Quality of Resources and Facilities
Overall I would say the quality of the EF courses are better for children. EF has ‘practise &
play’ an integrated computer learning system where every unit the kids go down to the
computer room and play language games. In the classroom every class has a computer
where listening materials from the book are turned into interactive powerpoints. They have
EF videos of two teachers who travel around the world doing different activities, these are
accompanied by various language related workcards and activities. I would also say the
EF Highflyers coursebook is better designed with the same set of characters Roddy and
friends and a variety of exercises and workcards which are fairly simple to follow. The TBI
coursebooks have different characters so don’t have continuity and the exercises are quite
difficult to follow and require a lot of adaptation by the teacher particuarly the new Kid’s
The TBI Bekasi computer room is appalling. Whereas EF have new flat screen computers,
with headpones that work and proper computer chairs. TBI have plastic chairs which are
really uncomfortable and rickety to sit on (I weigh 60kg and don’t feel safe sitting on them).
The computers are old and slow, but more so they are full of pirated software so when you
load it up you get lots of warnings that you’re not using genuine software and it locks your
screen. Plus the computers are full of viruses. Binsar doesn’t even provide mouse mats,
instead he puts down scrap paper. It’s a complete embarassment and so is never used by
classes. It’s only used by a few of the kids before class on Tue/Thurs else it’s unused with
the lights off and a/c off most of the time so not very inviting.
The reception area is ok. There some decent chairs to sit on at the front to buy courses. All
the coursebooks are put on display though some of them are a bit worn. Up until October
2012 he also had a white ring binder folder on display at the front with the coursebooks.
This was just a regular ring binder but with the TBI logo in the middle and the logo for the
University of New South Wales at the bottom. This was removed in October 2012. Why it
was there or why it was removed I don’t know as it wasn’t advertising any courses, but was
kind of suggesting a link between TBI and the University of New South Wales. The
reception sells a few snacks at a snack bar with a weird design. It’s about 5ft tall of solid
wood with the bar on top with a few snacks but only a small gap of about 20cm before you
have a plastic see-through guard. So, often you see the student advisors hiding behind the
snack bar and when you have to buy snacks or get new courseboxes (they’re stored
behind the snack bar) you have to get them through the 20cm gap like you’re getting some
kind of illicit material. In front of the snack bar are some metal chairs, same style that you
see at a bus station so not very comfortable and a flatscreen TV which only shows
Indonesian language shows.
Next to the reception is the ‘Study Centre’. This is medium-sized room with walls floorceiling
of bookcases. However, the bookcases are mostly empty. Except for a few old
study books in one corner, a pile of old newspapers and students usually store their
motorcycle helmets on the shelves. The room has a few tables with the same
uncomfortable chairs as the computer room. The room is rarely used except for office staff
meetings and student placement tests.
The classrooms themselves are fairly standard rooms, tiled floors, a whiteboard, study
chairs and a CD player. However, there aren’t enough CD players for the rooms so
particularly on Tue/Thur or Saturday classes you have to negotiate with the other teachers
on when you want to use a CD player. Lots of the CD players are old and slow (sometimes
broken), you take several minutes to skip through to the track you want, you can’t fast forward or rewind
and often the sound quality is poor. The classrooms are fitted with airconditioning
but of varying standards. One classroom’s a/c constantly gurgles and makes
geyser style noises which can be rather distracting when teaching.
The office staff and Binsar use a colored laser printer for their documents. Teachers
instead have to wait at the front desk and ask the student advisors to do the printing (often
they’re busy with customers/students). But teachers can’t use the laser printer instead they
have to use a crappy old printer, which is often running out of ink and prints in poor quality,
blurred lines and only on scrap paper which often shows through to the other side.
Teachers have asked for a printer for the teacher’s room but have been denied.
To do any photocopying at TBI Bekasi you have to fill in a photocopy request form.
Teachers aren’t allowed to do any photocopying themselves because Binsar thinks we
might break it. Instead the office assistant does all the photocopying for all the teachers on
one machine (particularly busy on Tue/Thurs). So often it takes 30 mins to an hour to do
the copying, he doesn’t speak English and is very old and so often makes mistakes. The
office assistant isn’t trusted with the paper becuase he might use it ‘extravagantly’ (Binsar
quote). So instead he is rationed to a small pile about 1cm thick at a time. When he runs
out he has to ask either Binsar or Irene, Binsars’s wife, for the key to the office where the
paper is stored. If they are not present then he can’t get any paper and so can’t do any
photocopying; similarly if the office assistants are out paper leafletting then teachers can’t
do any photocopying. Both these events often occur, so often you get the photocopying
last minute before the class starts and can’t do any prep to it. Typically, therefore I do most
of my photocopying a day or two in advance.
Irene is officially the Senior Teacher at TBI Bekasi. When meeting them for the first time
she is merely introduced as Irene the senior teacher. It is not clear that she is his wife until
you find out for yourself. Again she spies on the teachers for Binsar. Luckily though she
often isn’t in the teacher’s room as she prefers to do her class prep for the next day after
her classes (i.e. Wednesday evening she preps for Thursday classes). So she usually only
comes 20mins before the class starts so doesn’t spend a lot of time observing teachers. As
Senior teacher she has no role really in formally observing teachers or improving
standards. The only thing she does is check the class notes to make sure the teacher is on
schedule to finish the course correctly. She often takes over classes to do the Final test as
these don’t involve any preparation so Binsar likes giving it to her. I did notice that during
the Summer she seemed to be teaching several classes of 1 or 2 students. I mentioned to
Binsar that these were supposed to be 50:50 classes so I got to teach them and soon
afterwards they were merged with other classes. My suspicion was that he was
deliberately giving her lots of small classes as a way of diverting teaching hours and hence
pay to her (and hence himself).
The teacher’s room is ok with a moderate library of books. The only complaint really is that
some of them are very old (think 80’s and 90’s). But generally TBI seems to be stuck in the
90’s anyway so it’s not surprising it could do with an update.
The toilet facilities at TBI Bekasi are poor to say the least. There are two toilet rooms. One
by the main stairs contains two small cubicles. The cubicles are very old and rusty.
Consequently one of the teachers actually got locked in the other day as the door got
stuck. The other toilet is a traditional Indonesian style mandi, a toilet unit with a built-in
mandi in the corner. This is because as you know the office assistants live in the building
with their family so they use this toilet as their main shower area. There’s also one more
toilet upstairs in the teacher’s room for the teachers. So just to clarify for a school of about
150 students there are only 4 toilets, 3 of them for student access. The toilets are not
labelled men/women and so are unisex. The tiled floor is cracked, poor quality and is often
covered in water so the toilets are usually in a fairly dirty state and often have dirty
footprints leading out of them.
Overall the building is in poor shape due to damp and water leakage. Binsar did do a
repaint in December 2011. However, it desperately needs another going over so I was
surprised to come back after Christmas and see nothing had been done. Classroom
Number 2 is particularly bad. The room generally smells damp, the wall often goes a funny
colour with water patches. In the heavy rain we’ve had recently, water was pouring down
the wall and tiled floor was removed a long the wall. This left a hole in the ceiling of the
study centre below which as of my leaving had not been fixed. The classroom was closed
when the water was actually gushing down but now has been reopened with minimal work
being done, the wall is still discolored and the floor broken. The main staircase to the 2nd
floor has a major leaking problem. The paint has pealed from the wall (it’s been like that for
several months now). Recently with the heavy rain the stairs themselves have been
covered with newspaper which doesn’t look good but is also a health and safety risk
particularly with children running up and down. Other rooms have discoloration, smells etc.
But those are the two worst areas.