Visa transfer: Schools want clear policy
International schools in Saudi Arabia are under tremendous pressure to rectify the legal status of their teaching staff after the Labor Ministry injunction that teachers who have not transferred their sponsorships will not be allowed to resume work when schools reopen on Sept. 1.
Yet the policy of sponsorship transfer has yet to be announced by the Education Ministry.
“Prior to the summer vacation, schools were under tremendous pressure to counteract the spread of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS),” said Padma Hariharan, director and head of the Novel International Group of Institutions.
“This, coupled with the issue of female teachers having to transfer their sponsorships onto schools, took its toll on school administrators, who are still suffering since the Education Ministry has still not announced any clearcut policy on the matter.”
“There are several questions that need answering,” she said. “Would teachers who have obtained an eligibility certificate from the Education Ministry be allowed to go back to work, for instance?”
According to latest statistics, there are 3,271 private schools with an 11-percent participation rate in public education.
There are also more than 51,000 teachers and an SR11.5 billion volume of investment in private education.
“How does sponsorship transfer work and how long would the process take,” asked Hariharan.
“Teachers who have acquired eligibility certificates and are eager to transfer their sponsorships are struggling to gain assistance and access to paperwork.”
Many schools still have not been issued visas, stagnating the Saudi attestation on certificates, which cannot be done without a visa number.
“Teachers and administrators also fear the prospect of a new rule suddenly surfacing, making their efforts a waste of time.”
“It would be helpful for a meeting to take place between Saudi owners and academic heads to establish blueprint procedures.”
Other questions lingering in the minds of many teachers is whether a teacher without a university degree can continue working as an assistant teacher for the kindergarten section.
“There are several questions that we don’t have an answer to, such as whether I can go back on my father’s sponsorship in the event I leave my job or whether I can travel in case of emergency out of school hours if the sponsor is not around,” said Aujum Shakeel, a teacher of an International school.
Sadiya Kaleem, the principal of an international school, said transfer requests have garnered quick responses, although visa-related issues should be taken care of six months prior to the summer vacation “so we can get our act together ahead of the new academic year to ensure that we are not bogged down with administrative issues, hindering the quality of education,” she said.