34.2 C
Doha
Friday, June 25, 2021

Qatar teachers express anxiety about new ethics code

-

Teachers and staff at Qatar’s independent (state-funded) schools are expressing mixed opinions about a new code of conduct they have been asked to sign by the Supreme Education Council.

The 10-point code was issued by the SEC on Sunday (the beginning of the new school year) and outlines “core values” and expected professional behavior from staffers both inside and outside of school hours.

It covers topics such as communicating effectively with students, dressing modestly and working with parents.

The standards were issued shortly after the SEC outlined a similar set of expectations for students at the start of the term, in a bid to improve poor attendance and discipline in local schools.

This is not the first time the SEC has laid out guidelines regarding teachers’ behavior, but this new code appears to be the most detailed in terms of requirements.

Though the code has gotten support from some employees who described it as “very important and much needed,” others have criticized the standards for being vaguely worded, and expressed discomfort about the possibility of extra scrutiny on their private lives.

According to Qatar’s Education Minister, the aim of the staffers’ code is to “enhance the key values that must be shown by the teachers and those who are working in the education field, most of important of which are honesty, impartiality, objectivity, diligence and efficiency.”

As the code is new, it remains unclear how or if it would affect efforts to recruit hundreds of new teachers and staff from abroad to meet rising demand in independent schools.

So far, some 280 out of an expected 900 positions have been filled, and the SEC has recently warned schools to hire more quickly.

Respect local values

According to the Qatar News Agency, the teachers’ code is “derived from the doctrine of the Qatari society and philosophy,” and involves respecting Islamic values and national customs and traditions.

Details of the code have not been officially released in English, but Al Watan newspaper published them in Arabic earlier this week. The major points, taken mostly from the Qatar Tribune, include:

  • Establishing a good, professional relationship with all students without exception, and providing them with the necessary attention and care, both inside and outside the classroom;
  • Showing respect to parents and collaborating with parents and community organizations to raise students’ performance;
  • Respecting subordinates and implementing instructions of superiors, and behaving wisely and objectively in accordance with social customs and professional conduct;
  • Abiding by the laws and regulations of the state at all times, informing officials, superiors or competent authorities of any violations of the laws;
  • Communicating with members of the school community, students and the public effectively, wisely and respectfully
  • Respecting Islamic values, national customs and traditions and all other religious beliefs;
  • Dressing modestly, taking into account the customs and traditions of the workplace and beyond;
  • Avoiding any activities that lead to the emergence of a real or apparent conflict of interest;
  • Optimizing the use of public property and financial resources of the school, which should be used strictly for important and functional purposes only; and
  • Avoiding possessing or using unauthorized alcoholic beverages, drugs and tobacco and all drugs substances or becoming under their influence, whether at the work place or outside.

The last point appears to be the most confusing to many educators.

A local lawyer told Doha News that while it doesn’t outright ban teachers from drinking alcohol or smoking, it does remind staff that they must operate within the law – so having a drink in a bar is not illegal in Qatar, but driving afterwards would be.

According to the Tribune, educators found violating the code would face disciplinary action, ranging from warnings to the termination of their contract.

Personal freedom

Many teachers who spoke to Doha News supported the idea of improving educational standards, but some criticized key aspects of the new code that appear to dictate modest dress and limit drinking and smoking out of school hours.

Qatari science teacher Muhammed al-Jassem, who teaches at an independent middle school for boys, said he was glad the SEC is “aware of some problems and is addressing them.”

But he was critical of the council’s attempts to direct teachers’ behavior out of school:

“What teachers do extra-curricularly is their business and no one else’s. No one has the right to tell a teacher what he or she can or cannot do in their own time. They are adults and responsible for their own actions. Their behavior outside work shouldn’t be open to public scrutiny.”

Any violations of the law should be dealt with by police, and not education authorities, he added.

Al-Jassem also questioned the SEC’s introduction of new rules without consulting teachers first, saying, “The decision-making process behind certain things is undemocratic and needs revision.”

His sister, a retired Arabic language supervisor who worked in education for 24 years, echoed his concerns.

Speaking to Doha News, Jameela Sultan al-Jaseem said article 10 of the code raises suspicion about teachers’ behavior.

