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Emirati teachers resigning because they overworked and underpaid, FNC hears

ABU DHABI // More Emirati teachers are resigning because they overworked and underpaid while their grievances are not being heard, according to a member of the Federal National Council.

“They are continuing to leave and there is still a shortage of teachers for some subjects,” said Salem Al Shehhi, a member from Ras Al Khaimah.

“They tried to speak to officials at the ministry and their managers but got no feedback.”

He said some resignations were immediately accepted without any investigation or negotiation, while the resignation letters of others, especially chemistry and physics teachers, were rejected, as were their grievances.

Last year, 477 Emirati teachers resigned from public schools for reasons that included work environment and family circumstances, said Education Minister Hussein Al Hammadi last week.

“We lost qualified teachers because of rumours about retirement procedures but they were contacted and briefed on the laws.”

He said that resignation rates were equal to those in other ministries and to education ministries worldwide. Between 2014 and this year, 900 Emirati teachers resigned while 442 were hired by the ministry.

“We also launched a campaign for retired teachers to possibly return to the profession. Some responded favourably and we expect big numbers to join.”

He said that the ministry had launched many initiatives to enhance job satisfaction, including discount cards and a council for teachers to voice their concerns.

The council currently has 370 members and expectations are that the figure will rise to 500.

After the session, Mr Al Shehhi said the minister invited the FNC education committee to visit the ministry and study the situation more closely.

No date has been set for the visit since they need to wait for approvals, he said.

Aneesa Mohammed, who worked as an arts teacher for 26 years at a public school in Ras Al Khaimah, said she finally gave up on pursuing a promotion and resigned in September.

She graduated in 1990 with a diploma in art and has been teaching ever since.

“Ten years into the job, they should have considered giving us a promotion or a chance to continue our education, but all our requests was all rejected.”

Instead, Ms Mohammed and her peers were given more lessons to teach and more responsibilities without any incentive.

“I was also in charge of the school building, so whenever there was maintenance, I had to leave my students in the classroom and supervise the workers.”

When she submitted her resignation on September 1, she told the acting principal that she would be willing to negotiate if given the job of supervisor or building manager, since she was already filling that role.

“I did not get any response and my resignation was accepted.”

She and her colleagues were most burdened by the increase in the number of hours they had to teach.

“They increased the number of periods from 15 to 24 and you were forced to take on the extra load whether you liked it or not,” she said.

Teachers were also often obliged to organise competitions, supervise activities and write up reports about their own production.

“The school year was full of pressure. We would often take our tasks home with us and this hindered our ability to take care of our families.

“There are many factors that can make you hate teaching.”

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The National