The parents and students of ‘Learn and Earn’ had put forward the letter to BEO seeking clarifications and accountability from Bhutan Employment Overseas (BEO) on 14th December which the BEO has to respond in written statement within a time period of ten days.
The BEO managing director of BEO Jurmey Tshewang agreed to provide the required response in written statement to the group during the submission of letter. However, BEO failed to give the response within the given time.
“We contacted Jurmey about the response to which he said the government will response to us” said the group. Meanwhile, Tenzin Rigden, the co- partner of BEO ‘Learn and earn’ program reasoned that the agency is looking for suitable time to give the response. “Due to heavy demand of work, we couldn’t manage time so we will verify all the five points they submitted us and try to respond as soon as possible which might take next couple of days” he said.
The group clearly disappointed with the failure of response from BEO said they will be waiting for the action from the government. “We will see what the government can do before deciding to take any legal action against the agency involved in this scam”
The representative of parents and students committee meanwhile approached the Prime Minister and the National council members this week to explain the issue and submitted a letter attaching a copy to the speaker of national assembly, national council chairperson and the opposition leader.
The group reported that due to severe situation in Japan, a student allegedly committed suicide out of depression in the city of Fukuoka where another student is undergoing treatment for brain damage attributed to tuberculosis, besides, two male and two female students have returned back to Bhutan on serious medical ground, and another 90 quit unable to cope with the punishing working condition.
The group said that the 600 plus youths who are still is japan are equally desperate. “Without timely intervention from the government, we fear they may drift into severe depression, which is one of the leading cause of suicide among Japanese youths today. “We believe the agency did not prepare them well for the rigor of life in Japan” added the group.
“The young student’s suicide came as a wakeup call for all of us, who are thoroughly unsettled by this recent development, and fear for the wellbeing of our children currently trapped in a foreign soil” said the parents.
The parents said the students were overcharged by the agency and exploited their situation and turned the program into a ruthless money making venture.
The letter read, “Further, upon conducting a preliminary investigation, we found out that BEO charged exorbitant amount in various fees. Besides the Nu. 57,000 placement/agent fees, the agency took additional Nu. 17,000 per student in visa, translation and documentation fees, which should actually have been covered in the agent fee”.
“Moreover, there is no proper record maintained for these expenses” the parents said that even the receipt issued to the youths were not clear and completely vague.
Besides the parents said that even the ticketing contract for all the 730 students were given to one agent, without floating the tender, thereby, depriving them of the best price, and other associated concessions, which would have brought the airfare down.
Besides the group said that the BEO and its counterparts in Japan, SND and Light Path Co. gets commission of USD 1,300- 1,500 per student from the language schools, beside a portion of their salary from their workplace. The group told the government to reinvestigate the case.
The group reported that the fee structure for Bhutanese youths were also considerably high, compared to other foreign nationals pursuing Japanese language course, which needs to be investigated.
The letter also said the BEO also appears to have misinformed the government and the financial institutions regarding the success of the program. “While the first two batches of students, totaling 129, were unable to repay their loans on time, we were informed that the agency paid the loan on their behalf, just to convince the banks, hence, getting the loan for their third batch of 380, the largest by far, approved”.
“There are evidences of procedural lapses and documents forgery by BEO. In some instances, the partners persuaded the students to sign documents on behalf of their parents/guardians, while in others, they forged certificate to meet the eligibility criterion for the program, as strictly put in by the Japanese government”.
The prime minister in response said the issue will to be reviewed case by case and the discussion will be made within cabinet on the issue.