Background of the study
In Saudi Arabia, most of the women work as teachers. They face the challenge of balancing between caring for the children in school and their own at home or other places. For those with little children, it becomes hard for them to give full attention to their career. They keep on thinking about their kids at home. This has a direct effect on the performance of the teachers in school.
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Their students suffer because they are not given full attention. The only alternative that these parents have is to take their children to child care centers where they will be taken care of. However, these child care centers are not easily accessible to the teachers. The child care centers are usually available in the cities. Most of the teachers work outside the cities or their suburbs where childcare centers are very rare.
To access childcare centers for these teachers is therefore very expensive. These teachers have therefore to rely on the house girls (maids) for their child care needs. This is not a permanent solution to the problem. The maids have become unreliable in Saudi Arabia because they may leave their duties any time they want.
They are also not professionals in child care. Once these house girls leave their duties, it is not possible to replace them. They are expensive and also not easily available. The only option left is to provide child care centers in schools where these women work.
Statement of the problem
Childcare is one of the major roles that is carried out by women and Saudi Arabia is not exceptional. Currently, Most of the women in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia have joined the workforce. This has created an imbalance between taking care of their children doing their duties at work. For mothers working in schools, the situation is worse especially for those nurturing young children.
The society in Saudi Arabia has not yet managed to accommodate working women. The tradition expects these mothers to hire somebody to take care of their children as they continue with their work. This still creates a problem because while at work, these mothers will still take most of their time thinking about their children at home. This affects their performance since they cannot fully concentrate o their work.
There is therefore the need to come up with a strategy that will enable these women, especially teachers, work as they care of their young children. Childcare centers are needed in schools in order to enable women concentrate on their work and at the same time take care of their children.
Purpose and objectives of the study
The main objectives of this research are as follows
- To find out the meaning of the concept of child care and child care centers.
- To find out the Challenges faced by women teachers in balancing their career and childcare especially in Saudi Arabia.
- To find out the child care and women teachers situation in Saudi Arabia.
- To find out how provision of child care centers in schools would improve teacher efficiency in Saudi Arabia.
The following research questions will be used:
- What challenges are faced by female teachers in Saudi Arabia in striking a balance between teaching and taking care of their own young children?
- Will introduction of child care centers in schools improve the performance of female teachers who are nurturing small children in Saudi Arabia?
- What would be the other benefits of introducing childcare centers in schools?
- What are the costs and benefits of introducing childcare centers in schools in Saudi Arabia?
Although absence or lack of adequate childcare centers seems to be the main source of teacher stress and poor performance in Saudi Arabia, there could be other factors contributing to the same.
Interviewing teachers may not give the most reliable information because they might ascribe all their issues to lack of adequate childcare centers. The teacher performance is not determined by one variable and introducing childcare centers in schools might not help them improve especially if the other factors remain strong.
In order to implant the research findings, an ethnographic study approach will be employed. In this case, a group of twenty female teachers who have young children will be the participants in the study. These teachers will participate in the study as they attend their normal duties in school.
Some of the teachers will be allowed to see their children during break time. They will be allowed to spend 15 minutes with their children at every break given. The information will be gathered through a series of observation sessions and interviews with these teachers as well as their students and their head teachers. The research questions will be addressed through conducting interviews and observation with the participants.
Justification of the study
Since most of the women in Saudi Arabia work as teachers, there is possibility of having poor performance due to lack of balance between teaching and caring for their own children. These teachers will keep on thinking about their children and fail to offer full concentration to the children.
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To ensure that these mothers take care of the students and their children, there is need to find a strategy that will be mutually beneficial. Introducing the childcare centers in schools will offer a perfect solution to this problem. Intensive research need to be carried out in order to find out the practical applicability of the strategy, its benefits and costs.
Definition of childcare and childcare centers
Child care, often referred to as baby care or day care, means taking care of young children, normally aged between 0 and 8 years. Early childhood education is also being used synonymously with child care in many areas globally. Child care is a wide field dealing with a lot of issues surrounding a child’s well being socially, morally, spiritually and generally in all aspects dealing with the child’s growth and development.
Child care centers are institutions where child care in offered. Many countries have child care institutions and laws have been formulated to govern the running of these institutions. In Saudi Arabia, the ministry of labor and social affairs formulated laws which are supposed to govern provision of childcare centers to working mothers but there has been very negligible progress in this area (Bashshur 2004).
According to Shea et al (2006), most women in different careers in Saudi Arabia find themselves in a dilemma of caring for their children or continuing with their careers. This is because; child care services for their babies are not available for them. There are usually two options for mothers looking for child care facilities for their children.
One is the center based care, where the child is looked after by people employed to do so away from the child’s home. In the child care centers, children often get a chance to interact with one another. The other option is the home-based care, where a nanny is employed to take care of the baby within the child’s home.
Although home-based care is good, it requires a lot of supervision from the mother to make sure that the child is being treated well. The child’s interaction is also limited to the caregiver only and therefore, they lack a chance to interact with their age mates (Johnson and Holdaway 1994).
