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ghosts or scams in the education market

Hello, everyone. I wonder if you can help me solve a little mystery. I applied as an ESL consultant to an organization called timetoteach, whose email address shares the Ecuadorian Ministry of Education's domain (http://educacion.gob.ec/it-is-time-to-t … ador-pro…/). In late May, Edificar Fundadacion initiated communication with me, saying THEY had my documents and thanking me for my interest in timetoteach! But when I search Edificar online there is nothing at all, no address, no phone number, no press release or news article. They say a website is being designed, but as they say they are recruiting volunteer teachers for the Millenium schools (100 now in the Quito and Highlands, 600 in the future in Ecuador), wouldn't there be something? HAS ANYONE HEARD OF EDIFICAR FUNDADACION? Should I be concerned? What can I do to dispel my hesitation? Am I seeing ghosts?

timetoteach said their "mission" was to improve the quality of ESL teaching in PUBLIC schools, whereas Edificar is telling me they recruit for both public and private schools.

Did you send any money?

No, I didn't send any money.  Edificar says they will apply for the Visa on my behalf.  In my only other foreign job (in China) I had to sign a contract before the Work Visa was issued.  The gov't used the contract to validate the need for the work visa.  There is no contract yet.

Fundación Edificar has a presence on Facebook - but it is an organization based in Colombia.

https://es-la.facebook.com/fundacion.edificar

They do have a web page under construction, but again this is the Colombia organization:

http://fundacionedificar.org/site/

I was able to find some documentation on the Ecuador government site about Time to Teach that may give you more information:

http://educacion.gob.ec/?s=time+to+teac … mit=Buscar

Certainly I would proceed with caution to determine if this is legitimate.

Hi, Loisb

There are few "lucrative" positions in Central or S. American countries. Most institutions lack employment website links.  Many of these countries will accept "backpackers" (i.e., native speakers with no MA/TESOL or Applied LInguistics or for public school, a professional teaching license and B.Ed. with TESOL endorsement), hence the low-ball pay - $5/hour.

Glad you didn't send any money! If you have any questions about the legitimacy of a job, visit eslcafe.com and navigate to the Latin America forum and PM a poster named "Mother F" who is in the know. Also, Heed the sage advice of Osage Archer as well. Best to be on the ground for job seeking. Wish you well.

Regards,
PS

Hi,
I read your post about joining the Edificar foundation to teach english in Ecuador. Did you end up doing it? Id it a scam or real?

I am supposed to join tomorrow, and I am a little worried. I still haven't paid any money. I wonder if you could send me a quick reply.

devvv123 :

Hi,
I read your post about joining the Edificar foundation to teach english in Ecuador. Did you end up doing it? Id it a scam or real?

I am supposed to join tomorrow, and I am a little worried. I still haven't paid any money. I wonder if you could send me a quick reply.

Hi,

i would just like to know if you pursued this? I am supposed to be coming to Quito for the program in July and I would like to hear some feedback from you.

Thanks.

I did do it. It is a cool experience being in Ecuador, however I suggest you don't do it with Edificar. They are a legit organization but pay late, too little, they don't assure host families are adequate for the volunteers, don't tell you all the paperwork needed for your visa and end up being an illegal worker for a few months. Once you're in Ecuador they ignore your emails and don't care about you're well being. They deduct money from your payment sometimes with no reason.

If you decide to come I suggest you know some Spanish to  make your life easier, clases are very large so be ready for the challenge.

Hello ,
I am worried after reading the above posts on eudificar foundation ... I a
Was told to pay $500 upfront to secure a position as a volunteer which I will get back once I Finish the 10 month contract . I was also told in return I will paid a stipend of $386 a month and accomodation and 2 meals a day by te host family .
I was positive about this until I say this link online about the scam concern. I haven't paid the money yet but I had applied for my Apostille and my PCC and I am supposed to start by mid October .. Which I haven't yet got any details of when and where I am going to be placed .. Or even my air tickets .. I was told that I will be given round trip tickets from India .  I am little worried now Because I am using my savings to take this experience and eventually get a job after completion of this 10 month period .
So I would like to know whether I should pay the $500 before or once I am there in Ecuador ? I had been interviewed by a organization named esl starter from the uk .
Please let me know quicker as I have put everything at stake to take up this experience . I haven't took any job for the past 3 months since I planned to do this Ecuador volunteering .  And have my time and energy in this for
The past 3 months . Your suggestions and experience would be helpful

Hello Fred ... I am planning to pay $500 as I am told it will be refunded once I finish the 10 month contract with this eudificar foundation being a volunteer in public schools .
I was also told that I will be given a round trip flight ticket from India ( where I am living currently ) . Was also told I will be paid a stipend of 350$ per month with 2 meals a day and accomodation . How far is this genuine ?
Mind I was interviewed by a talent acquisition company from the uk .
Until I found out this forum I was feeling positive about the whole experience of getting prepared for October start .
Could you please share your experience and insights please .

