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Rumah Bahasa: The Worst School in the History of Indonesia?

 
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bradleycooper



Joined: 12 Apr 2013
Posts: 202

PostPosted: Sat Feb 15, 2014 1:34 pm    Post subject: Rumah Bahasa: The Worst School in the History of Indonesia? Reply with quote



MOD EDIT

Well, I left it alone for a few months, but things have only got worse since. They now have 4 schools in Jakarta: Kelapa Gading, Pluit, Bintaro and Fatmawati. Most (if not all) are located in complexes which are run by Lotte Mart, a Korean supermarket chain. Clearly they have some of deal with Lotte. Each new mall contains one of these Rumah Bahasas.

So what is wrong with Rumah Bahasa? Here are some of the complaints I have now heard. It's a long list, and these are only the biggest worries.

1) They employ expat teachers on tourist visas which say WORK PROHIBITED.

2) They have no quality control at all in terms of teachers. Any White guy with a pulse will do.

3) They have a nasty record of failing to pay the promised salary.

4) Various staff members have described the owners as "liars" who tricked them out of money.

5) The owner loves to challenge people to "fist fights" if they question him. "Let's settle this the manly way," is the loose translation from Indonesian.

6) They have now started stealing from students as well. There is now a lot of online discussion that they refuse to refund money for classes that never started. They just kept stringing people out with promises to pay for months at a time.

This is based on communication with 7 different people who have crossed paths with this school chain. It is an open question how long they can stay in business with all the bad press they are getting, but they profess to have rapid expansion plans, and they have opened 2 new branches in recent months, so they remain a threat at the moment. Clearly, people need to be forewarned about their bad reputation.
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Tazz



Joined: 26 Sep 2013
Posts: 133
Location: Jakarta

PostPosted: Sun Feb 16, 2014 5:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

So another example of a bunch of Indonesian cowboys setting up a dubious education establishment in a Ruko and screwing both customers and employees.......doubt it will last long if your description is accurate-sounds like a 'hit and run' operation. Anybody who accepts full-time employment working on a tourist visa-with no promise of sponsorship/ kitas being arranged by the employer can't really complain when they get collared by immigration. Two guys working at EF Pamulang were discovered to be working on tourist visa's and deported 2-3 years ago. Unfortunate for them since they were 2 days away from being sent to Singapore on a visa run. Also unfortunate for them since the owner of that branch simply didn't have enough 'connections' to arrange for payments to be made so that immigration would 'look the other way' as it were. However, any expat who either signs a 'contract' [which would of course be totally worthless] or enters 'an agreement' to work long-term on a tourist visa has no grounds to complain when they end up in jail...and are subsequently deported.
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bradleycooper



Joined: 12 Apr 2013
Posts: 202

PostPosted: Mon Feb 17, 2014 1:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

2-3 days before going to Singapore can be a "danger zone". Let's say the school in question had put the documents in for a KITAS. Immigration is aware that a couple of new teachers are about to start at the school, and they know that many schools skirt the laws. So they send someone over to check out whether these teachers are already at the school, waiting to do a visa run to Singapore. If they catch someone, this could be seen as a good time to try and extract bribes.

Ideally, you wouldn't start on a tourist visa first. This is something people should think about. If possible, wait for the KITAS to be ready before starting.

As for Rumah Bahasa, it is a decent-looking place- better than you might expect. It is set inside a mall and its lobby and facilities are as good as some of its better known competitors. But something is very wrong. There are lots of Indonesian customers now doing "Facebook mailing lists" warning their friends against it. There is also a petition to try and push the Lotte Mart Mall operators to take some action to get refunds for courses that were never run. In this era of social media, these cowboy schools have clearly got a lot more to fear.

For the sake of clarity, I should add that is impossible for Rumah Bahasa to ever get you a KITAS (work visa). They are not registered as a PT. (company) so they cannot even legally apply to get KITASes under Indonesian law. This information comes from a teacher who complained about them to the North Jakarta Immigration office. They are absolutely flagrant in breaking the law.
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Tazz



Joined: 26 Sep 2013
Posts: 133
Location: Jakarta

PostPosted: Tue Feb 18, 2014 6:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

But is this school actually deceiving people that go to work for them.....are they actually telling the new teachers that yes, a visa/kitas will be provided for them 'at some time' in the future? It would be wonderful if schools actually arranged the visa for teachers in advance of them teaching there...but I've never, ever, heard of that happening-apart from BIS who I know have arranged all the documentation for overseas hires prior to their arrival. One of the perils of employment in Indonesia Exclamation
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bradleycooper



Joined: 12 Apr 2013
Posts: 202

PostPosted: Tue Feb 18, 2014 12:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

They are not promising anyone a KITAS. They are pretty clear that they can't get a work visa for them. They do seem to be offering VKU visas, which are business consultant visas. These are completely illegal to work on, and teachers were deported from other chains for working on them. But teachers know the risks here. Their teachers have been lied to about salaries though- teachers have reported receiving as little as Rp 4 million a month for their troubles here, despite being promised twice this.

However, their biggest lies are about other things:

1) They lie to customers that their teachers are qualified. They often have no TEFL qualifications or degrees.

2) They drag their feet endleslsly on giving refunds, even though they are the ones who keep cancelling promised classes. A few customers have said they now been waiting for a refund since November 2013!

3) The school seems to have a new policy that "refunds take 2 months to process", even when they agree to pay them!

At least teacher went to DIKNAS and Immigration but little action has been promised. Others have reported them for unpaid wages. In response, Rumah Bahasa threatened to sue the teachers who report them to authorities.


Last edited by bradleycooper on Sat Feb 22, 2014 6:28 am; edited 1 time in total
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Tazz



Joined: 26 Sep 2013
Posts: 133
Location: Jakarta

PostPosted: Wed Feb 19, 2014 10:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

How can they go to Diknas and immigration about unpaid salary when they have been working illegally! Rolling Eyes likelihood is that they'll end up either in jail or deported for trying to take action in such circumstances....perfectly illustrates the perils of working here illegally.
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bradleycooper



Joined: 12 Apr 2013
Posts: 202

PostPosted: Sat Feb 22, 2014 5:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tazz wrote:
How can they go to Diknas and immigration about unpaid salary when they have been working illegally! Rolling Eyes likelihood is that they'll end up either in jail or deported for trying to take action in such circumstances....perfectly illustrates the perils of working here illegally.


There was one person who went for a job interview, realized that even the expat school manager was working on a tourist visa and then went to Immigration to report them. He was told they were not a PT. (a registered company), so they could not apply for KITASes anyway. Others have made phone calls, which are probably a waste of time. When I complained about another school chain, they just used the information to extract even more bribes from the school oener.

Also Indonesian customers who have not been refunded have gone to DIKNAS to complain. They are now supposed to maintain standards in the private sector too. In reality, they are now taking bribes as well, of course.
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bradleycooper



Joined: 12 Apr 2013
Posts: 202

PostPosted: Wed Apr 23, 2014 8:46 am    Post subject: Rumah Bahasa Update Reply with quote

Just an update on the situation with Rumah Bahasa. Two of their new branches- Green Bay and Seasons City (both named after the malls they were situated in) have gone belly up. They both closed a mere matter of weeks after opening. This bears out the warnings I have been making about this chain for some time. They have a reputation for ripping off staff, hiring anybody as a teacher and not getting work visas for expats. There have been signs of serious financial stress for some time, and these fears have now been confirmed.

2 schools might have closed but they still have 4 schools open. Whether these dominoes will also topple in the coming months remains to be seen, but Rumah Bahasa is clearly a risky proposition for teachers.
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