Arab News – Newly appointed Education Minister Ahmed Al-Issa has promised that his doors would remain open to anyone wanting to raise concerns with him, and to ensure improved outcomes during his tenure.
Al-Issa made the comments Wednesday while meeting officials and citizens at the ministry’s office in Riyadh to mark his appointment to the position, according to a report in a local publication.
Al-Issa said the Tawasul portal and other social networking accounts would be used to receive feedback about the education system from the public. He said he was determined to improve education outcomes and added that poor performance reflected the attitude of ministry staff and officials.
He said there was need to get out of a “vicious and ineffective cycle” by improving the relationship between teachers and students, ensuring teachers have a heightened sense of responsibility in helping students become engaged in the learning process so that they become more productive.
He said the ministry has to ensure this happens because students are the country’s future workers and managers. If this was not done it would be “a failure on our part,” he was quoted as saying.
Teachers across the country meanwhile have called on Al-Issa to review their pay and work conditions, including providing health insurance, transport and opportunities for further education.
The teachers polled by a local newspaper recently also want the minister to restore their standing in the community, and deal with those who threaten them in any way.
The list includes the ministry providing educators appropriate incentives, dealing with the increasing number of accidents involving teachers who have to travel long distances to their schools, eliminating schools operating in rented buildings, and reducing lesson times.
Teacher Said Khamis Al-Bidani from Al-Baha said that the school environment should be conducive to learning for students. Having classes in rented buildings not suitable for schools obstructs the learning process, he was quoted as saying.
His colleague, Mohammed Said Al-Zahrani, said teachers are part of the education process and must have health insurance. “Teachers have been waiting for years. They should receive their full rights. If this is done, it will definitely have a positive influence on their work at school.”
Teacher Abdullah Atiya stressed that there was need to gradually reduce the duration of lessons, to allow teachers the time for graduate and postgraduate studies. He said teachers need to constantly improve their skills and take several courses in many fields.
Teacher Misfira Al-Zahrani called on the minister to introduce new legislation that would allow teachers to retire early, after service of between 15 and 20 years, to make way for younger university graduates to enter the system.