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Zaman International School- The Gulen Cult
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SethOsiris



Joined: 07 Jan 2014
Posts: 11

PostPosted: Thu Jan 09, 2014 9:33 am    Post subject: Zaman International School- The Gulen Cult Reply with quote

I want to inform people that Zaman International School is part of a well-known Turkish cult known as the Gulen Movement. The leader of this conservative Islamic movement is an Islamic preacher called Fethullah Gulen and he also controls a multinational business empire including Turkey's biggest newspaper, which is also known as Zaman. The man lives in exile in the United States and Turkey's ruling party has recently tried to ban his prep schools in Turkey.

Even though it is in a Buddhist country, they insist on Khmer students conforming to strict Islamic codes of behaviour. This means that boys and girls are rigidly segregated in different wings of the building and having separate canteens and even playgrounds. Even the teachers have separate staff-rooms for women and men and have to sit at separate tables in the canteen at lunch-time.

In 2013 the school took on 8 new expat teachers for the first time. (They had had only 1 or 2 in previous years). The rest are Turkish or Central Asian. This change in policy was due to parent complaints. Scores in IGSCE tests were very low and falling. Expats had been called in to "fix" the mess. Unfortunately, they told a lot of lies to me and other expats and there are now only 3 of these original 8 left. Most have left cursing the place due to broken promises.

Despite what they say, you need to be at school 45-50 hours a week. School starts at 6.55 am on duty days and 7.25 normal days. You can't go home until 4.30 pm any day even though the kids finish at 3 pm. Everyone sits around in the staffroom and stares at the walls for an hour and a half. Staff asked why we can't home and the principal, a very rude and aggressive man said, "If you don't like it, leave. Do you think we need you?"

They also announced a policy of $1 a minute late fee. One day a British teacher slept through his alarm and came into work at 7.45 am. (Mind you school lessons started at 7.40). He was fined $50 for being late. This was equal to an entire days' pay. So that day he worked for nothing. This $1 a minute fine was not in the contract but again we were told that if we didn't like it, we could leave. With 60 teachers in the school, they steal hundreds of dollars from teacher pays every month. Where it goes is anyone's guess.

I could on go but you get the point. This school makes up rules as it goes, insists on Islamic behaviour codes for Khmers and expats, breaks promises and extracts fines and fees that they make up as they go. the Turkish teachers are all cult members who obey every instruction of the leaders unquestioningly and expect you to do the same. I strongly advise you to avoid this school.
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wander&teach



Joined: 15 Nov 2009
Posts: 104

PostPosted: Sat Jan 11, 2014 10:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Gulen movement is more of a alternative political party than a cult but it is associated with that stigma quite a bit (for good reason). They are currently butting heads with the powerful AK Party as Turkish elections are beginning very soon. Unfortunately what you have described is pretty much how most schools in Turkey are operated, be it private or public and that behavior is not at all unusual in Turkey regardless of religious or political affiliation, which are one and the same. Unless you are very close to a Turk they are generally very cold and rude even to each other. There are no ethics or integrity and rules and contracts are meaningless.
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scot47



Joined: 10 Jan 2003
Posts: 11704
Location: Ultima Thule

PostPosted: Sat Jan 11, 2014 1:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There must be a few Muslims in Cambodia, including ethnic Khmer. Fethaullah Gulen is strange but no weirder than any of those Western cults that you find all over Asia !
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PC Parrot



Joined: 11 Dec 2009
Posts: 351
Location: Moral Police Station

PostPosted: Sat Jan 11, 2014 2:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

wander&teach wrote:
Unless you are very close to a Turk they are generally very cold and rude even to each other. There are no ethics or integrity and rules and contracts are meaningless.


Quite a statement!

On the issue of coldness and rudeness, even if they were all being cold and rude to you, have you ever wondered if that was just their reaction to you and your type? How is your Turkish? How is your knowledge of their politeness system? How is your knowledge of politeness systems in general? Try Brown & Levinson for a good introduction if you haven't tried it yet.

Simply placing your own system over the top of theirs and drawing inferences doesn't cut the mustard.

It is also interesting to hear you be so damning of the Turks when only a year and a half ago you wrote:

Quote:
For the past year I have worked at Zirve University and can speak from personal and relevant experience. I have found that if a teacher acts professionally, he or she will be treated like a professional by the administration and the majority of students. I have thoroughly enjoyed teaching at Zirve and feel that I have contributed to my students' futures. During my time here I have made several life-long connections with students and teachers. As with teaching young adults anywhere, at times you will have to maintain good classroom management practices, however, this is part of being an effective teacher. Teaching overseas in a totally different culture always presents challenges but overall I can say that my time at Zirve has been a positive experience.
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wander&teach



Joined: 15 Nov 2009
Posts: 104

PostPosted: Sat Jan 11, 2014 3:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow Parrot. You have way too much time on your hands. Laughing
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PC Parrot



Joined: 11 Dec 2009
Posts: 351
Location: Moral Police Station

PostPosted: Sat Jan 11, 2014 4:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm not the one wasting my time writing racist clap-trap on the internet.

I spent a couple of minutes educating an ignoramus.

If you don't know how to search posts extremely quickly, I can give you a lesson in that too.
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SethOsiris



Joined: 07 Jan 2014
Posts: 11

PostPosted: Sat Jan 11, 2014 6:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have no knowledge of Turks generally and do not wish to engage in discussion of the merits and flaws of Turkish culture.

What I know is that these particular people are all members of a religious movement / cult who have treated foreign teachers with utter contempt. Here are some of my particular problems with Zaman International School:

1) They promised they would refund my ticket upon arrival in Phnom Penh. They did this in plain language. Once I got there they denied making the promise.

