Schools ~ making the right choice.


Today was the last day for school. Bilal had his Maths exam. Sawaab and Eman were supposed to go for the field trip ie: movie at MOE, but they did not, coz Eman is down with tonsilitis.

I stand on cross roads. Cross roads in some serious decision making.  ” SCHOOLS ”

We know the school they are attending “D”  is not the right school for us for many a reasons but to put it as politely, it is becoz not only is it not safe, and that we are worried about the bullying both verbal and physical but also the fact that they are weak in discipline. 

The boys have been following the American Syllabus from the very begining however for the first time we are  considering sending them to a British school.  Not only is the fees in this particular school that we are looking at seriously,  shooting off the ceiling but it is a rather small school. Class room size is 24 students, they have an assistant in most classes and most importantly, they have a Learning Enhancement center.  They are  popular but not as much probably becoz they are a small school run thru two huge villas.  There is firm discipline.  Somehow, I am not one to be impressed with “features” & “faciliities” that schools market these days. I would primarily look for the teaching staff. How compassionate and childfriendly and qualified they are. Thats important to me. The syllabus is important to me. How that is imparted is important. 

I could keep them in “D” school  if I wished, but I know clearly it would be a waste. They have been exposed to some very nasty language  there. Been beaten up several times, and virtually nothing done about it, all in the name of “investigation is being done ” It is such a waste. Teachers fly in and fly out ever two to three months. The ones who are staying rarely seem to say hello ~ there’s always a frown on their faces.  

 Mrs C, is the only exception ofcourse, she has been such a blessing.  When we presented her with the gift basket as a parting gift, she was completly taken aback, she was so emotional.  She was the only positive spark in the school.  She really stood up for buddy, unfortunetly she came only in the third term and alot of the damage had already been done.    

We need teachers like her who dont just enter a class to do a job, they want to make a difference in the life of a child. Thats what true education is.

We approached one primary/secondary school and it was really shocking to see, how all the English ladies at the reception were out and out, not ready to talk to me and the registrar who HAD TO, well she did everything to convince me that the waitlist was sooooo long that it was absolutely pointless to even think of registering. Whats strange is that my husband’s english collegue just applied a day before and he is granted seats, but when we checked the next day, they had 25 students on the waitlist !!!! Over night the waitlist grew from nothing to 25 all becoz an indian kid was interested in the school. I knew what was going on and why bother let my children into a school that is not going to welcome them anyways.

Another school’s registrar looked at me as though, I had Swine Flu all over me !  she was so uncomfortable around us. 

How can you change concrete minds who have been bought up to think they are superior, white and the rest of the world is an inferior class. It is sheer racism and that too in an arab country !   

Some schools emphasis so much on making leaders out of children, some emphasis about the all round growth of children and some emphasis about how many facilities they have (swimming club, sports, drama etc ).

The winchester school in The Gardens near Ibn Batuta, another classic case of  having this really large hall for young kindergarteners with alot of toys, (few were even educational) and none of the kids were actually “allowed ” to play with them. It was a marketing stunt.

One  head teacher clearly said, ” why should we teach children Arabic from grade 1, when they are hardly going to use it anywhere except the arab world ?” I asked her why children in Bombay ( India ) have to as a compulsion learn Marathi which is a language which is spoken only in the state of Maharashtra. Atleast there are over 20 countries where arabic is spoken, how many states, let alone country, Marathi is spoken ? NONE  ! !

Not one school, so far has kept their share of their promise.  The fees here in Dubai has sky rocketed in the past 5 years. Whats even more weird is that the quality remains the same.

I read in one of the ” British” forums, about how these bunch of snobbish ladies were discussing that although they were going to stay in Dubai for a short stint, they had managed to “squeeze” the maximum benefits from the employer !  One commented that she had only dhs 20,000 from the company as education allowance and the other said they got 50% off whichever school they choose, and a third said that her husband had put his foot down that he needed all of his educational allowance taken care of by the employer, hence schools like Dubai American Academyor Gems World or Raffles or Repton or Greenfield, flourish.    

Probably thats why the KHDA ( knowledge and Human Devolopment Authority ) was formed ! To set a standard of guide lines for all schools to implement and follow. 

And to think of it that most of these schools did not even make it in the ” Good schools list ” !! How shameful.  

Indian schools are a different story all together.

The average teacher in Indian based schools are the homemakers who have too much time on hand and dont know what to do except indulge in the TV soaps !   The selection criteria for teachers, is a joke.  The class room atmosphere is repulsive.  We had teachers who used to sell sari’s and VCR movies in the staff room back in the 1980’s. The librarian was known for her knitting skills. We used to hold competitions on who could copy Mr Bora’s notes the fastest. He spoke at 120 words per minute. What we understood in his class is another story ! Most of the indian school kids take private tuitions. It is a norm rather than an exception. I ask why ? why dont the teachers do the job right in the school, so that the average student does not turn to tuitions ?? Naturally coz, the teacher walks into the class, “turn to page  number ……………, ” reads a whole lot or asks the one of the kids to do so and thats just about it. They dont want to impart knowledge, there is no concern for a student with marginal difficulties.  He has to fend for himself. Very few really stand out to make a difference. I cant blame them entirely, coz they too were schooled in such a matter, so how can anyone expect more from them, unless they have it in them to go that extra mile.  

The lebanese perspective :

Well, the only difference between a lebanese teacher and an indian teacher is that the lebanese teacher takes a break ever half an hour to fill her face with another coat of makeup. And ofcourse she spends an extra 2 hours in the morning deciding what and how to wear to school. And inspite of it, she manages to be a sad role model for the student. Not only the high headedness but the absolute indiffernce towards indian kids is simply outrageous. I can say that easily coz my boys went to Al Mawakeb school Al Barsha  for 3 years and they virtually suffered at the hands of   incompetent teachers and codirectors. One of the stupedist things I have ever done is believing that perhaps the error lies in my boys and perhaps tomorrow will be better.  Until, I decided enough was enough. They did 3 years with them – and not one single teacher could tell me that any or all of my boys had dyslexia. They kept pushing the boys year after year.  There were alittle over a dozen episodes after which I decided that my boys and I had had enough.

All the time, sam had convinced me, that all schools are the same and we would get the same treatment no matter which school we went to. Well, I am ready to take my chances but I WILL not stand and watch kids throwing abuse over my boys.   

Being Muslim is not easy even in Dubai, a muslim country and that too Indians, people have so many prejudices about us. I am not perfect and this world is not perfect and nobody said, life would be perfect, but as much as I can, I would like to make the right decisions for the boys without ever disorienting them. Bilal has changed 5 schools and he is in grade 5 going to 6.   How has he coped with it ?? Pretty well, I would say. But I really hope the next school we find, would be where they would be welcomed, understood, encouraged  and supported.

Am I asking for too much ???’

teacher

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