Teaching Candidate in Hijab Claims Discrimination by Kuwaiti School

October 19, 2017
Fouzia Khatun on Instagram

..When Fouzia Khatun applied to teach at the English Playgroup, Kuwait, she thought wearing a hijab and sharing common religious beliefs would help her to be a good fit for the job. To her complete dismay, she later received an email from Caroline Brooks of the HR department, saying her employment depended on a willingness to remove her hijab while teaching: “…parents do not want their children taught by covered teachers, this is an English school.” 

..On her Instagram page Fouzia displays the email from Caroline Brooks. The school denies the allegations, saying Caroline Brooks was not in their employ. Later, however, they changed their statement reporting, Caroline Brooks has been “disciplined.” The school asserts that Fouzia’s application for employment was not accepted due to her use of social media and that action has been taken against her for “slanderous comments.”

..…The English Playgroup issued the following statement:
“The English Playgroup and Primary Schools employ qualified teachers from all nationalities, religions and backgrounds who serve students as excellent and caring teachers. Allegations of discrimination against hijab-wearing staff are untrue. Our schools proudly employ many hijab wearing teachers and administrators across our schools. The allegations against the school have been disseminated by an unsuccessful overseas job applicant who was refused employment because of inappropriate behavior as illustrated on her social media platform. The opinions expressed by a new employee in the HR department are against company policy and necessary disciplinary action has been taken.”

..Fouzia is quoted as saying that her Instagram page was private before this incident, so a claim of “inappropriate behavior” on social media is unfounded. The English Playgroup later released photos on Instagram of teachers wearing a hijab while on the job. Fouzia is suing the English playgroup.

..ISR Asks: Is this an isolated incident? Was it simply a mistake on the part of an HR employee? To your knowledge, do Muslim women experience this type of discrimination in Kuwait and other Islamic countries when applying for jobs in Western-oriented schools and companies?

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Community Service w/ a Hidden Agenda

October 12, 2017

..During my interview the director/owner proudly emphasized the broad scope of Community Service activities in which his school was involved. He wore his comments like a badge of honor & wanted to know, “Was I on board with the program?”  I was in!

..As the school year progressed it became painfully obvious that he had little interest in helping the community. Instead, he abused & exploited the Community Service program, using it as a means to get free publicity. This was evidenced by the fact he regularly showed up to Community Service events & took credit for what the students/teachers were doing, all the while selling his “great” school to the local press covering the event.

..As teachers, we raised all the funds needed for our Community Service projects. We also kept records on an on-line calendar as well as on a huge paper calendar located in the front office in plain view of anyone coming through the door (good PR). I’m convinced the director’s secretary was the one calling the press & maybe even bribing them to cover our events. Example: 10/2 @ 3:30 pm, “Mr D’s group to Valley View Orphanage with toys.

..I could have lived with this situation, but then something happened. In September, the entire faculty worked endlessly to organize an all-school fundraiser. There was music & food (supplied by parents),  activity booths for kids (created, financed & managed by teachers), raffle tickets & a silent auction (of  items donated by parents). We raised many, many thousands of dollars.

..Did any of that money go to fund our Community Service organizations, the orphanage, the old age home, animal rescue, etc.?  NO! Every cent went to new uniforms for the soccer team, replanting the field, sprucing up the bleaches & constructing two concession stands. This was not what we had been told during the planning stages. The director was “sorry we misunderstood.” So, what’s next — new office furniture?

..Needless to say I feel quite conflicted. I want to help the community & introduce my students to the concept of giving back. I feel good about doing so. But at the same time the school owner has an ulterior motive & it’s not based on giving — it’s based on teachers & students “volunteering” their time/energy so the owner can advance the financial worth of his “school.”  This last stunt with all the money going to the soccer field was the final blow for me. I now see this director as a slimy trickster.

..Question is, now what? I feel like I’m being abused & there are months & months left in the school year, not to mention the 2nd year of my contract? Anyone dealt with this situation before? I’m so disgusted I’m tempted to leave!


Tempted to Remove a School from YOUR Resume?

