Qatar Academy Teacher Jailed Over Alleged Insults to Islam

Doha News  reports on May 9, 2013:

“Dorje Gurung, a chemistry teacher at Qatar Academy, was seen this morning leaving the court in handcuffs. If convicted, Article 256 of the Penal Code dictates that he could face up to seven years in jail.

“On Monday, April 22, Gurung said he had a sit-down chat with three 12-year-old boys who were making fun of him. Among other things, the seventh graders poked fun at his appearance, calling him ‘Jackie Chan.’ On Tuesday, April 23, the mocking again began in earnest while Gurung was in line for lunch. At first, he said the teasing was light-hearted, but then one student put his hand on Gurung’s shoulder and a finger up his nose. At this point, Gurung grew agitated and said remarks to the effect of ‘How would you like to be stereotyped i.e. called a terrorist?'”

The Qatar Academy confirms that after formal complaints were made ‘appropriate’ action was taken. Doha News reports: “On Wednesday, April 24, Gurung had a meeting with school management. On Thursday, April 25, he submitted his account of what happened and was told to go home. On Sunday, April 28, he was fired.”

A Qatar Academy colleague, who asked to remain anonymous, told Doha News that the ordeal has had a ‘chilling effect’ on faculty members:

“A lot of teachers are very nervous about their own jobs. If they reprimand or discipline students, what’s going to happen to them?

“It’s all very unfortunate. These 12-year-olds have really spun it out. Almost every year, a teacher has been let go for obscure reasons. Everyone is really upset and anxious.”

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186 Responses to Qatar Academy Teacher Jailed Over Alleged Insults to Islam

  1. Anonymous says:

    Things must have really changed At Qatar Academy when I worked there under Dr. Hana Kanan. This situatioin would never have happened while she was in control. She even expelled the Emir’s son with no repercussions.

    Like

  2. jingjoe says:

    I agree, im not a teacher but have worked in qatar for several years.
    It is not the paradise its been made out to be.
    Unless you can make at least 3x what you make in your home country. its not worth it here.

    Like

  3. SteveO says:

    ..and now 5 (non-Qatari) students have been arrested by police and taken away, screamed at to admit drug dealing for 5 hours, and put into the cells. All this happening at the Qatar Academy senior school while the parents who worked there were not informed, and not even the head Eric Sands and DP did anything about it. They even sat through the grade 5 graduation smiling, knowing the kids were in the cells. The parents of the students were not even informed at this time and were at the G5 grad, too. Management knew but didn’t even tell the parents that their kids were being detained. Follow that up.

    No teacher in their right mind should even think about working at Qatar Academy, or anywhere in Qatar for that matter.

    Like

  4. Dorje Gurung says:

    Dear All,

    Thanks to many your time, energy, effort and prayers, I was released from prison. If you haven’t already seen it, here’s a link to the thank you note I published on my blog: http://www.dorjegurung.com/blog/2013/05/of-gratitude-and-moving-forward/

    Since being back, I have been busy running a fundraising campaign (http://startsomegood.com/edufreeNepal). The campaign has passed the tipping point but I have made a challenge to anyone still interested in contributing in the remaining 64 hours (http://www.dorjegurung.com/blog/2013/06/edufreenepal-campaign-final-plea-and-challenge/).

    If you are interested in the details of the incident etc. you can follow my blog, more specifically the series of posts titled “Qatar…From Afar.” There are two posts so far on the subject. The timeline: http://www.dorjegurung.com/blog/2013/06/qatar-from-afar-the-timeline/, and another one on courage: http://www.dorjegurung.com/blog/2013/06/qatar-from-afar-uncommon-courage/

    Incidentally, for those of you science teachers out there, you might find my Science Blog useful (http://www.dorjegurung.com/sciblog/).

    Once again, thank you everyone!

    Like

  5. doug says:

    Wow, what an interesting tragic and eventually inspirational story…I think and hope that ISR helped to free Dorje, a testimony to what we can do when united & shine the light upon situations like this…though would be interesting to get the director’s side as well, if he can give it, though he might have to be long gone before that could happen…

    Like

  6. Ron says:

    “White Faced’ babysitters who don’t talk back…welcome to the ME. Sorry to the folks teaching there—but—that’s what it is. Enjoy hte paycheck…..

    Like

  7. Civilized9272 says:

    Now that Dorje is out of that hellhole . I’m asking everyone here why should any Western teacher put up with what he put up with. I know it probably won’t work, because people will be attracted by the money, but as many Western teachers as possible should say NO to working in any Middle Easter country except for one the one that believes in Western values and was founded by WESTERNERS. I will not inflame people’s tempers here, but everyone knows the country I’m talking about. Women are treated like human beings not like slaves. There is due process of law not the whim of a ruler. In this country the government has to obey the law, because the courts are listened to and have power. Again I wouldn’t waste my time even looking to teach in the Middle East, but, if your going to teach there at least this democratic country will respect your rights male or female alike.

    Like

  8. Grumpelstiltskin says:

    He is in flight on his way back to Nepal right now. Thanks to everyone for their support!

    Like

  9. grumpelstiltskin says:

    Hopefully he will be on a plane out of Qatar later today (Monday). Though thankful that he has been released, I am still wary about Qatar Academy. According to teacher friends there, they were told in a meeting yesterday that they were free to sign the “free Dorje” petitions, but that if the government or Qatar Foundation started looking into who signed what, they would not be able to support anyone who got ousted as a result.
    That kind of sentiment just doesn’t sit well with me. I think teachers have a right to expect support from the schools they work for, and clearly that isn’t something one can rely upon at Qatar Academy.

    Given that, I don’t think I would recommend that anybody go there. They have serious problems, both internal school ones and ones related to the rules/laws that exist in Qatar. Advising people to stay away from QA is not something I say lightly, as I worked there years ago and met many wonderful people during my time at the school. But in recent years, things there have gone rapidly downhill: firing staff for ‘suspicion’ of homosexuality, bringing in an outside psychologist to “counsel” students suspected of being confused about their sexual orientation, and now the Dorje thing. Until they get their act together better, I think it best that people look elsewhere.

    Like

  10. Ron says:

    sucking the teat of oil money

    Like

  11. Ron says:

    So I’m going to share an email I received from a company I work for: you decide

    A colleague from Azerbaijan days , Dorje Gurung , has been arrested in Qatar for apparently insulting Islam.

    A current student of his sums up what has lead to this situation:

    Mohanad Rwaished DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

    Mr. Gurung taught me IB chemistry in Qatar Academy. It was his first year in Qatar Academy at the time, before him we had a very lenient teacher, who didn’t care about our attendance, or our performance, the class was getting good grades without really earning them. When Mr. Gurung took charge of my class, all of that changed. He was strict, and for that reason i didn’t like him nor did my classmates. To be honest, i gave Mr. gurung every reason to hate me, i cheated in a test, i skipped his class, i showed no interest in chemistry what so ever and made that clear to him, I even blamed him for my failure. While i deserved his hate, i received nothing but love and support. He helped me as much as a teacher could possibly help a student. My classmate’s where getting bad grades, and retaliated by disrespecting Mr. gurung, they mocked him, they laughed at him, yet he remained calm, he never once insulted any one of us or showed any hate. After all i put Mr. Gurung through; he was there after our final exams just to check on how we did! He is truly one of the kindest teachers i know. I never thought I would defend a teacher, who failed me, but I know for a fact Mr. Gurung could never have insulted these boys, we pushed him to the edge, and all we ever got in return was kindness. I wish I was a better student to him, and I hope signing this petition is the first step of apologizing to a great man that I have wronged.

    Dorje is not racist, and would not want this issue to turn into an “anti islam “ issue. His school and many people in Qatar are working behind the scenes to resolve this. To help support these many efforts, we need to raise Dorje’s profile so that as many people outside Qatar as possible can help to put pressure ( respectfully) on the Qatari government.

    This is Dorje in his own words:

    I am a Tibetan-Buddhist Science teacher with a Jesuit education in a Hindu country (Nepal), an international education in a catholic country (Italy), a liberal arts education in the bastion of freedom and democracy (the US), with teacher-training down under (Australia), but whose choice of musical instrument is Australian (the Didjeridoo), choice of sports is American (Ultimate Frisbee), choice of dance genre is Latin American (Merengue and Salsa), and yet, still, has faith in the permanence and power of change!

    Dorje’s life story is amazing – read about it here:

    http://www.dorjegurung.com/blog/2013/03/education-in-nepal-how-i-in-and-got-out-of-it/

    Dorje’s friends and colleagues have set up the following links:

    Tumblr pages- information , press updates, actions http://freedorje.tumblr.com/post/50143829408/free-dorje-gurung-update-sat-11-may

    Please help publicise this .

