After the deluge of information dumped upon you at Tokyo Orientation and in the months and years that follow it can be easy to forget or simply misconstrue some of what you have been told. While not knowing the following will hardly get you into trouble, knowing them could be useful even if it’s just for the boost of self esteem you get from correcting other JETs, if that’s your thing. These come up often enough in e-mails and general conversation, often in passing, that I thought someone out there might find them useful.
Myth #1: I’m Employed By CLAIR/The JET Programme, therefore my BoE/office has no power over me or my conditions in the end and if I have a contract complaint, I should go to CLAIR.
The truth is, you are not employed by CLAIR or ‘The JET Programme’ although this is one of the most common misconceptions by JETs on the Programme across Japan. Your contract is directly between you and your BoE, school, or office. They are your Contracting Organization (CO) and are whom you have the responsibility to. CLAIR requires certain things, like wages, to be standard, and sets minimums, like annual leave days, for other items in JET Contracts. They also prepare a base contract for COs to use if they choose and many use an edited version of this. However, so long as the minimum CLAIR standards and basic legal standards are met, COs are free to set their own terms and conditions.
The Japanese PAs in Shimane keep a record of everyone’s contract (in English and Japanese) in case a dispute arises.
Myth #2: CIRs/PAs get paid more than ALTs.
We don’t. Trust me.
Myth #3: There is a ‘PA Office’ in Shimane.
While some Prefectures or Designated Cities do have a designated ‘PA Office’, where all the JET-PAs and J-PAs sit around PA-ing together all day with very little else to do, Shimane does not. Our PAs are split across two different offices in two different buildings at the Government Office site.
The Culture and International Affairs Division: Sondey and the two Japanese PAs work here (specifically the ‘International Exchange Group‘), with a lovely view of the top of Matsue Castle. We handle things like calls from COs, all transfer requests, re-contracting, Summer/April Orientations, CIR Skills Development Conference and the ALT Opinion Exchange Sessions. This is where most paperwork you or your supervisors fill out eventually ends up. We have easy access to your contracts and application forms, should the need arise, in the event of a dispute or issue.
The Senior High School Board of Education: This is where Alex works and it is also known as the Prefectural Board of Education. They are the BoE for all Senior High School ALTs and the BoE supervisor for SHS JETs works here, too. They handle things like The Shimane Times, the ALT Skills Development Conference, the CHESS English Camp and so on.
The two offices regularly coordinate efforts on events like Skill Development Conferences, Orientations and Opinion Exchanges, by allowing the other PA(s) to attend and so on, but, for the most part, the planning is done by the individual offices. All four PAs have responsibilities outside of our duties as PAs.
Myth #4: ALTs need to use the ALT-PA and CIRs need to use the CIR-PA.
Actually, you can use any of the four PAs at any time. The titles “ALT-PA” and “CIR-PA” simply mean that we are both ALTs/CIRs and PAs. We all have our own skill sets (including languages) so you may be passed on to someone else who can help you more effectively, but you’re welcome to approach anyone.
For example, a CIR may approach to the ALT-PA for get advice regarding an upcoming school visit, but an ALT may approach the CIR-PA if they had a translation related issue. You may also go to one of the J-PAs for a question about Japanese language or office culture you want answered. Apart from counselling, we can help you with administrative questions, life/language questions, hospital visits/interpreting, and mediation between you and your supervisors or COs.