17-23 January 2014 #690

Distress call

Up to 300 Nepali students are stranded in Malaysia after a college lied about providing lucrative jobs for graduates
Dambar K Shrestha

All LIES: Nepali students, who went to Malaysia for courses in hospitality management, are now stranded at a hotel in Kuala Lumpur after their college did not provide them with the jobs it had promised.
Binod Gurung of Jhapa (pic, yellow shirt), 27, left his well-paying job in Dubai when he found out that he could earn twice as much in Malaysia. All he would have to do is enroll at Lence Academy for Rs 800,000 and the institution would take care of finding him a handsomely paying job. Within a year, Gurung would be earning thousands of dollars working on a cruise ship to the Caribbean; his food and accommodation would all be covered. The arrangements sounded too good to be true.

When he got to Kuala Lumpur, Gurung found out that he was one among thousands of youngsters duped by the academy. Currently, students from India, Iran, and Bangladesh are toiling 12 to 16 hours a day, five days a week, in hotel kitchens in the capital for half the promised amount.

Gurung is now living in a hotel in Setapak with other Nepalis who share a similar fate. Their student visas have expired, passports seized by the college, and with no jobs in sight, they are quickly running out of money for food. One of the housemates filed a case against Lence Academy, claiming they were not given work or salaries as guaranteed.

Investigations carried out by the court have revealed that Lence Academy is actually Green City College, whose registration had been cancelled by the Malaysian government four months ago because it did not have an education licence. In the last two years, 300 Nepalis applied to GCC for courses in hospitality in cruise management.

Ishwor Sapkota's facebook profile
THE CULPRITS: Operators of Green City College and Lence Academy Lily Yong, Ikram, Mokhtar and Managing Director of Oxon Institute and Consultancy, Ishwor Sapkota (highlighted in red)

“Eleven of us came here and found out we were cheated,” says Kamal Rai of Dharan. “We told our agents not to send more students because they would be stranded. But they sent nine more within a month, promising them ‘western lifestyles and education’, as they did to us.”

According to Gyani Raj Upreti of Rautahat, the college forced him and his friends to work long hours on their internship and withheld half their pay while making them attend classes during the weekend. After the students began protesting, a team led by the Educational Consultancies Association of Nepal (ECAN) visited Malaysia to hold talks with the college. However, many members of the delegation were the same people who sent the students to Kuala Lumpur in the first place.

FRAUDULENT PRACTICES: Oxon Institute and Consultancy advertising Lence Academy
ECAN President Rajendra Baral told Nepali Times after the meeting that the Nepali agents were not guilty of any wrongdoing. “The agents have already paid the Malaysian college, so it is the college’s mistake. We are trying to get the embassy to pressurise Lence so that our students are compensated.”

But Nepal’s ambassador to Malaysia, Niranjan Man Singh Basnet, says representatives back in Nepal were well aware of what Lence Academy was doing. “We want to see if the college will provide internships and jobs at five-star hotels as promised. And if not, we are trying to get a full refund for our students,” says Basnet.

“I found out that Green City was being run illegally and I told my agent about this. But he told me LA was a different school and everything would be fine,” says Muskan Gaha Magar of Surkhet. When he reached Kuala Lumpur, Magar found out he didn’t even have a proper bed. He is now in police custody because his visa expired and he knows he will never get that cruise job he was promised.

When Nepali Times contacted Ishwar Sapkota of Baneswor's Oxon Institute and Consultancy, which sent the most Nepalis to GCC/LA, he claimed that the newer students were not faring that bad and were only a little home-sick. But the 20 Nepalis who went to Kuala Lumpur with Sapkota’s help in the last four months have nowhere to turn to after they found out what kind of college they were tricked into.

Ambassador Basnet says many of the 200 who came to Malaysia in the past two years have already returned and the embassy is currently handling the cases of 35 students. “I will send letters to Malaysia’s Ministry of Education if the problem is not solved soon,” he says. But none of the students have received any indication that they will get a refund.

For original article, click here

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