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Hanoi school denies mistreating Filipino teacher

Hanoi school denies mistreating Filipino teacher

Friday, November 30, 2012, 16:42 GMT+7

A language school in Hanoi has said they did not lock in and force a Filipino female teacher to wear sexy clothes in class following a recent report from the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

>> Filipino teacher in Hanoi forced to wear sexy

The report published November 19 on DFA’s website said that a 32-year-old Filipina was driven 100 kilometers from Hanoi upon arriving at a local airport on November 4 to “check her prospects as an English language teacher at the Blue Ocean Language School”.

Her passport was confiscated, and she was immediately made to teach a class of about 20 students without a contract and a work permit, according to the website.

“I was not allowed to go anywhere. From the classroom, I had to return to my room and the building was locked. I was even asked to wear sexy clothes,” she was cited as telling the Philippine Embassy in the Vietnamese capital city.

She “escaped” on November 12 and managed to seek the Embassy’s help in retrieving her passport, the website claimed, quoting the Embassy as saying her case is not the first to suffer “severe working and living conditions” in Vietnam.

Tuoi Tre has identified the Filipina as Gazelle P.A., who did come to Hanoi on November 4 and was recruited by the Hanoi-based Ocean International Language school system (not the Blue Ocean Language School as said on DFA’s website).

The school then took her to Thai Binh Province, 110 km southeast of the city, for teaching English at its branch there.

She started teaching on November 6. But just 6 days later - on November 12 - she told the school that she wanted to go to a supermarket, but then traveled to Hanoi to call for help.

Inconvenience: yes, house custody: no

Nguyen Van Thuong, HR manager of the school system, confirmed that Gazelle P.A. had taught at the branch for one week before leaving without any prior notice.

Asked about the accusation of house arrest, Thuong said that the school does not rent houses for their expat teachers but instead allows them to stay and sleep inside the premises of its different branches.

He elaborated that there are only three keys to the door of the branch in Thai Binh Province where a manager and two groups of teachers stay, so three to four teachers have to share a key.

The HR chief admitted that this might cause inconvenience to the teachers but denied having “imprisoned” any of them.

He pointed out that nobody prevented Gazelle P.A. from going to the supermarket on November 12 (when the Filipina instead fled to the capital).

Several Filipino English teachers who intend to come to Vietnam for teaching have expressed worry over what was reported on DFA’s website. A representative from a different language center, which is also named Ocean, said that a Filipino English teacher phoned them to check the accuracy of the news while some others were too worried to continue negotiating for future teaching jobs.

Thuong also explained that his Ocean school kept her passport in order to find the woman a B3 visa (issued to foreigners entering Vietnam for work) since she did not have one then.

“We needed her passport to covert her tourist visa into a B3 visa and then get her a work permit as well,” he said.

Thuong added that the teacher’s passport had already been handed to the Philippine Embassy in Hanoi.

No sexy clothes

Ocean showed Tuoi Tre reporters its dress code that requires female teachers to wear decent business clothes in the classroom.

They are not allowed to put on jeans, sport clothing, or even shirts that show their shoulders, according to the code.

“It is impossible that we asked any teacher to wear sexy because that would go against Vietnamese tradition,” Thuong protested.

Tuoi Tre has also learned that Ocean on September 26 emailed the Filipina a sample contract, detailing teaching hours (6 days a week), pay (US$1,200 per month), allowances, training fees, and accommodations.

The school did not sign an official contract with Gazelle P.A. since she did not have a work visa at that time.

In the meantime, a Filipino English teacher who has taught in the capital for years told Tuoi Tre that she has never been in any situation similar to what Gazelle P.A. claimed.

“I have not heard about any colleague suffering from such an ordeal,” she said.

Juliet, another Filipina who once taught English at the Thai Binh branch, also told the newspaper that she has never known about anything like Gazelle P.A.'s accusations either.

The Philippine Embassy in Hanoi told Tuoi Tre on Wednesday that they would officially bring this issue to Vietnam’s Ministry of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs, and the Ministry of Education and Training to clear up some misunderstandings. The mix-up arose when a language center, also named Ocean, complained to the Embassy that this incident could stain their reputation, as there are many schools labeled “Blue Ocean” or “Ocean” in the capital city.