Challenges faced by women teachers in balancing their career and childcare
The World Bank (2007) notes that although the 2005 labor law gives working women some benefits in terms of maternity and child care, its implementation is yet to take place. This is because; the benefits stipulated are too expensive for a private employer to offer to their female employees.
The law recommends that expectant women be given maternity leave four weeks before delivery and after delivery, another six weeks. During this period, they are also to be fully paid. A business with at least 50 women working there is supposed to provide babysitters for the female employees with children. In addition, it should also provide a place for t babysitters to take care of the babies.
Businesses with over 100 women are required to establish a day care center. Alternatively, the business can liaise with a neighboring existing day care center that is run professionally for provision of child care services.
Despite the urgent need for establishment of child care facilities especially for female teachers, there seems to be very little progress in doing so. This means that female teachers’ well being may take a little bit longer to improve if this trend continues.
The success and achievement rates of the female students where these teachers teach is also expected to remain down if corrective measures, in this case establishing child care centers for the female teachers, are not put in place. This is according to Gaziel (1986).
The situation in Saudi Arabia
Alagbari (2003) observes that; Saudi Arabia is a country where men have dominated and ruled over women for centuries. However, things are gradually changing and women are becoming more liberated, especially in terms of careers. More women are venturing into the world of work due to the economic freedom that has been achieved over the years.
Venturing into different careers is not easy for Saudi Arabian women because there are numerous challenges they have to overcome in a male dominated country. Currently, only a small percentage of women are working with most of them being in either the education or medical sector.
These two fields are so far the only ones considered suitable for the women in Saudi Arabia (Wilson and Douglas 1994). Only a negligible percentage of women venture into business. The reason why women are not allowed to do some jobs is to avoid mixing freely with men because this is prohibited.
According to Croosman and Harris (2006), Women working in Saudi Arabia as teachers are faced with numerous problems.
Most of them are employed to teach in schools which are very far from their homes. Commuting everyday foe long distances posses a major challenge to them especially because the roads are not good. They face the risk of being involved in accidents, which may terminate their lives or cause serious injuries.
How provision of child care centers in schools would improve teacher efficiency
There are numerous advantages of providing child care facilities to female teachers in Saudi Arabia. According to Dodd-Mccue and Wright (1996), increase in efficiency of the teachers is guaranteed once this is done.
This is because; the teachers, who are also mothers, are able to concentrate more on what they are doing without having to worry about the well being of their children because they are assured of their safety. Another reason would be because the teachers are able to interact with their children during breaks. Breaks give these teachers a chance also to feed their children well and especially for those who are breastfeeding.
Apart from increasing the teachers’ efficiency, Furnham (1992) notes that providing child care centers also help in cutting down the costs incurred by mothers in securing child cares for their children which are far from their places of work. The cost implication on the side of the teachers would therefore not be an issue if they have access to nearby child care centers.
Creation of child care centers would be an advantage to people who will be employed there as caregivers. According to Dodd-Mccue and Wright (1996), this is an employment opportunity for people who are jobless.
According to Oplatka.and Mimon 2008, child care centers are also helpful in reducing the number of foreign labor that is hired as nannies or home based care givers. The foreigners are mostly unreliable and provide substandard work. Sometimes, they live at will without informing their employers creating a lot of inconveniences.
Getting another one immediately is always a problem and the female teachers end up suffering most whenever they miss classes or have to do a lot of work because they have to balance between their teaching career and their role as mothers. Nannies hired from foreign countries are mostly not professionally trained care givers and they may not treat the child they are taking care of in a worthy manner.
Due to the soar relationship that many times exists between them and the employer, they result to mistreating the child to avenge for any mistreatment by their employer.
Finally, Spector (1997) notes that government income may increase because of the new income got from the day care centers. This is because the centers are not provided free of charge but the teachers in need of these facilities have to pay.
More benefits of introducing childcare centers in schools in Saudi Arabia
The teachers would go with their children to school and leave them with a childcare attendant as they attend classes. The mothers can see their children during break time and pick them as they go home after classes. This program will also be advantageous in various ways. Firstly, the teacher efficiency will be improved because they will be able to concentrate in their work.
The performance of students will also improve as their teachers will give them full attention. Women will be able to contribute significantly to economic growth since they will be able to take positions they would otherwise not be able to take. The introduction of childcare centers will also create employment since people will be employed to work in those centers.
The government may also get revenue from taxes and fees imposed on such businesses. The employees in those centers will be paying income tax to the government. The rate of hiring foreign female teachers from outside Saudi Arabia will also reduce. Hiring foreign teachers is an expensive task. Schools will be spared of these additional expenses. Teacher stress will also reduce and this will improve their productivity.
Method chosen and reasons for its selection
The methods that will be used in collection of data will be observation of the participants in their natural setting and interviews. Observations will be done in order to get the exact behavior that these people exhibit in a natural setting.
