20,000 students affected in Saudi visa crackdown

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More than 20,000 Saudi school children are said to have been affected by the kingdom’s visa crackdown after teachers caught up in the law change stayed home, it was reported.

It comes as Saudi authorities warned private and international schools will not be exempt from ongoing raids to catch labor and residency law violators, following rumours private schools were granted a three-month reprieve from the security campaign.

Ministry of Labor spokesman Hetab Al Anzy said there was “no truth” to reports of an exemption for the schools and said inspections would include “all firms and institutions”.

Teachers and other staff of many private schools received messages from school authorities claiming that an agreement has been reached between the ministries of labor and education to postpone raids at schools until the beginning of the second semester of the new academic year, the Saudi Gazette reported.

It prompted a large number of teachers to report for duty on Tuesday after they stayed indoors on the first day of the post-amnesty period.

However, Noura Al Amri, member of the private education committee at the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI), said owners and operators of many private schools received email messages about the alleged agreement between the two ministries.

The Gazette reported that many teachers were reluctant to transfer their sponsorship to schools as this would lead to losing many of the allowances they were enjoying. Other reasons for the absence of teachers was that they had yet to receive results from the Ministry of a qualifying test held recently.

According to reports, more than 200,000 students have been affected by the crisis following the end of the amnesty period.

Khaled Al Jowairah, chairman of the private education committee at Sharqiya chamber, said many schools were also facing an acute shortage of cleaners and canteen workers.

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