A prominent source at the Ministry of Labor has confirmed that females accompanying their expatriate relatives will be granted annual work permits that will enable them to work as teachers at private schools.
Such a move is considered “a tentative first step” toward legalizing the status of female teachers at private schools, he said.
The source said, “A statement from the Ministry of Labor has confirmed that companions of expatriates who want to work at private schools must possess a license or certification to be able to work.”
The source also revealed that the results of continuous inspection campaigns at private schools will be announced next week. Several schools have already responded to the Ministry of Labor and legalized the status of their female teachers.
Many private schools have reported regular attendance of expatriate female staff following the distribution of work permit forms in the past few days.
Female members of staff are generally sponsored by their parents or spouses.
Many teachers had stayed home when the inspection campaigns began fearing arrest for being considered to be in violation of work and residency regulations. However, they returned upon assurances made by administrators that permits were an alternative option to transferring their sponsorships.
Nora Omari, deputy chairman of the National Education Commission at the Council of Saudi Chambers of Commerce and Industry, said that the Ministries of Labor and Education are conducting multiple meetings to find suitable options for the female companions of expatriates to work as teachers at private schools.
According to Omari, insisting on transferring teachers’ sponsorship would have caused many schools to close down, as female teachers are reluctant to change their sponsorship and forfeit the advantages they gain from having their husbands and fathers as sponsors.
Many of these teachers have been in the Kingdom for over 20 years.
However, schools that have failed to transfer staff sponsorship may fall into the “red” zone of the nationalization scheme. As such, the new work permits are a sort of half-way house to reconcile the issue of sponsorship.
Meanwhile, the vice-chairman of the Committee on Education of the National Council of Saudi Chambers of Commerce and Industry has described the new work permits as “an opportunity” to continue educational work without the fear of the system grinding to a halt.
In addition, it helps organize and determine the number of teachers at private schools.
Such a step, he said, would benefit the Ministry of Labor in eliminating work irregularities.
According to an employee at the Education Guidance Department of Riyadh, who requested anonymity, the annual work permit was distributed to teachers at schools as an alternative to sponsorship transfer.
Permits must have the permit holder and sponsor’s residency number, the name of the school, the duration of authorization, which will be granted a year at a time and the scope of work to be undertaken at the school that issues the permit.
The source said that numerous teachers at private schools in Riyadh have expressed relief at the issuance of work permits. With these permits, many have expressed more security with regards their status.
One teacher said, “Transferring my sponsorship to the school would have led me to lose the advantages I have from being under my guardian’s sponsorship, which include medical insurance and travel tickets.”