Monday, June 05, 2023 | Dhu al-Qaadah 15, 1444 H
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It’s time we hired Omanis to teach our students


Ali Al Matani  - - Even after spending time and money to get themselves educated, citizens of the Sultanate are given a short shrift when it comes to using their skills.

Nationals, who are graduates from faculty of education of different universities, are kept waiting pending approval for work from the Ministry of Education, while we see the same ministry employing foreign teachers.

This problem keeps repeating every year. There is no justification for such a practice. The ministry doesn’t even clarify its decisions in this regard, while these expatriate teachers aren’t as capable as our graduates.

Education is a subject shared by many ministries. Some ministries close down the faculties and other times they open it. Sometimes they stop accepting people. This reality lays bare the ugly truth of instability of the education policies of ministries.

Our education system has progressed beyond our imagination since the beginning of Renaissance. Thanks to the vision of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos.

During the 1970s, 90 per cent of teachers were expatriates. In 1975, two Teacher Training Institutes were set up in Oman — one for males and another for females — which allowed many Omani teachers to be recruited. By 1980, the number of teachers had grown to 5,150. By 2011, it grew tenfold to 51,811.

The main priority for the Ministry of Education in the years following 1970 was to increase access to its services as quickly as possible. Its success was recognised in a World Bank report in 2001, which described the development of Oman’s education system as “massive”, “unprecedented”, and “unparalleled by any other country”.

Although statistics show there is a rise in demand for teachers across the Sultanate as the number of students is increasing every year, the authorities are perhaps deaf when it comes to nationals or choosing to ignore their need for jobs.

They should engage teachers for the benefit of students rather than viewing it as an employment generation programme.

Education plays a key role in shaping society, transmitting culture and values, and developing skills and capacities that influence lives of its citizens.

There is a need to engage teachers who are part of this culture and can impart to students the same values they have imbibed rather than those of a foreign culture.

Even as we see advertisements in neighbouring countries for teachers in Oman, we should keep in mind these teachers are coming from a culture different from our culture and environment.

Their Arabic accent is different from ours, in a way that is hard for our students to understand.

Unfortunately, some of our graduates are subjected to language tests to assess their level of proficiency. Most of these tests are very tough, making it impossible for our candidates to pass.

Some of the ministries justify hiring of expatriates saying that these contracts are temporary, while Omanis have to be engaged on a permanent basis. Although this is not justifiable, the shortage of teachers can be solved by hiring nationals on short contracts unlike for years together, as in the case of expatriate teachers.

Although some nationals are hired every year, it is not enough as many graduate from various educational institutions aiming to take up teaching but remain jobless for years.

It is shameful our sons and daughters remain jobless even as we hire foreigners to teach our children.

We hope the Ministry of Education and other stakeholders in the sector clarify these practices and convince us that their plans and programmes aim to provide jobs for our human resources, and how they would hire nationals instead of foreigners to take the march of education in our homeland forward.

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