Sunday, April 6, 2014
Gambian authorities have reportedly ordered the immediate closure of Yavuz Selim Anatolian School, a private school in The Gambia, which provided an "all-English education (with French and Turkish as a second language) for students from three years of age through senior secondary school".
Yavuz Selim school was established in 2010 and attended by students of various nationalities. The school provided an international school programme, and was described as "non-profit making".
"YSAS is strongly committed to developing an international and multi-cultural perspective among our students and parents... Our aim is to make an international education available to as many students as possible", stated the principal's message on the school's web site www.ysaschool.com
Our sources said the national education authorities reportedly sent a one-sentence letter to the school's principal ordering the school's immediate closure, and the principal in turn sent a letter to all parents announcing the government's decision to close the school.
The written directive to close did not mention any reason, our source further revealed.
Unlike past practice, when the ministry of Basic and Secondary Education (MoBSE) announced that a particular school in the country has been ordered for not complying with national regulations, this time MoBSE did not make this school closure public.
Meanwhile, the scores of pupils and students who attended Yavuz Selim school, with a nursery, primary school, junior and senior secondary school sections, and which remain closed for several weeks now, are staying at home, not attending school.
Observers note that the sudden closure of the school coincided with a recent boost in Gambia-Turkey relations, culminating in the recent state visit of President Yahya Jammeh to Ankara.
On that occasion, Gambian and Turkish officials signed a number of cooperation agreements in the fields of health, defence, taxation, culture, sports, education and security cooperation.
Although there is no evidence linking it to the closure of the school in The Gambia, observers have called attention to recent events in Turkey, where the parliament passed a new law to shut down private preparatory schools, which are attended by millions of students.
According to news reports, a deadline of 1 September 2015 was set to close the schools, many of which are run by the movement of an influential US-based Muslim cleric, Fetullah Gulen, who prime minister Recep Tayyib Erdogan accuses of running a covert campaign to topple his government.
The schools are said to be a major source of income and influence for the movement.
Monday, March 17, 2014
Private secondary schools in Russia like Atlantic International School are attracting local and foreign students.
With only three months left in the academic school year, dozens of expatriate parents are looking for Moscow schools to accept their children after the prestigious Atlantic International School lost all of its more than 40 foreign teachers.
The Atlantic International School, which describes itself as an independent, non-profit organization with three schools in Moscow, announced in an e-mail to parents on Feb. 26 that its foreign teachers had been declared non grata, barring them from returning for five years.
The problem, the e-mail says, stems from an unknown person who contacted the Education Ministry at the start of the school year to complain about the school's teaching, sparking a series of about 30 government inspections that ultimately resulted in the discovery that the foreign teachers did not have the right visas to work in Russia.
The director of the school, Kaya Farik, said the complaint was filed by "envious people trying to damage a successfully growing business," according to the e-mail, a copy of which was provided to The Moscow Times by parents of students at the school.
With the education of more than 600 children facing serious disruption, parents and school staff have signed a petition addressed to President Vladimir Putin, the prime minister and the Education Ministry, asking for their intervention.
School administrators have offered assurances to parents that they were trying get the old teachers back or, most likely, will be forced to hire a completely new staff with fewer native English speakers. But as a cloud of uncertainty hangs over the school, parents are looking for ways to make sure that their children can successfully finish this school year.
"Parents are, of course, scrambling to find alternative arrangements for their children, which, needless to say, are not easy to come by, and it is unlikely that the other international schools in Moscow will be able to pick up all of the slack," said one expatriate parent whose daughter attends the school.
School officials refused repeated requests for comment over the past week. A top administrator, Galina Kovalenko, agreed to discuss the situation after a staff meeting Monday. But after the meeting, she said that the only comment she would offer was that the school was ready to return to work without any problems.
The school also has a St. Petersburg location, and a representative there said its foreign teachers did not have any problems. One parent said, however, that the St. Petersburg school was the first place affected.
The school, which was fast growing, had planned to open a campus in Minsk and a fourth one in Moscow later this year.
The Atlantic International School opened its doors to children from the ages of 2 to 18 in 2009, with a stated goal of providing a high-value education to the expatriate and local community. On its website, the school extols it use of native English teachers and the fact that it is a registered Cambridge International School and licensed by the Russian Education Ministry. Annual tuition runs from 800,000 rubles ($22,200) for nursery school to 1.1 million rubles ($33,350) for high school.
In recent years, international schools and preschools have become increasingly popular among people living in Moscow. Dozens of international schools, including the Anglo-American School and the British International School, offer education in English, French, Polish and other languages.
The Atlantic International School underwent about 30 inspections by Russian authorities since the start of the school year in September, but it passed all but the last of them with only minor reproaches, said one parent, who like many people interviewed for this report spoke on condition of anonymity, saying they feared drawing negative attention to themselves or their organizations.
The inspections started after a complaint sent by parent identified only as Ivanov to the Education Ministry at the beginning of this school year, one parent said. School officials have failed to linked the common Russian surname to any of its students, leading parents to see the complaint as a trumped-up pretext for the inspections.
School administrators told parents earlier this year that their foreign teachers had left the country to process new visas at the request of the Federal Migration Service. But after leaving the country, the teachers were notified that they would not be allowed to return for the next five years for national security reasons, the school board informed parents at a meeting two weeks ago, one of the participants said.
Details about the visa situation are murky. A Federal Migration Service spokesman said he was unaware of any problem involving the school's teachers. A British Embassy spokesman also knew nothing about the matter.
Regardless of the cause, it is clear to parents that the school is unable to fulfill its curriculum with the current teacher shortage, leaving them seeking new schools for their children. Not many schools appear able to help on short notice, but at least one, the British International School, which offers a curriculum similar to Atlantic's, said it was considering opening classes to accommodate some of the children.
International schools said they were not afraid that Atlantic's troubles might be part of a broader trend that could affect their foreign staff.
"I am afraid to even guess what the incidents with Atlantic were caused by," said an employee at an international school. "But as we are kind of colleagues, we feel strong indignation about what happened."
In accordance with the decree of the President, a 37-year-old Elnur Aslanov was dismissed as head of the department for political analysis and information support of the presidential administration Nothing is reported about the causes of his dismissal.
Recently in the media actively exaggerated the topic of relations of the Elnur Aslanov with Turkish Nursists, and even Aslanov’s letter addressed to Fatullah Gulen was published.
Several media reported some fight between Aslanov and Ali Hasanov, other head of the department in the Presidential Administration, for influence and control over the media youth organizations.
Aslan controlled the work of the Center for Strategic Studies under the President and pro-government youth organization "Ireli" . In addition, Aslanov controlled other pro-government leading websites.
Aslanov’s dismissal will be regarded as a victory or Ali Hasanov’s team. —06D-
Aslanov’s dismissal will be regarded as a victory or Ali Hasanov’s team. —06D-