Surely every TEFL teacher in Indonesia will have heard by now: Manpower, the Ministry of Labor, have announced that by February 2015 they will be testing all applicants for Indonesian work visas in terms of their Bahasa Indonesian fluency. To get a KITAS, a work visa, you will first have to demonstrate ”mastery of Indonesian” in a test designed by the University of Indonesia.
Now this follows the last big ‘reform’ which the Indonesian bureaucracy dreamed up for expat teachers, the infamous English degree requirement of 2011, which insisted that every aspiring TEFLer to Indonesia would have to have a degree in English, Applied Linguistics or, wait for it, a Masters of TEFL! Now people with an MA in TEFL can command salaries of $50,000 a year tax fee at universities in Oman and Qatar, but Indonesia’s Education Ministry are so out of touch with reality that they imagined these individuals might be interested in working for crumby language school salaries of less than $1000 a month in the Big Durian!
As everyone in the industry knows, this previous ‘reform’ meant that language schools were completely unable to get enough teachers with the required degrees, so Jakarta became riddled with moonlighting teachers employed on ‘social’ visas, business consultant visas and even missionary visas! The ‘reform’ merely forced many teachers onto dubious visas, with the threat of deportation looming in the background.
So now the Indonesian government has upped the ante. Not only do teachers have to be English degree or MA of TESOL graduates, they also have to have ”mastered Indonesian” as well. To work for $1000 a month in Indonesia, you will now have to be an Indonesian-speaking English Lit grad from an English-speaking country! Because there are obviously so many of these people about. I can hardly ever walk into a bar without bumping into a couple of these talented multi-linguists!
My only real criticism of the new laws is that they don’t go far enough. If you are going to set top-down, unrealistic laws that no one would possibly be able to comply with, I think it is important to really commit to it. If you are going to govern from the Land of the Fairies, why not be really get into the role? That’s why I am going to suggest that from 2016 onwards, Manpower adds the requirement that all TEFL teachers own a pet unicorn and have a pet unicorn owner’s licence. I think that anyone smart enough to have an English degree and a mastery of Indonesian, despite growing up in an English-speaking nation, ought to have no problem obtaining a pet unicorn as well. And if they can’t get one …well, I suppose they could always work on a dodgy Sosbud visa at one of TBI’s sterling franchise schools.