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Is this unethical? (local hire issue)

Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by MyLastDuchess, Oct 19, 2015.

  1. MyLastDuchess

    MyLastDuchess New commenter

    This situation really rubs me the wrong way, and I'm interested in your thoughts.

    Our school, like many International Schools, pays Local Hires a very low salary with no benefits. But the local hires work the same hours as we do, and have the same responsibilities. One of the local hires is tutoring the principal's teen daughter in a complicated IB subject. She spends about two hours each day after school doing this. The principal pays her cash. The local hire doesn't really want to do this because she has to do planning for her own classes, but she feels she can't say no to the principal because job security for local hires isn't very good. Every year local hires wait until summer to hear if they have contracts for the next year, and the ones who don't never get an explanation. The principal talks a lot about how she is helping the teacher by giving her the extra money, which is how the whole staff knows about the situation. I just think the whole thing is exploitive somehow.

    Is this common practice in other schools?
  2. David Getling

    David Getling Lead commenter

    This reminds me, just a little, of the witch principal who eventually got rid of almost all her secondary teachers. When I'm teaching full-time, or even have a substantial amount of part-time teaching I never look to do tutoring work. However, when I was at the school in question I was asked by the principal to tutor a student from another school. The reason was that her father was a well connected journalist and the principal hoped to derive some beneficial publicity.
  3. february31st

    february31st Established commenter

    This is the norm in China, but at least the Chinese staff are covered by the national labor laws. For some Chinese staff who teach Chinese First Language/Maths/Physics to, IB and IGCSE level it is a route to a better job in places like SG and HK where they are paid the same as western staff such is the need for their skills.

    Also many new job opportunities are available to Chinese staff after they have worked in an International school when then move to the top Chinese schools here in Shanghai. Some of the Chinese staff just don't want to work with Chinese managers and prefer the western work environment and staff.

    Certain schools will also try to "Local Hire" expat staff at greatly reduced terms of employment, if the spouse of someone working the country is looking for a job. Some countries openly exploit this by only offering one working visa/family.

    All done to keep profits as high as possible and little regard to education values for students.
  4. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    "Local hire" is a term that can open up a rather nasty can of worms.

    When I was teaching at a certain school near the game park in Nairobi, we had a wonderful French teacher. She was well-qualified, did a great job and the children adored her. However, she was paid a lot less than the expat staff because she was a black Kenyan. I am glad to say that some of us complained very loudly about this and eventually she was paid properly.

    However, in some schools, particularly in the Middle East, I have noticed an increasing tendency to pay local hires a lot less, simply because it is a corner-cutting exercise and the school wants to save some money. It creates bad feeling and resentment among the staff, so I cannot see how it can be in the long-term interests of the students. This sort of behaviour encourages racist attitudes and so it is exactly the opposite of what an international school really should be doing.
  5. igvram

    igvram New commenter

    There is a school in Bangkok which styles itself " The British School". If anyone applies from another Thailand International School they are classed as "local" often interviewed and offered the post but with no benefits to speak of. They are then told that they can fly home for another interview but that they may not get the post. Blackmail and underhand tactics all round.
  6. SecondPlace

    SecondPlace Occasional commenter

    Aside from the first reply everyone else has answered a different question to the one posed.

    So, an answer to your actual question: Don't know if the situation you described is common, but I would say it's unethical.
  7. mikemcdonald25

    mikemcdonald25 Occasional commenter

    Totally agree with Secondplace about the previous posts! In answer to the original post - yes it is completely unethical for the Head to blackmail the local teacher for her own child’s benefit and in my experience this is not that common, although of course poor treatment of local hires is quite common but not in this rather sordid manner.

    As a general response to some of the other posts, all the schools that I have worked in over the years and many others of which I have second hand knowledge have used variations of the three tier system.

    1) Full expat contract for a fully qualified teacher recruited from another country. This would include a variation on the usual international package i.e. two or three year contract, foreign equivalent salary, accommodation, flights, medical insurance and gratuity.

    2) Foreign teacher hired locally - this is often, though not exclusively, an expat teacher in the same country, maybe employed at another international school and/or a spouse of another teacher or other expat. This usually comes with a similar contract and salary to the above package but can be missing some or all of the other benefits.

    3) Local teacher - again the situation can vary greatly but this is often teachers of the mother tongue of the country, can include PE and music teachers who will teach in the local language rather than English. Their contracts are usually annual and their salary is often much lower than the expats but much higher than their peers in government schools.

    As we can see from some of the posts above and as I am sure we will see on this thread in the very near future the last of these often causes some colleagues a great deal of anguish.

    My own rather simplistic view is that:

    a) the local teachers take the job knowing the situation

    b) the working conditions, the salary and the students will be much better than those in a government school

    c) the school and the expat teachers are providing a service that the government schools cannot provide to an expat community (the MNC’s) that brings huge benefits to their country as well as providing a much higher level of education to an aspiring and rapidly growing middle and upper middle class that would not be available otherwise.

    As I said at the start, not all of this is rosy and some schools treat their local teachers very poorly, particularly the threat of non-renewal of the annual contract if they are too outspoken or upset a rich and powerful parent, but I have to say if this causes you pain then maybe you shouldn’t be in that school or that country. What I have tried to do over the years in a variety of management roles is to be as supportive as I possibly can of the local staff, to encourage them to improve their skills and to demand that students and other staff treat them with the respect that they deserve.

    Looking forward to a good discussion of this topic!
  8. GeordieKC

    GeordieKC Occasional commenter

    Two hours tuition per night for one IB subject, seems more than a little excessive! However I cannot see anything unethical with the actual tuition arrangement. Nothing wrong with a parent wanting tuition. The teacher concerned was asked and agreed. However the Principal discussing the teacher's financial situation with third parties does sound inappropriate..

    Local Hire is a very divisive issue, but as a previous poster said if you do not like the situation leave. In my experience schools only tackle this sort of issue when they are concerned by staff turnover.
  9. igvram

    igvram New commenter

    By golly pedants certainly rule here don't they? I like to think that the answers on here were just suggestive of what local hire means in different places. In answer to the original poster, if one must, then no it is not unethical. Ethics change depending upon where one is living and upon who sets the rules. If you cannot live with it then leave. The choice is completely up to you. Personally I am happy to earn what I do: If others don't for whatever reason, then, I am afraid, that is their lookout.
  10. David Getling

    David Getling Lead commenter

    Some don't! I'm all for paying better teachers more, though determining this can sometimes be very difficult. But, all other things being equal, people who give the same service should get the same pay regardless of age, sex or race. In fact, I've often said that everyone's salary should be public knowledge. In all organizations they should be posted on a public notice board.

    This kind of self evident fairness is not even unique to humans. In experiments with monkeys, who have been taught to exchange tokens for food, the monkey who sees another get a piece of fruit when it only got a piece of carrot has displayed outrage, even though before seeing this it was happy with the carrot.

    Mind you, a monkey could often run a school better than many principals.
  11. MisterMaker

    MisterMaker Occasional commenter

    Not necessarily the case. The are several countries where nationals are paid more in gov / public schools than in private. Why then, one may ask, would parents pay fees for lower paid staff?

    1. Because of the expat staff. Having some / many expat staff with western training is a significant boost to the school. Hence the value of those staff is significantly more than nationals. It would be unethical, perhaps, NOT to pay more for those with better qualifications and a better understanding of education.

    2. Facilities. National schools generally lack the facilities of private / international schools: swimming pools, well equipped gyms, etc.

    Life is unequal. Get over it.
  12. Cliffedge

    Cliffedge Occasional commenter

    It seems exploitative to me.

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