    Jenni Bricknell

    Director

    IST

    Like

    • Anonymous says:

      Thank you for posting this! I agree wholeheartedly with your comments. I worked with him for 2 years and know that he is not a racist or a bigot but a mild-mannered Buddhist who respects everybody.

      Like

  12. KittyKat says:

    You’d hope so.. :/

    Like

  13. KittyKat says:

    I’m surprised by the comments on this thread, especially given that they are coming from educators. I am horrified by what has happened to this man and, as a high school teacher currently working in Kuwait, it certainly gives me pause to think about some of my own comments that could easily be taken out of context or seen as offensive by my students. You walk a fine line when you teach in this part of the world and coming from the US where freedom of speech is a cherished (and protected!) right, I have to remind myself that I don’t live in a country that ascribes to the same beliefs as I do. I hope that this teacher can get out of this situation quickly and painlessly, but it doesn’t seem to be working out that way. I feel truly sorry for him.

    That said, many comments on here disturb me. Isn’t our goal as educators to teach our students to think critically, no matter where we are teaching? I really enjoy my Middle Eastern students and I find it problematic to read through some of these comments from other educators. There are bad schools EVERYWHERE. There are bad students EVERYWHERE. Teachers get fired every year in the US for misconduct, some of it minor, some of it major. I have a friend who currently teaches in the Middle East because he was falsely accused of sexually misconduct with a student in the states. Students, unfortunately, have the upper hand in most schools and parents can raise a stink and get teachers fired if they have an axe to grind. When I went through teacher training in the US, we were taught to NEVER have a student in our rooms alone unless the door was wide open. We were even encouraged to have another teacher present in the room if we were meeting a student after school. This is a direct result of teachers who have been fired based solely on the reports of students, some of them honest, some of them not. Teachers always have to be careful with what they say and what they do, no matter where they are teaching. That’s reality. And teachers in the states get fired every year for saying things that go against the beliefs of some of their students. Jay Bennish, a teacher in Colorado, was fired some years ago when comments he made in class comparing Bush to Hitler were recorded by a conservative student and were later uploaded to the internet (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jay_Bennish). Of course, the major difference here is that he didn’t go to jail. But he did lose his job, and this was in the good ol’ US of A.

    My point is that yes–the Middle East has its problems. But don’t move to the Middle East and expect it to be like the US. Come with an open mind and expect many of your pre-conceived notions about the ME, Islam, and Arabs to be challenged. Mine have, and I feel like I’m a better person because of it. And always, remember that there are bad schools in every country in the world (and, if you take every review that has ever been posted to ISR seriously, you’d be hard pressed to find a school anywhere that hasn’t been panned by at least one bitter ex-teacher), but there are also great schools in every country. Change your attitude, not the culture. And stop whining about how terrible life in the Middle East is. No one forced you to come here and work, tax-free, in a foreign country that is different from your own. YOU made that choice, and you made it willingly. You’d think that international teachers would be a bit more of an open-minded bunch, but apparently not.

    Like

    • snorks says:

      Having worked in 8 different schools in and out of ME, will never work in ME again life is too short, Asia, Europe, South America, life can actually be lived there, Go to ME if new, unexperienced, troubled resume, or need a fat paycheck to buy that house.

      Like

    • Anonymous says:

      That was certainly judgmental, KittyKat. This is an open forum for teachers to share their experience, advice and concerns, whatever shape that may come in. Congratulations for having a great experience in the ME. It’s not true for everybody. Good grief.

      By the way, I know of several schools that openly lie to recruit staff. I was shown a PowerPoint of a tropical paradise and a beatuiful apartment when recruited for Kuwait. I arrived to be dropped off at the dilapidated Fahad Sultan building in Maboola. It’s on the beach road. Perhaps you know it. It’s now completely abandoned. Looks like a fortress. You can’t miss it. As we both know, Kuwait is far from a tropical paradise. My point is, more than just a few people are recruited under false pretences, so your claim that people come ‘willingly’ is not entirely true. In fact, I think the cultural shock, restrictions, calibre of student and sometimes the actual school is enough to send people packing. Why shouldn’t they be able to express their shock/disappointment/concern to other teachers in this forum? That’s what it’s for.

      With all due respect, get over yourself.

      Like

      • KittyKat says:

        I just think its unfortunate that all of the news coming out of the Middle East, including on ISR, is bad. There are a lot of teachers who are happy here, choose to stay longer than their contracts, and genuinely enjoy the students. You have several teachers on this thread who are newly hired to the Middle East and, as a result of people’s comments, are thinking that they must be crazy to be moving here. This entire thread is talking about how terrible the Middle East is and how the kids are a nightmare. And I had the same thoughts when I had signed on to work in Kuwait–after reading comments on ISR, I was about ready to back out, convinced I’d made a terrible mistake. Just wanted to offer a different opinion on the subject–not everyone who teaches in the Middle East feels it’s the worst job placement in the world, despite what teachers posting on ISR would have you believe.

        Like

    • Civilized9272 says:

      Kitty Kat, I applaud that you are trying to give everyone the benefit of hindsight except that many people have died, because we of the West try to be fair minded, but after losing 2 cousins on 911 and then losing a friend in the Boston bombing and hearing the silence coming from the Middle East after the bombings I’ve lost patience and the ability to bend over anymore.

      What happened to Dorje is just another reminder to us all that we have tried to be fair and it hasn’t worked, so I call on all teachers to boycott the Middle East. I know that won’t happen, but maybe some will why waste your time trying to teach tolerance when the very culture reeks of intolerance.

      Like

  14. glennn2000 says:

    Dorje is a good friend and ex colleague of mine. He is a lovely guy and this is a reprehensible injustice. The Qatar Academy should be made to answer to this and fix it. It is wrong. Below is the link to a blog which seems to be the central point for news updates and links:

    http://freedorje.tumblr.com

    I urge all teachers to get involved in this. The school has seriously let this teacher down; we need to support him.

    Like

  15. Concerned says:

    I work at Qatar Academy.
    I have to say that Dorje is wonderful as a human being and I do feel that this is a horrific situation. However, I also need to say that it is only a small percentage of students who are awful- as in any school. The difference is that their parents have more power here and the school obviously has less- for whatever reasons.

    I have the most wonderful class with wonderful, generous, principled and kind parents who are appreciative and generally open minded. We are very aware of their belief system, as in any international school and do our best to work together to create the best education possible. The Arabic staff I work with are friendly and committed to the PYP and we collaborate a lot in our work.

    Until this incident, I was happy to work here. Now I am very worried for Dorje. But please know, that the stories above are not Qatar Academy. I feel respected and appreciated by my students and their parents.

    I just don’t know how this could have happened to as nice a man as Dorje.

    Like

    • Anne says:

      Dear Concerned – here’s the thing you and your colleagues need to realize. If this terrible thing happened to Dorje, it could happen to you. Who will be next? If these students get an inkling of their power and the mob mentality sets in, beware. This is not because of their religion, their nationality, or their economic status – it is simply the nature of humans, especially adolescents. They typically have no power, given some, they may not even be aware of its effect on them. Have you heard of the Salem Witch Trials? History abounds with examples. Your administration needs to be formulating specific protocols and policy to prevent this from happening again, while at the same time doing everything in their power to help this particular teacher. If those two things aren’t happening, please consider finding a different job – don’t fool yourself that it can’t happen to you. It might not, but it can.

      Like

      • Concerned says:

        Yes, Anne, no kidding. I think we are all aware of that. Those are the hard answers for Admin to be thinking on. We are all waiting to see what is going to happen next and how this is resolved.
        However, my point was that almost none of the students are like the ones that have put Dorje in this awful situation. The school is not like the stories above. It can be a wonderful place to work. Now we have to see what Admin does to support and help Dorje and find out why it happened in the first place. Then prevent it happening again or find a new place to work.

        Like

    • joe says:

      You mention PYP I don’t doubt that with younger kids it is different than myp or dp regarding student behaviour.

      Like

  16. Anonymous says:

    What happened to Mr. Gurung is absolutely terrible. At the same time, one must take the bigger picture into account.

    It is vitally important to be culturally sensitive wherever you are and certain things can NEVER be said. I cannot say to an African- American student “how would you like it if I call you a Nigger.”

    Racism I have seen everywhere, overseas and in the US. I have endured accusations from students and parents and no due process. In the US. Currently, I work in one of the Southwest states and I’m amazed at the patron system and the power students have to sour your teaching career. Even in the US there are places where you have clearly limited rights. Let’s not pretend teachers have it oh so good in the US.

