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Working in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

Discussion about jobs and employment conditions

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Christian
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Working in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

Unread post by Christian » 17 Jun 2015, 03:44

Kyrgyzstan is a nice place. The country is full of mountains, rivers and lakes. If the government one day decides to create good facilities it can be the Switzerland of Asia. Local weather is very pleasant and food is alright (well, be careful, food poisonings are everywhere).

However, the experience working in some schools can be terrible. This is about Cambridge Silk Road International School or CSRIS. I cannot upload pictures here, but if you are interested, just send me a PM. If you accept CSRIS' offer, don't say that you didn't know it...

Cambridge Silk Road International School or CSRIS is a school established by the Gulen Movement (a kind of moderate Turkish islamists; see: turkishinvitations.weebly.com) in Bishkek. During its first year, 8 of the western teachers from the USA, Canada and Europe left while only a maximum of 5 (if they do not find any other job during the summer) stayed. A number of local teachers also left for other schools in Bishkek. Although the reasons for leaving are personal and particular to each teacher, a glimpse of how CSRIS (teachers call it CRISIS) works and treat their employees can help you:

Contracts: As anywhere in the world, you must sign a contract in the official language of the country which must be sent to the labour ministry to be registered. In CSRIS things are different. If you are lucky, you will receive a regular contract written in English which is not legally valid since it must be either in Russian or in Kyrgyz. If you require a contract in Russian, be careful! The conditions may not be the same that the ones specified in English (look at the red arrow in the pictures) Anyway, you will never receive your copy signed by the Ministry of Labour… why?

You will have problems with the tax office in your country: Although CSRIS assures to pay taxes, you will not be given any payslip to prove it. If you insist (I mean, for two or three months) they will prepare a 'paper' specifying your gross salary and ‘a’ discount for taxes. Which taxes? Nobody knows because there is nothing written (pics.). Do not think that it will always be like that. You will receive one of those fake payslips once, so if you still want them you will have to start begging for the following two or three months again. No news about the annual payslip to submit to the tax office in your country.

Mysterious documents: sometimes during the first months of the school year, you will be required to sign some documents in Russian. You will be said that ‘it is nothing important, just formalities’. You will be given neither any translation nor any time to read them. Why?

Surprise!: ‘You have to prepare a report about blah, blah, blah, for tomorrow’ ‘What? Another? I did something like that two weeks ago, the one that is still on your desk. You haven't opened it yet!’ ‘Really? I'll check it later, maybe (they always use the word maybe). Anyway, I forgot to tell you last week that I need a new one and I need it for tomorrow, bye!’

Total chaos: Remember, they have bought you. You do not have a life. If you plan your holidays during the official holidays that have been on the school calendar, you have many possibilities to be wrong. It would not be strange to receive an email telling you that x day ‘we have decided that you have to come to work’. That’s all. If your class changes classroom you will have to search them. If there is any special activity you will know it when after arriving to your lesson you see that you have only 20 per cent of the students (or maybe none).

Treasure hunting (or the last humiliation): End of the school year. If you decide to leave (as most foreign and some local teachers did), you will enjoy a lovely ‘treasure hunting’ activity (picture). You will have to start a pilgrimage from administrator to administrator for them to sign a document proving that you have not taken anything from them. As for 2014-15 we did not have to literally kiss their ***, however there are many possibilities that the measure will be implemented in the nearest future. Oh, by the way, if you fail in your ‘treasure hunting’ they will fail in paying you.

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Awalls86
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Re: Working in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

