x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

UAE teacher banned after forcing child to remove shirt in class

A teacher who forcibly removed a 12-year-old student's shirt in front of his classmates has been banned from teaching again in the emirate by the education authority.

SHARJAH // A teacher who stripped the shirt from a 12-year-old boy in front of his classmates has been fired and banned from teaching in the emirate.

The parents of the Emirati child, a pupil at an American school, complained to the Ministry of Education two weeks ago after they found out the Arab teacher had forced him to strip.

“The child was feeling cold in class,” said Saeed Al Kaabi, director of the Sharjah Education Zone. “So he pulled his shirt up to his face and sleeves to his palms.”

He said the teacher thought he was fooling around and being disobedient and “so she decided to reprimand him by stripping him down to his vest in the class. This is unacceptable”.

Sharjah education authority launched an investigation and staff and pupils were questioned. The teacher was found guilty and dismissed.

Officials said she had joined the school only a few weeks earlier and did not have a permit to teach.

Teachers must provide the education zone with documents, including a security clearance certificate and the appropriate qualifications, to be approved. Even candidates applying for jobs in private schools must be interviewed by the ministry before they can be hired.

“Because she was teaching illegally, the school has to pay a penalty for hiring her,” said Mr Al Kaabi. “The teacher will also not be allowed to teach in any school in Sharjah.”

All forms of physical punishment were banned in schools in 1998. Teachers who ignore the ban can be fined or fired, depending on the severity of the incident.

Any decision by the local authority requires the approval of the Ministry of Education.

This year Sharjah Education Zone also reported a teacher who punished a six-year-old boy by forcing him to lie on the floor and standing on him.

Mr Al Kaabi said the authority had the toughest possible measures in place to avoid such incidents.

“I hope our strict decision sends a clear message across to teachers about corporal punishment. But then, some teachers just do not understand why they should not resort to physical or verbal abuse.”

Abdelaziz Essa Alyas, head of the quality guarantee unit at the education zone, said the American school’s principal claimed he had hired the banned teacher only on a trial basis.

“Schools are not allowed to hire teachers for test periods,” he said. “The management have to produce documents for our approval before they bring in anyone dealing with children.”

During inspections, if a school’s human-resources paperwork is not in order it is given a warning. If the situation is not corrected the penalties increase with each subsequent visit.

Mr Alyas said many schools try to find unqualified people who will work for lower pay. “You cannot cut corners in education. A proper interview and background check to ensure their good conduct is essential.”

Mr Al Kaabi said schools should be more cautious when hiring. “Schools must choose the right teacher, with experience and qualifications.”

aahmed@thenational.ae