    Like

    • Anonymous says:

      I’m sorry, but when a student becomes physical I think it’s ok to depart momentarily from being culturally sensitive. This teacher has done nothing wrong and those little brats have come out on top as a direct result of the actions of their parents and mismanagement of administration. What a load of rubbish. Grrr.

      Like

    • Anonymous says:

      In the US, I actually HAVE said to a black student who had used the term, “wet back” “it would be like some one calling you nigger.” It proved the point and the student understood it.

      Like

    • rsim6100 says:

      You could say that if that student said something derogatory to you ethnically. But, I would reword it–“Why would you say that to me? I would never call you a _________.”

      Like

  17. Teacher says:

    Hi Aust, thanks for your feedback in EMS. Do you personally work there?

    Like

    • AUST says:

      I don’t work at EMS but in Doha. There are worse schools and there are better schools and the grass is always greener on the other side. Do your research before going and come with an open mind.

      Like

  18. Dredge says:

    I think many of us teach at schools where we know we have little to no “power”. The sad thing is, hardly any of us got into teaching to have this power. We simply want to work with youth and offer a comfortable learning environment to share knowledge and guide young minds to the best of our abilities.

    At my school this year, a group of four students stole some computer equipment from the tech teacher’s class, lit it on fire, took pictures of it, and then created an email address with a user name that insulted two or three other teachers. Then they emailed the tech teacher the pictures (without faces) and videos of themselves burning the equipment, from this email address. Eventually, these students were turned in and what happened? The students were suspended, but the students parents sued the school and the students were taken off the suspension. Then the teachers had to stay after school and work with these students to get them back on track with the work that they missed.

    It’s the haves and the have nots, always has been and always will be. I am not being cynical.

    Like

    • Dredge says:

      I forgot to mention that the tech teacher is one of the nicest people on campus and everybody loves him, students included.

      Like

  19. Friend of Dorje says:

    Dorja is a wonderful individual. One of the kindest most compassionate people you could ever meet. He has been a friend of mine for several years, and I’ve never known him to have hostility towards anyone.

    I have no doubt that the Director, Dr. Eric Sands, made some gravely serious mistakes in dealing with this situation. Most importantly, he has done nothing to protect his teacher. By firing Dorje, he sent the message that he believed the students’ accusations. This led to the current situation as we see it now.

    I’ve worked in the Middle East before and I know that schools often have to deal with unpleasant circumstances, whether the teacher has done something unadvisable or not. Many schools make sure the teachers are safe and get back to home of record. Dr. Eric Sands did not do this. Dr. Eric Sands’ decisions could not have worse. There can be no doubt that he and the Board and / or Admin team could have calmed this situation down. Instead their actions inflamed everything.

    What I find amazingly remarkable is the fact that the admin team now wants to calm the situation down by having a gag order across the school. If they had done that originally, Dorje would not be in jail. Shame on Dr. Eric Sands and his team.

    Like

    • Anonymous says:

      I agree with 100% with Friend of Dorje. I also am a friend of Dorje and know that he would no offend any one due to their religion, cultural background, race, gender, age or whatever. Dorje is a peace loving human being who respects all kinds of people.
      I agree that Eric Sanders should be ashamed of himself and that his career should be tarnished, regardless of the “pressure” he might have been submitted to. Gag order! Does he really think that the work environment will get better? Is he really that foolish? He seems to be the perfect minion/lapdog for these self-indulgent, pompous and arrogant ignoramuses.

      Like

    • glennn2000 says:

      I agree. Qatar Academy, in its silence, is sending the message that they are in approval of this. I am a good friend of Dorje and worked with him in Saigon. He would never insult someone based on their religion. He is a gentle, warm-hearted guy. This is so wrong.

      Like

  20. Vin says:

    Beware of working in the Middle East… it may look modern but it’s at least 50 years behind the times.

    Like

  21. Rob says:

    Manu, I’ve been teaching in 5 countries. Make a lot of friends and meet a lot of people. Never have any experiences nor hear a complain from fellows regarding racism in countries like Japan, Vietnam, China, Mexico, Equador, Thailand etc. These countries have as well other issues and frustration but racism is on one of those. Unfortunately we had these problems in ME countries. It’s just what happens.

    Like

  22. Anonymous says:

    An Arab is never wrong. The shame that can bring to a family is responsible for most of these grievances, I’m sure.

    Like

  23. Joseph says:

    Manu, you are comparing apples to oranges. I feel just in warning people of the dangers/challenges of living and working in the Middle East. At least I am sharing my authentic experiences with people. They then can decide for themselves how they want to live their life.

    Like

    • Manu says:

      If that’s all you are doing that’s fine. But making a generalization that the ME (all of it) is racist and uncivilized is beyond just informative, it’s racist.

      Like

  24. Manu says:

    At the end of the day there is racism all over the world in every single country, yes including the west and yes including racism applied by officials, anyone denying this is blind or has selective vision. Don’t go to another country and expect to get away with things which are insulting to that country. I as a muslim do not run my mouth off in the west about homosexuality, I have my beliefs and disagree with the wests views but I respect that they have a law there and abide by it. I am not saying Mr. Gurung has been dealt with fairly, not at all but I am responding to the numerous people who are saying the Middle East is racist, uncivilized, bad place to work etc etc etc. No country is perfect for teaching in any sense but you find the place which suits you the most and in the meantime whilst conducting that search practice your professionalism and internationalism and watch what you say. The middle East may have been a bad experience for some but people are too quick use forums to make blanket statements. I have had bad experiences in teaching in the west but to warn everyone away from it would be ridiculous.

    Like

    • JLR says:

      You are free to run your mouth off about homosexuality in the west and not be jailed or killed for it.

      Your logic that the west is racist too sounds like the 1st graders I teach. “But teacher Joey did it too!”

      I do agree with you that “you find the place which suits you the most” . For me any many others it is NOT the Middle East.

      Like

    • Mathemagician says:

      I agree with Manu. There is definitely racism in western countries, and it would be naive to deny it. I am also deeply concerned, having spent more than five years teaching Nationals in two ME countries at the tone of many of these comments. I am an older teacher, which admittedly was a great advantage. But I have a passion for my subject, treat my students with respect and expect to be treated with respect in return. If I find a student’s behavior problematic, just as in my home country I speak with the student first; if things are still iffy, then the counselor, finally Principal and parents. I find keeping regular contact with parents really helpful, anyway. I have always had the support of my Principals. Yes, I am careful what I say, but I make a lot of affective teaching very explicit, I build exercises into my teaching whereby students reflect on attitudes as well as academics. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the ME, I felt physically safer walking round after dark than in my home suburb, and I am heartbroken at what is happening in Syria.

      Like

  25. Joseph says:

    Correct on all accounts above “Walk Like Egyptian”. I too will not hurry to go back to Egypt again. I was an administrator and I spent a lot of time(too much) dealing with false accusations from students and parents towards teachers. It was absolutely draining.

    Like

  26. WalkLikeEgyptian says:

    In Egypt where I teach, it is the same. False accusations are common here and nothing is done to even find the truth. I have seen adults (parents) arriving by dozens in the school in a complete state of hysteria shouting at the principle and the other theachers to make accusations with a lot of distorsion. Intolerance is a big factor. Middle-Est as this kind of reputation: people told me before I came and I lived it. Where I am, political and social tensions don’t help either. I had no apprehensions before I came but now,I know it’s sad, it is clear for me that I will never come to work in the Middle-Est countries again.

    Like

    • Manu says:

      Unfortunately you worked in a rubbish school not necessarily a rubbish country.

      Like

      • snorks says:

        Right? 6 teachers were kidnapped when taking taxi to school in the morning, driven to desert and assaulted (not raped), driven back to school and demanded payment and they were paid by the teachers just to get out of taxi.

        Like

        • Manu says:

          A very unfortunate incident indeed. But again my gripe is the impartiality of comments on this forum. Not denying the middle east has major problems but for people to make blanket statements in saying stay away from the middle eastern racists, facists, unciviliseded is not fair in my opinion and stating that wrong doings happen in every country including the west where most teachers here are originally from is my way of highlighting it. Am I wrong in my opinion?

          Like

          • JLR says:

            Yes you are wrong. Once is an accident, twice is a trend. I’ve nothing but horror stories from teachers over there. At some point you realize that maybe the good incidents are the exception.

            You seem like a Middle Eastern apologist Manu. Quite sad.

            Like

            • Manu says:

              There is a story coming out of the US that three women had been held captive and raped for 10 years and there are numerous similar stories from the US as well as many other women still missing, are you saying that the whole of the US are a bunch of rapists, violent savages and we should all stay away from them as they are all uncivilized? You seem like a western supremist even sadder.

