Back to school comes with a package …

Back to school has become a trendsetter. It actually means, get ready armed with new, stationery, books, uniforms, shoes, school bag, pencil case, lunch bag/carrier and probably a couple of other things which I hav’nt been indulging in.   Probably more than my boys, I enjoy the whole thing about “Back to school”. Although it reminds me of how it used to be when we were kids and appreciated the new school bag which would actually live for that entire 10 months period or the shoes that we would so carefully polish for the first month or so.  But even without the memories, I completly enjoy the process of filling up the kids bags with goodies (as I call them) 

And now that school has commenced in full swing, one of the jobs that keeps me busy for a good couple of hours in the night is and which incidently also reminds me of how my dad used to sit over the short weekend we had, ” back in those days” : covering/laminating books !

Strange how you can love playing with paper, scissor and glue and yet when you have to cover books which by the way is a very lame way to do books, can be so exhausting and back breaking. I know scores of parents all over the globe are involved in doing so but I wonder what they must feel, when I, atleast enjoy part of the process, being into alter art and all that.

Here’s a pic of some of the heaps of books being and having to be covered. Sitting on Eman’s desk in the study room.

A Mess on Eman's desk

    In fact, I think this just gave me an idea, I think I should actually make a tutorial of how to cover books for all those first time moms and dads !!

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 ???’


Sad from School.

We plan on moving the kids from their present school. which brings me to the most crucial decision I have always had to face with bringing up my boys … “SCHOOLS”

So far the boys have been going to an american syllabus school for the past 3 years, but I have seen the downside of sending them here. 

  • I wanted them to go to a multicultural school and although most schools do have multicultural ratio of children, perhaps this one had a majority of another. Maybe that worked against the kids.
  • Or Perhaps I have been too hard on them, maybe my discipling them has held them back from standing up for themselves. They get bullied too often.

In my opinion, a school is where a child is taught about the world and taught discipline and taught to respect and is respected. This I feel is the foundation of schooling, now apart from this, ofcourse there are a load of other definitions that apply. Infact I feel the best form of education was that of the Convents, although they are less popular now.  However schooling all over Dubai has become more of major money making business today. There are different brackets of schools but nevertheless “all” schools boast of this that and this and that ,, they promise a great many things yet, its surprising how the rosy dreams disappear alittle after the child begins school.

I place the highest importance on the teacher, coz they influence the child the most, positively and negatively.  

  • Yet it is shocking how little reserach or background check is done on selecting potential candidates for the teaching postions and whats worse is, before the second term so many teachers have moved on or have been thrown out.  
  •  The teaching faculty is never once reminded of what the mission statement of the school is !

For most teachers its just a good time pass, its well worth earning an extra pocket money for just half a day. What most of them dont realize is that we trust our precious children in their care, hoping and trusting that they will be motivated by their (teacher’s) good example ! Pity, very few teachers are geniunely commited.

I really couldnt care less, about how sophisticated the gym is and how large the swimming pool is, or if a school provides horse riding lessons. These are very attractive extra curricular activities which would be great but what about how schools deal with issues of bullying and racism or negligence of staff members or which methods of teaching are used or what kind of punishments are imposed for disciplining !  

One very commom attitude I notice in almost all schools is that NO ONE WANTS TO LISTEN and if you are lucky enough that they are ready to even hear you, then rest assured they are siting there with an invisible shield between them and you, with a defensive attitude.

Your not there complaining .. .. .. You want to work with the school in patnership to bring out the best of your child .. but they have already decided his fate !  ” No we are not at fault .. our teachers havent done anything wrong .. the other child could not have been wrong .. .. I mean,  they dont want to even understand. 

Ofcourse, who else is going to talk on behalf of a 7 year old who is constantly being beaten. You as a parent are his guardian.  But ofcourse then you are accused of being “OVER PROTECTIVE”

My oldest son has been punished from Grade 1 right upto now Grade 4, just becoz he is slow in copying from the white board.  He is so traumatised that it breaks my heart today knowing that this happened only becoz the poor guy is dyslexic and we only found out just recently !!!!!! He could not follow the lines on the white board and hence had such difficulty between, apprehending the word from the board to writing it down. He is very intelligent  and hardworking and has been getting B+ in almost all subjects so far.

But for four years the school does not know and does not “want to ” find out why does he write slow, instead wants to teach him a lesson the hard way, by depriving his breaks, PE classes and yes, to the extent of not letting him have Lunch in class too !! All this to a child who is less that 8 !!

I wanted the school to build his charecter, what have my best wishes bought upon my lovely children.

I have been a teacher although for a short period, my father in law was a professor, my sister in law and her husband are teachers, I dont have anything against teachers, but although we all are human at the end of the day, I just wish to reach out to teachers and tell them that they have a responsibility with each and every child, they play a very large role in their lives and even if a child does not say it or show it, but critisizing a child does hurt him.  WE spend chunks of money on the school but whats more important is that little one sitting in the corner of your class in the second last seat is learning something more important from you than you will ever know, Its not what your teaching, its how your treating him as well, please please teacher, treat them all with respect.  They deserve it.         

I have more to add in this post which I will once I have sought another school for the boys.