A language school in Hanoi has said they did not lock in and force a Filipino female teacher to wear sexy clothes in class following a recent report from the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

>> Filipino teacher in Hanoi forced to wear sexy

The report published November 19 on DFA’s website said that a 32-year-old Filipina was driven 100 kilometers from Hanoi upon arriving at a local airport on November 4 to “check her prospects as an English language teacher at the Blue Ocean Language School”.

Her passport was confiscated, and she was immediately made to teach a class of about 20 students without a contract and a work permit, according to the website.

“I was not allowed to go anywhere. From the classroom, I had to return to my room and the building was locked. I was even asked to wear sexy clothes,” she was cited as telling the Philippine Embassy in the Vietnamese capital city.

She “escaped” on November 12 and managed to seek the Embassy’s help in retrieving her passport, the website claimed, quoting the Embassy as saying her case is not the first to suffer “severe working and living conditions” in Vietnam.

Tuoi Tre has identified the Filipina as Gazelle P.A., who did come to Hanoi on November 4 and was recruited by the Hanoi-based Ocean International Language school system (not the Blue Ocean Language School as said on DFA’s website).

The school then took her to Thai Binh Province, 110 km southeast of the city, for teaching English at its branch there.

She started teaching on November 6. But just 6 days later - on November 12 - she told the school that she wanted to go to a supermarket, but then traveled to Hanoi to call for help.

Inconvenience: yes, house custody: no

Nguyen Van Thuong, HR manager of the school system, confirmed that Gazelle P.A. had taught at the branch for one week before leaving without any prior notice.

Asked about the accusation of house arrest, Thuong said that the school does not rent houses for their expat teachers but instead allows them to stay and sleep inside the premises of its different branches.

He elaborated that there are only three keys to the door of the branch in Thai Binh Province where a manager and two groups of teachers stay, so three to four teachers have to share a key.

The HR chief admitted that this might cause inconvenience to the teachers but denied having “imprisoned” any of them.

He pointed out that nobody prevented Gazelle P.A. from going to the supermarket on November 12 (when the Filipina instead fled to the capital).

Several Filipino English teachers who intend to come to Vietnam for teaching have expressed worry over what was reported on DFA’s website. A representative from a different language center, which is also named Ocean, said that a Filipino English teacher phoned them to check the accuracy of the news while some others were too worried to continue negotiating for future teaching jobs.

Thuong also explained that his Ocean school kept her passport in order to find the woman a B3 visa (issued to foreigners entering Vietnam for work) since she did not have one then.

“We needed her passport to covert her tourist visa into a B3 visa and then get her a work permit as well,” he said.

Thuong added that the teacher’s passport had already been handed to the Philippine Embassy in Hanoi.

No sexy clothes

Ocean showed Tuoi Tre reporters its dress code that requires female teachers to wear decent business clothes in the classroom.

They are not allowed to put on jeans, sport clothing, or even shirts that show their shoulders, according to the code.

“It is impossible that we asked any teacher to wear sexy because that would go against Vietnamese tradition,” Thuong protested.

Tuoi Tre has also learned that Ocean on September 26 emailed the Filipina a sample contract, detailing teaching hours (6 days a week), pay (US$1,200 per month), allowances, training fees, and accommodations.

The school did not sign an official contract with Gazelle P.A. since she did not have a work visa at that time.

In the meantime, a Filipino English teacher who has taught in the capital for years told Tuoi Tre that she has never been in any situation similar to what Gazelle P.A. claimed.

“I have not heard about any colleague suffering from such an ordeal,” she said.

Juliet, another Filipina who once taught English at the Thai Binh branch, also told the newspaper that she has never known about anything like Gazelle P.A.'s accusations either.

The Philippine Embassy in Hanoi told Tuoi Tre on Wednesday that they would officially bring this issue to Vietnam’s Ministry of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs, and the Ministry of Education and Training to clear up some misunderstandings. The mix-up arose when a language center, also named Ocean, complained to the Embassy that this incident could stain their reputation, as there are many schools labeled “Blue Ocean” or “Ocean” in the capital city.

Tuoi Tre

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