              Like

  27. Mew says:

    I am a female Asian taught in Morocco. I didn’t have any problems at school but outside I was suffered being mocked and yelled wherever I went, I got ‘Jackie Chan’ quite a lot (and i am a woman!). It came to the point that it made my life miserable ans didn’t want to leave home. People could be very cultural insensitive. I really felt sorry to Mr. Gurung. I wish him the best, hope he could leave the country and continue his career somewhere where people have more cultural sensitivity.

    Like

  28. Joseph says:

    People go to work in the Middle East for a variety of reasons. The system of slavery is alive and well and this in turn affects them in a negative way. They don’t realize that they need an exit permit to leave or permission from your current employer to change employers, etc., People also don’t realize how they may feel working in this type of system. A person gets to the Middle East, then discover this. It is quite a rude shock.

    Like

    • AUST says:

      Not all Middle Eastern countries require exit visas and it is possible to get a multi-exit visa. It is also possible to get a no objection letter if you wish to change employment. Noone I know has ever been declined one. Yes, the Middle East is archaic in many senses but not as bad as people seem to think. I have spent 5 years in the Middle East and work with people who have been here 12 + years.

      Like

  29. Joseph says:

    I think the teachable moment has passed!!!!

    Like

  30. expataussiegal says:

    “Never EVER forget you are just a slave with a white face” was my welcome to the middle east 11 years ago. Nothing has changed.

    Like

    • Civilized9272 says:

      That is as good a reason as I’ve heard to avoid the racists at all costs. Slavery is still legal in many Middle Eastern countries, so why go and sell your soul. Not worth it………………………

      Like

    • Christi says:

      I agree 110%…Still should be the “Welcome to the Middle East” message 11 years later

      Like

  31. Amrcn_in_ME says:

    Obviously, for those of us currently teaching in the Middle East this is highly disturbing. We are talking about an experienced international teacher with colleagues from all over the world who can attest to his character and professionalism. Where was the administration support during this ongoing harassment by the students? Is it true that one of the students is currently on a trip abroad and received no reprimand or punishment for his actions against Mr. Gurung? Keep in mind that the QA school administration are internationals themselves and are clearly at-risk in this situation. Teachers are also in a bind as you need an exit visa to leave Qatar so you can’t just get your ticket and high tail it out of there.

    This could (and should be) a watershed moment for the QA, and for Qatar as a whole. This is a moment where the leadership of Qatar Foundation needs to step up and make this a teaching moment for the entire community. Sadly, it is more likely to snow in Doha tomorrow than for this to happen.

    Like

    • AUST says:

      To clarify for people concerned about the visa. It is true there is an exit permit needed to leave the country. However it is also possible to get a multi-exit visa and is worth asking your school about if you do have concerns. Worst case you ask for a permit for a weekend in Dubai and do a runner from there. Or tie your run into a school holiday.

      Like

      • Persian says:

        Qatar foundation refuses to give multi exit permits to teachers, even if they offer to pay for it themselves. They want to keep control over when and if you can leave the country.

        Like

        • AUST says:

          My comment was not directed at QA but referring to Qatar in general where it is possible to get multi-exit visas. Note the possible not guaranteed but possible dependent on circumstances, employer, finances etc.

          Like

      • Hannah says:

        A multi-entry/exit visa would be worthless if you are travel banned, as happened to our vp in Kuwait in 2007. If a powerful parents wants to keep you in the country, he will.

        Like

  32. Joseph says:

    I don’t think people realize what they are getting into when teaching/working in the Middle East. The whole system is completely different than what westerners are used to. The mentality is totally different as well. One should think before accepting a contract in the Middle East.

    Like

    • Christi says:

      I totally agree! THINK it over before accepting a contract! Don’t let just the money pull you here. I currently work in the ME and so glad this is my last year of a 2 year contract. I was warned of respecting culture before signing but I didn’t know that I had to abandon my culture and values in a way. It is VERY tough working in a ME country and I am in one of the MOST LIBERAL ones! I couldn’t imagine going to another one. I am a very easy going person and have friends in the US from different cultures and backgrounds but THIS IS TOUGH!

      Like

  33. eslkevin says:

    After seeing abuses by governments and citizens in Iran, Saudi, Pakistan and other countries, this is an issue to consider before moving to Middle East. Any ninkinpoop can attack unfairly anyone by inciting a riot or court case.

    There have even been murders for this, like in Yemen last year.

    However, in Oman where I teach now, tolerance and careful usage of words are more common generally.

    Like

    • Manu says:

      Since when was Pakistan in the Middle East? Did you mean ‘this is an issue to consider before moving to a MUSLIM country’ Mr. Eslkevin?

      Like

      • snorks says:

        I heard that turkey, malaysia, and indonesia are nice to work in, done working in Islamic countries as I have experienced enough over my last two postings.

        Like

        • Anonymous says:

          Turkey not a Islamic country? Since when?

          Like

          • AUST says:

            Turkey has a partially Islamic population. The government is democratic and it is a secular state. Shari’a law is not applied as in Qatar and other more conservative countries.

            Like

            • Ron says:

              . Legal Assistance

              Despite what has been reported, Dorje does not have any formal representation/legal assistance thus far

              Like

            • Iamhere says:

              Dorje has been released from jail just hours ago. No details yet, but it was posted on Doha News.

              Like

            • Peter says:

              I worked in Middle East for a year. 2012-2013 Kuwait and Qatar. Both school I worked in were majority Kuwaiti
              and Qatari. Never experienced as much disrespect, arrogance, immaturity in my teaching career. Both school administrations were all about keeping student numbers high so that tuition would flow in. I was unable to really teach . It was more about baby sitting would not recommend Middle East to anyone who really loves teaching.

              Like

            • Sushanna says:

              Totally agree with you Peter. It was gang mentality and completely uncalled for as I am a well-seasoned teacher having worked with behavior disordered children in the Canadian public school system for a number of years. Little motivation for learning. No respect for others. No schema of self-discipline. Even a child’s natural curiosity for learning seemed to be missing. My only experience in ME was Cairo. Have an offer now for Kuwait but will not compromise my mental health, my personal dignity, nor my love for teaching just for the money. Of course there are some students that you know would love to learn if given a chance but the majority rules and sets the tone for the class. Perhaps walking in the first day as a very strict disciplinarian would work but that seems such an outdated method and doesn’t match with new and better strategies for teaching and learning. Don’t have an answer for how to teach these children. Maybe the cultural difference is too great. Never observed a local teacher teaching except to hear the screaming and yelling through the classroom walls. I couldn’t go there so I left.

              Like

  34. Persian says:

    I’ve been working in Qatar for Qatar foundation for a number of years this is not an isolated incident it happens in their schools every year. Teachers are constantly in fear of the students and administration. There is very little said on forums because of the fear for our jobs and security. Young children usually boys make threats and accuse teachers all the time and are always believed particularly if Qatari. They even do the same to non-Qatari students. You should think very carefully before working in this country and research, too many teachers arrive here having never worked overseas before and have no awareness of the cultural differences and changes or compromises they must make to live and work in a conservative Muslim country.

    Like

  35. Joseph says:

    I agree with “A tad concerned” as I think it is time to take action against schools. Yes, the accreditation agencies should also consider withdrawing their accreditation of the school.

    Like

  36. A tad concerned says:

    I am very concerned as I am also due to begin working at QA in August. I have many colleagues already working there and before this they were very open and positive about the school. I am a teacher of 20+ years experience and have taught all levels and accepted the position based upon recommendations. Now I have my doubts. To compound matters the accused is also a friend of mine and any insinuation that he offended any religion does not make sense. As the facts become clearer it is clear he was using an example to explore inappropriate behaviour and enforce IB attributes. Surely besides the ‘job’ agencies withdrawing support, perhaps the curriculum and accreditation agencies should also explore ways of imporsing sanctions on such institutions..

    Like

    • Joe C says:

      The accreditation agencies only look to see if the school is doing what they minimally require. An accrediting agency is like a business nowadays also. They will all tell you that it is an internal matter within the school and host country and they will not get involved in internal matters.

      Like

    • Anonymous says:

      I agree with A tad concerned. I also worked with Dorje and know that he would not insult anybody PERIOD! He is a very mild-mannered and respectful person. I also agree that job agencies and accreditation agencies should withdraw their support of such “institutions”.

      Like

    • Anonymous says:

      Its seems a lot of people are jumping to conclusions before all the information is in. You are educators people so do your homework.

      Like

  37. Teaching nearby says:

    Our French colleagues are concerned about an analogous incident in Doha regarding the Lycee Voltaire, a school partly sponsored by the French government. The director (“proviseur”) was summarily fired and deported for refusing to remove references to the crusaders from the curriculum, and for not censoring a photo of the Delacroix painting “Liberty Leading the People”… although of course the rumor is that he was actually sacked because he disciplined some VIPs’ children.
    Does anyone have more direct info about that incident?

