As we have long suggested. the TEFL industry is evolving very rapidly in Jakarta and laggards like TBI who are stuck in the 1990s are going to be left rapidly behind. TBI’s ‘no frills’ approach to TEFL worked well enough when Indonesia was an immature market but it is now looking incredibly dated and low-end. How best to describe the old TBI approach?
Actually, there was nothing too complicated about it. It worked something like this: Order a few copies of Cutting Edge off a catalogue; employ a few former market-gardeners or truck drivers as Native Speaker teachers; bribe someone at Immigration to give them a work visa, despite the fact that they don’t formal qualifications; give the ‘teacher’ a copy of Cutting Edge; and run a successful business.
If anyone threatened to go public about the scams you were running, you could always threaten to black-list them all over Jakarta and Indonesia. This worked well for a surprisingly long time; TBI boasted some very skillful liars and manipulators. TBI was even brazen enough to boast that it was “the most respected language academy in Indonesia and South East Asia!” Thankfully, those days are now a part of TEFL history.
Things Have Changed
In 2014, with their ‘glory days’ now well behind them, TBI finds itself in a position best expressed by the sorrowful, world-weary narrator of Bob Dylan’s late-career masterpiece, Things Have Changed.
Standin’ on the gallows with my head in a noose
Any minute now I’m expectin’ all hell to break loose
People are crazy and times are strange
I’m locked in tight, I’m outta range
I used to care, but things have changed
In fact, at TBI all Hell has already broken loose. TBI Cengkareng, Malang and Semarang all went broke. At TBI Malang, their joint venture partner threw them out of their own (former) school. Former managers of Jakarta schools leaked documents showing they were running visa scams, all dreamt up by Luke Preece. Allegations of massive tax evasion and embezzlement emerged at TBI Kelapa Gading. Then allegations of sexual abuse, robberies and extortion sprang up at TBI Bekasi, where foreigners were coerced under threat of arrest for working for Binsar for as little as $300 a month.
None of it was ever investigated or even formally acknowledged. Threats of lawsuits against whistle-blowers emerged. TBI might have limped on, but its reputation has been badly damaged, and they only employ a fraction of the number of foreign teachers that they used to. To all these woes is now added the arrival of The British Council in Medan, Surabaya and Jakarta.
The British Council: A Real British Institute
TBI has long misled potential teachers by calling itself The British Institute. There is nothing remotely British about this vile institute. It is an Indonesian company registered as PT. Titian Buana Ilmu. None of the Senior Managers are British, and this has been the case for many years. The very name is a kind of confidence trick being played on teachers and customers.
It can only be viewed as very bad news then for TBI that a real British institution, The British Council, has now returned to Indonesia in a big way. They have already opened a school in Medan, the largest city on Sumatra. And in early 2015 they will also be opening schools in Surabaya and Jakarta, the two largest cities in Indonesia.
It should be noted that the British Council is a true British institution which is well-known for maintaining high standards in its schools. They employ teachers with proper TEFL qualifications and enjoy an excellent international reputation. They have nothing to do with PT. Titian Buana Ilmu (TBI), a disreputable scoundrel of the TEFL world. Their arrival in Jakarta gives yet another superior option to the charlatans at TBI.