ABU DHABI // For the second time in as many days, disgruntled teachers were yesterday appeased by the education authorities, with some even admitting that their level of complaints had been unreasonable. More than 300 overdue passports, complete with residence visas, were returned to the newly arrived teachers at a "catch up session" organised by the Abu Dhabi Education Council (Adec).
About 400 of a group of 940 who had arrived to work as native English language teachers across the emirate, took part in the meeting at the Park Rotana. It followed a similar session with about 600 teachers in Al Ain on Wednesday. Some had complained about a delay in the provision of accommodation. Most of the group have been in the country for more than a month, living in five-star hotels such as the Fairmont Bab Al Bahr, the InterContinental and the Beach Rotana. Their hotel bills, which include breakfast, were being taken care of by Adec.
Others had been frustrated at the long wait for passports - needed to open bank accounts, rent cars and purchase SIM cards - and accommodation. "Considering the number of teachers brought over, hundreds of us, Adec has been doing a really great job in taking care of us, in terms of impressive hotels," said one teacher from South Africa, who had been staying at the Beach Rotana but moved into a hotel apartment a week ago. She is teaching English at a school in Al Shamkha.
"It is ridiculous of us to complain, really. It could have been much worse. I, for one, am very happy about how I've been treated." At the meeting, teachers were assured that their accommodation woes were now over. Five hotel apartment providers, chosen by Adec, were on hand to sign up those interested in furnished studios or one-bedroom accommodation: the Abu Dhabi Plaza Hotel Apartments, the Ramee Garden Hotel Apartments, Cassells, Murjan Asfar Hotel Apartments and the Euro Hotel Apartments.
Teachers were asked to select which hotel apartment they would prefer, after which they would be free to move in immediately. Those who wanted unfurnished apartments of two or three bedrooms had a choice of residences across the capital to choose from. All were promised that they would be living in their new homes by next week at the latest. Youssef al Marzouqi, Adec's general services manager, said teachers can start receiving their keys by Monday.
"We know that you all want to feel settled in, and we really appreciate your understanding and cooperation and patience in the past few weeks," he said to gathered teachers. Greg Freedman, a third grade teacher from Chicago, working in Sas al Nakhal, said that he didn't see what was the big deal. "We get to work at good schools, doing what we're good at. Some people have concerns, but I'm not too worried."
By next week, everything will be finalised, Mr al Marzouqi said. "Everyone will have a home and will have their passports back. From Saturday, teachers can go to the bank to pick up their bank cards and account information. "And we will help them start the process of applying for a national ID card. They came here to teach, and we want to facilitate everything for them so they can concentrate on the teaching," he said.