October 5, 2017

Resumes are marketing tools, not legal documents and nothing says you’re obligated to list every job you’ve ever had. YOU get to decide what to include and what to leave out. But be prepared:  Gaps in your teaching history may require an explanation. Good reasons, for example, range from taking a volunteer position to spending time back home caring for an aging parent.

3 Good Reasons to Leave a School OFF Your Resume

..1)  You suspect the school Director may say something “unflattering” and/or untrue about you to a perspective employer. This is especially valid if you left on sour terms.

..2)  The school’s poor reputation may be detrimental to your career. Such schools may be characterized as “diploma mills” that guarantee top grades/university placement to parents who can meet stiff monetary requirements for their kids’ tuition. Spend too many years at such a school (where you’re considered not much more than a servant to overindulged, rich kids) and you may have trouble finding a position at an authentically “good” school.

..3)  The teaching position was for 1-year or less, or you broke contract and left early. Short stints at International Schools can draw negative attention from prospective employers. You may have had sincere, valid reasons to leave early but employers can be quick to pass judgment.

Leaving some of your teaching history OFF your resume is a personal choice and something you’ll need to consider carefully for reasons quite obvious. ISR asks:  Did you ever take a school off your resume? How did it work out for you? What’s your advice to teachers considering dropping a school from their resume?

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Duped & Ready to Walk

August 31, 2017

A couple of weeks  into every academic year I begin seeing a sprinkling of School Reviews that claim a slick school director duped the reviewer into accepting a job at their lousy school. My reaction to such comments has always been the same: stick it out, stop whining. YOU signed the contract. I couldn’t imagine that any school would be half as bad as what these teachers were describing…

Well, the tables have turned and I stand corrected. I now find that I am the victim of severe duping by a fast-talking director at a school not reviewed on ISR.

Everything here is contrary to what I saw (on the school’s website) and was told during my online interview. There’s no disciplinary support with known disruptive kids, and believe me, there’s plenty of real “prizes” at this school. There are no classroom supplies — not even pencils. The internet connection is so sketchy it might as well be shut down. There is no AC in the classrooms — it’s like a sauna in my room. Textbooks are all photo copied from one purchased edition. Software is boot-legged and glitches to a standstill constantly. To top it off, the director has proven himself to be an egocentric, buffoon who lacks any semblance to an educator.

I might be able to bite the bullet and put up with everything wrong with this place, but the crowning assault on my sanity is that the majority of students are local kids with poor, to non-existent, English skills. Try teaching high school Literature to a classroom of students who can barely muster enough English to ask to use the restroom, let alone read and discuss a story by Edgar Alan Poe. It’s like a bad joke.

The job was advertised online and not through a recruiting fair. So, if I walk out and don’t put this job on my resume, what might be the long term consequences, if any, of doing so? Also, what is the best way to bail? Should I give the school notice that I plan to leave ASAP or send them an email once I’m safely away and out of the country? I’m leaning towards the ‘wait until I’m safely away’ idea…

To those of you who have suffered the disastrous consequences of being mislead by a slick website and/or a fast-talking director, please accept my sincere apologies for having doubted you and thereafter posted such to the ISR Forum or Blog. Once I’m out of here, I’ll post a lengthy review of this place on ISR. Any advice would really comfort and reassure me at this time.

Sincerely,

Duped big time


Success!! But We’re Not Done Yet

July 13, 2017


..On July 12th, the world-wide web came together to defend Net Neutrality, a law that protects the internet from big corporate greed & censorship.

..By the end of the day the US Congress had received more than 3 million emails & 100,000 phone calls in support of keeping current Net Neutrality laws as they are. More than 1.7 million comments are also on their way to the FCC  – Federal Communications Commission. This is a new record for a single day so comments are being sent in batches so as not to crash the slow FCC servers.

..Google, Facebook, YouTube, Expedia, Yelp, Netflix, GitHub, Bit Torrent, Spotify & many more mega-sites rallied their users to participate in action to save the internet. See how they participated

..But the internet is not saved yet! There’s more to be done. If you haven’t signed a petition to keep the internet open & free from corporate greed & censorship, please do so now.  We can’t allow big business to turn the internet into a “pay-to-play” scenario such as cable TV. Sign Petition

..Imagine a world in which AT&T, Comcast & Version tell Google & Facebook what they can/cannot put on the web & tell YOU what you can/cannot see and/or do on the web. Sign Petition

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Join Google, Facebook and Millions More in the Fight to Save the Internet

July 12, 2017


..The new American FCC (Federal Communications Commission) Chairman and former Verizon lawyer Ajit Pai is planning to destroy the internet by giving big cable companies immense control over what we see and do online. He will accomplish this by removing current Net Neutrality laws which keep the internet open and free.

If this ex-Verizon lawyer gets his way, companies like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T will have the power to slow down, censor or block websites they don’t like and charge apps and web sites extra fees to reach their audience. We can stop this from happening!

Sign the Petition to Save the Internet from Corporate Greed

Today, July 12, millions of web sites, Internet users and online communities around the world are coming together to protest the FCC’s attack on Net Neutrality. You can participate!

Google, Facebook, Spotify, Dropbox and many, many more mega-sites announced they will rally their millions of users to ..make this day the largest protest in history.

Sign the Petition to Save the Internet from Corporate Greed

If we lose Net Neutrality, we could soon face a censored Internet where some of your favorite websites are forced into a slow-lane online or removed altogether, while deep-pocketed companies who can afford expensive new “prioritization” will get fast-lane priority.

Sign the Petition to Save the Internet from Corporate Greed


Human Rights Vs. The Rights of International Teachers

May 11, 2017


An Open Letter to ISR

Dear ISR, I’m writing in regards to the International Educators’ Bill of Rights mentioned in your article, Don’t Bring Me Down. I fail to see how the Bill of Rights can be applied to all schools, worldwide, especially when some schools are located in countries with very different ideas about “rights” than we in the West.

Human rights, including employment rights, are determined by the laws of the country in which you reside and teach, and they are not all the same. For example, there is an Arab charter on human rights, which has its own interpretations on racism, and an Asian version on human rights, where, for example, ‘individuals must put the state’s rights before their own’. How would it be possible for an International Educators’ Bill of Rights to supersede such documents?

For me as a westerner living in the middle east, I find Arabic values incomprehensible and totally incompatible with my education and upbringing; there is a gulf between myself and management which cannot be bridged. As a fourteen-year-old studying history I learned how ‘nepotism’ was a terrible evil. I still think that way. Yet, in my present adopted country, this is the only way to get promoted; experience appears to count for very little.

I feel what might be more useful than the International Educators’ Bill of Rights is if recruiting agencies would require schools to provide realistic information on the culture surrounding each school. This could include such info as the country’s basic laws and regulations, and the area’s overall approach to human rights. How is their treatment of children, of foreigners, the disabled, females, the extremely poor and the uber rich? The info should also include the make-up of each schools’ ownership and management, thereby getting a much clearer picture of the mindset of who you’ll be working for on a day-to-day basis.

For example:  A school organized and managed by the American Embassy school would be noted as such and considered to be run by an American administration. A school owned by a host-national and administered by a host-national director/principal would be designated as such. In this way teachers could understand in advance what sort of experience they were signing on for, not to stereotype schools or countries, but as a good start to knowing if a school is the right choice for you.

I find the International Educators’ Bill of Rights a wonderful document. I am, however, not convinced it’s applicable to all schools in all locations around the world.

ISR Response. We agree that individual countries have their own specific code for Human Rights, including employment rights. We do feel, however, that no educator goes overseas with the intent to be taken advantage of under provisions set forth by law, or through loopholes in a country’s laws.

ISR considers an International School that hires staff from Western countries to be an island unto itself,
and as such, will treat their educators as would a school in the West. ISR feels strongly that a school which cannot, or will not, stick to the basic principles of the International Educators’ Bill of Rights is a school to be avoided.

ISR asks: What is YOUR opinion on this topic?

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ISR Note:
This blog was high jacked by a person with a personal agenda. We have removed all comments from this blog.  We apologize to those contributors whose comments were in earnest and on topic.  Posting is open and we invite you to contribute to the topic.