Thursday, May 14, 2009

The short-lived Indian British English school II

At the British Indian English school, I had hoped they would give up asking for my teaching certificate, but, unfortunately, they didn’t - and after putting it off for a while it reached a crisis point. It was a pity because I had taken a liking to my role as an ambassador for British education – so much so that I tried to think of a way out of things.

“Sanjeet, I need to talk to you,” I said. “I’m gutted, that school I went to in Egypt was a fake. I am really sorry.”

I handed over a letter from Cambridge Schools Certification Organization confirming that the Al-Fayed school of English was indeed a fake. The lady I emailed had been most sympathetic, even giving me a helpful warning about unscrupulous schools.

“Ah, this is from Sarah Richardson, I know her…Well, anyway, what are we going to do now? I think we keep this between for the moment, but I would like you to do a TEFL at some later juncture,” he said. “I’ll let you into a little secret: I have never set foot in England. Just between us of course...”

That explained his positive view of race relations in the UK, I thought.

I may have got away with the teaching certificate but they were still after a copy of my M.A. which also didn’t exist – and I guessed was a bullshit bridge too far. However, other events took over before I was found out.

“We can’t teach here for a while. Now we are going to a coffee shop for class,” said Sanjeet. Bad timing meant classes had started before they had got their Bushiban (private school) license. Ordinarily not a problem – the police were not particularly vigorous in their pursuit of illegal schools – unless someone wanted you closed down. Sanjeet’s old company did, and the police had reluctantly dragged themselves over.

It then got more ridiculous: Two days later, at incredible expense to the owner of the school, they were now teaching in the conference rooms of a five star hotel. The boss knew the owner of the hotel and the staff had been told not to tell anyone.

…Then just another five days later I was off home half way through class, my position in the high echelons of the English teaching profession short lived. Sanjay’s old school had caught up with him, and he was on the five o’clock flight to Rome, all expenses paid. A few hours earlier, the chief of police had called the boss – it was the courteous thing to do as the boss knew everyone – to say the police were on the way, and if they found Sanjay then they would have to expel him, never to return. If he left the country he could lie low for a week or two and then come back.

A week or so later the owner called all the teachers together to explain what had happened and when the school would open again. He had his rich guy line: As usual he talked about what a nice guy he was, and he wasn’t doing this to earn money, but because his wife was interested in setting up the school and contributing something back to society. He said he would pay them this month’s salary regardless – I had already started working somewhere else.

They still wanted me to work at the school but I figured there was no need to continue the lie. “I am sorry. I have had a change of plan and I have to go back to England,” I said. It would be strange going back to working in dark, second division schools and kindergartens in Taipei County where no questions were asked, when I had managed to work in a spanking new school in the center of town in my suit. Still I had proved to myself the only difference between me and the teachers in these schools was the piece of paper.

No comments: