New UAE work permit for tutors: Will schools put in rules for teachers?

Educators say that although teachers have unique insights into their students’ needs, coaching them might create challenges in maintaining objectivity

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Nandini Sircar

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Published: Sun 24 Dec 2023, 4:29 PM

Last updated: Sun 24 Dec 2023, 6:47 PM

Senior leadership in schools may discourage their teachers from coaching their own students privately as this might lead to a potential clash of interest.

Additionally, educators working in public or private schools typically need a ‘No Objection Certificate’ (NOC) from their employer before providing private tutoring.

Speaking to Khaleej Times, several head teachers say that if tutoring is permitted, this practice should be limited to secondary-level classes and beyond, as students at this stage might require extra assistance in preparing for external exams.

This reaction follows the recent news that private tuition has been legalised in the UAE, with authorities announcing a new permit that allows teachers to offer lessons outside educational institutions.

Educators at the school level say that although teachers have unique insights into their students’ abilities and needs, coaching their own pupils might create challenges in maintaining objectivity or fairness, especially in evaluative situations.

Avoiding clash of interest

Tasneem Usman, Head of Secondary, Pristine Private Schools says, “I think students do need extra support, especially at the A and AS levels. Despite having extended classes in schools some students need further reinforcement where private tuitions can play an important role as lessons tailored to pupils’ specific needs can improve performances.”

Tasneem Usman
Tasneem Usman

She points out that transparency about expectations, avoiding conflicts of interest, and ensuring fairness in assessments is crucial in maintaining this balance.

“Schools should have a set of general guidelines and policies that do not lead to a clash of interest. Teachers should not be tutoring their own students, as certain biases can creep in. That’s what our school maintains. Private coaching should be restricted to secondary classes and above where students might genuinely need help," she says.

Headteachers also highlight that with clear guidelines and boundaries, teachers can often effectively coach students while still maintaining professionalism and fairness.

Assistant Head Teacher at Royal Grammar School Guildford Dubai, Sajida Al Bashir, said, “I have some strong feelings about private tuition. If done, it should be done and designed well.”

“People have throughout asked me in my working career if I want to impart private tuitions and I have always maintained a ‘no’,” said the Jordanian teacher, who has been in this profession for the past 28 years.

“It’s not like I am against the idea. The reason for saying so is that it was not legal so far and I never had the time to do so,” added the teacher of Islamic Education, Arabic, and Social Studies.

Sajida Al Bashir
Sajida Al Bashir

Teachers discouraged

Veterans in the field explain that exceptions can be made by schools if a student experiences extraordinary learning difficulties.

The Principal of JSS International School Dubai, Lata Nakra, said, “While we would not be very strict about teachers creating a means for an additional income, we definitely discourage our teachers coaching their own students or even other students at the same school.”

Nakra underlines that for this, teachers will have to spare time apart from certain ethical questions being raised about fairness and preferential treatment.

“But to be honest, teachers’ salaries are not very attractive hence some might need to resort to private coaching to sustain their families,” she added.

When discussing teachers promoting their services, Nakra says that a proficient teacher tends to naturally gain recognition among parents and students. “As for advertising their services, I think a good teacher cannot remain hidden from parents and students... the word spreads and teachers get approached to provide extra support."

“This should only be allowed for the secondary classes where students need to crack the board exams or other public exams. [There shoud be] no private coaching at the elementary level, as parents can step in and help their child if a concept is not clear. So, while I am fine with teachers creating a means for additional income, it surely cannot be at the expense of their efficacy in their classroom teaching. [However], some students might thrive only with that one-on-one help, so private coaching cannot be ruled out completely.”

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