September 2014, Ross Sampayo and two other partners bought the schools and the brand The Canadian House Center and the following review has no bearing on the current management of this school.
I've just returned from teaching at Canadian House. I taught there for 5 months.
On 1st arrival it seemed like a pretty professional set up and all teachers were warmly received. Over the 5 months that I was there though, relations between management and teachers reduced to a point where they point blankly refused to have staff meetings with us in order to address the problems we were having.
There were many problems with the school - including having to submit lesson plans to management and not being paid for this extra work, not being paid for marking tests or exams or writing out report cards (some teachers had upwards of 70 cards to write).
Most teachers were there on tourist visa's and at first this wasn't a problem and there wasn't an issue getting the 3 month visa extended to a 6 month visa. The school even helped those that needed this to be done. However, if you were on a 6 month visa or once your 6 month tourist visa expired the school then started advising teachers they needed to get a working visa which would cost them $230, plus the cost of the trip to Peru to get the visa, then to Guayaquil to activate the visa. The school refused to help with the cost.
We were all lied to on several times about the visa situation. I was told that if I left the country and re-entered after my 6 month tourist visa had expired, I would be given another tourist visa. Or if I left before the visa expired the days I was out of the country would carry over... I knew this would not be the case as I've travelled to many countries and no country allows you to carry over days. I left Ecuador and tried to re-enter a week later and was told at the border that I couldn't as I'd already been in the country over 90 days that year. I had no choice but to enter the country illegally (my flight home was in 3 days). When I went back to the school to ask them what had happened and to ask for help, I was told that as I didn't work there any more, wasn't housed in any of their apartments and had chosen to stop working at the end of January that I wasn't their responsibility any more. Which shocked me as when we 1st all arrived we were told that "Canadian House is a family, and we are you're family here and if you have any problems we will help you".
There were also numerous problems with the accomadation that the school provided. Apart from over charging on rent ($65 dollars a month per room) the apartments were basic - bed, gas stove top and fridge (although one house with 5 teachers living in it didn't have a stove top or fridge for the first 6-8 weeks) There was no table, chairs or electrical goods. Teachers also had to buy all their own bedding including curtains (i had a $10 dollar blanket as a curtain for 6 months) and all their own kitchen goods, including utensils, crockery, pots and pans. These items are not cheap in Loja and you can expect to pay out at least $100 to make sure you can live when you 1st arrive. We also did not have a bin in our house - we couldn't afford to buy one and the school refused to buy us one, so we had to dump our rubbish in litter bins in the locality.
The directors of the company also do not seemed to concerned about whether the students are learning English or not. I had one class that I could not connect with and was struggling to teach, I approached them twice to ask for help which I did not receive. After the third test, I went to the directors and asked for the parents of the children who were failing to be called so that they would be aware of the problem and perhaps start ensuring the children were studying at home. My request was refused and it was insinuated that it was my fault the children were failing and it was up to me to make sure they all passed. After the children sat the final exam, 8 of my students had failed. So the pass rate was lowered. When I still had 3 fails and asked that one of the directors spoke with the childrens parents to explain I was told "Well, we'll see, maybe if the parents are really upset and want to send their kids back for level 2, we'll just pass them".
Payment for teachers - $4 an hour is enough to live on in Loja if you work 5 hours or more a day. Payment is usually into a bank account but more often than not in cheque form and not always on time.
There are 3 directors of the school. An English lady called Gloria, a Canadian called Michelle and a Lojano called Diego. He is unreliable and not trustworthy. He threatened to kill one teacher and was constantly making moves on the female teachers (even though he is married to Michelle) He would regularly use your image without asking you for adverts in local papers to promote the school. Michelle is more concerned with writing her thesis than helping any teacher. And Gloria is a yes woman and blames everything on the other 2. The working relationship between all 3 seems to have totally disintergrated to nothing and you will never get a straight answer from any of them. And if you manage to get something that resembles the truth, one of the other directors will veto it.
It seems to me, and to many other teachers that taught there at the same time as me, that CHC is purely about making money. It's not about teaching English.
There are some positives about the school - it's recently been given a big facelift (the reason why CHC can't afford to help teachers with their visas) and class rooms all have white boards and enough chairs and tables for students. The 2 secretaries working at the school who are brilliant and the school would fall apart without them, but they are seriously under appreciated. The students at the school are great and really keen to learn English and are really dedicated. It's such a pity that the staff and students are being let down by incompetent management.