In another finding this week, the parents’ representatives found that having Japanese language fluency was enough to get a working visa. “It was not necessary for the students to attend the language school or pass the N2 or N3 Japanese language proficiency test exam,” said the parents committee lawyer Ngawang Tobgay
He said some students who haven’t even completed or passed the language test have obtained a working visa. “This gives rise to new doubt since doing and passing N2 and N3 courses was mandated in the contract between the students and the agent. We don’t know if it was done for the sake of commission or for other valid reasons”.
The parents’ representatives upon reaching Fukuoka prefecture also found out that some students had to pay tuition fee within the first four months of their reaching in Japan.
Ngawang said that according to the agreement between the BEO and the students, the students need not have to pay the school fees for one year and dormitory fees for six months upon reaching Japan and getting enrolled in the language schools. “Students in some language schools here had to pay about 153500 Yen within the first four months.”
It was also found that the schools which are actually supposed to receive the school and dormitory fee from the BEO on behalf of the students haven’t received the amount. “So the schools have charged the amount from the individual students. In that case, when few of the students failed to pay the fees, the school charged them the additional penalty of 13000 Yen a month for delayed payment.”
Ngawang said this also raises doubt on the agent’s role in the acquisition of fees which BEO informed the students that they’ll directly pay to the schools on the students’ behalf. “And why the students had to pay the school and dormitory fees by themselves when it was the BEO who told them that they needn’t pay for one year upon reaching there?”
The parents’ attempt to approach the school to talk on the matter has been denied. “We got the information from some students that the SND and the wife of Jurmey Tshewang has called up these schools before our arrival and they have been asked not to interact with us.”
Ever since the arrival of parents’ committee representatives in Japan on 22nd February, the representatives have been meeting students all across the language schools in Japan. They have also been exploring possible job opportunities for the students.
The representatives also held several press conferences and came up with findings with regard to commission taken by the agency from the students’ work wages and visa issues among others until last week.
The two representatives have till date met with 582 students and are due to meet with the remaining students from the remaining two language schools which would complete the meetings.
The meeting with students was mainly to study the ground reality and discuss on the problems which included the survey of the issues faced by the students and getting the power of attorney from the students to file a case against Bhutan Employment Overseas (BEO) upon reaching back home.
The students were issued with three different forms where the first one contains numerous questions on the main issues being raised by the students with additional queries from the parents’ side, the second one was about the work status and the third one was on getting the power of attorney from the students. “After the forms are filled, the students are required to post it to us through the address provided”.
Ngawang Tobgay said, “We’ve given them time to think and discuss with their parents about the power of attorney after which they will send it to us via post along with the survey forms we’ve issued them to fill up.” He said so far he received the forms along with power of attorney from the students from a few schools in Tokyo.
He said the actual status of the students can be revealed once the response will be received from all the students where they will verify each and every response mentioned in the form.
However, from the verbal discussion held with the students so far, he said it was clear that the agent has breached every contract terms and has taken advantage of the situation to take commission in various forms.
The representatives will complete their visit on 12th March and will be back home by 14th March.
While BEO couldn’t be reached for the comment, the Labour Minister said the fault cannot entirely lie on the agent or the government. “We will call it finding only if the issues are brought before us and verified, otherwise one can’t claim that the other party is on fault” he added that the government and the respective agency has done their job at the best capacity.