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Expat Teachers At Risk As Schools Verify Qualifications

Thousands of expats wives who take teaching jobs at private schools may lose their jobs if they cannot prove their qualifications.

Principals at schools across Saudi Arabia are awaiting guidelines on a certification test all expat teachers must take before November 3.

However no details of what the test entails have yet been formally released.

Many of the teachers are in the country on dependent visas and take teaching jobs for extra income.

The Saudi government has had a policy of making professionals prove their competence for some time, after uncovering hundreds of workers with forged degrees and certificates of qualification.

Expat workers in healthcare, engineering and accountancy have all had to sit formal tests and authenticate their qualifications, and now the government is targeting teachers.

The government wants to open class rooms to expat teachers – but only those with genuine skills and qualifications.

Unqualified staff

Many teachers cancelled their summer holidays in readiness to prove their competence before the start of the new academic year, but the government has remained tight-lipped about when the testing will take place.

Most expat teachers work for private schools.

Many schools insist they already have a demanding a thorough teacher assessment program for recruitment.

Ishrat Unnisa, a teacher at International Indian School Jeddah, said: “Although we have been told about the new rules and are ready, we do not know when this will happen.

“Our teachers already take a written test and have interviews with our subject experts to make sure they know the topic.”

Many head teachers agree proving competency should weed out less-skilled teachers who tend to regularly move from school to school to secure higher salaries rather than deliver solid lessons.

Schools also explained that unqualified teachers who perform a role should not need testing as they have proved their competence, and some qualified teachers who will pass the test should not have a job.

Making teachers legal employees

“The government should trust head teachers over deciding who is a good or bad teacher for their school,” said Nawal Mosalli, a Saudi national and head teacher.

Other schools are calling for two-year probation for teachers rather than competency checks.

The government has indicated teachers should fulfil three criteria to remain ‘legal’ employees.

They must be aged 18 or over, have stayed in Saudi Arabia for at least a year and should transfer their sponsorship from their dependent’s visa to their employer.

The government may step back from a formal test, providing the employer can verify teaching qualifications of each employee, said a Ministry of Education spokesman.

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