Gruesome murder prompts Saudi Arabia women to create nurseries

October 9, 2012

Schoolteachers in Saudi Arabia have moved ahead with a plan to set up nurseries in their schools “to feel more at ease while carrying out their duties.”

The move follows calls to the education ministry to help women teachers following the gruesome murder of a four-year-old girl — the daughter of a Saudi middle school teacher — by the family’s domestic helper last month.

In their petition and online campaign, the women teachers said that they could no longer feel comfortable leaving their children alone with helpers at home and suggested the establishment of nurseries and kindergartens in schools.

However, some teachers have reportedly preferred not to wait and have set up nurseries in their schools with assistance from the school administration.

Principals backed the move after they noted the increase in absent teachers worried for their children, local Arabic daily Al Eqtisadiya reported on Tuesday.

“The principal of our school transformed a room into a nursery and allowed teachers to bring in their kids,” a teacher told the daily. “The children’s nannies come in and look after them while the mothers are working. It is a wonderful idea that has ended the thick tension that has prevailed lately and helped the teachers feel at ease. Teachers got really scared by the murder and following media reports that the positive treatment of the helper did not help and that she may have been pushed to killing Tala, the young girl, by beliefs in superstition, magic and witchcraft.”

The setting up of the nursery did not cost more than SR3,000 (Dh2,938) to buy toys and games and equipment needed by the infants, she said.

Manal Saleh Nasser, a school principal in the Red Sea resort of Jeddah, said that a nursery for the teachers’ infants was set up after she obtained the approval of the local education authorities.

“The decision to set up the nursery was taken after I noticed the repeated absence of teachers who claimed their children were sick and that they had no family to look after them,” Manal said. “We had one large room that was initially reserved as a teachers’ room, so we converted it into a nursery and we hired Saudi women to look after the infants until their mothers take them home,” she said, quoted by the daily.

Morale among teachers shot up and motivation for work increased impressively, the principal said.

“I do hope that other schools will be able to establish nurseries and ensure a zero-worry environment for the teachers,” she said.

Fayza Al Harbi, a teacher in the Saudi capital Riyadh, said that the establishment of nurseries was a necessity following the brutal slaying of Tala, the daughter of a teacher who was left alone with a trusted helper.

“Nurseries are not expensive and setting them [up] is really easy,” she said. “All it takes is a dedicated room that teachers are willing to prepare through personal efforts and contributions. However, its benefits for everyone are enormous. I am aware that several teachers have started planning for a nursery on our school,” she said.



About the author

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

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