Want to teach in Indonesia? Here’s how

Indonesia will always be one of my favourite places on the planet. Not because of their beautiful beaches like Bali nor the extraordinary traffic experience in Jakarta but because it is one of the very few countries that is very accepting to Filipino Overseas Workers.

OFW Teach in Indonesia

I lived there for 10 years, moving through 3 different schools for me and my children. My two baby girls, 7 and 5 years old, grew up in a society that is so easily misunderstood. At one point, I had to let my family come over so they will stop saying bad things about the country. Yes, the country has its own set of problems – from poverty to corruption – like the Philippines but it is a good country nonetheless.

With a higher Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita, they can easily afford to hire foreign workers form all over the world. I was fortunate to have been one of the many.

Alongside many native speakers, I got the chance to teach English in an otherwise English-hungry country. While their public school system uses only their native language, most private schools offer subjects in English. 

So how do you get in?

Before the “no-direct-hire” policy of the government, qualified Filipino teachers can land a job without much effort. No placement fees, all expenses paid trip to job site, paid health insurance policy, free housing, transportation, waived visa fee and even free child’s education.

Yes, it was as easy and as lucrative as that.

The procedure is quite simple, really. To be guided, read through the tips and get a great job in the world’s largest archipelago.

Tip #1. Most available teaching jobs are posted on www.jobsdb.com, the country’s top job search sites. Subscribing to the listing for education will give you an edge. It is updated almost every hour.

Tip #2. Teach a subject that is relevant to your qualification. There was a time (about 10 years ago) that it does not matter what degree or diploma you hold as long as you speak English. Today, you have to be qualified – a licensed, practicing teacher in the Philippines.

Tip #3. Apply to schools directly by browsing their company website or through the www.jobsdb.com. portal. Most schools also update their own website and it’s a more direct way of filing your application. 

Tip #4. Be ready during interviews. Most questions revolve around teaching methodologies, experience, contribution to the community (your school) and reasons for leaving.

Tip #5. The country has no set minimum wage for expatriates, which means that you can always bargain your pay depending on your qualification. When doing so, you need to be realistic with it as well. Previous overseas experience of similar capacity gives you an edge in terms of the actual take home pay.

Tip #6. Research the location. Some cities are more expensive than others. Major cities such as Jakarta, Surabaya and Bali might be a bit more costly as compared to second tier cities. Knowing the cost of living will help you decide how should you ‘bargain’ for yourself. 

One great thing about Indonesia is the fact that you don’t normally be bothered by taxes. Your company will pay for it – you’ll never see how much—so you only worry about your net pay.

Things are a little bit different now though. Not on this side of Asia but on home ground. Today, you will still follow Tips 1-6 but will now include facing a second interview with a placement agency back home. While this can be just for ‘formality’ to start processing visas back home, it could be a bit daunting as the number of documents is just endless. Even with an agency, you should still enjoy all the benefits mentioned.

Good Reputation

In the country, Filipinos enjoy an enormous sense of respect from fellow expats, the local workers and in my case, the students and parents. Our (the Filipino) quality of work is always admired upon. Many of our ‘kababayan’ hold high positions in offices, banking and retail, oil and gas industries, and schools. This makes me proud to walk around all the time.

The Filipino community in Indonesia is more solid as well. There’s Filipino gathering or groups in almost all the cities. The embassy goes around the cities quite regularly too!

Challenges of Teachers

Perhaps the greatest challenges a Filipino teacher will face will be the differences in the educational system. Most private schools in the country uses international qualifications from Europe or the Americas. Re-learning concepts, re-training the mindset and re-adjusting the Filipino way of learning will be the first step to truly enjoy the teaching experience.

Coming here has shown me the many loopholes of our “once great educational system’. Sometimes, we need to accept that the Philippines is now a little behind when it comes to the issue of quality of education so being open-minded to the changes will make you enjoy the ‘brain-reset’ sessions better. 

If you can do that, then you are ready to take the 4.5 hours flight from home and enjoy the rest of your Indonesian teaching experience. 


Author: Jovelyn S.

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