Teach English Abroad Brunei (with CfBT School)
Teaching abroad in Brunei intrigues me.
Up until now, I’ve known little about this tiny nation.
That is, until I discovered CfBT school. So I did some research about CfBT school and life in Brunei. Here are my notes:
So, I’ve heard of a couple of teachers who’ve taught at CfBtT International English School in Brunei for 10+ years and another who has worked at the English school for 3 years.
They all agree it’s been a positive experience teaching there.
But, keep in mind, you must be a qualified teacher to work there, with a university degree, experience teaching kids, and a TEFL certificate.
You’ll need 3 years of classroom teaching experience at the primary or secondary level in subjects like English/Literacy/Culture.
Secondary teacher applicants are also required to have at least 1 year of teaching English as a foreign language.
While you may NOT qualify to teach for CfBT in Brunei right now… International schools are a great alternative for overseas TEFL teachers who want develop their teaching careers.
After all, not everyone wants to teach at private institutes countries like China or Korea or Japan, forever.
For some reason circa 2007 CfBT didn’t hire American teachers (not sure why), but now they do… As long as you’re a native English speaker.
CfBT does have quotas on teachers from English-speaking countries though. Not sure of the breakdown.
For example, they only allow “x” number of South Africans in to teach, etc. This may have changed recently.
It doesn’t sound like they’ll hire teachers over 55. Seems a little young though… as many Asian countries have mandatory retirement of 60-65.
From what I’ve read, they have a very thorough application process. They check references and do detailed background checks.
Salaries are good, but that depends which country you’ve already taught in and what your savings expectations are.
A typical teacher’s salary and benefits packages include:
A salary of B$49,000-72,000 per year (tax-free), free housing, paid flights, lots of holidays.
The school will also give you a rental car for free for 2 weeks and then an interest free car loan of up to $10,000.This gives you time to find personal transportation.
You won’t be able to buy a new car on that budget though but a decent used one.
The school will pay the school fees for up to two of your children if you have them.
You’ll also get plenty of holidays.
The job description below for a primary school teacher does not distinguish holidays from vacation time.
Be warned that if you’ve lived and taught in Thailand or Cambodia, don’t expect that same lifestyle in Brunei.
First off, it’s a Muslim country but with a mix of Buddhists coexisting there as well which makes for an interesting VIBE.
And yes of course there are Christian churches there.
However, since it’s a Muslim culture(mostly) there are some alcohol restrictions, but you’re allowed to bring small quantities in if you’re a foreigner.
You can also cut across the border into Malaysia to go have a few drinks. It’s a 45 minute run.
Foreign travellers normally make this type of quick trek if they’re at the end of their 3 month visa and need a new entry stamp.
It’s been said that Brunei is very safe. The same can be said for Singapore.
I guess the drawback of living in either country is that it can get boring. That is.. if you’re used to nightlife which includes drinking and partying.
You can teach at CfBT either as a primary teacher or a secondary teachers. Both levels are on similar pay scales.
Apparently there are more secondary school teachers working there than primary teachers. This is because there is less turnover among their primary teachers.
If you planning to move and teach in Brunei, you’ll need WHEELS.
A motorcycle works fine to get around. Most teachers have motorbikes – some have cars.
CfBT does their own recruiting, as an agency, but it’s the Ministry of Education that ends up approving your visa/contract? Similar in other Asian countries with immigration, I’d imagine.
The three main cities where CfBT has schools are Kuala Belait, which is on the border of Malaysia with lots of foreigners, and of course beaches and a larger expat culture.
And then there’s Temburong (on a jungle river and more peaceful, but isolated)
Bandar… well I haven’t heard much… Anyone?
So what’s there to do in Brunei after you’ve settled in to your school schedule, gotten acquainted with your students and set up your house?
Well, you can get dive certified , which I”m sure is a big draw for you water enthusiasts!
Or, you can rent a sailboat?
If you just like hanging around boats on water then head over to the Yacht Club that’s an option, but there is a price for admission. $100 a month or more, I believe.
If you’re a land lover…golfing is also available. You can get a membership or just pay and play.