Hello dev,

I m ram . Suppose to start  in October and I am processing it by applying for my PCC  and Apostille . Did you end up doing it ? What was your experience? How are they?
How did you get recruited ? I was by a talent acquisition company from the U.K named " ESL STARTER" . I was told to pay a deposit of $500 . Once I did I will be provided with a round trip ticket as well
As a stipend monthly and 2 meals and accomodation for the 10 month period .
IS IT A SCAM ? Or genuine ?! If I could know it sooner would be helpful for me . And it's important as I am planning to use my savings to get this experience !

You pay them $500 to work??????

STOP!

Aye !! That's what I was told by this talent acquisition company of the U.K. !! It's just a deposit and It will be refunded once I finish the contract which is 10 months ! I am was positive about it until I found this forum ... Looks like a scam isn't it !!
I couldn't believe myself that tis company from the uk is in Dave esl page advertised this volunteering position !

THINKING ABOUT VOLUNTEERING WITH EDIFICAR/TIME TO TEACH - here is why I urge you to reconsider:

EDIFICAR FOUNDATION

Thinking of volunteering for Edificar Foundation in Ecuador? Here are some things you should be aware of before you sign up...

* I received my flight ticket only a week before I flew, even though I sent numerous emails to the Foundation which were simply ignored. This was the first warning sign of things not being quite what I imagined.
* When I arrived in Ecuador, I had no idea what I was doing and did not hear from Edificar for an entire day.  I did not want to sit around doing nothing so went out exploring. When I returned to the hostel and had wifi I received angry messages asking why I had left the hostel as someone from Edificar had come to see me (although no-one thought to let me know this).
* The following day I arranged to meet someone from Edificar. At our meeting time of 12.30pm, I received a message telling me they would not be able to make it until 3.30pm. I then sat inside the hostel all day waiting for their arrival, but they actually never came.
* I was then told by another volunteer that I would be moving to a host family with him the following morning in Cumbáya, yet still I had received no information from Edificar. After a few persistent messages to Edificar they confirmed that I would in fact be moving with the other volunteer.  Without the help of the volunteer I would not have known this.
* I arrived at my host stay.  They had no idea I was even coming. I then had to stand and watch as she cleared her son’s belongings out of his room to make space for me. Then I got an *urgent* message from Edificar telling me that I needed to be at school right now, even though I had not been told which school I would be working for. I refused because I felt it was more import to work out my living situation first.
* At this stage, I still hadn't met anyone from Edificar apart from their driver.
* Before I came to Ecuador I asked if they could confirm there would be wifi in my accommodation as I wanted to start a blog and this would be critical for me. Even though I was guaranteed 100% to have wifi available, there was no wifi at my house or my school. My only option to obtain wifi was to pay and log into a computer in an Internet cafe (which also made lesson planning quite difficult). I decided to put the blog on hold, but if I had known this previously I might have tried to find alternative accommodation in Ecuador.
* That evening I returned to my home stay for dinner which consisted of bread and hot chocolate. I received bread and hot chocolate breakfast and dinner for two months. When I complained to Edificar, they had no interest in what I was being fed and I was told to adapt to the family and what they ate. With a low salary as it was, it was not an option to buy everything myself, especially considering the host families receive $120 per month for our food and living costs. In reality this money is taken by the families to try to use as additional income, instead of using it to provide for you, they try to make a profit through spending as little as possible on you.
* The following day I went to school and found out that my "English coordinator" did not speak English which was not helpful. He told me he only spoke American and was very sorry...
* He gave me my timetable, told me where my rooms were, and instructed me that I should go and teach now, although I had no preparation, Spanish or understanding of what they wanted me to teach.  His anger was directed at me when, after two failed lessons, I told him it would be good if I could shadow him for a week to get to know the system.
* The methods of teaching in Ecuador consist of a book with reading, writing and listening activities. The teachers do not speak English. Their classes are 30-40 children or more. The students have no interest in learning English and the other teachers in the school believe that my lessons could be used as a free lesson, for example if they have dance practice, my lesson could be used for this purpose (sometimes for a whole week I would have no lessons with some classes). Disabled children (including down syndrome, deaf, blind, speech impaired, autistic, ADHD) are included in normal classes.  At one stage I had 5 special needs children in one class). I was given no training on how to provide these children with the correct support. I have never worked with children with learning difficulties and the teachers were not prepared to help me. I found this extremely difficult. I also witnessed on 2 or 3 occasions a child being kicked and/or pushed by a teacher.