The participants will be observed as they carry on with their daily tasks. More importantly, unmonitored video cameras will be used to capture anything that may have escaped the attention of the observer. This will be very useful in the final analysis of data. Interview will be done using interview questions. The responses given y the respondents will be used as the source of primary data.
The participants will be female teachers who teach in high schools. These teachers will be selected from the larger group of female teachers who are willing to be pioneers of this project.
The participants will be people who have taught for a while and their work evaluated as per the performance of the students they have taught and teacher motivation, among other criteria. The students that are taught by these teachers will also be part of the participants because their performance will be part of the tools used to test for the success of the intervention.
Fifty female teachers who have young children in need of child care will be will be used as the sampling frame. Their work-family balance issues will be evaluated, particularly issues dealing with child care and how they handle the lack of child care centers to leave their children during the day.
Ethical issues involved and their solutions
The fact that the research is taking place among the women in a male dominated culture is a major challenge. One of the ethical issues that may be encountered during this process has to do with the women teachers obtaining permission from their husbands or male relatives to participate in the process (Nazir and Leigh 2005).
This is a difficult task because without their husband’s permission, carrying out this research would be impossible. Involving the husbands of the teachers involved in this research from the word go would help solve this problem.
The women may also be uncomfortable taking their child to their work place. They may feel like it is wrong because they are used to leaving their child at home or with a relative. This may be a strange idea initially but with time, after explaining to them the reason for doing this, they may not have any problems.
Carrying babies to school for only a small percentage of teachers who are used as the sample in this research may also be a problem to some teachers. This is because they may feel like some of their colleagues are being treated better than them.
There may be an issue also if these teachers who have their children in the child care center in school spend too much time with their children at the expense of their work. This may happen if they extend the time they are going to see their children for example during breaks.
Method of data analysis selected
The process of analyzing data will happen in two stages. Data collected before the implementation of the intervention measures will be analyzed first. The data used here will be the one obtained from the interviews and observation.
This will help in determining the usual behavior patterns for both the teachers and their students. It will be easy to know when a certain behavior is likely to be depicted and what would trigger the behavior.
The outcome after the intervention measures are put in place will also be evaluated. The teachers’ motivation, level of anxiety and general delivery of content during teaching will be evaluated before and after introduction of child care centers in the institutions where they are teaching and the results compared to assess if there is any change.
Students’ performance will also be used to gauge if there is any significant change in their understanding of the content and in its application after the teachers have gone through intervention process.
Interviews will also be done again to determine whether those who had been interviewed prior to the intervention have noticed ant significant changes.
Data collection tools
Several data collection tools will be used. Observation is one of the methods. For a period of two weeks, I will attend lessons taught by the teachers who are participants in this research. I will observe how they teach it terms of delivery of quality work, organization of their lesson (whether they had planned adequately), concentration as they teach and motivation of the students.
The two weeks that this will be done will be the weeks prior to the introduction of the intended intervention measures. Any signs of disturbances or unrest on the side of the teacher during the lesson will be noted. Other observations that will be helpful to this study will also be written down.
A video camera, placed strategically to capture each move without someone monitoring it will also be used as a tool for observation. Details of whatever will be captured by the video camera will be analyzed later.
Several interviews will also be done in the course of this research. The interview will involve asking questions to the teachers and the students, questions dealing with the relationship between teacher performance and introduction of or lack of child care centers in the institutions where these teachers teach. This will also be done two weeks prior to the introduction of the expected interventions.
Questions will be simply structured and the language they are all conversant with will be used to make sure that accurate answers are given. Interviews will also go on after intervention measures have been put in place. All interviews will be recorded for easier transcription in future.
Past students’ performance will be used for collection of data. The performance will then be compared with the one that will be obtained after the intervention.
What kind of stakeholder, community participation you will undertake
The community will play a major role in this research. This is because; the sample to be used will be taken from the community members who are female teachers with young children. Resources for the project will also be provided by the community for example, the child care takers in the child care centers. Also, facilities to establish these institutions are going to be got from the community even if at a fee.
Importance of the research
Lack of child care facilities for mothers who are also teachers in Saudi Arabia is an issue of concern that requires urgent interventions. This paper has addressed this issue by coming up with a research proposal aimed at encouraging more efficiency in teaching as far as female teachers are concerned.
The research proposal suggests that such measures would help in improving efficiency and the quality of work produced by female teachers, once their anxiety and worry about their children well being are dealt with through provision of child care facilities (Locke 1976). The methods of collecting data involved are observation and interviews.
Appendix: Sample interview questions
The following sample interview questions are going to be asked to obtain the needed information.
- How long have you worked as a teacher?
- How many children do you have? How many are below five years or need childcare?
- How much time do you spend with them? Do you consider that time enough?
- Do you have a maid to attend them during the day? Does this satisfy you?
- Do you face any family-work balance challenges?
- Do you miss to see your children during the day? Do you think of them as you work?
- Does this have any effect on your work performance?
- Have you any knowledge of childcare centers? If yes, are they accessible?
- What benefit do you think they would have if introduced in school?
- Would this improve your work performance? How?
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