UAE | Education

Council probes pupil abuse at Abu Dhabi school

Mohammad was also physically abused on several occasions, according to his father

  • By Dina El Shammaa, Abu Dhabi Deputy Editor
  • Published: 00:00 May 11, 2010
  • Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: For eight-year-old Mohammad going to school is no longer an opportunity to learn and have fun. Instead, his father says, it fills him with dread, wondering what will cause him to be punished this time.

A written complaint sent by Mohammad's father, Majid Bushnaq, to both his son's school — the International School of Choueifat (ISC) — and to the Abu Dhabi Education Council (Adec), described Mohammad's situation as: "abusive and heavy-handedness of the school's disciplinary action, misuse of power to bully my son emotionally and physically to the point of tears and extreme depression, has impacted his grades negatively."

Bushnaq described how teachers embarrassed Mohammad on a number of occasions in front of his class mates, by asking him if he has found another school.

"Upon entering the class, the same teacher asked Mohammad to immediately leave the room and stay outside the entire lesson. Her excuse/explanation for punishing him was because of telling his father about the event above," said Bushnaq.

Mohammad's father said the boy once received an infraction/detention for asking a teacher for a sharpener.

"He had to sit the rest of the lesson without taking notes or working on the class exercises just because he forgot his sharpener." said the father.

Mohammad was also physically abused on several occasions, according to his father.

"When he was once kicked out of a classroom, the teacher slammed the door in his face, which ended up hitting him in the forehead, luckily he wasn't injured."

He said on another occasion, the detention teacher pulled Mohammad's hair, because he didn't sit down on time.

No apology

"Another teacher hit his lower lip while throwing his report book on the floor. All these incidents happened without a single apology letter from anyone," Bushnaq told Gulf News.

When they approached the school, Mohammad's parents were not permitted to speak to any of his school teachers.

"Instead we met with the headmaster, who refused to offer us a solution or listen to any of our complaints. He actually put my elder son who's in the same school, and has two years to graduate, into the equation, by telling us that if we didn't like the system, we should stop registration for both my sons," said Bushnaq.

When Gulf News approached Jean Kassis, the ISC school headmaster for comments, he answered: "I'm not going to comment on any of those things, because that's related to the future of a child. The school will hold you and whoever is complaining responsible if you publish this."

Investigation: Official's response

When asked about the incident, Dr Mugheer Al Khaili, Director General, the Abu Dhabi Education Council (Adec), said: "Adec is in contact with the school principal to discuss the matter further. However, by no means is physical and mental abuse acceptable in any school. We are currently looking into both sides of the story, but if and when we have proof that Mohammad was abused, we will take immediate action."

Do you know anyone who has been physically abused in school? Did they file a complaint? Has it become a norm for teachers to abuse students?

Comments (18)

  1. Added 19:33 May 11, 2010

    action should be taken against the school .. as i dont think this is acceptable in any "proper" school .. now how can parents who have their children in chouifat know whats happening with their children ,, how can they trust the teachers when the parents arent even allowed any contact with them ...

    Rashed , Abu Dhabi , Afghanistan

  2. Added 19:25 May 11, 2010

    I personally know both of the children as I go to the same school and I am in the same grade a the elder brother, and so I have seen how these 2 students and many more sudents including me are treated. for example the yearly sportsday was ruined for the students just because they were wearing differnt uniforms according to our teams. Althoughthe administration is very bad Choueifat, the school is one of the best and i cant imagine myself in any other school.

    Pato, Abu Dhbi, Afghanistan

  3. Added 18:49 May 11, 2010

    This school has an awesome system, but teachers do not care about teaching, and anything you do, will result as a detention, many of the times, the teachers give unreasonable detentions such as: No homework, is normally a detention called No Homework, me myself, have experienced an occasion like this, when i was given insulting the teacher, and No Homework, when basically i had a homework due the next day, while my exams were on!

    Hamdan, Abu Dhabi, Afghanistan

  4. Added 18:48 May 11, 2010

    hey i study in this school..exact school,this school no matter how harshly it gives detentions. I swear no one has ever physically abused anyone in this school.... If the child does not like the school he may as well leave it.

