As many as 30 Saudi women who are teaching English at Riyadh’s Princess Noura University face a bitter option of either staying in service by accepting just half their salary or leave the job.
These assistant teachers who possess bachelor’s and master’s degrees say that they had joined the service after signing an agreement to work for a full academic year at a salary of SR6,000.
The university has justified its move of replacing them with native English-speakers as part of measures to ensure quality education and serve the interests of students, Al-Eqtisadiah business daily reported on Monday.
Speaking to the newspaper, Abdul Aziz Al-Magoushi, media adviser at the university, attributed the appointment of more native speakers to teach English to the university’s eagerness to improve the quality of foreign language teaching. There are more than 300 foreigners working as English teachers at the university while the number of Saudi teachers is around 70.
Speaking to the newspaper, a number of teachers affected by the new measure claimed that most of the foreign teachers appointed in their place at the Preparatory Year Deanship at the university are not qualified and do not meet the university's requirement of CELTA certification.
These teachers include holders of diplomas and some of them were former coffee shop workers, they said while admitting that a small number of them are American or British nationals while others are American and British nationals of Arab or Indian origins.
The teachers also noted that there are two firms in charge of hiring teachers for the university. They are the Company for Training Experts and the Saudi British Institute. These firms exploited a clause in the labor contract that states that there would be a three-month probation period for the teachers.
A batch of teachers hired from foreign countries arrived just a few days before the completion of their probation period and they were replaced by these foreigners, the teachers said while drawing attention to the fact that most of them have been appointed for a full year term as per a clause of the contract, which says that they should not be either replaced or removed from their position under any circumstances.
It should be also noted that some of these teachers had not signed any such work contracts. The company hired them simply on the basis of their application, the newspaper reported.
Reacting to the teachers’ comments, Al-Magoushi said the university’s only concern is to protect the interests of students while taking such decisions. “We are giving paramount importance to the quality of education while implementing the Preparatory Year Program. We concluded our contract with the University of Auckland for the same purpose.”