    Like

  38. rainguy says:

    Egypt. Same story. Kids out of control, weak administration, nasty parents.

    Like

  39. rali says:

    If you all feel strongly then please sign the petition to release Dorje Gurung. You will find it at

    “change.org” and under -Governement of Qatar -release Dorje Gurung”.

    Thank you

    Like

    • Anonymous says:

      Do you think he should be released if he did in fact break the law. If what he said was perhaps stronger and more offensive than what has been reported.

      Like

      • Anne says:

        And on what do you base this claim? Simply on the fact that he is jailed? Have you ever worked in a school and had children misrepresent what went on in a classroom? Of course this happens all the time, but in most situations it does not lead to firing and arrest. The bulk of the evidence represented in the press and in accounts from colleagues, students, and friends would support him being released. Seriously, no bail even? Authorities could easily take his passport and ensure that he remains in the country but allow him out to garner his defense. This situation speaks so poorly of Qatar; it’s hard to reconcile this with the idealistic and progressive vision that Sheikha Moza unveiled to the world with the initiative of Qatar Foundation and its vision for education in the Middle East.

        Like

        • Interested... says:

          Hi Anne,
          I agree…seems idealism, once again, is trumped by reality!
          Sheikha Moze…oh those Qatari kids loved her!

          Like

        • Freebird says:

          Maybe not jail, but children misrepresenting facts leads to firing teachers in the US all the time….even in those little po-dunk backwoods towns that you would think would be desperate for teachers. What cultures truly exalt teachers besides Asian?

          Like

  40. Anonymous says:

    Middle Eastern students do tend to have a lot of racist ideas. It depends on their specific culture of course. However, as a general rule they discriminate against people of Asian and African appearance. When I taught in Kuwait, for example, the children were particularly disrespectful towards those with the aforementioned appearance. Management usually will not discipline the children too harshly over these matters, if at all. This is because most schools are privately owned and therefore businesses. The customer is always right.

    The upside is if you a have a Caucasian appearance they are more respectful and you won’t have to deal with racist taunts. It’s all very strange.

    If you are going to work in the ME I suggest you are very firm with your students from day 1. As their beliefs and society are archaic, so are their attitudes…they don’t hold much understanding or respect for the child-centred approach. You’ll be eaten alive, particularly if male. They respect strength with a sense of humour. Begin the year like this, then you’ll have them on board and can share with them your passion and enthusiasm for your subject.

    Like

    • Manu says:

      The arab world and especially the kids need slapping when it comes to being racist towards Asians and Africans but I want to highlight that the west has a more extreme installation of racism and you probably support it wholeheartedly.

      The media in the west has pretty much conveyed any man with a beard or a long dress is likely to be carrying a bomb and should be monitored. My first job in UK, had my interview with the HOD and the Head of the school and yes I had a beard. The first day I started, the first thing the Head says to me ‘oh I didn’t know you had a beard’, now either he was staring at my nuts for the whole time he was interviewing me or it was his management way of saying of course I knew you had a beard you silly camel jockey but I want you to cut it off but I cant tell you that directly. I am not saying it’s all racist though just like the majority of the Middle East as well, in my second post in UK very few people had a problem with my appearance.

      I would also say in the middle east its not racism but its elitism. Most arabs look down on Asians and Africans because they see them as poor. I am Asian myself and have felt that racism but when I pull out my wads of cash or get out of my expensive car, suddenly the attitude changes.

      Like

      • Anonymous says:

        First of all, I’m Australian, so I’m afraid I don’t know what you’re talking about in regard to racism in UK schools. Secondly, your flippant statement that I would probably support racism wholeheartedly is the most unintelligent thing I’ve heard for some time. Thirdly, what exactly do you understand racism to be? Racism is born from elitism – the delusion that one race is superior to the other for whatever reason.

        To be honest, I don’t fully understand why you responded to my post. Nothing you’ve said is even remotely relevant.

        Like

        • Manu says:

          And I agree with you but there is racism in other countries like UK and US but it would wrong for anyone to tell others on a public forum to stay away from the US/UK they are racists they are fascists and uncivilized, that’s all I am saying; be balanced. I apologize if my message has not been articulated eloquently, never been any good with language.

          Like

  41. Joseph says:

    Where is Dorje Gurung from?

    Like

    • Anonymous says:

      I’m unsure, but as they were taunting him with ‘Jackie Chan’ I’d say he’s Asian. Their ignorant racism really does make me angry. The thing is, it exists on such a large scale that after a while it seems fruitless to combat it on an individual scale. Yet, we must because what’s right is right.

      Like

      • Anonymous says:

        He is from Nepal, lived in Italy, Azerbaijan and Vietnam before going to Qatar. He is a Buddhist, who respects other cultures and life styles. He is a mild-mannered person who likes to meet other people and travel to other cultures. It is a shame that these spoiled children have gotten away with such accusations. I myself lived in the Gulf for four years and know what it is like although such a story has never happened to me.

        Like

    • Rob says:

      He is Nepalese.

      Like

  42. Joe C says:

    Teaching in the Middle East, it really depends on the school and the make-up of the students. I’ve taught at an Muslim school full of Nationals and am currently at a true International School with students from 70 countries. The difference is night and day. I would say don’t write off the Middle East completely, just stay away from the schools with all or a majority of the students being Middle Eastern. Anyone who has been on this site knows that Middle Eastern kids are the worst behaved in the world.

    Like

    • Anonymous says:

      I agree with this. My first school was mostly Kuwaiti children and therefore lots of behavioural problems. My current ME school has students from all over. Much nicer place to work. Funnily enough, the naughtiest children are Arab.

      Like

    • Civilized9272 says:

      Joe C. Please I’m tired of people trying to say that one school is better than another. Even, if your teaching at a true International school the only thing that has to happen is that some local kid gets offended tells his parents they go to the authorities and the teacher is in hot water. In the end it is the very nature of the Middle East which only respects it’s religion and it’s culture no other culture.

      In most of the Middle East your not allowed to practice your religion while your there. In the countries such as Egypt where other religions are allowed see how Coptics have been attacked and their churches desecrated. In Saudi you can’t even bring a personal Bible into the country how about 7 years in prison for that dangerous crime.

      Like I said, before in the Middle East it’s a one way street you MUST respect there CULURE and RELIGION…. They on the other hand have nothing, but CONTEMPT for OURS. ONE WAY STREET!!!!!!!!!

      Like

      • Joe C says:

        Civilized9272, I am not sure how civilized you are with your shouting and narrow-mindedness. Your experience was in Saudi Arabia, one of the, if not the most restricted of the Arab countries. True International schools follow a different path than the ones that are owned by one or a few people. The difference is the international make-up of the classroom. FYI – one of the students in our school accused a teacher of drinking in the class. an investigation happened and the student was removed from the class for lying. So, again, I stand by my experience and say that the difference is with the make-up of mostly host country/ Arab kids and one with a variety of nationalities.
        Another big difference is that the students speak English most of the time as that is the common language for the kids when they are on their breaks.

        Like

      • Anonymous says:

        Civilized9272, what religion exactly are you referring to as “ours”? I am American. So you and I may share a culture, or maybe not as there are a large number of British people on ISR. We certainly do not share a religion. I did not leave the US until I was 36 and I cannot say that there was much respect for my religious beliefs. I WAS allowed to practice them though. I will give you that. I never could talk about them anywhere where students or colleagues might hear. While I could not be fired for them, my life could certainly be made pretty miserable while they waited for me to quit.

        I believe that Qatar Academy should have its title of “International” school removed. I believe the school should be held accountable for its complicity in this matter. Even when I taught in schools full of gang member, sticking your finger in a teacher’s nose was offense enough to earn the student a suspension. I believe that any school that would fire their teacher instead of disciplining their students is not one worthy of working for. I believe that we all need to sign the petition to have this man released as many times as we can and to pass the petition on to as many friends as possible. I believe that international political pressure is the only thing that might help a good man and a good teacher. I believe that knowing who I am and what my family looks like (we are mixed race family) I should never work in the Middle East, and I believe that comments like yours above are the exact foundation upon which the government of Qatar government of Qatar bases its policies. I believe hat they are very much in the wrong. but you are too.

        Jesssi

        Like

        • Rob says:

          Jesssi,
          When I taught at Qatar Academy the director told me in no uncertain terms that QA IS NOT an international school but a Qatari school with an international curriculum and staff! I nearly lost my job over that discussion but I made it through my contract with few regrets.

