Wonder anyone can help here.
My son goes to Choueifat school. He is currently on his 4th grade. He actually started from KG and has always been at this school. He is also doing quite well with an average of 88% which is quite good for that school.
My only worry is that, he seems to be loaded. The actual work which he has to go through at this age, is just tremendous and quite a lot.
Has anyone here got same experience here? Can anyone recommend a very good school which would probably be comparable to Chuiefat as an alternative?
Your advise is appreciated, and thanks in advance.
The 25 or so Choueifat schools around the world follow a curriculum called the SABIS system, and it is appalling. Students are forced to rote memorize reams of information in all subjects, information that will be slightly adjusted and increased from year to year, so that effectively they are relearning the same material in the same way again and again and again from year to year. No matter what grade they are in, students are never held accountable for having actually learned anything before, so they are constantly reinventing their boring wheel. The curriculum materials are so cheaply and badly produced, it is almost unbelievable. In English, for example, the main textbooks are SABIS written and produced military histories from grade four through grade twelve. No real literature is used because literature is, by its very nature, subversive and therefore threatening to the fundamentalist Islamic values that the SABIS system caters to. The math program is better, because the SABIS system of testing and retesting the same concepts over and over again lends itself more effectively to a largely linear area of study. Science education is also limited, churning out technicians rather than thinkers.
Thinking is discouraged generally, with all students and teachers across the system forced to follow exactly the same lifeless lesson plans from day to day, without regard to teacher or student interests or abilities. SABIS students will never, for example, create their own original videos as part of a graded class project. When some better informed parents complain about this kind of monotony and insensitivity to different learning styles, the SABIS system responds with an extracurricular program they call Student Life. All of the fun and creative work is supposed to happen in there, outside of the graded class work and along with sports. But in fact most kids end up spending most of student life playing soccer, which they would have done anyway. It is not a venue to stretch and grow, because it is not graded, and grades are all that students take seriously here.
I also question the academic integrity of the school, even judging it within the parameters the SABIS system sets for itself. Students take tests constantly, mostly multiple choice tests, and if they fail they are supposed to be retaught the missed material and then they are retested. They post improvement charts saying, "Look how much the students improved after retesting!" But in fact many times the students were allowed to retest three or even five times between the first score and the last, and it is a rare person who wouldn't pick up a few more points after taking essentially the same test five times running. British teachers seem to find the SABIS system less offensive than American teachers do.
The comments above come from a review of a Chewyfat school in The International Schools' Review.
Actually my son doesn't study any religious / Islamic Arabic at all. His second language is French, whether that is going to make any difference I don't know.
Although Chouiefat curiculum is not standard, but having seen others, I really beleive it is much higher than others (This is my conclusion and I may be wrong). I myself graduated through such system (not this organisation, another similar to this one - OK years ago!!).
So far as exams are concerned, he goes through continious asessment. Every month he has exams with Maths being a weekly one (AMS). If he scores below 60%, then he has to attend extra lessons to catch up!
As for the exam papers...most papers and reports for others are handed over to us. We go through them and we have to sign and return them back. So yes, we see most of them.
As I mentioned the reason I am looking around for an alternative is due to the pressure and the amount of studies he has to do.... This is the only reason. On the positive side as you mentioned before, is the discipline which is really good and misbehaving is not tolerated.....This again is extremely important for us and being a teacher yourself, I am sure you appreciate that.
In any case we seem to have limited options here which seem to be expensive as well.
In their recent exams, my class all scored very high marks in their Islamic Studies and Arabic papers, but their marks for Maths and English were much lower. When I asked them about this disparity in their exam marks, the children said quite openly, "Oh, the Arabic and Islamic Studies exams are really easy. The teachers tell us which questions are coming up." Is this education?
Teachers who have little or no integrity will invariably set really easy exams because they want their students to score very high marks, so that it looks as though they, the teachers, are doing a good job. Teachers who do have integrity will set hard exams, so that only students who have worked hard and who have a real understanding of what they have been learning will be able to score high marks. Of course there is always the risk that some parents will not be happy if their children do not get amazingly high marks, but teachers who really believe in the value of education are prepared to accept this risk.
Have you discussed your son'e exam papers with your child's teacher at Choueifat? Have you seen his exam papers? I do not think so, as parents are not allowed to speak to their child's teacher. Why not, I wonder?
Many thanks for your expert and useful advice.
Although my Son is doing very well there (His average is around 90%), but as mentioned for the resons before, I am really considering of an alternative (Park House at this stage).
Again many thanks and best regards
If I had any coice at all, I would never send a child of mine to a Choueifat school. I believe that students at Choueifat schools do indeed sit exams, including IGCSEs and A levels, but they are still awful schools and the SABIS system is educational garbage.
