One Terrible school. Part 1

Hi friends ,

For all those of you’ll who have been following my posts regularly, I know I have been somewhat on and off these past few months. . . . . ! Well all for some valid reasons … If you know me well, you know how I have been struggling hard to get the boys out their present school.

 It has’nt been easy, especially since they have both got grade As and Bs in their mid terms and most unfortunetly flunked their assesment test in another British curriculum school, just weeks later  !!!

Not only is it a set back but it really has me thinking, what exactly are the school’s  standards when compared to others !! I know, it was unreasonable of the other school to take a full year’s  exam when the boys had only completed half the year ! Inspite of getting this to their notice, any concessions made ? None !! Infact they did not even have the courtesy to tell me Sugar’s grades !! Makes me wonder, its probably better this way !!

So here we are, struggling to find a good school for the boys…

The question is,

will I have to move them from an American System to a British curriculum ?

Will I have to move them from an American system To an IB, International Baccalaurete ??  In which case they both would loose one year.  The IB is very stringent about age limit and regardless of student skills or aptitude stick to their age limits.

Mo’s mother is equally distressed. Her son has been called names, harassed, pushed, beaten up, and terribly abused. It has been devastating for that little boy of 10. His mother has seen his self esteem just detoriate.  The only silver lining in all this, is that Sugar has been standing up for Mo. Everytime, Bully G,A,K A have tried to hit Mo, Sugar  has interviened and rescued him. I always thought it was the blind leading the blind with Sugar and Mo, but I have realized something good eventually came out of it. Sugar learned to protect and defend.

Last PE Class he returned with pain in his loins, upon alot of probing, he admitted that during football, he was playing in defence position and bully K, took full advantage of his position and kept hitting the ball on sugar’s wee wee !! All to the amusement of his friends, the “understanding ” coach asked sugar to ” be a man”  and face it out !!  No breaks .. No water .. No time to grieve his pain ….. how comforting !!

Yesterday, He was so happy when I picked him.  Health teacher who teaches them alot about ethics too, had given them a free period in class, the kids played a game about naming what they’d want to be when they grew, and whom they’d marry etc amongst many other things … Sugar was overjoyed to know that his favorite health teacher joked that he’d marry his science teacher, (who also is his favorite teacher). We both laughed and I was so pleased to know that somehow Sugar felt alittle accepted in class this time. It was a shortlived feeling.

When I asked what Sugar had said in the game, he said, “Nah, we were not allowed to play the game. They said Mo, and I were not allowed to play.”

Unbelievable ! This happens with a teacher sitting in the class !! What happened to team spirit if nothing else ?? I could see hurt in Sugar. But he put up a very brave front for me. After the last encounter with the principal, where the principal mistreated Sugar and me,  Sugar avoids telling me things like these. He doesn’t want me to be embarrassed becoz of what happens to him.  Its such a difficult situation. We have complained so many times about Bully K,A1,G,A2 to the principal but in all honesty, it fell on deaf years.  The principal is committed to the parents of these people for obvious reasons.

Being called ‘Hindia” meaning Indian in arabic, is just one of the smallest ways they harass him and kicking him on his wee wee and punching him against the wall are the larger ones.

Why do they bully him ? Well, becoz he wears glasses, gets good grade, is an indian, is on the plump side (which they too are) and most importantly becoz he takes it. What has my son done to deserve this ??? Every teacher is all but praise for him. He eats alone or with Mo. He is always smiling. He doesnt speak without a please, thank you, excuse me ………….. and yet I have made such a huge blunder in letting him stay in this wretched school.      

The teacher who had influenced us into admitting the boys here was actually sacked this January !! She actually went to the ministry with the unethical and irresponsible incidents happening on a regular basis in the school, and they found a way to actually get to her.  And they succeeded. She’s thrown out which is unfortunate. She was a good teacher * not that it matters to the school.

Two months back a student wrote in 7days newspaper, in the letter to editor that the KHDA inspection was really not correct, becoz everything in the schools were just put up for showing a shinning example to the Inspection board and after the inspection things went right back to the usual rotten self. 

If only I too had written and supported that guy.  This school had hired a student counselor and asked him to stay on just till the inspection date was over !!!  I have been putting up sugar’s case all to often and have had alot of sand thrown on my face inspite of having relevant proof … I know the only solution would be to have them move to a better school. which hopefully does not “only” market itself but also delivers.

My ordeal is very much real – shortlisting schools with jumbo size fees is not all so easy. Good education comes at a high price but we are paying a very dear price for having our young children bruised and abused all becoz we made just a few compromises  !!

Just in case, your wondering what bullying :

Bullying is an anti-social behaviour that affects everyone. It is unacceptable and should not be tolerated. It is defined as deliberately hurtful behaviour, repeated over time, where it is difficult for those being bullied to defend themselves. The three main types of bullying are physical (hitting, kicking, theft), verbal (name calling, racist remarks) and indirect (spreading rumours, exclusion from social groups). All children must be encouraged to report bullying. This policy is designed to ensure that a school is alerted to the signs of bullying and act promptly and firmly against it.

I have a long way to go and I am going to continue to support my boys and keep fighting for getting them the respect they so rightly deserve.

Oh and just in case there are any moms out there who are curious to know just what all has happened to my boys all these months …. do write to me and I’ll write back with a full description.

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 ???’


A good september day

For my regular visitors who are wondering where I have been past 3 days ? Well, I have fantastic news, well fantastic for me atleast, so finally the boys have all been enrolled in dass and I am very confident about the school, after the orientation which was yesterday, the principal’s speech was really good, to the point and you could understand what the school stands for.  I am really feeling so relieved to hand my boys to teachers whom I could see were atleast being genuine. Well that said, I dont think I should judge too soon, only time will tell.  I get my interview CD tomorrow. I had done my first TV interview with City 7, of which I will get the CD tomorrow, any of you wishing to see it please write in comments and let me know.

Ramadan Fasts are going very well so far, inspite the excruiciatingly high temperatures outside. Last two days we had iftaars out, so today it will be bhajias and fruit chaat.

Tomorrow is first day of school and I find myself terribly behind schedule for labelling and organizing and packing school bags, uniforms, shoes, and lunch bags.

But the good news is that I have gone back to sleeping by 11:00 PM and up early. Thats a relief.