Director defends dismissal decision

2nd May 2003 at 01:00

An English school in Kuwait has defended its decision to dismiss 14 British teachers who left the country in the run-up to war in Iraq in line with British embassy advice, but failed to return at the height of hostilities (See TES, April 25).

Chantal Al Gharabally, director of the Kuwait National English School, said the teachers who left signed an agreement that they would return when informed to do so. They failed to resume their duties on March 29 as requested on March 13, she said, when they were warned that any longer delay would endanger the education of their students.

Madame Al Gharabally said that, while five British teachers had managed to return by April 3, others said they would "come back when they felt like it", some refused and still others did not answer the request.

However, the dismissed teachers said that the director admitted in a letter to parents on April 5 that a missile attack had made it impossible for school to start fully on March 29 and British staff had "had to postpone their return", so school would be in full operation from April 12.

Madame Al Gharabally said the school lost around 200 students, because of the staff's action. She said she had been forced to employ additional staff to keep the school open and had therefore taken action under Kuwait labour law against those teachers "who had decided to breach their contracts with us".

She said the teachers were paid all monies legally due and for air tickets to the UK.

On March 29, the British embassy warned Britons not to consider returning to Kuwait. It did not change its advice until April 12.

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