And of course, the obvious, swimming, hiking through jungles, fishing, and beach combing.
You can have a very active outdoor lifestyle in Brunei. Something that’s not convenient in cities like Seoul, Tokyo or Bangkok.
Let’s get back to the teaching stuff:
September is the start of a new term and new teachers do start then…
Intake of English teachers takes place in June, August and September.
If you want to bring your wife and kids, the secondary school job offers include better benefits for them. If you have two kids, you’ll get funding for their schooling rom CfBT.
Teachers have been known to bring their pets there.
There may be some red tape over bringing your dog in though.
Muslims in Brunei aren’t allowed to touch dogs. This could cause problems during the importation/immigration/ vaccination process.
No serious issues for other animals though such as cats or birds…
The quarantine period for animals could be ONE month which seems reasonable.
There are some other teaching options in Brunei besides CfBT if you’re interested:
There’s the ISB (International School Brunei) and the Jerudong International School (JIS). If you’re bringing your family, this is where you can send your kids to school.
There’s the Panaga School, which is the Shell school for Shell employees kids.
There’s also the University of Brunei. Not sure about the salaries there though.
In addition you can run a query for some post secondary teaching options at the University of Brunei Darussalam, King’s College, St. George’s School and Cosmopolitan College.
So, what’s the school management like?
Your manager will be the principal of the school to which your assigned.
Haven’t heard many complaints from teachers about their managers except this one:
One fellow taught at CfBT in Brune for 7 years. This length of time at one school is extraordinary in itself for an overseas teaching career.
His complaint was that CfBT has turned into a greedy corporation. Teachers were dissatisfied and management is apathetic.
It seems there has been high turnover in the past couple of years and CfBT school allegedly holds the MOE over teachers heads if there are any issues. I wouldn’t get specifics about this though.
Other than these reported complaints working for CfBT sounds fantastic, pay seems good, life there is calm, and comfortable (aside from the heat and humidity).
When it comes to dress, women are expected to wear shirts that cover their elbows long skirts.
But, it really depends on how far you want to push the boundaries here.
Some school principals won’t say anything to you, but the Brunei people are also known to be non confrontational.
If you’re a man, the standard teaching uniform is long sleeves and a tie. You can also wear the Malay style shirts (no tie required).
I know what you’re thinking… long sleeve shirts and skirts and neckties in a sultry country like Brunei?
Well… not to worry!
You’ll find air conditioners and ceiling fans in the classrooms and throughout the school so you won’t crack a sweat while teaching…
As for finding western food. There are one or two SupaSave stores but prices are higher. Don’t expect Walmart’s or Costcos though.
As for living expenses, vehicle costs can eat away at your budget if you drive your car a lot. A motorcycle would be more economical, if you can get by without air conditioning.
The Internet isn’t cheap so use your schools wi-fi as much as possible. Also, they don’t block websites like YouTube, Gmail or Facebook for example like China does…
Electricity can add up if you’ve got your air conditioner on 24/7 or at night and on the weekends.
Other than those caveats… expenses really depend on the teacher’s lifestyle such as out of country travel, purchases.
You can certainly save money there…
If you’re bringing your spouse or partner, be aware that they can’t legally work on a tourist visa. If they’re caught they’ll be given a fine, imprisonment, or kicked out of Brunei.
If your significant other is fine NOT working they can do visa runs to the Malaysia border very 3 months. Tourist durations depend on your nationality though.
Just remember that your teaching visa is attached to CfBT school.
If you quit, your visa is invalid. Teaching contracts at CfBT are 1-2 years. As I said earlier some foreign teachers have worked a decade there!
If you’re married and have kids CfBT will help with the school fees of 2 or more children.
The two international schools for expat children are the Jerudong International School and the International School of Brunei. Haven’t heard any complaints about these schools.
So, if you’re a qualified teacher and you’re married with kids and enjoy outdoor activities Brunei can be a great place. If you’re single then it really depends on the individual.
If anyone has applied, interviewed, or taught at any schools in Brunei, please share your insights.