Hi! I have noticed that Cambridge (CITC) of Sudan are advertising vacancies again.
I have just returned from Sudan for the second time, only this time it was extremely premature, and feel that it is my responsibility to prevent other TEFL/TESOL teachers being subjected to the same arbitrary, extremely illegal and somewhat scary treatment that I was.....
I was employed to work at the new Cambridge centre in Bahri, Khartoum in June. I accepted the job believing it to be a reputable accredited scool. How wrong I was.
The school manager is completely useless at the best of times, he doesnt understand the importance of being allowed to prepare lessons at all, and the school is woefully low on resources (and staff). Staff morale is extremely low, and no matter how well you try to do your job, a consistently late driver, an overload of placement tests and bad management in general prevent you from doing so.
DO NOT TAKE ON ANY OVERTIME.....I took overtime and ended up working 25.5 hours a week. I left Sudan without seeing a penny of the $10 per hour I was supposed to get, but more of that later.....
I'm sure you all know that Sudan has banned the sale and consumption of alcohol in the North. This did not deter the General Manager at all, as despite being Sudanese, he often didn't perform well at work as a result of being drunk or suffereing a hangover. He also though nothing of turning up at my school off his head with staff and students present. Apparantly he has enough money that such behaviour does not matter. However, he treats the Sudanese staff extremely badly, and either cannot construct a sentence, or shouts it at the top of his voice.
On top of this, one of the other foreign teachers had not been issued with the appropriate visas despite having been there for 3 months. Uh oh I thought, as I realised I hadnt seen my passport for a month, and nobody would give me a straight answer when I asked if I had yet been issued with a work permit.
Now, as a result of this (not good for working environment, teaching, or general well-being), I handed in a months notice. My contract stated I had the right to do this, and actually also stated that if they found a replacement teacher first I had to sling my hook. Fine, I thought.
Unfortunately, The behaviour of the GM and other management, the lack of resources, the business before education attitude along with the multitude of smaller problems had led many staff members to leave, both Sudanese and foreign. For this reason they werent going to let me go easily, despite all assurances otherwise......This is where it got very messy......
The GM of Cambridge had issued me with a one month tourist visa in order to get me into the country. He let this expire, and so for 3 weeks, I was, in essence an illegal alien. Again, Sudan is the not place you want to find yourself in this situation. He also started to refuse to give my passport back, giving a variety of excuses including blatant lies. I was told that I would have to fly back to Vietnam (this is where I entered from). When I questioned this nonsense, he informed me the law says so. I made it very clear the law did not say so, and then my school manager announced that the law says the school must hold passports of foreign staff.
In Sudan it is an offence not to carry your identification with you at all times, as foreigners are sometimes stopped by the rather paranoid police. Again I informed him the law did not say this. They then backed down, and tried bribery as a tactic, refusing to give my passport back unless I agreed to work 2 more weeks / 20 days / until December progressively. (This is how desperate they are as a result of losing all their teachers). I was also told continually that I couldnt have my passport yet, as my exit visa was being sorted out.
What they did next was beyond belief, as they realised that I had been offered a job by a reputable school in Khartoum, which I was perfectly entitled to take as they had issued me with neither a work or resident permit. All of a sudden I was told my passport was ready and I could collect it from the airport when leaving. This was a bit of a shock, as I was not intending to leave. Instead they took it to the immigration police. Not just any department, but the department of investigation, where illegal immigrants get shipped!
IF Cambridge had operated on the side of the law, I would have been able to collect my passport and leave in order to take up employment elsewhere. However, upon entering the immigration office, I was told by rather-too-jolly policeman that I couldnt leave unless I brought a Sudanese person to vouch for the fact that I would buy a plane ticket and leave. What?? I exclaimed? To clarify he showed me the cell I would be sleeping in if it wasnt for the fact that somebody came to my rescue.
Basically, Cambridge had left me visa-less for 3 weeks. Not good. But they had also issued me with a ONE MONTH residence visa. (Bearing in mind that if this was legit it would be for 6 months - the length of my contract). It had been issued 3 weeks after I handed in my notice. This resident permit, sponsored by Cambridge, meant that I could no longer seek employment elsewhere. I had to leave. This prectice is actually illegal, and the GM could have found himself in Court over this. I consulted a lawyer, who informed me that if I wished he would represent me, as apparantlyCambridge have had legal action taken against them before for witholding peoples passports amongst other things. I was extremely angry at my treatment, and angry at the fact that Cambridge broke the law, yet I was being threatened with the cells. However, it just kept getting better.
