The affected parents and students of the ‘earn and learn’ program have decided to file a case against the agent, Bhutan Overseas Employment (BEO).
The parents and students had waited for a solution from the government, answers from the agent and more findings by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC).
“The agent, despite having given the timeline, failed to answer any of our questions, ACC rejected our appeal to reinvestigate the case and government’s solution of loan deferment doesn’t serve as an advantage,” said the parents’ committee members.
Till date, nearly 500 students have given the power of attorney to file a case against the agent. “The case will be filed once all the answers and power of attorney is received from the remaining number of students in Japan who will post it or send it via students who are returning home by the first week of April,” said the committee lawyer, Ngawang Tobgay, adding that the answers will have to be reviewed by the team of committee members before filing the case.
He said civil suit would be the preferred choice as the government’s decision on loan deferment was no relief to students and there isn’t any liability imposed on the agent as well.
“Although prosecution may soon be initiated by the government, we are more concerned to restitute the damages and to enforce the contract,” said Ngawang.
“Since the government couldn’t come up with any solutions or justice, the decision from the court would make things clear as to who should be liable and who should be compensated,” he said, adding that the agent openly lied on national television and the government was clearly defensive about the program.
Three forms were issued to the students. The first form contains seventeen questions on the overall situation while the second form consisted of ten questions on the employment status and third was the power of attorney.
Ngawang said the questions were prepared by the legal team after analysis the matter and taking collective views from the students and parents.
Finding shows most students are not happy with program
The two representative of the parents and students recently returned back home after the 20-day visit to Japan to study the ground realities faced by the Bhutanese youths there.
The two representatives said that while the situation is no different from what most of the students’ complained about, the finding showed that 95 percent are not happy as reflected by the students in the around 400 forms they could study.
More findings will be revealed once all the forms are received and reviews are completed.
Ngawang said this finding contradicts the claim of the government that 85 percent of the youths in Japan are doing okay. He said this just means the government failed to find the truth.
The committee members also claimed that the team from labour ministry who previously visited Japan for the same reason hardly met 200 plus students in two weeks while the parents’ representatives even with all the barriers and lack of cooperation by language schools could visit all the language schools and could meet all 538 students in a matter of week.
“Firstly, the officials were accompanied by the agent members who make it difficult for the students to express their concern and they have already been forewarned. Secondly, they have not met with all the students so can we trust the report of the government,” asked Ngawang.
The committee in Japan had uncovered commission being collected on students’ wages by the agents, overcharging, misleading of students to take courses, non-payment of fees and other issues.
Loan deferment provides no relief
The Prime minister earlier said that the loan deferment is the only and the best solution the government can provide to ease the situation faced by the youths in Japan, as the problem was mainly to do with a sustainability issue.
The committee members said that the loan deferment only provides a temporary solution. “It does more harm than relief when the interest is not relieved,” said one of the parents.
“Deferment for four years means an additional burden of having to pay around two hundred thousand extra” he said.
As of now, 230 plus students of the 735 has registered for the loan deferment scheme. Ngawang said that after learning about the long-term disadvantage of the scheme, many students who have already registered for it are now seeking advice on how to deregister from the scheme.
The prime minister during the press meet yesterday said the waiving off loan or the interest cannot be done in the interest of nation’s economy and for the fear that doing so will set a bad trend for the future.
The PM added that the scheme is made especially to benefit the students till the completion of the language course after which students have the flexibility to work and earn to repay the loan. “If this doesn’t serve their interest, we cannot provide any further answers,” said the PM.