With Reference to my earlier letter “Diplomats in KSA and their role in schools”, published in Dawn June 8, 2021 (https://www.dawn.com/news/1628216).
Also published in Dunya international October 6, 2021 https://dunyaintl.com/2021/10/06/diplomats-in-ksa-and-their-role-in-schools/
I would like to seek an urgent attention of honorable prime minster of Pakistan Mr. Imran Khan to look into massive irregularities in PISES, alargestPakistani community school in Riyadh.
We appreciate the steps taken by present government to facilitate overseas Pakistani especially in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Though we still have to see the impact of the new takeover by Pakistani diplomats in KSA but an insight at initial course of action of the newly arrived ambassador will shed some light on his vision and services most importantly in the educational sector.
In a recent video message to the community the current H.E, ambassador of Pakistan in Saudi Arabia conveyed the same old and concocted message that was envisaged and disseminated by the previous mission which was called back to Pakistan and implicated in profound malpractice and maladministration.Such messages are bouncing back and forth for quite long in the citizen portal between the foreignoffice and Pakistan Embassy in response to hundreds of complaints registered by parents’ community in Riyadh.
The video message of the current ambassador has categorically disowned a large number of parents community who not only spare their precious time for such volunteer community task, but their hard earnings keep the school running, they are the sole contributor of school’s budget.
Ironically soon after his arrival Mr. Ambassador concluded that failure of the school management council (SMCs) is due to interference of such councils in day-to-day affairs of the school. I paused for a while, glimpsed the activities of our parents council and then realized that probably the sincere efforts of the volunteer parents for the betterment of the school which included acquisition of smart projectors, verification of the degrees of the school’semployees, hiring firing of staff, alignment of teachers according to their specialties, rotation system for the key administrative positions of the school to empower other qualifiedteachers to take leadership role, rationale and implementation of the financial policies of the school or else the purpose built building project of the school etc. are thoseinterferences that Mr.Ambassadormight have thought of in his video message.
Surprisingly , ministry of education Saudi Arabia, which is the sole authority for all community schools across the kingdom has never even once complained or warned the legal council of the school about any such interferences. This depicts the sorrow state of affairs and professionalism of our diplomats and the school administration which communicates fabricated information to the embassy officials to avert check and balance system in the school.
Being Chairman of the Ex-SMC of PISES, I can understand the long-lasting impact of such statements from suchan elite government officialover the quality of services that volunteer parents are providing for their children’sschool. Though the formulation of new SMC is currently underway but in the wake of such statements from Mr. Ambassador, the newly formed SMC would merely work as a rubber stamp and show off piece to fulfill the legal requirement of the school set by MOE, KSA. This will sabotage the entire vison and mission of the school.
We are blessed with a vibrant Pakistani Community in KSA, many volunteer parents spare their precious time to be part of the school management councils , which is a pre-requisite laid by MOE, KSA. But unfortunately, this vision of MOE KSA has never been given chance to play its important role for the betterment of the school. PISES, unfortunately being run predominantly for a very long time by the singleadministration, the current principal, and his team of few teachers with enormous support from Embassy officials signing all the documents for the endorsement of illegal councils of the school . To stick to their position , the school administration is always at service of some officials from Pakistan Embassy rather than the school.
While the embassy officials enjoy uninterrupted fee discount for their children’s education but the poor parent’s community of PISES hit by worst financial constraints during COVID-19 pandemic are still waiting anxiously for some discount in the school’s fee.It is pertinent to mention that the previous legal councilof the school was removed immediately and un-ceremonially in July 2020 by the Pakistan embassy over a pity excuse of 50% fee discount announced for PISES students. Since then, the school is under the control of illegal council comprising of the current principal and few teachers ofthe school.
Moreover, restoration of the legal parent council is also an overwhelming demand of parent’s community in Riyadh, which the embassy officials still have to deliver . There is a dire need to put an end to the worst trend at PISES by which the removal of the legal councilsis alwaysso abrupt andinstant, but formulation of the new legal councilstakes years, reflecting the ill intention of our diplomats and the school administration regarding such a mega community school in Riyadh.