The immigration police kept calling my school manager and asking him to come in and act as a guarantor so that I didnt have to be locked up. He refused. In fact nobody from Cambridge came in at all, seemingly happy with my being locked up for god knows how long. Malice? Calousness? I think so.
So I managed to wangle my way out of the immigration centre, and headed to my flat to pack my things so that I could stay with friends for my last few days. It was now obvious that despite the fact that I obeyed the law and fulfilled my contractual obligations I had to leave and Cambridge would get off scot-free. I returned to my flat to find that the GM of Cambridge, apparantly assuming I was locked up, had put a padlock on my front door to prevent anybody accessing my belongings. Another few hours of argument and headache ensued before somebody was sent to let me in.
Even when I had my flight ticket in hand, immigration would not return my passport. Instead I had to present myself to the immigration police at 2am so that they could escort me to the airport. When I finally got my passport back there was no exit visa in sight.
So.....allowing me to overstay my visa, issueing me with a resident visa AFTER Id handed in my notice (purgory), lieing, manipulating immigration staff (my school manager was constantly on the phone to the policeman interviewing me), locking me out of my flat and thus preventing me from getting to my belongings and not paying me my overtime. All this AFTER you consider the general bad practice that led me to hand in my resignation in the first place.
As mentioned before, this was my second time in Sudan, and I only have good things to say about the majority of the Sudanese people. They are very accepting, Khartoum is fairly comfortable, its easy to make friends, there are a few things to do, and the history and politics of the country is fascinating (obviously Darfur-aside, as there are also plenty of horrendous things going on within the country too).
If you want to go to Sudan go for it. Chanced are you'll enjoy it. BUT be very carefulwhich establishment you choose to work at, and my advice is AVOID CAMBRIDGE LIKE THE PLAGUE. Bad labour practice is an understatement, and the fact that everyone works 6 days a week in Khartoum, plus school hours are always worked in split shifts means your days pretty much revolve around the place. Better to be a little bit happy abroad at least!
Oh yeah, the Cambridge that accredits this place is actually some obscure set up on one of the British islands apparantly. Staff and students are not told this.
Take a look at Daves ESL Cafe for more from other ex Cambridge employees....
18 months ago there were complaints about CITC – Sudan. These complaints were deleted from daveseslcafe after the GM of CITC – Sudan put pressure on Dave.
Lets hope that the complaints below are not deleted; they are all genuine, as seen by the author. Many are just observations rather than complaints.
CITC advertise “luxurious free accommodation” please judge for your self.
1. On first arrival I noticed that the apartment was dirty, not just dirty but really filthy.
2. Water – sporadic supply of water – often no water.
3. Electricity – sporadic supply of electricity often no electricity despite a generator.
4. Toilet does not flush (never did in 16 months)
5. Washing Machine very basic “do it yourself” job. Very dirty water.
6. Shower did not work (for the 16 months).
7. Cutlery – a spoon and fork
8. Crockery - very old, filthy and very few
9. Kitchen Utensils – virtually none. Begged for a tin opener.
10. Microwave oven - barely worked - very dirty – stopped working
It took CITC Sudan 14 weeks to fix.
11. Kettle none – I had to buy
12. Fridge – Freezer apartment door broken – never fixed despite repeated requests.
13. Iron none – I had to buy
14. Ironing Board – dilapidated – I had to buy a new one
15. Bed very basic and uncomfortable.
16. Bed Clothes – None - I had to buy
17. Curtains very dirty and badly ripped – had to be removed
18. Clock – Broken by a CITC employee (nephew of GM) never replaced.
19. Air Conditioning – filthy, unhealthy and seldom worked.
20. TV promised International Channels and got 2 channels in English – (one BBC)
21. DVD Player – Did not work – bought my own.
22. Taps in the kitchen leaked – took weeks for them to fix.
23. Shower – Never worked – Used buckets, which I bought
24. Because of the poor workmanship of the windows and doors, the apartment was always dirty with dust/sand. (there are Sandstorms in Sudan)
25. Lights - most not working.
26. Cooker one ring worked sometimes (Had to beg for the “free” gas).
27. Telephone - never connected. Never worked.
28. Mobile phone – promised one –but, bought my own
29. Car – promised in the contract – got after 14 months!
Luxury? I guess its luxury if you come from Dharfur. (I have photos)
Academia/Foreign Academic Staff
1. The students, who paid a lot of money sometimes got photocopied books
Often got no books.