* As I was not given a copy of the book we were OBLIGATED to work from, I was forced to borrow a student’s book in order to plan lessons for the next 8 months. I spent a few days planning when my school decided they wanted me to change from teaching adolescents to teaching young children. This required a different book and a different level of teaching. I started replanning my classes again. I worked at this school for two months, with no assistance or support from anyone. If I didn't fulfil the hours expected of me, I was told I would need to do secretarial, cleaning duties or physical education to make up my hours - it thankfully never came to that. I finally moved schools once the school decided they wanted me to simply plan the teacher’s lessons and to not actually teach at all.
* I received more support at my new school in Quito, and began learning about the education system in Ecuador. A child is not allowed to be marked under 7/10. I taught one child, aged 7, who could not even write his name and I was expected to give him 7/10 or above. All children must pass, otherwise the school gets a bad rating in their area and could be at risk of investigation or worse. I disagreed with this procedure and marked my children as I felt was appropriate. I was told I was not allowed to do this because all the parents were complaining. At this school I was also not allowed to use the toilet unless I paid for a key.
* Prior to moving schools it was necessary for me to change housing as there had been a fight outside the house I was living in, involving my host family, and we had to move out. I moved in with my boyfriend and it was agreed that I would have my rent money paid directly to me, but one month I received the money and the next month I didn't. When the money was not received the second month, I was told that they had paid my host family - the host family where I hadn't been living with for two months.  It took around a week to have that sorted out.
* I attended a meeting with other volunteers to feedback to the Ministry of Education our thoughts and suggestions. Although we had been told that Edificar was partnered with the Ministry of Education - ***They had no idea what the program was***.
* We later found out the program was advertised EVERYWHERE - in newspapers and on the news - and believed by all the schools that we were earning in excess of $800 per month, in reality we were earning around $300. Schools were abusing us.  They assumed we were there to work full-time as a qualified full-time teacher with the same full-time pay. Teachers inside the schools neglected the volunteers because they assumed we were there to steal their jobs.
* After two months in Ecuador, I was called to begin my visa process. I asked NUMEROUS times what I needed to bring and I was told that nothing was needed. It was agreed that I would be taken to the visa office at 9am, but I waited for an hour for someone to actually arrive. Although I was told I needed nothing, I was THEN asked to produce colour photocopies of my passport, passport photos and a printed form about the visa. If I had been told this in advance, I would have been prepared with the required documents. This resulted in more delays.
* A few weeks after my visa process had begun, I asked Edificar if it would be possible for me to go to Colombia. It was confirmed that this would be fine. I travelled to cross the Colombia border and, although I was allowed to cross into Colombia, I was then told I would not be allowed to return to Ecuador for a further 9 months. I called Edificar who told me they would arrange for my visa to be processed in Colombia instead. I waited in Colombia for 2 days and, after hearing close to nothing, I was contacted by 3 different people who told me to do 3 different things. It was dangerous and I was told by local people to be careful because I would probably get robbed. Luckily I had my good friend (another volunteer working for the Foundation) with me. The Foundation then decided my friend would need to leave me alone in Colombia and return to Ecuador. I would then be alone, had no money and spoke very little Spanish. My friend refused and said she would not leave me alone. The Foundation transferred me money to eat and find a hotel. The next day I finally had my visa processed and I returned to Ecuador. It was a very worrying time. On returning to Ecuador I was asked to come to the office for a meeting with the CEO and other important members of Edificar. They told me it was my fault that I had crossed the border and that the money I had received from them would be an advance of my salary as they would not be covering any of the costs I incurred whilst in Colombia. I REFUSED. I told them I had whatsapp evidence on my phone of being told it would be fine to cross the border and in response an employee of Edificar began to laugh at me and said in Spanish "yo tengo mensajes" which is not difficult to understand ("I have messages"). I was not going to be laughed at, I showed them all the messages I had. They confirmed I was correct, but no apology was ever given. They agreed they would cover my expenses, but asked me to LIE. They wanted me to tell everyone the money I had received was down to "extra work" I had done for the charity, as they need to justify it to the government. So I lied - I needed to get the money back in order to eat.  I felt insulted and wanted to get the HELL out of there.
