By Tariq Al-Maeena
IN several columns over the years I had lamented over the state of affairs at our government-funded public schools and problems like lack of qualified teachers, deficient curriculum and improper facilities.
International and privately run schools have attempted to fill the gap for parents wishing more for their young ones and at a stiff price. And as the new school year is just a few weeks away, many parents are busily engaged in seeking out and enrolling their young at schools that do not have such problems. They are in search of a proper educational atmosphere for their children. However, the following commentary from a reader dispels the notion that bureaucracy at private schools is any different and that that the inconsistencies so prevalent in the bureaucratic minds of those who manage public schools are evident in privately owned institutions too. The interest of the child thus fails to be of primary importance.
“This is Omar M. I really enjoyed reading your article the other day. It is about time that someone addressed the issue of worker abuse in such candid detail. On another matter, I had been pondering to write to you regarding an episode that my sister-in-law faced about three weeks ago and have finally found the sense to do so. In this e-mail I’ll give you a brief of the incident and then if you see the issue is worth writing about, I’ll give you all the details.
MY sister in-law was stunned when her son (4 years old) was not accepted in nursery school at one of the “so-called” premier schools in Jeddah. The reason given by school officials for his rejection was not that he failed the entry exam or that he did not posses the caliber the school sought for in potential students. Instead, the reason given was that his sister chose not to continue in the school after the KG years and was transferred by her parents to another school when she completed kindergarten.
“Now if I were the headmaster/owner of the school, I would have liked to investigate the reason behind her parents’ decision on switching her over to another school for the primary grades. Was the sister transferred because the other school provided a better educational curriculum, better after-school activities, or the method of teaching was superior?
“There could be an infinite number of reasons, but denying her sibling an opportunity to enroll in the school of choice because of grudges or bad feelings is highly unacceptable and unfair. This is not the first time the school has committed such improprieties when dealing with the issue of sibling enrollment, and if it is not addressed, other schools could catch the disease and this could become a major problem.
“The dictatorial attitudes exhibited by school authorities at such ‘premier’ schools on the selection process for children must be brought to light. If you like the idea I have no problem in providing more information and also my personal thoughts on the ramifications such actions could have in the future.”
Following this e-mail, I called Omar and asked him if it was a particular school. When he replied in the affirmative, I told him that over two decades ago, my second daughter was denied enrollment for a not too different reason. Then, we parents were told that since one daughter was already in attendance at that school, it was their policy not to enroll siblings in the same institution.
Following such incomprehensible reasoning offered by that school, I spared no efforts in banging the doors of the relevant government authorities entrusted to ensure uniformity and fair practices in regulating schools. But all I was confronted with were blank stares or an indifferent attitude. And since I was not prepared to crawl and beg for admittance for my daughter, I yanked the elder sibling and enrolled them both in a less “premier” school at the time.
Today I could recommend to Omar that he take up his sister-in-law’s grievance concerning the school’s refusal to accept her child with the Ministry of Education or the Court of Grievances, but I suspect that the child would be of university age by the time a decision would be forthcoming. And there would be no guarantee that it would be in his relatives’ favor. All of which leads to the following question: Are the child’s interests really at heart at some of these private schools?
Source: Arab News