Indonesia TEFL Industry: Bangkok Post Report

It is interesting to see that even Bloomberg News has gotten into the act of criticizing the regulators of the Indonesian TEFL industry. A syndicated article about the sheer madness of the DIKNAS regulations has now made it from New York all the way to Bangkok and Jakarta. However, the key points will not be ‘news’ to anyone who spent any time reading this blog. In a nutshell, by insisting that teachers have English degrees, HIV  negative status, five years’ work experience and even Bahasa Indonesia proficiency, the Ministry of Education is  damaging massive damage to a small but vital part of the Indonesian economy. The teaching of English is not only a growing industry in Indonesia but it is also of great importance to Indonesia’s future in a globalized world.

The article from Bloomberg, which appeared three days ago in the Bangkok Post, expresses very similar views to the ones we have made in recent months on this blog. Basically, Indonesia has raised the bar too high in terms of qualifications, especially when you consider its low-income economy. Asking for foreign teachers with a long “laundry list” of qualifications and accomplishments is simply not realistic when teacher salaries are so much lower in Indonesia than places such as China, Japan and Korea. How can Indonesian schools compete when they want high-qualified teachers at bargain-basement prices?

DIKNAS is simply dreaming if it thinks that the best and brightest of the TEFL world will be attracted to Indonesia when schools struggle to pay more than $1000 a month at the current exchange rate. Their ill-thought-out regulations have simply made Indonesia unattractive to TEFL teachers and schools are suffering as a result. While TBI (a school that has cheated, spied on, threatened, bullied and lied to former teachers) is perhaps not deserving of much sympathy, its more ethical competitors are in the same boat and are to be pitied. We recommend that people read the full article from the Bangkok Post, which is very interesting, but we have also cut and pasted an extract for those who will be content with just a taste.

From the Bangkok Post Article:

An English degree, a teaching certificate, five years of experience and a HIV test from your country of origin. That’s all you need to get a job with a starting salary equal to 39,000 baht a month in Indonesia.

With native-language English teachers needing to fulfill a laundry list of requirements to get a work permit, commercial schools are short of teachers.

These are the most stringent conditions that are applied for English teachers in the world, hands down,” said Nina Wexler, an American who owns two schools in the city of Solo. “Out of 100 applicants, maybe five qualify. And chances are they will end up taking higher-paid jobs in other countries.”

The government is still raising new barriers, including a plan to require proficiency in Indonesian from foreigners seeking employment in the country. Red tape, corruption and complicated rules that are often contradictory discourage foreign investment and run counter to President Joko Widodo’s promises to simplify bureaucracy.


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