Thai-British language firm teaches its pupils ‘nonsense’

Recruits do not need teaching qualifications

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An Ormskirk man employed as a basic high school English teacher in Thailand has accused the British-Thai company that employed him of providing poor-quality education and withholding his pay.

David Sheekey said Sine Education Service, a Bangkok company that provides English teachers for Thai schools, recruits unqualified teachers whose lessons go “well over students’ heads.”

Sheekey moved to Thailand from Uganda, where he had been living with his wife but had been unable to find work and access vital medication. Joining family in Thailand in 2015, be began working for Sine Education Service, whose website says it “provides English conversation courses for government schools all over Thailand. We focus on tackling the challenges that come with delivering English language programs – notably to large classes – through our specially designed courses, delivered by our Sine trained teachers.”

Training ‘insufficient’

The company claims it is in partnership with 40 Thai schools.

Sine employees are not required to be qualified teachers or to possess a Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certificate but they must be “native English speakers from the UK, USA, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Ireland or South Africa” and have a degree.

Sheekey, who has a social studies BA, a higher education diploma and a TEFL qualification, said he was only give three days training before he was put in front of a class. Sine teachers are meant to provide high school students with between one and four hours English schooling each week.

“My training was insufficient,” said Sheekey. “The young people are receiving poor quality education. Everything was done on Powerpoint programmes where the language is in technical terms that UK students of similar ages would not understand. It went over the Thai students’ heads.”

Some of the curriculum that Sheekey, who worked at a government high school in Khon Kaen, was expected to teach left him scratching his head. “Students were informed that in Britain there was a culture of movie watching and not much reading of books. There was other such nonsense presented as facts by the teaching programmes.”

Sheekey also said the company, which is partly run by British people, was excluding qualified teachers from a number of countries in Africa and Asia where the official language is English because of its recruitment policy.

UK return

When he had to take time off work after contracting chicken pox, Sheekey had most of his wages docked. He has not been paid the money he is owed. He left the company and returned to the UK to live in Chester earlier this year.

Sheekey met his Ugandan wife Sarah in Wigan, where she was seeking asylum. Evidence showed she had been tortured by the Ugandan authorities, but she was nevertheless deported. Sheekey is again looking to find work in Uganda, possibly with his younger daughter who is a lawyer.

Big Issue North sent questions to the Thai Embassy in London, Sine Education and two members of the British-Thailand Parliamentary Group, Sir Graham Brady and John Spellar, but did not receive any response.

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