Interpreting the language to mean that drinking and smoking are off-limits, she said this part of the code was inappropriate for non-Arab and non-Muslim teachers:

“This should not be imposed on teachers from different cultures while in their free time. Going out for a drink or having a drink with dinner is perfectly acceptable in some cultures. As long as these teachers do not promote these habits to our children, then it is their right to practise what suits them, especially when they are not breaking the country’s laws.”

But Jordanian teacher Hanan, who teaches English at an independent girls’ school in Qatar, argued that it is critical for teachers to show students the same values that they have at home and in wider society.

“Otherwise we’ll have a socially and culturally schizophrenic generation,” she said, continuing:

“Being a teacher is unlike any other profession. Teachers are role models. The students we teach look up to us and imitate us in anything we do. We impact students more than their parents at times…

I see this code of conduct as prevention. A teacher has always been a symbol of respect, wisdom and responsibility. These guidelines make sure that teachers remain this way.”

Dress code

Article 7 in the code, which reminds teachers to dress modestly, taking into account the customs and traditions of “the workplace and beyond,” has also raised questions. Many teachers point out that “modest” dress is not clearly defined and could cause confusion.

The concept of a dress code for teachers is not exclusive to Qatar, as schools in many countries now require their staff to dress professionally and in a businesslike manner.

Earlier this year for example, a headteacher in the UK who had previously banned girls at his school from wearing short skirts made the news after he told female teachers not to wear tight, revealing or skimpy tops.

Supportive of the guidelines, Egyptian teacher Ms. Mohammad, who teaches English at a girls’ high school in Qatar, said, “educational institutions in the West impose a dress code. It is the same here. Female teachers need to dress modestly at school.”

Thoughts?

42 COMMENTS

Subscribe
Notify of
42 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Lionel_Shaon_
Lionel_Shaon_
6 years ago

I would expect a major point of an ethics code in the realm of academia would include something about plagiarism

Gareth Walters
Gareth Walters
6 years ago

It is already difficult enough to get teachers into Qatar, most schools will not pay a high enough salary for a teacher to sponsor their family. So many are asked to leave their family behind if they want to work here. Most will be housed in shared accommodation and naturally would not be issued with an NOC should they want to change jobs.
Teaching is a skilled job that requires a university degree, Engineers and Doctors have no restrictions on how they spend their free time, neither should teachers.
Anyone who comes to work in any foreign country should respect the values and traditions of the country they are living in. However these rules seem to leave teachers very unprotected. Schools should be able to stand behind their staff for when inevitably a parent verbally abuses or insults a teacher. I have seen and heard horror stories of how parents treat teachers, it is important that in these cases teaching staff are protected.

AEC
AEC
6 years ago
Reply to  Gareth Walters

I think you might be talking about the countries at the top of the PISA scores – not the ones at the bottom.

truth.e.ness
truth.e.ness
6 years ago

I think Qatar should focus on policing the roads & human rights violations instead of writing policy for how teachers should behave.

Waveydavey
Waveydavey
6 years ago

I think a code of conduct is essential…for work and for work only. It has absolutely nothing to do with the SEC what people do in their spare time/private lives, PRIVATE being the buzz word here! If teachers break the law outside of school, then it is for the law to decide how this is dealt with, Not a load of people who have never stepped foot in a classroom.

A_qtr
A_qtr
6 years ago
Reply to  Waveydavey

Most SEC members are career teachers… And though they won’t police their private lives.. I believe the SEC simply doesn’t want their teachers openly posting their boozed up weekend pixs on Facebook …

Waveydavey
Waveydavey
6 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

I don’t think any employee would, but my point is they shouldn’t be questioning personal lives.

A_qtr
A_qtr
6 years ago
Reply to  Waveydavey

i don’t think a code of conduct or code of ethics questions anyone lives, they simply set out behavorial guidelines which they expect their employees to adhere to, such as no drinking during working hours and dressing modestly and not expressing strong political views. and as for the boozed up weekend picture, that actually happened! the teacher, who had students in her class on her fb account, posted pictures of her weekend at the beach with the boys on fb… she didn’t set some privacy setting on the picture and they’re was a huge uproar by the school.. the students on the other hand were very pleased :/

Waveydavey
Waveydavey
6 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

Well silly her for not setting her privacy up properly!!

A_qtr
A_qtr
6 years ago

I don’t see the big deal here… It’s just stating the obvious and outlining it for the sake of saying “we have a code of conduct..”

