Int'l schools and Saudi culture


Makkah newspaper

MULTI choices must be considered to ensure the quality of education in our country. Students of different sciences and subjects must be provided with advanced facilities and opportunities to enhance their knowledge following new methods and mastering different languages.

The international schools have been introduced as part of the private education system to prepare our children to have a promising future, enabling them to deal with sciences of the East and West. International schools ensure interaction of civilizations and promotion of a culture of equal treatment, respecting multiplicity without prejudice.

However, the absence of a monitoring system has allowed many international educational institutions to neglect aspects of conformity with the Education Ministry's rules and standards as well as with principles of national harmony and professional educational frameworks.

I know that people who have got in touch with an international school for the admission of their sons and daughters would have some bad experiences. Some of them show subtle racism toward Saudi children, intentionally or unintentionally, in a flagrant violation of education principles that call for promoting harmony among classmates.

It is the right of every child to speak spontaneously in his country’s accent. Children are likely to notice the differences between them and may tell their families. A Saudi girl may complain to her mother that other children do not play with her because she is a Saudi.

Foreign Arab teachers working in these international schools may complicate the matter by showing bias to non-Saudi children and ignoring Saudis. I have seen many parents in recent years who have narrated the painful experience their children had with international schools as they hated English language and the school because of the bias attitude of teachers and officials and their foggy neglect.

One will also find the curricula of the Arabic language and Islamic education at these schools disturbing as they do not conform to the curricula approved by the Ministry of Education. Schools prepare their curricula for the two subjects in a haphazard manner without giving due consideration.

The examples that are offered to students at kindergartens and primary schools in most of these international schools show the vast gap between the Saudi culture and the shaky mixture of foreign cultures, which are imparted to children as per the desire of expatriate teachers.

It’s quite amazing that the Education Ministry's agency for private education does not monitor the performance and activities of international schools despite complaints from Saudi parents against them through social media networks and stories exchanged by social councils.

Some international schools force their students to carry a huge bag full of textbooks from Class II of the primary level and their parents have to purchase a large number of books and take photocopies of other books from the school office.

There are others who declare the fees (which are high) approved by the ministry and impose hidden fees such as charges for booking seat, uniforms and organizing trips, which frighten parents and guardians.

I have found certain rules and regulations of private schools that violate the bylaws set by the Ministry of Labor and Social Development and the Ministry of Education. I am sure that if education officials supervise these international schools properly, most of them would be listed among those that ought to be closed down or fined for restructured.

The Saudi society is open to the world. We need international schools for our children to learn from global experiences, knowledge and educational methods. We will not underestimate anyone, and will not show any racist approach toward our foreign guests, especially teachers.

At the same time we deem it our right to have Saudi culture prevailed over international schools that operate in our country with a license issued by the Education Ministry. We expect from them a friendlier attitude to attract Saudis as well as other nationalities. Foreign students do not pay more fees than Saudis. Like us they also seek education without racism, discrimination, dodging laws and blackmailing.