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Parents and Expatriate/Local Hire Teachers: Avoid Al-Ghanim Bilingual School in Salwa, Kuwait!

edited January 2013 in - Other M East
Parents and Expatriate/Local Hire Teachers: Stay away from Al-Ghanim Bilingual School in Salwa, Kuwait!

It’s my opinion that you should stay away from Al-Ghanim Bilingual School in Salwa, Kuwait. These are some of the things that I disliked about the school:

1. The turn-over rate is very high for new “Westerners.” I think the reason for this is the administration does not provide the appropriate classroom support. Instead, the climate at the school is one in which some administrators are critical of teachers. In fact, the Director, Dr. Afaf El-Gemayel said in a meeting with new staff members, “If you look hard enough, all student problems are the teacher’s fault.” As a result of this attitude, the probability of surviving for very long at this school is low. Given the low probability of surviving at this school, it is not worth the financial, emotional, and time investment to go here.

2. The administration is constantly popping into classrooms to observe teachers. In some cases, they will go into a teacher’s classroom five or more days straight . . . And, then they will still come back to do more observations at-will. It is very uncomfortable and nerve-racking for the teachers who are being watched. The administration says that they are doing it to “help” the teachers, but it feels more like they are doing it to “push” them out of the school. It seems barbaric.

3. On a regular basis, the school “docks” people’s pay. As a Westerner, this was abhorrent to me—the idea that you could work a day and then lose that day’s pay based on the judgment call of an administrator. (My belief is that if someone has done something egregious enough, suspend them without pay. But to have people work and not pay them seems too self serving.)

4. The school does not live up to financial commitments. You may or may not receive money owed you. Just because an administrator says in an e-mail that she will reimburse you for expenses, does not mean that she will. Also, I heard stories about how this school refused to pay summer salaries and “indemnity” pay owed to some teachers.

5. The housing the school provided smelled. I think it was a combination of cigarette smoke and feces (no joke) from poor plumbing. When I returned to the “West,” I had to wash all of my clothes because they smelled.

6. During the interview process, Dr. El-Gemayel said that the school had all the necessary classroom resources. The classroom decorations that were supplied to a colleague of mine were old and dirty, and several important resources were not available for the start of school.

7. Even though the school is not licensed to teach special education students, the school has numerous low-level classes called “Special English.” Guess what the “Special” stands for? These classes have many students that should be evaluated for special education services. It appears to me that the administration does not want these students evaluated because if the results determined that these students needed special education services, then the students would have to leave the school, and the school would stand to lose a lot of tuition money. So, when teachers have trouble managing and teaching these students, the administration acts like the problem is with the teacher rather than acknowledging these students need services beyond the scope of a regular educational classroom.

Although I recommend staying away from this school, if you are even considering working there, make sure that you get the following before making a final decision:

1. A copy of the contract.

2. A copy of the staff manual. If it’s the same staff manual that I received, you’ll find a list of things teachers should not do and the consequences—including the number of days pay that will be lost.

3. Your assignment and schedule in writing. (There were teachers who were told that they would be doing one thing, and when they arrived they were told that they would be doing something else.)

When you request these reasonable things, consider how the administration responds. Do they freely offer them to you with a smile, or do they come up with excuses not to provide them? If they don’t provide them, beware!

If you make the mistake of accepting an offer from this school, then make sure you receive copies of your Initial and Final Approval Letters. (These approvals are sent to the school from the Kuwait Ministry of Education.) Also, once you receive copies of these items, contact that Kuwait Ministry of Education to make sure an original copy of your contract, as well as Initial and Final Approval Letters are on file. PLEASE DO THIS BEFORE YOU EVEN BOARD THE PLANE TO KUWAIT! I sought the assistance of the Ministry of Education when I was experiencing difficulty with the school administration. A ministry representative informed me that she couldn’t help me unless she had my original contract and approval letters on file (which she didn’t). Fortunately, the ministry representative was kind enough to refer me to the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor. (This ministry was a big help.) Unfortunately, I think the school administration purposely delays giving teachers these items so they won’t be able to seek assistance from the Ministry of Education when they’re being mistreated.


  • edited 3:05AM
    Here are more reasons to avoid Al-Ghanim Bilingual School in Salwa, Kuwait:

    1. Teachers/staff members are required to work on approximately TEN Saturdays during the school year, without being compensated for this extra time. (The Saturday work is usually related to professional development or the accreditation application process.)

    2. Al-Ghanim Bilingual School is currently undergoing the accreditation application process with the Council of International Schools (CIS). This school shouldn’t be accredited by any organization—ever! As part of the accreditation application process, staff members and teachers had to complete self-study reports grading and evaluating various aspects of the school and its administration—policies, infrastructure, transparency, ethical treatment of employees. Originally, the school and its administration were given many poor ratings in the self-study reports. The director, Afaf El-Gemayel, threatened staff members and teachers with the loss of summer pay unless the ratings were changed to reflect the school in a more positive light. As a result, the self-study reports were falsified and are now tainted by Afaf El-Gemayel’s need to lie about the state of Al-Ghanim Bilingual School.
  • GBS is a dungeon. Everything the posters commented is 100% correct. My poor friend lasted only a couple of months, and I saw first hand the horrors she endured. Dr. Afaf is a poor excuse for a director. She graduated from an USA university, but has no formal working experience in American schools. This means she runs GBS on the whims of Lebanese teachers. It is a Lebanses mafia that runs the school. Few Western teachers have the tolerance to continue at GBS. It is an old school. They expect teachers to pay for their own supplies. They even recycle markers! They do not support the teachers and the parents are constantly complaining about them. It is a mentally, and physically unhealthy environment. Avoid this school. The director and owners are shameful people who are only out for a profit. Avoid, avoid - avoid!
  • i dont advices any one to study in kuwait
  • After reading the comments above, I feel very disheartened that anyone or any organization can be attacked in this way.  I have been involved with GBS as both a parent and teacher for many years and have worked closely with Dr. Afaf.  Last year the school completed it's' accreditation process and was awarded full accreditation by CIS.  Due to a complaint sent to the organization by the same people who made this post claiming a lack of integrity in the school's self-study process, the school underwent a special investigation from CIS.  The school was immediately exonerated from any wrong doing or mis-intentions by the special visitor.  During the team visit, all members of the team also came to the same conclusion.  It is unfortunate that disgruntled employees can slander a school the way these people have.  I hope that those reading their posts keep in mind that there are always two sides, or more, to every story.  Out of respect and as a professional educator, I will not comment on the regrettable situation that led to these outlandish posts on the internet.  I can say without hesitation that none of the stories told above are true and I feel very badly for the dedicated staff members who work so very hard to make the school community and high quality of education available at GBS because when you attack a school,, or any organization, you attack not only those you are upset with, but every member of that organization's community. 

    I wish to applaud and commend GBS staff members for their dedication and commitment to the school and GBS students and thier professionalism and continued efforts towards constant school improvement!  GBS staff are a hard working, dedicated, and passionate group of educators who, like all educators, want to create the best possible place for their students to learn and prosper.  Hats off to all of you!  Your efforts are noticed and deeply appreciated by your colleagues, administration, and parents!
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