          Like

          • Anonymous says:

            Rob,
            I have not yet met anyone out here who has been to the Middle East and then had anything good to say about it other than sight seeing opportunities and money. Having said that 1) I am relatively new to the circuit (fourth year second school) 2) I have not been to the ME which is where I presume most of the people who have been happy with the life there are and 3) as a single white mother with a black son, I do not plan to move into that area anytime soon. I might have tried it before my son, but not now.

            Jessi

            Like

    • Manu says:

      So Middle Eastern kids are worse behaved than inner London kids? Are you sure?

      Like

      • Joe C says:

        Yes, very similar behavior in many ways, but ME kids in schools that have only or mostly ME kids are worse behaved in the class. They also expect to pass since they are paying for the school.

        Like

  43. Mannie says:

    I fail to understand how anyone can suggest that the teacher deserved to be sacked. He was attempting to transform the inappropriate behavior of the students into a teaching moment. He in no way offended the Islamic Faith. I taught in Mainland China,and for many years have been teaching in Hong Kong. I never confronted a situation such as this one. I think all Western Teachers should boycott such educational institutions no matter where they may be located and how much they remunerate their employees. Mannie Harrison Hong Kong

    Like

  44. Gerry Lee Lewis says:

    What about English Modern School? See the reviews! Teacher murdered, poor administration, kids out of control. And those kids will try to do a ‘Qatar Academy’ on someone at some point I think. Dont go there!

    Like

    • Teacher says:

      Yes, I saw the reviews. Isolated incidence. The thing that concerns me is that there is so little posting from the teachers on that site from EMS. I’m feeling a bit like you suggested referencing maybe the same as Qatar Academy. A colleague who has lived in Doha told me that Qatar Academy is part of the Qatar Foundation, so therefore, the money was the driving factor, unlike other schools the area. Thanks for your feedback Gerry!

      Like

      • Anonymous says:

        There are not many posts from teachers at EMS because we are waiting to get out of the country before doing so. We’re a little worried that they might find out and cause us problems. And yes, the murder was an isolated incident, but witnessing the way it was handled made many of us very scared if the justice system in Qatar. Several teachers went to jail because the murderer said they were involved. Based upon his word only. I have met some wonderful people in Qatar (expats) but other than that there are no good points. None.

        Like

        • Teacher says:

          Dear Anonymous:

          Precisely what I was worried about. The lack of postings really concerned me more than the murder, for the reasons you have expressed. Thank you for taking a chance an notifying me. Yikes!

          Like

  45. Ann says:

    I can see why the school sacked him, but I’m really worried about jail time for this teacher. Yikes!

    Like

  46. Joseph says:

    The adolescents are following the behaviour of their parents.

    Like

  47. Chabin says:

    After one year in Egypt and three years in Bahrain, relatively liberal societies at the time, (things have changed since the troubles) I am not the least bit surprised by this reaction and I hope the colleague gets away with deportation. Obviously, the boys said he called them terrorists and that is what was believed. I objected to being called baba khanzeer (papa pig) and the student told the principal he didn’t say that. Trying to prevent my 16 year olds from coming into the class chanting “motherf***er” every day, by explaining how offensive that was, I finally got accused of insulting a board member’s wife. I have a very high regard for Islam and my students know that I believe in Allah and His Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). But I am not Muslim nor Arab. English is my first language and I was teaching literature. The student (customer) is always right. We are treated the same as any other foreign workers because we’re all in the ME for the money. That’s how they see us.
    I would go back but they consider me to be too old at 60 and ain’t nobody got time for that. It’s also of no use to think you can count on the ME or even fellow western administrators; they like their jobs too much, the prestige and the money. I actually enjoyed my life in Egypt and in Bahrain, even during the troubles. The nice people were very nice, but the adolescents? Dangerous!

    Like

  48. China Teacher says:

    This is life under an Islamic government, get used to it.

    I have worked a lot in the Islamic world and it makes a difference whether the country has an Islamic government or a secular government — secular being more tolerant and more cognizant of international rules, practice and diplomacy. But ultimately, you are subject to the laws of your host country so you had better understand what they are, or are not, when you sign that contract.

    This becomes easier when you work in a well-managed, western-oriented, embassy-affiliated, accredited school, because the kind of student described above would be very rare, would not last long in such a school.

    This is essentially the same message we see over and over in these columns — if you go into international teaching naive, desperate, or lazy about doing your homework, a bad outcome is likely.

    Like

  49. Anonymous says:

    A finger up the nose……Where I come from students stick teachers with knives, shoot them with guns.. etc…
    Teachers can never retaliate NO MATTER what a child does. Grin and bear it. I ask my students to cuss me out in English so that I can enjoy the entertainment they are providing.
    If that teacher had been in some states he would have had major legal problems. Man, if you don’t have a thick skin don’t become a teacher. Things happen. You can’t let it bother you.
    I mean, they ain’t YOUR kids so who cares????

    Like

    • snorks says:

      Tru dat, I worked inner city is so much tougher, but have taught internationally after paying my dues. We do get spoiled but the thing we give up is landing in jail and no due process.

      Like

  50. Joseph says:

    Obviously you need to reconsider your decision to go to Qatar Academy.

    Like

    • Jon says:

      Do you have much experience in the Middle East? I am looking for an informed opinion.

      Like

      • Rob says:

        Go there, despite its problems Qatar Academy must must still be a pretty good place to work if you keep your head down and watch what you say. I worked there in the early 2000s and there are many people who worked there then who are still there and others who went back after leaving.

        Like

      • Sam says:

        If I were you, I would not take the huge risk, you will regret it. There are wonderful schools around the world, why waste your time in schools which do this kind of things!

        Like

      • AUST says:

        I’ve worked for 3 years in Doha. Prior to that for 2 years in Abu Dhabi and next year I am heading to Dubai and planning to stay 3 years. The Middle East is not ‘bad’ but is not for everyone. You need to be open-minded and don’t let it get you down.
        Racism is rife and discrimination the norm. Malls here have ‘family days’ which are a form of discrimination designed to keep workers out of the malls on a Friday. People from certain countries are paid less and the nationals of the country you are in rule supreme.
        I am happy in the Middle East but you need to know not to stir the pot and that it is not ‘home’ (where ever that may be). Your not going to be able to change the country but you can live in it happily.
        As for QA, I interviewed there and was not offered the job/given the run around. The school is 90% + local. I interviewed because the pay was good and I didn’t want to leave Doha. In hindsight I may not have accepted the job because of the student demographic. The Gulf students are notoriously lazy (by and large, there are always exceptions) as they lack motivation.
        There are thousands of expats working in the Middle East many of them love it and have been here long term. There are also those who come hate every minute and leave within a year.

        Like

        • Ron says:

          $$$$ sucking the cash teat…i’ve done it too. But, your “morals” pop up every once in a while—oopps. Unless, you can slave it with—money

          Like

          • AUST says:

            Ron, I am sorry but you have no right to judge me as you don’t know me. Not everyone in the Middle East is “sucking on the cash teat”. I am not surprised you didn’t stay in the ME, phrases like that are bound to offend.
            There are a lot of people here because they want to be here. Not purely for financial reasons. I am here because it is the job I want in a country that I like. Yes there are limits to living here but there are also a lot of benefits and they are not necessarily financial.

            Like

  51. Jon says:

    I am to leave to teach at this school this August! As a teacher with little international experience, this event obviously makes me very nervous. People with extensive Middle East teaching experience, please advise!

    Like

    • Anonymous says:

      I wouldn’t go. Qatar is notorious for poor treatment of staff. Low pay as well. I have extensive experience in the Middle East. I’m currently in Bahrain. It is my favourite so far. Oman is nice. Dubai and Abu Dhabi are ok. Stay away from Kuwait. You couldn’t pay me enough to ever work in Saudi.

      Like

      • Anonymous says:

        There is a big difference between Qatar Academy and the American School of Doha. I taught there 5 years, was very well-treated, by admin, parents, students, etc. About 15%of our students were Qatari. Never a problem. So don’t go lumoing all schools into the same basket.

        Like

        • Anonymous says:

          That’s because only 15% of your students were Qatari.

          Like

          • Anonymous says:

            I think you will find that the vast majority of QA teachers are actually very happy. Dr. Sands is a new director this year who lacks knowledge of the region and the inner working of QF (management over site for QA). He has clearly handled the situation badly and not relied on those who perhaps know a lot more about how to handle these situations in this part of the world. He also appears to have a rather old fashioned approach to what the staff should and shouldn’t be told hence the lack of information most people have on the situation.

            Like

          • Christi says:

            Your student demographics makes a HUGE difference…I teach in the ME currently. That 15% is pleasant.