* As I received my visa in Colombia, it needed to be converted at the visa office in Ecuador. I heard nothing about this for weeks and then suddenly received an angry call asking me why I wasn't at the visa office. I had not been told to be there. I was in fact volunteering with another charity that afternoon. I was told to leave and go directly to the visa office, otherwise they would get fined $400 for my "no show". It was very unprofessional to force me to leave my volunteer job without warning.
* On over 15 occasions, I sent messages to the Foundation.  They would read my communications and not respond FOR DAYS, sometimes even over a WEEK. I needed to directly message Pamela (who by my standards should be the NEW CEO and control that charity as she is the only person who believes in the cause or understands how things work) who wasn't even in charge of the highlands location, in order to try and make something happen.
* When I signed up to work for Edificar, I was told I would be able to travel for a few weeks before the end of my contract, as the time drew closer to my end date, I was told I would need to work up to the final day and it would no longer be possible. This was a strange request because the school had no children for the last two weeks and I was required to help with anything necessary, including cleaning the school, helping to plan lessons with the other teachers, all of whom don't speak English. I told them that my contract was for teaching services so I wouldn't be attending. They said that if this was the case they would not be paying me. I was aware that other volunteers had finished school and were now travelling the country and still being paid. I complained that I would have no food to eat and explained that a lot of people were travelling.  After a long drawn-out discussion they agreed to pay me.
* When I signed up for Edificar I asked them to book my departure flight to Costa Rica, they agreed, I then planned to meet my family there for a holiday. A month into my contract my family booked and paid for flights and accommodation in Costa Rica. A week before my departure I asked Edificar to send me a copy of my flight details. Two days passed before I got a response and was told that they had CHANGED their policy and I would only be able to fly back to England (my point of origin). I was told they would be cancelling my flight to Costa Rica and rearranging to fly me direct to the UK. I was furious. I had flights connecting me from Costa Rica to Cuba and then back to England, my family too. Thousands of pounds had been spent on this holiday and they were now just going to cancel it all 4 DAYS BEFORE I was supposed to leave Ecuador. This was unacceptable. I was asked to LIE AGAIN and to send an email telling them that I would be going to Costa Rica to volunteer and work and that I needed them to fly me there because of this reason. They did not care that they had not thought to tell me their change of policy over the past 7 months. Everything was just so difficult.  I was exhausted and wanted to get out of the system as quickly as possible.
* I received an email in Spanish explaining how to set up my tax number. I managed to do this purely because I had picked up a little Spanish.  With no Spanish it would have been impossible. I sent the information to Edificar two weeks before my departure, and then proceeded to text them every day to find out if I needed to do anything further. I didn't receive a single response. At midnight on the evening before I left Ecuador, I received an email telling me that my tax process had been done incorrectly and I would need to go to the tax office to resolve this. Any time during the past two weeks I would have been prepared for this but not on the day of my flight. I spent the morning of my last day in Ecuador at the tax office with no assistance whatsoever.  I then had to go to the Edificar offices to wait for hours for my departure to be finalised.  I was told to arrive at 12pm and left there at 5pm.
* I could not relax during my time in Ecuador as I was either not paid, paid incorrectly or not paid on time.  I was lied to, insulted or ignored.  I was given no respect, made to believe the problems had been all my fault, and undermined at every possible opportunity.

I would love to say that Edificar is a foundation that is helping to educate its country and improve their knowledge of the English language, but I am afraid they do not understand their own system and how flawed it is. A great deal of WORK needs to be undertaken before this will ever be a success. They need to be honest and respect the volunteers they bring to their country.

Without a doubt, Ecuador is a fantastic country which I have had the pleasure to explore, I hope to return there in fact. However, Edificar Foundation is truly the most unorganised and disrespectful company I have ever had to deal with.  Although they have the opportunity to provide so much for the children of their country, unfortunately they are unable to implement the basics of English into their communities, and that is all down to the poor management and morals of those running Edificar.

I urge you to rethink your decision to volunteer with Edificar Foundation.  Please be aware of my experience and try to find another charity to volunteer with if Ecuador is the location you desire. If you have any questions don't hesitate to contact me further.

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