A couple of interesting debates have come up this week – the first on whether the 10-week-long school holiday should be at a time of year when you can actually go outside in Dubai, rather than during the furnace-like summer when every cell in your body screams for water if you venture outdoors.
But the debate that piqued my interest was the issue of teachers’ presents. This is the week when teachers in the UAE are being gifted with all sorts of things, from expensive spa vouchers to Swarovski jewellery.
They deserve it. Of course they do. But there’s a growing body of opinion that this is all going a bit over the top in Dubai.
It used to be that children would buy a little something, perhaps pick flowers on the way to school, or even better, make something for the teacher along with a card and that was that. Of course, very few children walk to school in Dubai, and they tend to come from families in which Dad is something big in oil or banking. (I’m generalising, not everyone is rich in Dubai, but it’s true our children are transported to school. There’s far too much traffic, so we drive – ruling out hand-picked flowers.)
It was suggested in the media this week that what might be happening (and I’m just saying) is that parents are trying to outdo each other. Otherwise, how would you explain why teachers have been asked to pick out furniture? And why collections are running to as much as 2,500 dhs (£450) per gift – with a whip-round for the person who collects the money too.
One commenter, a teacher herself, pointed out that they do far more than teach these days (good point). Admin work, after-school activities and weekend workshops are all expected. “I think teachers are under appreciated by parents so any gift I can get from them is worth it!” she wrote. “I spend more time with and thinking about their children than they do.”
“Why is it OK for a business man to gift potential clients or customers with fancy dinners and presents, but not OK for parents to give gifts to the teachers,” she wrote, stirring the debate. “Let me know what a business client thinks of a hand-made card!”
No comment. But I’m guessing that, working in Dubai, she won’t be disappointed.
Personally, I’m so thankful to my boys’ amazing and altruistic teachers for everything they’ve done for my children over the past 10 months that I’m very happy to fork out for something thoughtful. Ask me again a week into the epic holiday, and I’ll probably be sending flowers and chocolates too.
[Dabs eyes with a tissue – is the school year really all over? Sobs.]