    Hassan Munir, Abu dhabi, United Arab Emirates

  5. Added 18:29 May 11, 2010

    I attend this school as a senior, and from my experience in the 6 years i have spent at this school, there is always an explanation for the punishment of a student. Theres no such thing as "getting a detention for no reason". Are detentions SOMETIMES given unfairly? Yes, but it happens only rarely. In this case, this student is obviously not telling the full truth. Perhaps he repeatedly asked for a sharpener just to annoy the teacher and interrupt his class, or something of this sort. The two incidents of physical abuse by the teacher were probably unintentional and happened by accident, although the detention room supervisors are violent with the kids and treat them disrespectfully(even as seniors, they made us sit in the detention room, instead of letting us sit in the cafeteria, when we did not have class, and we were constantly being yelled at and disrespected by the supervisor), however this is probably due to constantly having to deal with disrespectful kids all day.

    Adel, Abu Dhabi, Afghanistan

  6. Added 17:14 May 11, 2010

    Physically and emotionally abusing a child is not acceptable. The impact of this in the childs future needs to be considered. These teachers take law into their own hands, who gives them the right to beat a kid up. there are other ways of disciplinary action and hitting is definitely not one of it. Action should be taken against the school.

    Shweta, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

  7. Added 17:13 May 11, 2010

    I must admit Choueifat is a very good school academically but they are too rigid as they expect the kids to be perfect when they join the school.Choueifat's solution to any "faults" is detentions or abstain kids from attending their class and the worst part is, we, as parents are NOT allowed ANY CONTACT WITH TEACHERS to see in depth the problems of our kids. They fail to realise that punishing kids like they do end up traumatising them. They should learn from British School when it comes to disciplined. It is a very good move if ADEC does proper investigation and proceed further with the case.

    F.Ara, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  8. Added 16:50 May 11, 2010

    It is very simple! How do you expect good education, good teachers and good students when the root causes of the problem are not dealt with?? I really think it is a bit of everything, education is a long process and we all have to be involved; parents, management, heads and teachers. First the parents; Many parents take no responsibility for their children's problematic behavior and blame the teacher since it is an easy target. On the other hand, look into many teachers' educational background, qualifications, and the years of teaching experience (in some schools) that have been hired. There is a big gap in the process of hiring AND the management of the school. i.e. A French educated teacher who just speaks Arabic is given 2 classes to teach, French and Arabic at the same time (management part) to save some money! This adds up and she/he is under so much pressure. I'm not giving an excuse to allow any sort of abuse however. one more point, despite many complains from parents and others, some schools refuse to take that into consideration, are unwilling to improve their rigid system and the cycle will never be broken!! In short, parents need to spend more time with their children and get closer to them, In addition, candidates must be selected carefully, and finally the higher authorities should again select the right principles, managers for the right position so run a smoother school operation.

    Anonymous, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  9. Added 15:45 May 11, 2010

    To the reader who said: "He/she may be rude, undisciplined, slow or all of the above, yet, they are children and need to be dealt with in the proper manner that should be TAUGHT TO THE TEACHERS themselves". If a child is rude and indisciplined, aren't the parents to be blamed? If a parent is unable to take care of a child, when an average family would have 2-3 children, don't you think it is a little wrong to expect a teacher to take such behaviour from a child, when she is managing almost 30 children on average in a class. Please don't get me wrong, I am not supporting the use of force or physically punishing a child, but the education system is seriously flawed at the moment. and personally, i feel, the teachers are becoming the easy target. "My child misbhaves, the teacher should be patient." "Salaries are low, the teachers should accomodate as teaching is a noble profession." "Fees are high, cut the costs at school" (Which ultimately cuts the teachers' salary). As a parent, I would like to honestly ask other parents, don't you think we are to blame at some level for not being involved enough with our children?

    Amina, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  10. Added 14:26 May 11, 2010

    Completely agreed with LSP. My daughter graduated from the Chouefat and I'm grateful to administration for the upbringing. Need to see first if the kid is able to behave himself in community.

    Igor, Ajman, United Arab Emirates

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