2) They forced us to work 46 hours per week- this was not mentioned in advance.

3) They charged people $1 a minute if they were late even though no one agreed to it and it wasn't in the contract.

4) The school's students have been failing international exams and have very poor English overall. Most students can't punctuate and make elementary grammar mistakes despite having been at Zaman since primary school.

5) The school uses unqualified wives (no education degree) as teachers for Grade 7 and 8. I wonder why the results are bad?

6) The principal was belligerent in meetings. He told all expat teachers, "If you don't like it, leave." He promised to be more flexible about the $1 fine and then the next month fined one teacher $50.

7) They have a network of spies within the school. Student spies exist and report on teachers if they were caught doing the "wrong" thing. This included such "offences" as drinking soda in the corridor. The students are encouraged to report on errant teachers.

5 out of 8 expats left before the end of Term 2 of the current school year. I wouldn't be surprised if 1 more goes soon.
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wander&teach



Joined: 15 Nov 2009
Posts: 104

PostPosted: Sat Jan 11, 2014 6:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow Parrot, keep it coming. I find you slightly amusing while my husband is in total stitches! Well done chap!
Laughing Laughing
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wander&teach



Joined: 15 Nov 2009
Posts: 104

PostPosted: Sat Jan 11, 2014 6:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh, by the way you do know what they say about men with oversized aviators.
Embarassed
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Mr. Kalgukshi
Mod Team
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Joined: 18 Jan 2003
Posts: 5947
Location: FSU 13-0 -- Go 'Noles! 2014 BCS Bowl Champions

PostPosted: Sat Jan 11, 2014 6:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If the insults don't cease very quickly, this thread will disappear and there will be sanctions.

Stay on topic and discuss it civilly or you may have to find another place to spend your time.

Members observing inappropriate postings on this or any thread are requested to advise the Mod Team as soon as possible by Report Post or PM.

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PC Parrot



Joined: 11 Dec 2009
Posts: 351
Location: Moral Police Station

PostPosted: Sun Jan 12, 2014 4:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am sorry that you, the OP, had to go through this ordeal with the school.

The secular Turks, and more reasonable non-secular Turks, would be appalled by what appears to be going on - though it wouldn't surprise them in the slightest. They have been under the boot of this type for over a decade.

At least you can take some comfort in the knowledge that the principal's beloved religious leader is locked in an ugly battle with the Turkish prime minister with the two of them scrapping like jackals over the rotting corpse of modern Turkey. Time could be running out for both of them.

I hope you are one of the ex-pats who walked.
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SethOsiris



Joined: 07 Jan 2014
Posts: 11

PostPosted: Sun Jan 12, 2014 3:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes I walked. The principal, the "abi", respected elder in the cult, was a rude and belligerent man who insisted on speaking entirely in Turkish at a supposed international school. There was a translator on hand at all times. Mostly he was incoherent and random, ranting about enforced homosexuality education for 5 year olds in Sweden, his time in Siberia and guns on UK housing estates. What any of this had to do with our jobs remains a mystery. But we expected to listen to an hour of it in deferential silence. How we all dreaded those endless expat meetings! He also berated us about what a bunch of lazy sods were all were. He said Khmer students were the easiest in the world and we had no reason to complain about anything- including him refusing to tell us when holidays would be.

There was one meeting where we challenged him why holidays had been cut to just one week between semesters. (Yes, one week holiday in a 10 month contract). This led to a rant about how lazy we all were and how lacking in commitment. Out of the 8 of us, there was only 1 who liked it, and he had been working at the $8 an hour places for a couple of years in Phnom Penh, so was grateful for a higher pay. But when you are working 45-50 hours a week, including some Saturdays, $1700 isn't great pay.
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wander&teach



Joined: 15 Nov 2009
Posts: 104

PostPosted: Mon Jan 13, 2014 7:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sounds more like a nightmare than a job. Your description doesn't seem to fit the typical M.O. of many (but not all) Turkish administrators who approach their employees with questionable business and social skills. After all, education is a business and it is widely accepted practice to fill almost any posts in Turkey using the cronyism system. Simply sounds like your run of the mill psychopath and you are smart for walking to preserve your sanity.
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SethOsiris



Joined: 07 Jan 2014
Posts: 11

PostPosted: Mon Jan 13, 2014 7:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

wander&teach wrote:
Simply sounds like your run of the mill psychopath and you are smart for walking to preserve your sanity.


I don't think the principal is quite right. I honestly don't. None of the other teachers behaved remotely like him. One of the Gulen members even admitted he was a nightmare to me. Then the next day he recanted. The cult "groupthink" is so strong that he obviously felt guilt at having criticized a group leader in his conversation.

The real shame of this place is that the students are being let down. Their parents are paying $5000 a year in an impoverished country for the pleasure of being taught English by a Turkish "religious movement". Most of the students are very weak academically and have to go to ACE to learn English after school! This is why the Gulenists got us expats in- some of the parents had worked out that their kids couldn't speak English despite wasting thousands of dollars on a "Gulen" education. Questions were being asked. It won't be long before this place is struggling I'd say.
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princesss



Joined: 28 Mar 2007
Posts: 62
Location: japan/indo/aust

PostPosted: Tue Jan 21, 2014 5:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The teachers would all be part of "The Service". It is called Hizmet. They are all following some kind of fake prophet with his own compound in Pennsylvania. His followers compare him to Gandhi and Mother Theresa. A TV evangelist is more like it. These Gulen schools are bad news. Look up Gulen charter schools as a Google search and see how much bad news you turn up.
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