There is an Australasian idiom go bung which means to collapse or fail in an embarrassing manner. In this interview we examine why TBI Kelapa Gading went bung.
Why did TBI Kelapa Gading become a failure?
In my first nine months there, I was a class teacher and I was really focused on that. Those nine months date from August 2008 until May 2009. I was just worried about teaching my classes and trying to do the best for my students. But it was clear that the school was badly run and really in many respects worse than an EF school. Supervision was almost non-existent unless things blew up badly, which they did a few times. The manager B**** behaved in a knee-jerk fashion to problems. But really they were all B****’s fault. He gave no direction or guidance to anybody and one of his expat teachers was 20 years old. B***** needed to be keep an eye on things and he just didn’t care. I blame the sorry state of that school first and foremost on B*****. However, in retrospect, the school was indicative of systemic problems within Franchise schools.
Was the school busy?
Honestly, they need to do better head counts. TBI franchise schools are the home of rubbery figures. Basically the school wasn’t busy at all. More than one student said that it was seperti kuburan (quiet as a graveyard, basically.) In the 7.30-9 pm time slot you would sometimes have four or five students in the whole school. There would be one business class with 2 people in it and an IELTS class with 2 or 3 people next door. And that was it. B**** probably came into the staffroom once every couple of months. It was usually after Pauwsan Sutanto had paid him a long visit. B***** would come in and say, “Student numbers are low. The owner isn’t happy. Let’s make sure we work hard to keep students happy. We can’t afford to lose any more.” Or something along those lines. That was his little pep talk and that was supposed to make everything okay. I asked him once how many students we had and he said around 250. I accepted that as the basic number. After I became school manager I had access to the old figures and I realized B***** had been lying. The average I calculated was 208 students and some weeks were as low as 180 students by the end of 2008.
What was B**** like to work for?
It was like working for The Invisible Man. I literally went weeks at a time without laying eyes on him. He sat in his little office behind the stairs and rarely came out. The staffroom was on the third floor and he rarely made the climb. There were just us three expats in the office on our own. He taught something like eight hours a week and he would head home at 4.30 to 5 pm. He got in there at 10 amand played solitaire on his computer or looked at girlie sites. He gave himself every single Friday of the year off. He said he took Fridays in lieu of his 4 weeks annual leave, but I didn’t see how that worked out. There are 50 Fridays in a year and there are 20 leave days in 4 weeks. It seemed he had awarded himself 30 extra days leave every year. How it looked to me was that B***** had found a position where he could get almost 20 million rupiah a month for doing very little work. It was a good deal.
M**k considered B***** a dream boss because you didn’t have to do any work. M**k had this General English Level 9 class on Friday afternoons which he had been teaching for more than a year. The class was called Pickerel and it ran from 4.00-7.15. So basically it was the typical 3 hours a week GE class, but they did it all at once. The class was full of bored teenagers who didn’t want to be studying. That was how M**k told it. He had made this arrangement with them which was basically, “I don’t care if you come to class or not and I certainly won’t be phoning your parents. Every student gets 90% in my class.” The teens would sit downstairs in the computer room and play games until 5.00 and then they would come up, do some English for half an hour and then M*** would give them ‘a break’. They would then go downstairs and play more games or go to Mimosa and buy an orange juice or whatever. I estimate that a typical 3 hour class would involve no more than 45 minutes of teaching for M***. Remember, B**** wasn’t even in the school on Fridays, so there was no chance of anyone finding out. Overall, the situation in the school was farcically bad. B**** only feared Sutanto, the owner, and didn’t care less what anyone did unless it caused him grief with Sutanto.
To read the next installment about the history of TBI Kelapa Gading, follow this link: