Teacher trouble

Tougher checks proposed for foreign teachers working in the UAE

Teachers hired from overseas could face stricter background checks if a series of proposals are adopted by the Ministry of Education.

According to a report in the National, an education committee within the Federal National Council has recommended that foreign teachers undergo a more rigorous vetting procedure when they apply for jobs in UAE schools.

Currently there are about 16,500 foreign teachers working in UAE schools. Many have been hired, often just over the telephone, without any criminal checks carried out.

Sultan Saqr al Suwaidi, head of the committee, told the paper, a list of background checks would be drawn up by the Federal Government, but that ultimately it was "up to the Ministry of Education" which proposals are implemented.

Dr George Robinson, the superintendent of the American Community School, told the paper: "It's a good step because there is nothing in place now. There needs to be more specific guidelines that align with what is practical in the real world."

He added, however, that the right balance had to be struck as a too aggressive or complicated vetting process could put teachers off from applying.

Nair Surendran, the vice principal at the New Indian Model School in Dubai, also welcomed the FNC's recommendations.

"Teachers are categorised as holding very sensitive positions where their past and current behaviour must not be questioned - because of the positions of trust they hold," he told the paper.

Teachers applying for posts in Abu Dhabi's public schools go through a vetting process, Dr Mugheer al Khaili, the Abu Dhabi Education Council (Adec) director general, told the paper in a written statement

"As a first step to recruiting teachers from abroad, we order criminal background checks on the state or provincial level, in addition to the federal level before the first round of interviews even occurs."

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