While Pakistani community in KSA hope that the government of Pakistan with the brand-new mission in Saudi Arabia will safeguard our rights in the foreign land. With this thought in our head , all members of the Ex-SMC of PISES held a meeting with current ambassador on June 1, 2021at the Embassy premises to discuss massive irregularities at PISES including the abrupt and un-ceremonial removal of legal SMC and constitution of a new illegal committee on 14 July 2020, headed by School’s Principal and few teachers. This removal of legal SMC wasinitiated by Embassy of Pakistan . Five out of total seven members of our council attended the meeting.
In a few hours long meeting with the current ambassador, facts and figures and the services delivered to the school by the Ex-SMC were reviewed. The 50% fee discount that was announced for PISES students during the peak COVID-19 pandemic, which was the main reason behind unjust dissolution of the Ex-SMC, was also discussed. In the light of all evidencepresented and bylaws set by MOE, KSA, its was evident that SMC is fully authorized to take any decision related to the affairs of the school without prior approval from any other agency .
We reiterated in the meeting a dire need tostreamline the school’s system as per constitution of the MOE, Saudi Arabia and uphold merits in all affairs of the school. During the meeting all members of the ex-SMC presented solid evidence that the current SMC headed by the school’s Principal is against the MOE constitution and involves a clear conflict of interest because all members of the current illegal SMC are regular employees of the school.The principal of the school was also invited by Embassy to the same meeting. We presenteda several years old history of malpractice at the school especially by the same principal who became chairman of the school’s illegal committees every single time the legal council was removed prematurely.
Despite all the facts,we were surprised that, the current illegal SMC (comprising of the School staff) was allowed to continue till the formation of the new management council.
It was also emphasized in the meeting that the dissolution of SMC is not a new situation; it has been happening for the past many years.In the years 2010, 2014, 2020 and many such incidences went unreported, the removal of several SMCshappenedlike this at the initiation of the Embassy and interim illegal SMCs were formed consisting of the school staff. Surprisingly in all such committees, the newly appointed Chairman happened to be the same person (the current serving Principal of the school).
We believe that there is a major flaw in the system which needs to be rectified beforehand. A shrewd analysis of the entire span of the last 25 years of the PISES will endorse the above fact, where the school remained predominantly under the control of single administration rather than legal councils. Embassy officials have further perpetuated such malpractices. This explains as to why PISES with million riyals of fund is unbale to acquire purpose-built building so far . The educational standard of the school is already compromised due to functioning of the afternoon shift of the school which is tremendously affecting the teaching hours of the students studying in the morning shift. When the idea for the purpose-builtbuilding was about to be materialized by the Ex-SMC to accommodate all students in the morning shift , then council was replaced by an illegal committee of the teachers by the mutual understanding between school administration and some officials from Pakistan Embassy.
Another major flaw in ourschool system, contrary to community schools of other nationalities in KSA, is that there have never been a smooth hand-over from outgoing SMC to the newly elected SMC. Outgoing SMC learns so much about the problems and issues in 2+ years. Suddenly, an interim SMC comprising of the school staff (against the constitution) comes into the picture and the new legal SMC is formed after a long gap and they start from square-zero. Subsequently, the new SMC spends 2+ years in understanding the school’s system and at the twilight of the tenure, they are dissolved. I believe this trouble shooting needs an urgent remedial action.
Since there is an ongoing unrest in the community regarding the current illegal management council of the school , therefore we suggested to Mr. Ambassadorin the meeting that the Ex-SMC which comprised of doctors, educationist, chartered accountant, IT and business consultant can take care of the affairs of the school until the new legal council is formed in the next 60 days as promised in the meeting. This will enable an effective hand-over of the current affairs of the school to the newly formed SMC. However , the suggestion went unattended.
We further emphasized in the meeting that Link Officer from Pakistan embassy, whose role is as an observer in the SMC, must adhere to the rules and regulations mentioned in the “MOE Constitution for the SMC” and let the SMC members perform their work as per the Constitution.
I request the relevant quarter to look into such a debilitated state of affairs of PISES. We are striving hard to upgrade our national image and diplomatic support is pivotal to take us to a high level of service for our dearest homeland . We honor the mission of our beloved countryPakistan to safeguard our rights and resolve our issues. But The dilemma is that if Embassyofficials start maligningtheir own citizen in the foreign land, then who should we look up to?
Dr. Ishfaq A Bukhari
PISES, Riyadh, KSA.