On Monday this week our little school was paid a visit by the NTC ministry of education. It was just one lady and she was pretty nice about the whole situation. She came in and took some pictures. Afterward she took our information and told us that she would need to make sure we had the appropriate license to run a school. Unfortunately, I’m in some big trouble now.
I started this school a couple years ago without a clear vision of the future. I knew that I wanted to teach preschool-aged kids in an immersive way to achieve the best language learning results. My only question was how to teach the kids legally:
It is my understanding that Buxibans are fully capable of legally teaching children aged 3-6 English as long as there is no explicit English lessons. That is to say, you can learn the language by using the language but you shouldn’t try to learn your ABC’s and you shouldn’t attempt to teach reading. Playing games and singing songs are acceptable forms of instruction.
The problem with opening a Buxiban is that there are strict rules for eating and sleeping. If I wanted to immerse the children in language I would need them to stay in our school all day. Additionally, if I offered full day care, I could make more money and give the parents a more attractive educational option. That lead to my decision to open the school to full-day classes with the parents packing a lunch and a one hour nap time.
International Preschools like HESS offer full-day care while teaching English. However, I’m sure everyone knows that these schools are operated in shady ways that exploit the lax enforcement of education regulations. To legally hold all-day class I would essentially need to open a licensed preschool and fill it with English teachers who lacked the appropriate credentials to teach in the school.
Damned if you do, Damned if you don’t.
These two unattractive options did nothing to dissuade me from opening my own school. I simply didn’t tell anyone. Slowly (or not so slowly) my school grew. My school now has over 20 students that come in every day.
At this point I’m making twice the money I would as an English teacher. However, for the past two years I have been reinvesting most of my money back into the school. If I close the doors on this place all of my hard work goes up in smoke and my students are sent out to the curb. These are the risks one takes I suppose.
Currently, I am frantically searching for a place to move my school. I don’t know where to go from here but I’m not going to give up until they shut me down