If you were to visit Park House, Compass or DESS, I think that you would find that the children there do work fairly hard, but they also have fun and enjoy being at their schools. The teachers, who are gaduates and have proper certification and training, usually enjoy their jobs and they use their ingenuity and their professional skills to make their lessons stimulating and their subjects interesting. I have never heard of a child who enjoyed being at a Choueifat "school", for all of the reasons I have already given.
The philosopher Martin Heidegger once said that in a child's imagination "...lies everything we call the life of the mind." Choueifat so-called "schools" do not seem encourage creativity or imagination, nor are the students allowed to ask questions, so maybe they are not really schools at all.
I suspect that the main reason that the parents are not permitted to communicate with the Choueifat teachers is because if this did indeed happen, then the parents would realise how stupid, unqualified, bored and fed up so many Choueifat teachers really are. (This is not surprising, given the poor salaries that the SABIS "schools" pay to their teachers.) Do you want someone who is unqualified, bored, uninspired, dull, useless and unenthusiastic to be teaching your child? If so, send your child straight away to the nearest Choueifat "school".
To be honest...this is what I think about Choueifat:
Although its Curricullum is not an standard one and different from say any school which follows England and the Wales Curricullum, however as I mentioned in beginning, its a lot higher....much higher than that. This I can really see with my own 9 year old son. This is quite evident by what he goes through in Maths, Science etc etc.
My worries are however due to the following reasons:
1- He has to study a lot and I feel he is somehow missing on his childhood.
2- Since their system isnot an standard one, therefore he won't go through the normal system leading to A levels which would be needed for entry into the British Universities (OK...that is some years to go). On this I guess I need to talk to the school to find out whether students can take external A levels? and where the exam is taken etc etc?.
Having said all above, obviously you are the teacher and that is your profession, and I am sure you can correct me if I am wrong.
I absolutely agree that Choueifat schools have a reputation for strict discipline. As you may have guessed, I am not a fan of the Choueifat schools and the SABIS system of education (if it can be called that), but nevertheless I concede that these schools do have a reputation for discipline and some parents think that this is very important.
Some British-style schools in Doha do not have such a reputation because the discipline in these schools is not good.
Park House, Doha English Speaking School and Compass International School all have good reputations and there have been many positive postings written about them on this forum. They follow the British Curriculum or an "international" curriculum that has a strong English flavour to it. The bad news, however, is that these schools are oversubscribed and sometimes it is difficult even to get a place on the waiting list, never mind an actual place for your child. Another problem is that when a school has too many pupils applying for too few places, there is a strong temptation to put up the school fees.
Many many thanks for your time and reply.....very much appreciated.
To be honest, the reason I am looking around is due to few reasons. I think this school is feeding them with too much material and somehow I feel that he is somehow missing his childhood. I myself was brought up in such system and remember that when I went for my A levels I didn't have much problem at all. Having said that, I think from point of discipline, I really like this school, since they deal with any problems promptly.
As you mentioned quite correctly is that, their curriculum is not standard and for us who live in UK, it would be better if he went to a school from which he could transfer easily when needed. Actually I am really looking for a school which follows England and Wales Curriculum, but has same descipline as Choueifat.
Have you or anyone else has same sort of experience, and therefore can suggest an alternative?
Many thanks again
I have never taught at a Chewyfat school, but I have talked to several teachers who have had that misfortune. I have also talked to many of my students who used to go to Chewyfat schools before they left and went to a proper school.
First of all, many of the "teachers" at these so-called Chewyfat schools are not graduates and they do not have proper teaching certification. Of course the SABIS "schools" prefer to hire people who are not properly qualified, so that they can pay them less. At a recruitment fair, one principal of a SABIS school admitted to one of my colleagues that they only wanted to hire unqualified staff because proper teachers nearly always disagreed with the SABIS system.
Secondly, Chewyfat "schools" do not permit the parents to speak directly to the parents. My guess is that they do not want the parents to find out how uneducated their children's teachers really are.
Thirdly, good schools want to "stretch" the abilities of their most able students and give support to those students who are struggling. (This is usually called "differentiation".) In fact, this is against SABIS rules and teachers who do not stick rigidly to their instructions will be disciplined or sacked. If it says that you must be on page 33 at 11.30 on Monday morning, then you had better make sure that you are on page 33.
Fourthly, Chewyfat schools must use the SABIS curriculum materials and textbooks. These are often dull, outdated, inaccurate and uninspiring. Of course, sensible schools buy the best (and most appropriate) teaching materials they can find and they are not restricted to only one set of materials. You cannot buy SABIS teaching materials in any bookshop, probably because they are trash and no one wants to buy them.
Fifthly, teachers in Chewyfat schools are ordered by their superiors to discourage the students from asking questions, thinking for themselves and in any way disagreeing with anything their teachers may tell them. This is not education: this is indoctrination and brain-washing.
Sixthly, my Muslim friends tell me that the Qu'ran says that each child is the unique and special handiwork of Our Creator, so it is rather a pity that those in charge of the Chewyfat "schools" seem to know little or nothing about Islam.