Lucas and Tia have started school at GEMS American Academy this week. They're very excited to put on their new uniforms and get on the bus each day. The school is new but its a part of a group of schools throughout the Middle East that has a really good reputation. I chose it based on recommendations from friends that lived here. Overall, it seems good so far, but it is a bit pricey. The school I work for pays the kids' tuition up to a point and we have to pay the rest. Unfortunately, Tia just missed the age cut-off by a couple of weeks so we're paying for her full tuition for the year. I'm actually relieved because based on the wording of the contract I thought we might have to pay for next year's as well.
Originally, I was considering sending the kids to the Japanese International School here but my wife was the one that wanted to send them to an American school. She reasoned that she could teach them Japanese at home, though I don't think she really knows what she got herself into. The Japanese school is a kindergarten through junior high school with a total of 39 students. A friend of mine sends his girls there and each of them has one other student in their class. It's subsidized by the Japanese government otherwise so the tuition is really reasonable. Knowing what I know now, I probably would've chosen to send Lucas and Tia there for a few years before switching them over, but we're still happy with the choice we made.
Lucas is in kindergarten and has a teacher from New Zealand. I haven't met her yet but I'm guessing that after six (sex) months in her class (cliss), my wife won't be able to understand his English.
Tia is in pre-kindergarten, I forgot where her teacher is from but I'm guessing that her credentials are pretty good. In the little mini newsletter that was put out, the teachers and assistants of pre-kindergarten talked about themselves, Tia's teacher didn't write that much about her experience. Two of the assistants who are teaching pre-kindergarten (four-year-olds) are from the Philippines and seemed to make a point of showing their credentials. One has a Masters in Education and 15 years of teaching experience. The assistant in Tia's class has taught high school Math for 20 years including Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry and Statistics. Now she gets to make sure that my daughter wipes after using the bathroom.
While there may be other factors behind the circumstances, it's a little depressing to think that these highly qualified teachers can earn a better living as assistants here than they can in their home countries as classroom teachers. Also, I'm willing to bet that in many cases, they're better qualified than the teachers that they're assisting while making a fraction of the teachers' salary. The fact that I've been in this same situation isn't lost on me. I can think of numerous times in England and Japan when I was in the room in order to fulfill some sort of requirement while an assistant did the hard work. That's not to say that the teachers at GEMS don't work hard or aren't qualified. It's a funny world when the basis of which country a person is born in affects their earning power so drastically. I feel very lucky to have been born where I was and to be given the opportunities I have been.
Now it's time to go get a cup of coffee before checking my Facebook account.