x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

UAE education requests concern FNC

Members say they constantly receive complaints from teachers, parents and students about schools, so two months ago they sent Cabinet a request to hold discussions with the Ministry of Education, but have not heard back.

ABU DHABI // FNC members say their requests to discuss the education system with Cabinet are being stalled.

Members say they constantly receive complaints from teachers, parents and students about schools, so two months ago they sent Cabinet a request to hold discussions with the Ministry of Education, but have not heard back.

“We have not received any response,” said Saeed Al Remeithi, from Abu Dhabi, a member of the FNC’s education committee.

“The law says the Cabinet should respond within two weeks, and if they don’t we have the right to start discussing it.”

Mr Al Remeithi said the Cabinet was usually quick to reply to FNC requests, and that the recent Cabinet reshuffle might have delayed the response.

“But at least we could have received an approval so we can start investigating the issue,” he said.

Without Cabinet approval, members cannot start researching the issue and talking to concerned parties.

Matters FNC members want to discuss include the living standards of teachers, pupils being overworked and teaching methods.

Naama Al Sharhan, from Ras Al Khaimah, also a member of the committee, said the Cabinet reshuffle should not have delayed the response.

“And if there is no response, there should be another technique to address the issue – possibly raise it as questions to the concerned ministers,” Ms Al Sharhan said.

She said it was essential for teachers to have good living standards so they were properly motivated to help pupils.

Teaching hours and average student numbers in each class had recently increased, putting a greater burden on teachers and affecting the quality of teaching. Extending school hours by adding five minutes to each period had also caused drawbacks, she said.

“The climate here causes apathy, so after the fifth period the student cannot absorb information,” said Ms Al Sharhan, who comes from an academic background.

“We are not teaching in the right way. The education field is suffering from instability and the field itself does not know its direction. We are suffering as members from the pressure of the complaints, so they should send us a reply.

“I think the Government understands these challenges, because we have seen the appointment of three ministers for education.”

In this month’s Cabinet reshuffle announced by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, appointments included two Ministers of State – for Higher Education and Public Education Affairs – to support the Minister of Education.

FNC member Aisha bin Samnoh, of Sharjah, hoped the new Minister of Happiness, Ohood Al Roumi, would look into teachers’ quality of life.

“We want the teacher to be looked at as a human being,” Ms bin Samnoh said.

“Why have we reduced their vacation time? Why have they displaced the teachers’ mentors?”

She said mentors had been replaced by an overdose of training courses, of which “teachers are fed up”.

Muneera Al Zarooni, an Emirati senior teacher from Sharjah, said she backed the views of the FNC.

Ms Al Zarooni hoped the Cabinet would look into the retirement age for teachers.

“There is a limit to a person’s energy capacity,” she said. “Why has retirement been tied with age and not years of experience?”

Ms Al Zarooni has been teaching since 1992, but because she is only 42 she is not even close to retirement.

“It should not be my fault that I started work at an early age,” she said.

Teachers’ salaries have improved, but more privileges are needed, she said.

“They could take us on trips, give a small piece of land – things that motivate the person to love the job. I always warn my daughter against becoming a teacher.”

hdajani@thenational.ae