Unread post by Awalls86 » 18 Jun 2015, 18:08

I visited Bishkek 18 months ago whilst working across the border.
Although I'm not going to say you are wrong I would like to balance your account with my own of working in Central Asia reflecting some of your points.
Firstly, agreed Kyrgyzstan, and Central Asia generally, is a nice place. I don't think it's fair to say "if the government decides to" implying they decide not to regarding facilities. Kyrgyzstan is no Dubai, and you should expect some difficulty in getting around, which for me is part of the charm. I found Central Asian cuisine to be amazing and never got food poisoning, though some things inevitably disagreed with my taste buds and my digestive system. Again, something you have to anticipate when travelling outside the western world.
Contracts - generally countries prefer employment contracts to be in their language. Perfectly understandable I think. Giving an English version is not something they have to do, and so yes it is unenforceable. Always worth looking at the enforceable version and having someone check it over. I'd try to get this before I go somewhere.
Tax - as far as I'm aware the way there is no personal taxation in Central Asia. The company pay tax on the total wage bill (around 50%). As such it is difficult for them to calculate your portion of tax. Further they don't tend to produce individualised payslips, but one "vedemost" for all staff to sign.
Mysterious Documents - probably visa or registration paperwork. In my experience staff are on this only when it becomes urgent and so getting the documents back is all that is on their mind. It could be malicious, but not necessarily. I've never had any problem getting people to explain what it is they actually want me to sign, if you ask them in the right way.
Surprise - for me, people just seemed to have difficulty in communicating what they expected of me. Sounds like it could be this. Annoying, sure.
Holidays - although there are "fixed" national holidays, some of these have been subject to change at the whim of the president of each Central Asian state, though not out of their interest, but usually to benefit the people. A thursday holiday may therefore be moved to a Friday. Unfortunately they rarely get this information out on time. And yes people follow suit in being on the late side in giving news.
Treasure hunt - I can think of many times where I had to go desk to desk in different places to achieve something. It's soviet job creation. One person signs it and another to stamp it. And the big boss to give it the nod at the end.
I would work again in Central Asia for sure. I found the people incredibly friendly (though inevitably bazaars are full of chancers), and more importantly willing to let you integrate into their society. I think many of your problems come from failing to appreciate the country for what it is. That's not necessarily a criticism and I accept the school were probably less than stellar. If you're not happy somewhere, then you're almost certainly right to leave (although how is a different matter). And the Kyrgyz people almost certainly would have told you this... "if you don't like it... "

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Christian
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Re: Working in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

Unread post by Christian » 01 Jul 2015, 06:00

Well, well...

I visited Bishkek 18 months ago whilst working across the border. (One thing is visiting another living in)

Although I'm not going to say you are wrong I would like to balance your account with my own of working in Central Asia reflecting some of your points. (I am NOT writing about Central Asia, but about CSRIS in Bishkek)

Firstly, agreed Kyrgyzstan, and Central Asia generally, is a nice place. I don't think it's fair to say "if the government decides to" implying they decide not to regarding facilities. Kyrgyzstan is no Dubai, and you should expect some difficulty in getting around, which for me is part of the charm. (Between being Dubai and the situation of Kyrgyzstan there is a long distance. Anyway, if you do not believe me, read this: http://www.transparency.org/whatwedo/an ... kyrgyzstan)

I found Central Asian cuisine to be amazing and never got food poisoning, though some things inevitably disagreed with my taste buds and my digestive system. Again, something you have to anticipate when travelling outside the western world. (You were lucky. However food quality in Kyrgyzstan is a big issue. Ask any Kyrgyz (you seem to be very familiarized with their way of thinking). Otherwise you can always follow this link: https://www.google.co.uk/webhp?hl=cy#hl ... kyrgyzstan )


Contracts - generally countries prefer (They do not prefer, it is a MUST) employment contracts to be in their language. Perfectly understandable I think. Giving an English version is not something they have to do, and so yes it is unenforceable. Always worth looking at the enforceable version and having someone check it over. I'd try to get this before I go somewhere.

Tax - as far as I'm aware the way there is no personal taxation in Central Asia. The company pay tax on the total wage bill (around 50%). As such it is difficult for them to calculate your portion of tax. Further they don't tend to produce individualised payslips, but one "vedemost" for all staff to sign. (Lovely! Can you explain the situation to my national tax office? They do not believe me

Mysterious Documents - probably visa or registration paperwork. In my experience staff are on this only when it becomes urgent and so getting the documents back is all that is on their mind. It could be malicious, but not necessarily. I've never had any problem getting people to explain what it is they actually want me to sign, if you ask them in the right way. (Good! Let's sign more documents, because they are 'probably' something good!)

I think many of your problems come from failing to appreciate the country for what it is. That's not necessarily a criticism and I accept the school were probably less than stellar. If you're not happy somewhere, then you're almost certainly right to leave (although how is a different matter). And the Kyrgyz people almost certainly would have told you this... "if you don't like it... " (I guess that when you say that 'you don't appreciate...' you mean 'you people': all the foreign and local teachers, and students who have left that school. I speak Tatar, Russian, some Kazakh and I understand Kyrgyz. I have been living in Central Asia for 6 years. The Kyrgyz did not tell me what you say, but many of them left the school as well. Anyway, if you do not believe me, it is not my problem. Maybe you'll believe the teachers and students who left for the European School and for Oxford. You are very welcome to go to CSRIS to have a wonderful experience)

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Allophony
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Re: Working in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

Unread post by Allophony » 15 Jan 2016, 14:56

I thought you said it was a nice place. Switzerland indeed...

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