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Teachers say new NDP government needs to clean up BC's offshore school program — here’s how

About 100 B.C.-certified teachers face expulsion from South Korea for allegedly having the wrong visas to work at B.C.-certified offshore schools.

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The visa clampdown was reported in the Korean news media this week, and a published report says there are another 11 “such unauthorized foreign alternative schools certified by other Canadian provinces and jurisdictions in the United States still operating in South Korea.”

The fix — common sense 

The CBIS teachers’ statement says “We believe that our suggestions for the B.C. ministry’s Review of B.C. offshore schools are concrete, simple, and cost-effective. To put it bluntly, it’s common sense. Hopefully there will be change and a focus on supporting future international students and their families coming to Canada and current Canadian teachers abroad.”

They are advising the B.C. government provide the following:

On the ground representation. The B.C. government should provide a bilingual ministry of education representative in Seoul, who is readily available to help and advise teachers who are in crisis situations.

A designated bilingual representative who understands the local education laws and legal system of the country. This representative would be part of the B.C. offshore inspections and would verify school licenses and any other legal documentation relating to the school and/or the teachers. This representative would not be part of the school administration and would be designated by the B.C. Ministry of Education.

A protocol for school probation and/or closure to ensure protection is provided for students, parents, and teachers in the case of probation or closure. The B.C. government should provide explicit support to parents and students ensuring students’ educational well-being.

Increased stability and accountability in school administration including clear protocols and higher standards for hiring and during inspections.

More inspections and follow-up if there is a turnover in administration, or if the school is without a principal for more than a month.

A clear chain of command for communication between teachers, administration and owners that encourages dialogue and helps find solutions. This would also offer support for teachers if they need to report administrative or ownership concerns without fear of repercussions.

Assurance for the protection of all B.C. certified teachers currently on  [Korean] E2 visas in B.C. offshore schools in South Korea.

Consequences and safety nets to keep school owners and operators accountable for protecting B.C.-certified teachers working in their offshore schools. Those would include fines and a warning system that both the owners and the ministry agree to that could warrant the revocation of the owners’ license if there is evidence of negligence. The teachers suggest a budget be established to provide teachers with representation from an international lawyer in any cases where the owners or operators neglect, abandon, or mistreat teachers.

School principals in place at all times. If there is an extended vacancy, the teachers recommend the B.C. government “step in and appoint a B.C.-certified principal through a system with reserve principals on call or a way to support the school in hiring a principal as soon as possible.”

Assurance that schools abide by national and local laws. “The B.C. Ministry of Education should be responsible for being up-to-date on international law,” the CBIS teachers told me via email. “In our case, CBIS had no license and previously had the wrong school license according to Korean law. B.C. offshore representatives should be aware and up-to-date on proper school licensure and visa and immigration law in countries that operate B.C. offshore schools. That is not the teachers’ responsibility, but in the case with CBIS, the teachers bore the brunt of the school owners’ negligence and the ministry’s negligence. “

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