School's out for forever? 500 international schools expected to close down across Saudi Arabia
The Head of the National Committee for International Education at the Saudi Council of Chambers, Dr. Mansour Al-Khenaizan, expects that 500 international schools across the Kingdom will close down by next year, a section of the Arabic press reported on Sunday.
He noted that these schools accommodate around 300,000 students of both genders, and international schools will incur losses of around SR1 billion.
The reasons are the shortage of teachers as a result of the Ministry of Labor’s decision that they have to be on the sponsorship of schools and the difficulty of obtaining visas to recruit teachers, Al-Khenaizan was quoted as saying by Al-Madina newspaper.
The officials said that some schools will simply withdraw from the market while others will eventually close down after incurring huge losses unless the Ministry of Labor cooperates with other agencies concerned to solve this problem.
An agreement was signed between the ministries of labor, education, and interior to issue work permits to teachers accompanying their guardians, but the Ministry of Labor has not yet implemented the agreement, he said.
Al-Khenaizan added that the Ministry of Labor inspected a number of schools and penalized those which were employing teachers who were not on their sponsorship despite the fact that those teachers had work permits issued by the Ministry of Education.
The Ministry of Labor has notified schools that it will consider work permits issued by the Ministry of Education, but will fine schools SR3,000 for each teacher who is not under their sponsorship, he said, adding that a number of guardians are not allowing their dependents to transfer their sponsorships to schools being apprehensive of consequences.
Al-Khenaizan believes the solution lies in the gradual application of the Ministry of Labor’s decision, where teachers who hold work permits should be allowed to continue working for the coming two years, and at the same time, the ministry should facilitate visas for schools to recruit teachers.
Most schools are supporting the Saudization process, but the problem lies in the shortage of Saudi teachers in certain specialities. The Ministry of Education understands the dilemma of these schools, he said.