            Like

    • Kat says:

      I teach at a school here in Qatar and I like it. There are many positive things about working here if you are in the right school, but there are only about five of them. My students are fab and the little local girl I teach is lovely. You really need to do your homework before coming here and I would not want to teach at a school that does not have a really broad mix of nationalities. Previously I believed that qa was a good place to work from the point of view of salary and benefits. It does not have a reputation as a very difficult school or a place not to work. Although I believe you have to work very hard and you do earn the salary. I do know it is almost impossible to get your kid in now if you are an expat now and have heard the culture has changed. The problem is that all school administrations are completely tied here. You get into trouble with the sec then a school can be closed immediately or staff sacked. They are all going to be frightened of the slightest hint of something like this. You have to think before you speak otherwise you will get into serious trouble. I would speak to qa and make your decision from there.

      Like

    • Jason says:

      I live and teach in Qatar. It is a great place – salary and benefits are great. There are random events like this that happen everywhere. While, yes, it’s a horrible situation. It doesn’t mean it happens all the time. Like anywhere, you have to be careful about what you say…

      Like

    • Anonymous says:

      Do not come to Qatar! I am currently working in one of the Newton schools and quite frankly if it wasn’t for my gratuity I would have worked out long since!
      Qatar has some archaic beliefs and yes unless you are in a school with more expats than locals the kids rule! No amount of money is worth living in Qatar.

      Like

    • Freebird says:

      Don’t fear…I worked at this school for 2 years and aside from what has transpired recently, it is a good international school with a great package. My biggest problem was other expat teachers, never the locals. Study the culture before you go, you’ll make friends and do fine. The ME is also known for its hospitality to strangers- this does exist. Many times you will be invited somewhere or given gifts.

      Like

  52. Joseph says:

    I suggest that Search, ISS, TIE, Seek Teachers, etc., need to react as well. The recruitment agencies can refuse to recruit for Qatar Academy. Perhaps they can hire non-qualified teachers to teach as well as non-qualified administrators.

    Like

    • Sam says:

      Very true, Search, ISS… need to react to this!!

      Like

    • Anonymous says:

      I came to this blog specifically trying to find out if this has happened. Is seems to me that ISS, Search, and IB should all drop the school. Frankly, they will be doing themselves a great publicity service if they do. Most of the people who pay money to these organizations are upset at the situation and would appreciate each of these organizations more for eliminating the Quatar Academy and the people who abandoned one of their own; one of our own. And though I do not know the man personally, the teacher in jail IS a friend and former colleague of a very dear friend of mine. My friend also happens to be an amazing teacher with wonderful things to say about him.

      Like

  53. Ken says:

    I lived in bahrain and Amman for several years….nice places if you are careful in what you say. Expect to be treated with racism by some, but pity them, since they do not realize their stupidity and ignorance. Wait till you are on the plane home to communicate to them what you think of them.

    Like

    • Joe says:

      So you’re better off restraining a student physically than referring to their religion in Qatar then it seems.

      Like

      • Rob says:

        No, restraining them physically will get you in almost as much trouble. I worked at Qatar Academy when it had a large number of expat student and it was more like an international school than a local school with international curriculum and teachers. Over the years the board has pushed it to be more and more conservative with fewer expat kids. The Board even pays for teachers kids to go to other international schools in Doha! This change has made the school less open and less able to model the IB Learner Profile. How can you be principled when “wasta” (power because of position) trumps all else? How can a school and its administration be open minded when the Nepalese, Bangladeshi, Filipino and other Eastern nationalities are looked upon as lesser?
        Until the administration goes beyond doing lip-service to the profile and truly models it, this type of thing will continue.

        Like

  54. Janet says:

    Jay, sounds like you might be too. I have beautiful Middle Eastern friends that are not racist nor radical nor mean nor stupid nor intolerant, and I am a Western. If ‘feels’ like you are throwing everyone in the ME into the same box here. Some North Americans, can also be very racist, especially towards people from the ME so qualify your statements rather than make generalizations. We are all international educators here and know better, aren’t we???

    Like

  55. Civilized9272 says:

    I worked in KSA at King Saud University. The students there are 18 plus, but they still act like 12 to 14 year olds. You must respect their culture, but ours forget it. The Middle East is a part of the world I will never again work in. I’d rather be paid less and live in a part of the world that is civilized.

    Western Teachers shouldn’t have to bow to people who wouldn’t know what civilization is, if it hit them in the face. They want the trappings of civilization, but they can’t handle the responsibility of civilization. Owning a Mercedes or a house in London doesn’t mean your civilized it just means your rich. Civilization must be taught you just can’t want it.

    My advice to everyone avoid the uncivilized Middle East. Money isn’t everything self esteem and being able to live with yourself counts for a lot. I now live and work in the Western Hemisphere a long way away from the mayhem of the UNCIVILIZED Middle East.

    Like

    • Sam says:

      Totally agree!! I feel exactly the same. I worked in the middle East, Jordan, I left after a year as I could not stand the abuse of the school and the children. It was the worst experience of my life. I had worked in International schools in Africa before which was a wonderful experience and I did not expect the hell I found in the middle East. Please international teachers do not go to any middle east country to teach!!!!

      Like

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes, I agree. I taught in Kuwait, a small version of Saudi, where the students are entitled and Western on the outside. My male students wanted in life, “a fast car, a hot wife and a free ride.” How are those values? On the inside they were tribal, bigots, with no humanitarian souls.

      Like

  56. Saigon_Eldred says:

    Qatar Academy should be ashamed of themselves for their part in this fiasco. Dorje could have chosen his words more carefully, but to sack the teacher is reprehensible. I’m guessing these 12 year old boys are walking around the school with huge grins on their faces.

    Unlike a teacher in their home country, an international school teacher relies on their school for support in so many areas of their lives. To be fired for this kind of thing sends a message to all members of the school community – in my opinion, it is the wrong kind of message.

    The worrying thing is, that the judicial systems in the middle east (I’m speaking from my experience of living and working in the UAE, so Qatar may be different, but based on what I’ve read of the case so far, I doubt it) is that Dorje could find himself sat in a jail cell for quite a while to come yet.

    Like

    • Anonymous says:

      There are always two sides to every story and you are being very naive to believe there isn’t more to this story. Do you really think QA is going to spell out to everyone all the issues with this guy and all the chances he has had and all the support he has received and what actually went down. No because they DO have ethics despite the grilling they are getting here. He has not been in the classroom for over a year now. Come on people.

      Like

      • Ron says:

        Here’s the difference. This guy is a “well retrospected-known by many in the community–veteran educator” try again

        Like

      • K. Schmidt says:

        Dear Anonoymous,

        A bad school can ruin even the best teacher – to say nothing of us normal folk, who all have our quirks – and there are always ways of bringing anyone to the brink.

        Of course there is “another side” to this story, but it can’t justify no help from the school and a prison sentence.

        Like

  57. Grace says:

    Yes, and not only in the Middle East, but anywhere you are teaching where English is the second language, so that’s all the countries, so just be careful out there. The root of all problems in teaching and life is miscommuni
    cation.

    Like

    • K. Schmidt says:

      I disagree. The root of all problems is human fear and the greed that arises from it.

      Even the best communication is not going to change that.

      Like

  58. Sushanna says:

    I have worked there, experienced obnoxious spoiled-student behavior, tried to maintain classroom discipline (of sorts), and been as proactive as humanly possible fully realizing the hazards when I went. Then, when a major problem arose, only reeled in awe as a western and very experienced administrator ‘sat in’ on the host-country teacher disciplinary committee and spinelessly ‘held their coats’ at the hanging without coming forward at all in defense of me or speaking up about what she knew had happened nor about the out-of-control discipline in the school and level of western teacher frustration. Of course I understood, she was afraid of her big-bucks salary. She had already sold her soul. The lure of a good (for teachers’ and administrators’) income often over-rides a rational decision about going there in the first place. We always believe we can be careful enough. Not true. For anyone never having taught in an all-host-country-student school in this part of the world cannot even imagine the difference in child-rearing practices and expectations of how children behave in and out of school. Western administrators are usually sitting with host-country colleagues and/or board members and can only survive themselves; forget supporting western teachers with different expectations for behavior. This is a huge issue for western teachers headed into this dark and dangerous forest.

    Like

  59. GBG says:

    I feel badly for the teacher. This can easily happen to anyone teaching in the Middle East.

    Like

    • Freebird says:

      ME is a true challenge for teachers. You really have to understand the culture and appropriate responses in all situations. I worked in Qatar at that particular school and know that Middle school kids will get you in trouble anywhere. I took a course in Mid-East studies before I left and it helped me tremendously to deal with all parents there.

