Saudi schools face power and water cuts for license infringements
A committee formed to follow up affairs of international and private schools will cut off power and water services of buildings of schools in violation of licensing system.
“The chamber received a circular of the Saudi Council of Chambers, based on the directive of the commerce minister outlining three violations that warrant the closure of these schools,” said Yasser Abu Al-Faraj, assistant secretary-general of Makkah Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
The first violation, he added, involves people working at such facilities, such as violators of iqama and labor regulations and those using the premises for lodging. The second violation involves safety requirements demanded by the Civil Defense Department. The last violation involves the irregularities in the buildings, and amendments and additions made without authorized permits from secretariats and municipalities.
“Any expat working at such schools who is in violation of iqama system will be deported at once,” said Al-Faraj. He said the committee charged with the task of inspection campaigns will include police, representatives of the secretariat, Education Ministry, Passport Department, Labor Office, Civil Defense and water and electricity authorities.
The circular stipulates that real estate offices and firms should not lease any property to international and private schools unless the parties obtain a valid license.
Zuhair Ghonaim, board member of Makkah region and member of the National Committee of Private Education, said that the problem involves international schools and English language institutes that were established without initial licensing.
“Such centers were illegally established to introduce programs for strengthening English language of weak students in the subject matter,” said Ghonaim. “Some private school landlords provide expats with formal letters to enable them to open such centers.” He said strict requirements and measures on the private education sector contributed to reducing expansion in this sector, with Jeddah accounting for not more than 8 percent and Makkah 3.5 percent out of 25 percent of all expansion operations in the both the private and public sectors.
Referring to some irregularities at international schools he said: “Most of these schools are operated by foreign workers in violation of regulations and systems of residency. They close their doors all day long without allowing any outsider to get in, with teachers leaving the premises before students so that no one can discover the violations.” The committee will hold a meeting in Riyadh in the coming days to specify other requirements of education for private and international schools, including incentives to enhance investments in the private sector education.