Today I visited the British International School in Riyadh (BISR). Although it is full for this year, I thought that if I liked it, I could perhaps consider it for next year. I have still been trying to find a school for TJ although meanwhile it has been a month since TJ left 1st grade in C’ville and we have been homeschooling him since then. The main difference between the American International School in Riyadh (AISR) and the BISR is that the latter has a uniform and the lower grades have about 20,000 SAR less fees that what AISR has. AISR gives priority to American passport holders and BISR gives priority to the British and Dutch. So in AISR our family has guaranteed admission unless we are transferring from another school in the Kingdom.
Anyway, AISR is far from us and quite expensive for us to have three kids in there with about 60,000 SAR fees for each child. So I thought I might as well check BISR out since it’s just a few miles from our home. In BISR there weren’t any unruly kids running around during recess so that was a relief. There were a lot of kids with Muslim sounding names in the earlier grades. We started with touring Foundation 1 and 2 years and then moved to the higher grades. What I liked was that the school was nice and organized like I expected. There were groups and activities and pictures on the walls and the colorful classrooms and disciplined kids. What I didn’t like was the co-ed basketball game that was going on and not allowing girls to wear full body swim suits if they wanted to participate in the swimming team. I was actually quite put off by the idea of not letting the girls be fully covered up. I mean who does it hurt if a person wears a body suit until the knee only (the rule at BISR) or until the ankle. Don’t the Olympians participate in full body suits without affecting any of their performance? I was happy to note that two girls were wearing full track pants during the co-ed basketball game so at least they let the girls wear track pants without forcing them to wear shorts.
Anyway, no matter how much I was impressed with BISR, I couldn’t shake away the thought that I didn’t move to Saudi Arabia for this. I had expected when moving to KSA that I would have a lot of choices for Islamic schools but I have run into a huge quandary. In KSA, Islamic schools are of two types, Arabia or International. The Arabia ones have Arabic as their main communication and kids whose mother tongue is not Arabic can’t get into them at least in the later grades. For us, the only international school close to us is the Manarat whose boys’ section I don’t like at all. I am trying homeschooling but it’s becoming very fatiguing for me. I have to take care of cooking and cleaning and teaching and I don’t get any “me” time at all. Plus with TJ, since he is young, I have to work harder to make sure that he is working and doesn’t have his mind towards playing when its study time.
I wish there was an ideal Islamic school that existed near my home that would have all the things that a regular American school has PLUS faith. How beautiful would it be to discuss various prophets’ stories or enact dramas about it (without showing the prophets of course) or have discussions about various Islamic virtues. This school could have female teachers for the younger boys as opposed to all the male teachers only that the KSA Islamic schools for boys seem to have. I just feel that for younger boys, female teachers are safer to have. I would like TJ to Hifz the Quran, insh’Allah, but I also want him to play the piano. I just wish I don’t have to sacrifice one virtue (good worldly curriculum) for another (good religious curriculum). I want TJ to learn both. I hope I inshAllah discover this school soon, Amin.