Parents and Expatriate/Local Hire Teachers: Stay away from Al-Ghanim Bilingual School in Salwa, Kuwait!
Its 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 teachers 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 teachers 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 peoples pay. As a Westerner, this was abhorrent to methe idea that you could work a day and then lose that days 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 its the same staff manual that I received, youll find a list of things teachers should not do and the consequencesincluding 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 dont 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 couldnt help me unless she had my original contract and approval letters on file (which she didnt). 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 wont be able to seek assistance from the Ministry of Education when theyre being mistreated.