Al Marefa Exemplary Corporation, now Al Marefa Private

 
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Overall rating 
 
1.3
Employee Benefits 
 
2.5
Curriculum 
 
1.0
Management 
 
0.5

Avoid them if they call you

As a Facebook page referring to this august body says, “If you want to work for liars, work around violent types, work around drug users, work around colleagues who will spy on you and report your every move to your boss, and work around those teaching on false credentials, this is your place.”

Recruited from a position in Moscow to teach for this band of liars, I arrived in Kuwait to be told that first I would have to give a “sample lesson” to a “panel” the next day. As this was not mentioned in the interviewing process at all, I scrambled to cobble together a lesson. During my presentation, one of the “panel” members (a nearly 80-year-old Egyptian man) apparently thought his role was to be loud, interrupt and try to rattle me. When that didn’t work and when open arguing ensured about a grammar point (all those on the panel were non-native Egyptians, as is 99% of the company), finally the then-director intervened and apparently I was hired.

I was told that I could up my income by working part-time on a second posting in Kuwait; as a result, I wound up working primarily for the Ministry of Defence at the Ali al Sabah Military Academy. Conditions were chaotic at best. We had a total of 6 teachers for 600 cadets, each assigned a platoon or 100 students. The actual job itself was a breeze – we were on duty for maybe four hours of teaching daily, of which one hour was spent by the platoons lining up parade fashion, then two hours of “teaching” with a 15-minute break in between, and another hour of “lining up” after they left the classrooms.
The rest of the work week was spent playing on the internet and occasionally correcting tests or actually working on upgrading the proprietary 15-year-old workbook for students. We were given breakfast and lunch daily in the officer’s mess, courtesy of the MoD, which made things wonderful all round.

The other job I was to teach part-time for was at another branch of the MoD, where we had actual classrooms with assigned students who had been properly leveled and who were serious in trying to advance their careers by taking courses from us. Sadly, that lasted two weeks until that branch found out that all of us were also teaching at Ali al Sabah, a violation of Kuwaiti military law which ultimately cost a number of people at Al Marefa their jobs.

Teaching itself at Ali al Sabah was very, er, interesting. As none of the classes was in anyway leveled and you had one hundred cadets to supervise in an enormous (thankfully) well air conditioned classroom, the camp commandant at the time told us to follow these rules: “1. No berets on in class; 2. No sleeping in class; 3. No praying in class; 4. If they happen to learn some English, this is good.

Al Marefa was consistently late in paying us, never provided us the required visas and lied to the MoD about why, and overcharged us where they could for everything they could. Worse yet, they left us standing in the desert sun in over 100 degrees many, many times due to non-payment of the drivers hired to take us to and from our accommodations. They also routinely screwed employees on the promised travel reimbursements and were generally horrible. A large number of the teachers were non-native friends of management recruited from the Egyptian military who would teach in Arabic while making reference to the horrible provided text.

Even though in many aspects it was an absolute nightmare on nearly every level when dealing with Al Marefa, working for Kuwait's MoD was probably the nicest, easiest ESL job I ever had.

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