500 Saudi schools to close unless visa rules changed, academic predicts

Schools facing teacher shortages after the Ministry of Labor tightened visa sponsorship rules
500 Saudi schools to close unless visa rules changed, academic predicts
By Beatrice Thomas
Mon 05 May 2014 10:36 AM

Up to 500 international schools operating in Saudi will close down by next year, according to the head of the national committee for international education at the Saudi Council of Chambers.

Dr Mansour Al Khenaizan made the prediction in comments to Al Madina newspaper, saying the schools, which had 300,000 students overall, faced teacher shortages after the Ministry of Labor tightened visa sponsorship rules.

He said the schools would likely incur losses of around SAR1bn ($267m).

Al Khenaizan said unless changes to the system were made, some schools would leave Saudi immediately, while others would eventually close down.

He said an agreement had been signed between the ministries of labour, education and interior to issue work permits to teachers accompanying their guardians, but the Ministry of Labor had yet to do this.

Adding to confusion he said the Ministry of Labor had inspected a number of schools and penalised those which were employing teachers who were not on their sponsorship despite those teachers having work permits issued by the Ministry of Education.

Al Khenaizan said a solution would be a phased-in approach where teachers with work permits can continue working while the ministry facilitated a recruitment drive under its new system.

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