      Like

  60. Up front with it says:

    After hearing this story, It is beyond me why anyone in their right mind would work in this country and subject themselves to the possibility that an offended 12 year old, with poor English skills, can rally his parents and ruin your life . I’m repulsed by the attitudes of the parents of super-entitled brats who run the show, and by the gutless school administrators who bow and cow-tow to these kids and parents. I’ve experienced these types first-hand and trembled at the realization that they had my future in their hands. I bailed to safety! I wish kids like this good luck if their parents’ money every buys their way into a US university.

    Doesn’t any one but me feel like the school simply abandoned and sacrificed this poor guy? What kind of leadership is Eric Sands and Michael Hitchman providing at Qatar Academy? It looks to me they are only interested in saving their own skins. The parents of Qatrar and the administration should be ashamed of themselves!!!

    Like

    • snorks says:

      Here we go again, if you have not worked here you have no idea, when the blog about teacher rights came up, I really could not believe how self righteous and naive we westerners are, I still believe we live in the best part of the world and are still so idealistic that we are outraged at the inequity of the world, but sadly that is how it is and Yes Up Front some of us know exactly how quick our school can abandon you. Try protesting in China and see how quick those ideals and your school abandons you.

      Like

    • Manu says:

      The reasons why some teachers choose to still work in these countries is simply because, after all the ‘abuse’ is analysed it still beats teaching in the UK where kids have even more power and you are solely responsible for the failure of even drug addicted pupils. Although on paper we have more rights in UK thses rights are often only on paper, when it comes down to it, if management want to push you out or sometimes even sack you they will do so. You may point to ‘use your union’ but trust me unions are selective as to who they choose to help and who they choose to tell you are actually not doing your job properly. When it comes to choosing between should I yield to the whims of pupils and management in the UK or those of the middle east, I would choose the middle east every time. Mr. Gurung’s story is a sad one but don’t tell me teachers are not abused in the west as well.

      Like

      • snorks says:

        you have not idea what you are talking about, until you live here you will realize one insult to islam and you end up in jail being hovered by the worst people in the country that have no qualms about defending Islam with violence. Lets not be armchair teachers, get out in the field before putting forth an opinion, people might actually think about what you stated.

        Like

      • Ron says:

        I’d work there for money, which i’m guessing is the reason most do. That’s about it–i think. There is a “reason” the salaries are so high in the ME…lol

        Like

      • Anonymous says:

        Hmmmmm… You need to choose your UK schools better. I have a wonderfully active union and index linked pension (ok, that is precarious but currently I still have it!), lovely holidays, teachers pay and conditions, the British legal system, democratic rights, a tax paid health service, laws against religious and racial bigotry, the right to air my opinions (even if it may earn me a slap on the wrist or an ultimate dismissal it would NEVER land me in jail!!!!!). Add to that the fact that we have virtually no poisonous animals, limited disease, a comparatively healthy economy, no real natural disasters, excellent cultural opportunities and diversity….. I could go on. Not a huge fan of the current system here but it’s WORLDS apart from this story! It’s absolutely horrifying to think of anyone being imprisoned for such a statement. There will be no gag on the BRITISH press about this!!!

        Like

  61. Fiona Rustom Jagose says:

    I feel very bad about this and wish him very well, however would strongly advise any teachers in the Middle East to refrain from exemplifying stereotypes with such words as “terrorist.” This word is well understood as a huge insult and as many students may not understand enough English (or claim to ) to understand the wider context, things can go very badly.
    It would be easier in fact to report a student sticking his/her finger up one’s nose.
    I live and work in a somewhat more liberal part of the Middle East but all the same am most careful about what I say, due to the huge ramifications of being misunderstood or misquoted.

    Friends and colleagues who have worked in Qatar usually find it extremely difficult to receive their due salaries even years after the event or to leave the country in the event of a family death. Many Qatari institutions hold their employees passports and thus leaving when the going gets rough is nigh on impossible.

    I do hope that justice can be served and in doing so a coherent hearing of events can be made.

    Like

    • Interested... says:

      I agree with this poster. I have taught in Qatar a number of years and can say that “yes” if you say or use the wrong wording or statements, regardless of how it was intended..you can get yourself in huge trouble!

      Of course, I feel for the teacher…but people, NEVER FORGET…you are simply a guest in THEIR country. I recall meeting one Qatari and we were just engaged in a simple conversation and he mentioned to me that with one phone call…your life in Qatar can be heaven or…it can be hell! That’s the bottom line….think, think, think before you speak to anyone in a foreign country…their jails are nothing like what we have in the States!

      I also think that families there are reasonable and I don’t know if the teacher attempted contact with the parents to convey the behavior of the students…or I also kinda wonder…what is a chemistry teacher doing working with 12 year old students who
      at best can’t be in any higher grade then 7th????

      Finally, Qatar as well as most of the ME countries operate on a “class” system with nationals being FIRST, followed by US/UK/Canada…Asian nationals are treated like crap…so if he is from Nepal, I’m afraid he is up a creek without any hope of a paddle!

      Like

  62. Sam says:

    I think we all teachers should do something to support this poor guy, maybe his Nepalese nationals are not able to help a lot. Us from Europe or USA or where ever need to do something to stop this type of abusive behaviour towards teachers in those countries. This can not happen. Those horrible 12 year old children who make our lives hell, and the lives of other children in the school, will grow up to be dictators and dreadful people. This simply can not happen!!!

    Like

    • Anonymous says:

      Stop teaching in their schools. Let them hire locals and watch their standards fall.

      Like

      • gaga says:

        I agree. Why do they employ foreign teachers in the first place? They do not have any respect for us, and the kids as well. Thankfully we have ISR so we can avoid those schools in the future. Come to China, I’m having the best time teaching here.

        Like

        • Anonymous says:

          Yes don’t go there! They don’t deserve english/western schools or teachers if they are treating people so badly!! I was offered a position here a few months ago and regretted declining, but now am happy I didn’t!!! It’s tempting if you really need money, hard to say no but this is not a good situation..

          Like

  63. Been There.... says:

    I was told that in the Gulf States, the students rule. I’ve heard of it in Kuwait and experienced it in KSA. Guess Qatar is just as bad. Hope the poor fellow gets off with deportation. If not, his country should raise a stink. While it’s true foreign teachers have no more rights in these countries than maids, if the US, UK etc. puts pressure on the Qataris they will have to let him go.

    Like

  64. al says:

    How is what he said insulting islam?
    He was making a point to the kids that steriotyping is wrong in society and giving an example of how it applies to their culture too.
    The parents should back the teacher and sort those kids out. Qatar has so far to go.

    Like

    • snorks says:

      My current school in Northern Africa, it is the same, we cannot control the kids and we bend over backwards to please the parents

      Like

      • gaga says:

        I experienced the same thing in Bahrain. Teaching was the worst 8 months of my life.Teacher is always blamed, and no one can control the kids.

        Like

  65. Sam says:

    Snorks is right. I am a female teacher, I have taught in the middle east before and I can say it was the worst experience of my life!!! They want western education but they do not understand principles or democracy. It is just terrible.

    Like

    • gaga says:

      I taught in Middle East as well, and thank God left Bahrain after 8 months. It was the worst teaching experience of my life. I was firstly discriminated because I’m woman and then criticized constantly. It was so stressful that I haven’t smile for 8 months. Horrible…

      Like

  66. snorks says:

    Come to think of it, I felt like the majority until I began working in the middle east, so if you have not worked in this area, you have no idea how easily you can incarcerated

    Like

  67. snorks says:

    It is awful, I know, could you imagine if one of these boys got into his head to accuse this poor man of molestation. We would see an execution.

    Like

    • Up front with it says:

      I agree. I just found Eric Sand’s school email address through a Google search. He is the director of Qatar Academy and he would probably like to hear our thoughts on this subject.

      esands@qf.org.qa

      Like

      • O. Paque says:

        Don’t hold your breath for a response. The word from a teacher friend is that there’s a complete gag order on staff, and that the administration has not said word one on the matter from the very beginning — no acknowledgement, no communication, no transparency whatsoever. Everyone is walking around completely in the dark, scared and confused. My friend says the entire morale of the staff has been crumbling, but this is the straw that broke the camel’s back (oops… hope some 12 year old doesn’t find that offensive!).

        Like

      • Anonymous says:

        This happened under his watch…has he spoken out? Or is he guilty of fiddling while Rome burns? What kind of respectable human being would be party to a gagging order prohibiting staff from talking about such a serious and awful example of injustice?

        Like

    • Anonymous says:

      Sad and deplorable situation, just realize this is a reality going into the Middle East and have your bag packed for a midnight exit as our values are mere moot points.

      Like

      • Anonymous says:

        Also realise that foreigners there will shaft you should it suit them and help maintaining their position. Don´t rely on those expats that appear to be so nice. When it comes down to it, you are on your own.

        Like

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