Bruce appears to have been tripped up - or pushed over - by the British Council, the Big Brother (or rather, the MinTru) of the worldwide EFL industry, in another of those unhealthy scenarios in which an apparently impartial arbiter of the field is once again revealed as a vested interest. Clearly, the ref shouldn't be wearing red and white stripes when he's refereeing at Sheffield United, eh?!
Obviously this could never happen in the modern world, unless in some corrupt dictatorship. Right? Our government organizations, while far from perfect, certainly avoid obvious conflicts of interest. They strive to be fair, transparent and unbiased.
Wrong. Welcome to the British Council.
The British Council, as you may know, is a government-funded organization in the UK that exists to promote British culture, language, education and business overseas. They also operate English language centers worldwide.
The British Council also actively promotes British-based TESOL courses such as Trinity and CELTA. These are the only two courses listed as acceptable courses by name on the British Council website for employment at the British Council, and, if you take the time to contact British Council language centers worldwide, virtually every one will recommend that you take their CELTA. Most of the employees working at the centers have this qualification as well.
In fact, the CELTA is offered in 17 British Council locations worldwide, so the British Council is actually directly involved in offering TESOL certificate courses. And why not? Given the organization’s objectives you would expect nothing else. For years the British Council gloried in its close relationship with CELTA, and there was really no reason to complain.
But in the last few years things have become a bit more complicated. For unknown and unexplained reasons, the British Council decided to expand its role and is now accrediting English schools. And part of this accreditation requires all teachers to have an 'acceptable" TESOL qualification--and the qualifications accepted by the British Council's English and Exams Department are, not coincidentally, the CELTA and Trinity courses.
A few years back, the main competitor to the CELTA, TEFL International, a US-based non-profit organization, was reviewed by the British Council's own Alan MacKenzie. Mr. MacKenzie is the Teacher Training Manager for all of East Asia--a position obviously requiring a great deal of knowledge about training courses such as the CELTA and TEFL International. As part of his professional evaluation he wrote that the British Council "does recognise this certificate for employment purposes as a CELTA equivalent.".
Unfortunately for TEFL International and its graduates when news of Mr. MacKenzie's assessment reached the British Council in London, TEFL International was informed that a second assessment was required. Mr. MacKenzie, despite his relevant position in the British Council and Masters degree, was deemed incapable of assessing the course accurately.
Due to this blatantly biased accreditation scheme, this decision affects not only teachers wishing to work at the British Council but at any British Council accredited English school in the UK and elsewhere, thus harming thousands of teachers already holding a TEFL International certificate.
One example of problems this has caused is Kieron Jarvis, a graduate of TEFL International's course in Vietnam. He was a Director of Studies with Richard Language School, Bournemouth, UK, until a recent British Council inspection deemed him unqualified due to his TEFL International training. This despite the fact that he had successfully held his position at the school for over a year, with no detrimental remarks from his superiors!
According to Mr. Jarvis, "This is causing me considerable stress as I am now out of work and suffering financial difficulties." He has tried to appeal to both the British Council and his school, but states: "Whenever I mention this nobody seems to want to discuss it with me."
The whole situation raises an obvious question: Why is the British Council putting itself in a position of authority, where it can assess its own competitors and blacklist them? In any similar situation, in any country and in any culture, this would be deemed a questionable practice, at best. Are the government agencies that fund the British Council and its projects fully aware of this cutthroat practice?
I have always admired the British sense of fair play and their commitment to economic laissez-faire. But the recent actions of the British Council make me doubt that those noble sentiments are still at play in your country.
So, there you go - clearly another case of the judges making up the rules to suit themselves, and changing them when they feel like it too.
If anybody, including impartial observers and heavily vested interests, have any enlightening remarks to make, please add your cheeky comments and reasonable responses below. Cheers.