions or meaning any harm to anyone.

1-    According to the current laws in Uzbekistan, shopping and making / receiving salary payments in a foreign currency are not permissible. Therefore, parents pay the school fees in Uzbek Sum and The National Bank of Uzbekistan is supposed to convert the amount that is needed for the salary payments of the school’s foreign staff and the money should officially be transferred in US Dollars to the related country. Ever since our school was founded in 1995, we have experienced serious delays and difficulties in converting and transferring our foreign teachers’ salaries; the final transaction we received was for the salaries of March 2009, which means our salaries have not been transferred for twenty-one months up until now, even though the money is available in our school’s Uzbek Sum bank account. When we contact the relevant bank, the answer we always get is “We are short of USD Dollars”. During this period we strived to maintain our educational services without delays and interruptions even though we were experiencing serious financial difficulties. It has financially become impossible to sustain the school as we strongly believe, with the help of our past experiences and observations, that these obscurities which are created by the current financial system will remain the same in the future as well; moreover the relevant authorities have always failed to provide any kind of assistance to us.

2-    As we have recently been hearing, foreign investors in the country are suffering from increasing negative attitude and ill-treatment such as numerous anti-terror teams’ assaults and inspections to ordinary business corporations (workers and staff of these corporations have been accused of possessing forbidden publications in their offices, which were in fact placed in secret by the above mentioned units prior to or during the inspections), difficulties that these people experienced in defending themselves, threatening the defense lawyers and forcing them to quit, unlawful imprisonment of some foreign staff and threatening of their families. Our corporation believes that our institutions are very much likely to be subject to similar pressures and we do have serious concerns about the safety and security of our services and staff alike.

3-    Bureaucratic obstacles in procedures such as permissions, customs clearance, transportation and payments that we had to deal with while importing educational materials; textbooks, laboratory equipment, computers etc.

Difficulties and bureaucratic procedures that we endured when we had to renew our work license due to the changes that took place in the educational system.

4-    It has become impossible to manage the risks that came along with the increasing problems and difficulties in the arrangements of our expatriate staff’s visa, registration, accommodation, flight tickets, health services and salary transfers. Although shopping and making payments in a foreign currency in the country are not permissible, we were directed to make payments in US Dollars for visas, registrations, rent of accommodations and some health services, which made these services impossible to receive.

5-    We have finally had to decide to suspend our educational services as we have serious concerns that unjust and unlawful ill-treatment, which a few other private educational institutions were subject to during their inspections (e.g. the language teaching centres faced accusation of extremism in December 2010), is very much likely to be directed against our schools as well.

We apologize for the inconvenience all this might have caused.

What the Teachers Say:
“The Turkish administration and staff fled ‘en masse’ at the end of December, without telling anyone beforehand (including the expat teachers). They notified the expatriate staff on Jan 6th, by sending them a poorly worded e-mail saying that our contracts had been abolished and if you were out of the country not to return and if you were in the country to leave. After promising to pay the teacher’s severance pay for January, they then reneged and refused to pay the teachers who were stranded here and who had no choice but to find a way to salvage their jobs…” Read reviews of this incident

BLOG this incident. Share your thoughts on the actions of the administration, teachers and ministry of education. Has anything similar that you know of taken place at other schools?