Dress modestly, yes you’re a teacher.. Don’t drink during school hours… Duh! Authorized alcohol .. I’m guessing that’s you mr. Egyptian science teacher .. No more carrefour cheap colognes and tonic…

As for policing it… Lol .. Good luck.. We can’t enforce traffic laws so I don’t think teachers have to worry about the “Education Moral Police” busting in their doors…

In my current job we have something very similar that even extends to social media where we are not allowed to represent our company logo or present ourselves as employees of the company if we use social media to express strong religious, social or political views… or any other behavior which may be deemed to be generally offensive to insensitivities to the corporate culture.

Honestly Dohanews there no story here…

What is worrying is there are over 650 open positions in schools!!

Observant One
Observant One
6 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

Exactly a Code of Conduct in the public sector is the norm. And really who is going to police it, don’t worry teacher you can still have a glass of red at the end of the day if it is your want, no one will care, no one will police it.

DavidRSS8
DavidRSS8
6 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

Lots of jobs have moral clauses that enable employers to fire or discipline employees for violating laws outside of the workplace. It doesn’t seem to me that this policy does much more than that. But, like everything else in Qatar, it comes down to interpretation and enforcement.

osamaalassiry
osamaalassiry
6 years ago
Reply to  DavidRSS8

You know that employers are enabled without needing any policy…

DavidRSS8
DavidRSS8
6 years ago
Reply to  osamaalassiry

True, but in many systems if the employee is fired for violating a moral clause of the contract there is no (or little) severance benefits. This is true for a number of employee contracts with Western companies in Qatar (i.e. if the employee is deported for violating Qatari laws on alcohol, the employee is in breach of the contract and the employer owes him very little).

Does the reason for the loss of job (i.e. the school no longer needs the employee’s services versus the employee’s misconduct) matter in terms of final compensation in the Qatar public sector?

Michael Fryer
Michael Fryer
6 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

So you don’t think it’s weird that a teacher could get in trouble for sitting back and smoking a sheesha in Souq Waqif at 1am on Friday night?

A_qtr
A_qtr
6 years ago
Reply to  Michael Fryer

I don’t interpret the code of conduct the same way you do…

Michael Fryer
Michael Fryer
6 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

I interpret the final point on the code of conduct that the consumption of alcohol or tobacco products, whether at school or not, is not allowed.

How do you interpret the final point?

Jaded
Jaded
6 years ago
Reply to  Michael Fryer

You forgot about possession, you don’t have to go as far as consuming it

A_qtr
A_qtr
6 years ago
Reply to  Michael Fryer

Learn Arabic and read the actual code of conduct not Dohanews translation of it

AEC
AEC
6 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

I don’t think that is a realistic proposition to be able to comment knowledgeably in a timely manner. It would make more sense for someone who read both (very well) to comment as to the accuracy of the translation. Keep in mind Doha News is an intentionally English medium forum – I assume for the intention of inclusiveness.

Yacine
Yacine
6 years ago

The point here, from what I understood from Twitter and FB discussions, is about the smell. You can spend the whole night drinking but you have to come sober to the classroom, and most importantly, you should not have the slightest smell of alcohol. Many people mentioned cigarettes too, and said that the new rules require teachers not to smell cigarettes. If this is true then teachers need to abstain from smoking until the school day finishes, including during coffee and lunch breaks.

As for policing, I do not think the SEC wil send people to enforce these rules, but they will most probably rely on students and parents complaints. If some students complain about a teacher smelling alcohol or cigarettes then he will probably be in trouble.

A_qtr
A_qtr
6 years ago
Reply to  Yacine

first day of school, dropping two of my children, front gate, and behold the lebanese teacher smoking while staring at her phone… my stomach clinched… it’s her right to smoke… and she’s not doing it on school grounds…. she was right outside the door…. it was just something unsettleing about seeing your childs educator puffing away right in front of the school gate on the first day of school…

Jaded
Jaded
6 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

from now on this teacher will do it out of sight and then wash her hands and pop a couple of mints, probably together with some of the older students

A_qtr
A_qtr
6 years ago
Reply to  Jaded

Yes that would be nice

Yacine
Yacine
6 years ago
Reply to  Jaded

This is how she should have done in the first place, but now with the new rules she needs to quit smoking altogether or wait until she goes home. 🙂

A_qtr
A_qtr
6 years ago
Reply to  Yacine

The rule applies to govt and charter schools only not private schools

Oracle
Oracle
6 years ago
Reply to  Yacine

New rules focus on levels of alcohol and testosterone.

