Private schools selling an illusion


Al-Watan newspaper

IT is the duty of a private school to keep their female students away from tensions caused by financial matters. Financial issues with parents can be resolved through a civilized system, including the blacklisting of defaulters.

In our society, parents tend to run away from problems at public schools where children sag under the burdens of crowded classrooms. The average number of students in each classroom is in the 50s. This prevents the teacher from giving full attention to each student in the class.

Furthermore, many schools lack outdoor spaces suitable for activities during the recess. Parents are keen to see their children treated kindly and warmheartedly. This forces them to bear the school fees exceeding one third, and sometimes even half, of their monthly income. They ensure their children get a good education by sending them to private schools, which promise excellent facilities.

However, the parents encounter a harsher and more lax situation in some private schools. I like to shed light on many hidden aspects of private education, which are quite painful and may adversely affect the children.

It is true that the number of students in each classroom is actually half of that in government schools, but the students are constrained to very narrow spaces of less than 1 sq. meter per child.

Many private schools are actually operating in old residential buildings, whose rooms, halls and kitchens were converted overnight into classrooms. It is common in our society to find such buildings lacking basic esthetic elements that appeal to the soul. They even lack well-designed outdoor space that will enable the students to engage in physical activities.

While the municipalities make it obligatory on private schools to have a minimum area of 2,500 sq. meters, we find the schools operate on barely 1000 sq. meters. The municipalities have also made it compulsory that 20 percent of the total area should be set aside for outdoor activities. But we find courtyards are nonexistent in these schools and outdoor activities often take place in dreadful basements.

These schools, on which large amounts have been spent, lack the least safety requirements, like emergency exits, fire extinguishers and safe windows and doors.

The parents who were concerned about their children being neglected or treated cruelly by public school teachers due to the huge number of students in each classroom have jumped from the frying pan into the fire. This is especially so when they are unable to pay the fee dues.

For failing to pay the fees, the school administration would force the students, including the female students, to leave their classrooms and push them down to the hot basements where they cannot even access their textbooks, which our generous government distributes to them free of charge.

With an overwhelming mentality of making profits prevalent in these schools, female teachers and administrators do not care about the psychological state of the student who has been sent to a secluded place. Worse still, the girl's classmates might pass by mocking at the condition of her cash-strapped father, who is unable to pay her fees.

These merchants of education do not care about the psychological shock that the school principal might cause to the daughters of these unfortunate parents when she orders them in a rude and uncouth manner not come to school except accompanied by their guardians. Of course, it obviously means the guardian must come after clearing all the fee arrears. This is despite the girl being the ideal student who consistently scored high marks.

What a state of terror the female students in private schools are being subjected to when they are placed in a dilemma between their parents' occasional inability to pay the full fees and the pressure from teachers and administrators, who "trade in the commodity of education".

As the main goal of these schools has become overwhelmingly materialistic, one of the solutions can be by linking them with the Simah system that blacklists defaulters. This is on condition that the system is formulated clearly and precisely. The current system is fraught with obscurity and is always functioning against the interests of the poor citizens.

In addition to these frustrating aspects, private schools claim to be providing high standard education and teaching new subjects, which is a big lie. The female teachers in these schools are appointed by the school owner or her deputy without proper scrutiny of the candidates' qualifications and capabilities. At times, they are just secondary school certificate holders.

These so-called teachers continue to teach the students until they are exposed. This might take months or years at the expense of the students who come to school every morning eager to learn something new.

With the tug of war with supervisors or school owners due to the low financial returns compared to the workload, female teachers are replaced quite often. This practice renders them completely useless in the long run.

Moreover, private schools market the illusion that they teach English or French using modern scientific methods. It is then discovered that all they actually teach the students during the whole education stage is nothing more than the common greetings and salutations that everyone knows.

Examples of such deceptive education institutions are conspicuous. I know their names, but I will not mention them except to those who are responsible because the matter is really serious and sensitive. It is about the worn-out mentality that a whole generation of our sons and daughters will develop at these institutions. They will not have gained real knowledge or civilization to benefit us in future.