South Korean immigration officials are forcing the closure of an international school that teaches the B.C. curriculum and ordering 14 B.C.-certified teachers to leave the country, according to the B.C. government.
The Canada B.C. International School (CBIS) was suddenly ordered out of South Korea on April 11.
Immigration officials have ordered it to stay out for a year in the first phase of a crackdown on international schools.
B.C.’s Ministry of Education posted an update on the school on April 27.
It confirmed that “the school recently confirmed to the ministry that it did not have appropriate local licensing.”
The post said improper visas have been revoked.
Teachers begged the ministry for help. They now will be paid until June. Travel out of the country will be covered by the school, said the ministry on its website.
“We have been treated like criminals. We bear the brunt of this bureaucratic nightmare. Please let us understand how we can be left to be responsible for this,” said Margaret Hwu, who teaches Grade 6 at the CBIS school in Seoul.
CBIS staff are begging Education Ministry officials to help after being ordered to leave South Korea within 30 days, despite holding federal government endorsed E-2 visas for ESL teachers.
Teachers are now being told these visas, which have been used in other offshore schools, are no longer sufficient.
Korean immigration officials have warned school staff the crackdown will hit other offshore Canadian schools, as teachers are required to have E-7 visas in order to be professionally accredited.
The CBIS school crackdown raises concerns about four other South Korean-based schools where many B.C. educators teach the B.C. curriculum using the the same work visas recently revoked by Korean immigration officials.
These schools license course material and stream revenue back to the province, part of an international student industry that provincially, in 2013, was worth $230-million — and more than $7-billion Canada-wide.
CBIS is one of 42 offshore schools where thousands of students follow the B.C. curriculum.
Five of these schools are in Korea and others operate in China and other countries.
CBIS, run by South Korean-based Han Jong Hee CBIS Corporation Ltd., has struggled with administrative issues, staff say.
“We tried our very best to keep everything together while the school was falling apart,” Hwu said on the Skype video call.
She fears this will leave a permanent mark on all the teachers’ passports, affecting future travel.
The 160-student school had recently been inspected under B.C’s certified offshore school program.
“My heart goes out to these teachers. This program had the stamp of approval of the B.C. government,” said BCTF president Glen Hansman, who called for accountability from…