As for cigarette, at this stage, teachers will be punished if NOT sharing it with students, who ask. In doing so, priority should be given to Qatari students. They are encouraged to take students on a “shisha trip to Aspire park”, etc.

Yacine
Yacine
6 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

I totally agree and I would be very unhappy with that myself. And if she has a lesson about cigarettes and their bad effects on health, how would she explain that and how would students react knowing that she is a smoker?
By the way, you should have photographed her and reported her to the SEC 🙂

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

That is quite disgusting

DavidRSS8
DavidRSS8
6 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

This is worrying on two further grounds:
1) a decent headmaster/headmistress should be addressing this even without the SEC rule
2) if the teacher has this little regard on this issue for the students in her, I would worry how this is reflected on her performance in the classroom.

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago

Having a code of conduct like this is reasonable and I don’t understand the backlash. If you drink ok, if you drink and drive, well doh, you should be arrested and if guilty you will lose your job as well.

However one of these is impossible to comply with

‘Respecting Islamic values, national customs and traditions and all other religious beliefs’
Due to the contradicting nature of the various faiths around the world it is impossible to respect one without contravening the tennents of another. For example in Islam Jesus (Issa) is considered a prophet not the son of God, which is considered extermley insulting to Christains. Hindus believe in many Gods, which contridicts the Islamic assertion that there is only one true God. Don’t let me get onto Buddist or cargo cults, it gets even worse….. Better for them to say don’t talk about religion and keep your personal beliefs to yourself. Religion should be taught as a general philisopical subject as part of human history and culture, stating one religion is true or not should not be forced onto vunerable children.

SokhnaFan2010
SokhnaFan2010
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

I respect all and at the same time contravene by default. If those that have concerns with that, but express it freely and openly, without further discrimination or intent to influence, then nothing wrong with that in my book. The kids are the future after all and hopefully learn from the mistakes we make.

A_qtr
A_qtr
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

lol … very pedantic…

AEC
AEC
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

That would be in a secular country?

Jaded
Jaded
6 years ago

Well all you need now is another headline, “disgruntled student rats out teacher for allegedly having alcohol breath” and you can forget about filling those vacancies

Michael Fryer
Michael Fryer
6 years ago

If this applies to all the staff at SEC schools, will it be a matter of time before it is extended to the entire workforce of the SEC, regardless of whether they work inside a school or not?

And if not, why not? Why should the admin staff working at a school campus be held to a higher example than the admin staff working elsewhere for the SEC?

A_qtr
A_qtr
6 years ago

Come on chipper.. Irrational decisions like this only happens in Doha.. Probably a fake article

LAH
LAH
6 years ago

A total invasion of privacy and civil liberties. Forget about recruiting western teachers with this code of conduct!

The Reporter
The Reporter
6 years ago

Supply and DEMAND? Teachers are now in short supply throughout the western world so why would they come to work under the Kafala in Qatar, particularly as the salaries for teachers in Qatar are simply unrealistic?

Oracle
Oracle
6 years ago

I suggest the following improvements to the ethics code:

– As part of the new pledge, only foreign teachers will be required to allow schools to install the CCTVs in their housing units with all cost being salary deductible.

– As part of phase 2, starting from next academic year, all foreign teachers will be injected with a capsule to track their whereabouts as well as the levels of alcohol, adrenaline and other classified measures of interest to the SEC.

Any other suggestions? Let’s help SEC

disqus_21uQ1hXhE0
disqus_21uQ1hXhE0
6 years ago

There are some positives here like the conflict of interest law. Some teachers push kids into tutoring after school, which is a conflict of interest recognized in other places. As usual, the weird paternalism of the SEC flavors everything…ugh.

Related Articles

- Advertisment -

Most Read

Qatar’s amir raises retirement pension to QR 15,000

0
Sheikh Tamim issues a new retirement law to ensure that retired citizens live a decent life after years of serving the country.  Qatar’s Amir Sheikh...

Subscribe to Doha News below!

To be updated with all the latest news, offers and special announcements.