Education ministry denies teachers’ rights abuse report

June 9, 2010
By

Bahrain’s education ministry on Wednesday denied claims that it was abusing teachers’ rights by depriving them of the two breastfeeding hours.

A local paper on Tuesday said that teachers at a girls’ school in Muharraq, Bahrain’s second largest city, were up in arms with their principal for not allowing them to use their two daily hours to leave the school to breastfeed their babies and kept them in class to help correct exam papers.

However, the ministry said that the report was not true and that it would never tolerate abuse of women’s rights, regardless of the situation.

“We have always upheld teachers’ rights and there has never been an abuse of the two hours granted to mothers who breastfeed their babies,” a statement from the ministry said. “The teachers and administration at the school mentioned in the report had an agreement to defer the two hours to a different timing or day if they coincided with a teacher’s exam supervision duty. We were aware of the agreement and we have endorsed it because it allowed the school and the teachers to proceed smoothly through the exam periods,” the ministry said.

Thousands of middle and high schools are now sitting for exams in Bahrain, requiring a massive presence of teachers to supervise tests and correct papers.

“We have more than 3,400 teachers who breastfeed their babies. If no compromises or agreements are reached, we have a serious problem. We do appreciate the numerous sacrifices that many teachers and administrators are doing to ensure a smooth examination period,” the ministry said.

Under Bahrain’s laws, mothers working in the public sector are given two hours off their schedule every day for two years to allow them to go home and breastfeed their babies. Attempts by MPs concerned about productivity to reduce the hours or the two-year period have failed.

Several parents and students had requested a change in the timing of the exam to avoid dates clashing with the World Cup finals due to start on Friday in South Africa.

Football remains the top passion of teenagers in Bahrain and the Arabian Gulf countries. Only one Arab team, Algeria, has qualified for the finals. However, most students support Latin America powerhouses Brazil and Argentina.

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About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Career
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
Education
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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