Today we start a new series of reports from a TBI teacher. Over the next month we will be featuring two or three posts a week from this TBI Bekasi expat teacher, who has just resigned. In his well-written, lucid and perceptive report, he offers a stark portrait of a failing school and the man who runs it: Binsar Simorangkir. In this first post he writes about his initial recruitment by Binsar and his move to (TBI) the British Institute.
Part One. Initial Recruitment and First Period at TBI Bekasi December 2011
My name is R**** G****** I have worked at TBI Bekasi since December 2011 until end
of January 2013. I would prefer references to my name to be blanked out, as I’d rather the
results were not google searchable for my record. I am providing you with an account of
my experiences with TBI to give yourself and your readers a better idea of what’s
happening at TBI Bekasi.
I had previously taught at EF East Jakarta during 2010 for 1 year. Whilst there I met
another teacher called P**** (name has been altered to maintain confidentiality). P*** had
been in Indonesia for several years and had taught at various schools. In the Autumn of
2011 P**** started teaching at TBI Bekasi and advertised on his facebook page that they
were looking for another native-speaker teacher. At that time I was in China but
unfortunately the job in China fell through and I needed another job ASAP so P**** put me in
touch with Binsar and the initial recruitment happened whilst I was in Hong Kong. Binsar
invited me to do a teaching demonstration as soon as I was available so I flew to Jakarta
on November 26th and did a teaching demo on Monday 5th December 2011.
During December 2011 and January 2012 I worked part-time on a tourist visa. It took 2
months for Binsar to arrange the working visa, which I thought was a very long time. EF by
comparison like other schools took 2-3 weeks. As I just had a tourist visa I wasn’t eligible
to work at all and he said he didn’t want to raise suspicions with the authorities so he only
gave me limited hours; the lowest was 7 hours a week, the most was 20 hours a week
when the other teacher went on holiday. So I can empathise with your other poster who
said that Binsar promised hours but didn’t deliver, in my case he just took a long time to
get the working visa and that the part-time schedule was temporary.
It was difficult during this period as 7 hours a week isn’t enough work to live on. But Binsar did help me find a cheap kost for this period and I could walk to work so it was
manageable. But again if your other poster was living in Jakarta and paying Jakarta rents
and bus fares then these hours wouldn’t be suitable. P*** also told me that Binsar put an
emphasis on making sure teachers lived nearby so he could keep an eye on them, this
was the start of his suspicious behaviour. P*** didn’t live nearby and was pressured by
Binsar to move closer but refused.
During this time I had to arrange my tourist visa and extension and wasn’t given assistance
or reimbursement from Binsar for this process. My visa extension ran out and so I had to
leave the country to go to Singapore. Whilst I was in Singapore Binsar emailed me the visa
telex documentation on Friday morning at 9am for me to see the visa agent that day, so
the process was very badly managed and I just made it to see the agent really for that
week, else I would have had to have stayed in Singapore until the next week. Binsar said
he would refund my flight. I flew with Air Asia in January which cost Rp1 million. He said
that was too expensive and that P*** had flown in October for Rp800,000 and so he would
only refund Rp800,000. I told him that January and the New Year are generally more
expensive times to fly than October but to no avail. Incidentally my flight this year with Lion
Air is Rp1 million and Air Asia is Rp1.2 million so I think the price was reasonable.