2. Programs – marketed as elaborate blue ribbon courses – in fact very basic.
3. Cassette recorders and audio tapes. Tapes copied and very poor quality.
Cassette recorders poor quality and not enough so teachers had to “go without”
4. Paper – often shortages of A4 paper.
5. Additional Resources - Virtually none.
6. Marketing – many lies told to the customer, leading to disappointed customers.
7. Classrooms – designed to maximize profits – very cramped – too many desks and chairs – often too large numbers of students.
8. Hours. Contracts were changed from 271/2 contact hours to 221/2 for foreign teachers in an attempt to attract foreign teachers. But this was abused at will
One teacher came to Sudan expecting 221/2 hours her contract was changed to 24
Then a few weeks later she was asked to work 27 and then a week later 311/2
And the GM had hinted that she would be asked to work more, she is probably working more now.
9. The schools (4) are marketed as Cambridge and the customer is mislead into
thinking Cambridge University, but of course it is not. It is some Cambridge
in the Channel Isles, that do not even have any controls by the UK ED Dept.
10. TVs and computers in the classroom, a few, but rarely work or are maintained.
11. Split-Shifts – almost certain.
12. Transport to and from apartments (promised in contracts) – there are often problems and frustrating delays in getting home or to work.
13. Medical Insurance – Not renewed. Assistance in getting any is very difficult.
14. Favoritism. Some Foreign Teachers are given “special treatment” example given a car even a flight home mid-contract.
15. Visas and Work permits – a nightmare. Endless delays and frustrations.
I had booked to go abroad. I warned the Administration (GM) 7 weeks before my flight.
I needed my Residency Permit and Multi-Entry Visa renewed – It took so long
I never got the flight and had to book another a week later.
A young teacher from Europe had been waiting 7 weeks (had been living in Sudan illegally for 7 weeks) when she kicked up a fuss the GM chastised her and threatened her (told her “she could have her passport back if she resigns”)
He also chastised her Academic Manager, and threatened him too.
16. IT – I mentioned some of this above – But the computers, Internet, Photocopiers
and printers are a real frustration in all of the centers. When they break down
which is frequently it takes the IT staff (nephews of the GM– nepotism) days weeks to fix.
17. Air Conditioners – It gets very hot in Sudan 45c +. Often the Air Conditioners
don’t work. This is very uncomfortable for some foreign teachers.
18. There is no adequate food and water in any of the 4 Centers
If you drink the drinking water provided – you will be sick (All foreign teachers have been)
19. End of contract bonus – As far as I know he has only had to pay it once !!!!
1. Drunkenness. One of the major problems is that the GM is never sober.
2. Decision making. Most decisions are made by the GM and the quality
of the decision will depend on how much Johnny Walker Red Label he has consumed in the recent past.
3. Treatment of Sudanese staff. At times this is very disturbing to the foreign staff.
Turnover is extremely high. I gave one of the staff 100 US because she had been deducted 100 US from her salary because of a minor error that was in no way her fault. Staff are fired for virtually nothing. The staff beg from the foreign teachers.
4. Resource management is extremely poor (for a school that teaches management
subjects). A lot of money is wasted (Like on a dangerous trampoline – or very breakable toys – that last no time) and little money is spent on essentials – recently a number of courses started with no books.
5. “Knee jerk reactions” much of the operations is done by knee jerk reactions to
6. Contracts and overtime. Contracts are given signed then taken back salaries
and then given to the teacher again.
Overtime – lots of promises for you to do it. Big problems when you try to get
7. Broken Promises. The GM makes lots of promises but very easily breaks them.
8. Rats. More than just the human kind. One came from under my desk and
actually jumped up at me.
9. Some of the management is ex-military. One of the classrooms (4 year olds)
has a poster glorifying the Janjaweed. For those that don’t know the
Janjaweed are (glorified by the “Turks” (Arabs) in Khartoum) a militia
supported by the government that are murdering, raping, thugs. (Dharfur,
Southern Sudan and even Northern Sudan can testify to that).
One ex-Janjaweed that was working in the Department of Agriculture
Proudly told me he had killed 41 people himself in Dharfur.
Do you really want to work for CITC Sudan ?