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Education minister’s intervention needed

February 06, 2014 - 6:10:14 am
Private schools are popping up everywhere in our country with the aim of collecting money and making a profit. I do not have any problem with these schools making money so that they can expand and have the financial ability to get the necessary mathematics and language labs as well as other scientific materials. This money also helps private school administrations have the necessary libraries that can be a boon for students in their search for more knowledge. 

The schools also need money to hire qualified and experienced teachers and these teachers need salaries that can make them do without the need to find an additional job to improve their financial condition. They need housing that suits their position in their capacity as teachers. 

These schools also need to create strong links with students so that these students can be partners, not in financial profit, but in raising the standards of their schools as far as education is concerned. 

The fact is that we need private capital to be used in the construction of schools that can keep pace with developments in science. We do not need commercial schools that only care about profits. 

I remember Al Saadia school, which is known to almost all Egyptian parents and students. I also remember Khedive Abbas School, Raghba Khatoun School and Victoria College School. Each parent in Cairo hopes that his son or daughter will join one of these schools. There are similar schools in Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries. 

I appeal to the Minister of Education and Higher Education, H E Dr Mohamed bin Abdel Wahid Al Hamadi, and hope he will rescue the families of students from the greed of private school owners. These owners only care about maximising their profits regardless of the methods they employ to achieve this goal. 

Some local newspapers reported that some private schools had collected a large number of their students in one classroom, prevented them from attending classes and sent letters to their parents asking them not to send the children to school the following day if they did not send the school fees with them. It is important to note that the second semester started just two weeks ago. 

Dear minister, in advanced countries, and I consider Qatar to be one of these advanced countries, students are never prevented from attending their classes, regardless of whether they have paid the school fees or not. Schools and universities generally allow students to attend classes and sit for their exams, and only withhold the results of the exams until they pay the fees. Sometimes schools and universities give students who have not paid the fees certificates saying that they are registered in them but they have to pay the fees. 

Sometimes school owners say that they would not be able to pay the salaries of teachers and workers in their schools if the students do not pay the fees at the beginning of each semester. To this I say: the rule is that the students have to pay the fees during the first month of the semester. Some students, however, may not be able to pay the fees. The other thing is that the inability of these students to pay their fees does not mean that school staff will not get their salaries because the majority of the students pay the fees. 

This is why I suggest that those who want to open private schools or educational institutes should not get the necessary licences unless they have enough money in the bank to pay the salaries of the staff even if some students fail to pay their fees. 

We are badly in need of intervention by the minister. We want him to give orders that students should not be stopped from attending classes for any reason, and that schools should not tell students that their parents had failed to pay their school fees. 

Schools have the right to hold back the exam results of the students. But they need to know that they can do psychological harm to the students if they kick them out of classes or prevent them from attending classes when they fail to pay the school fees. Financial dealings should be confined to the school administration and the parents. Students should not be a part of these dealings by any means. 

In sum, the Minister of Education and Higher Education needs to intervene to put an end to these practices, which have nothing to do with education. To the owners of private schools: you need to have some mercy on people who are in a difficult financial condition.