Teacher death sparks debate on poor working conditions in private schools

(Photo: Jordan News)

AMMAN — The death of a 34-year-old pregnant teacher, who slipped into a coma shortly after feeling sick at work, sparked debate on poor working conditions in private schools in Jordan.اضافة اعلان

The death of Ruba went viral on social media on Saturday, when her husband appeared in a video shared by the “stand for teachers” campaign to explain what happened with his late wife, who also lost her newborn.

Ruba’s husband said that his wife, who was eight months into her pregnancy, felt tired while working. He accused her employer, Majma Al-Bahrain Academy, of failing to provide her with immediate medical assistance.

But the school’s director Murad Bani Melhem dismissed the allegation, saying that the school’s administration accepted the teacher’s request to leave the school’s premises when she reported that she was “feeling tired” on March 14.

“She was asked if she wanted to be taken to a hospital, but she refused and said that she was fine and would wait for her husband to pick her up,” Bani Melhem said. in a press statement “Her condition was stable and she did not fall unconscious in school, as it was claimed.”

He said Ruba’s colleagues who were in touch with her that day said that she went to the hospital, where she was discharged after being advised to see a gynecologist, which she did the following day.

“After three days, we heard that her condition got worse and that she slipped into a coma,” he said, pointing out that she died on March 25.

He claimed that her death was the result of pregnancy complications, having suffered a stroke two years earlier and that she had been warned to avoid getting pregnant.

Her husband said in the video that Ruba “slipped into a coma and was declared dead four days” after she was admitted to hospital. He said doctors were able to save the fetus, but that the newborn died two days later.

Haitham Al-Najdawi, director of the Central Inspection Department at the Ministry of Labor, told Jordan News that the ministry carries out inspections of private schools at the beginning and end of each scholastic year.

“During the school year, inspections are carried out on ad-hoc basis, whenever a complaint is received,” he said.

“The smalle the school, the bigger the chance of it getting inspected by the ministry of labor,” Najdawi said. He said there had been little complaints against bigger schools.

When asked about Ruba’s incident, Najdawi told Jordan News that there is no record of her complaining to the Ministry of Labor. He said information dug by the ministry revealed that she worked for that particular school for one year, not five years as her husband claimed. 

He said that Ruba was also registered at the Social Security Cooperation with a JD260 minimum wage, as set by the law.

Sara, who insisted to be identified by her first name, is also a teacher in one of the private schools in Amman. She reflected on her five years teaching in private schools.

“Work environment for teachers in private schools is the worst,” she said. “In smaller schools, teachers are doing more than what is required of them and the tasks never end.”

“You always have extra tasks to do after working hours, and I can guarantee that it’s not paying off in most schools, we receive a minimum wage, no health insurance and the contract ends at the end of the semester so that you won’t get paid for the summer,” she said.

The head of the private school owners’ union Munther Al-Sorani told Jordan News that the Ministry of Education is responsible for educational and technical matters only. If a complaint is lodged, the ministry refers it to the Ministry of Labor.

“It’s the teachers’ responsibility not to accept giving up any of their rights, and the ones who accept are responsible for this issue,” Sorani said.

“The complaints at the ministry of labor are dealt with privately and confidentially,” he said. “Therefore, we encourage any teacher who faces any issue to file a complaint rather than stay silent.”

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