Parents and teachers have criticized the treatment of maids forced to accompany children to school and act as their personal assistants or chaperons.
They told Arab News it is a disturbing trend and demeaning to the maids.
Samah Bukhary, a teacher at an international school in Jeddah, feels maids are abused and disrespected when they are made to do everyday chores children can do themselves.
“As soon as students leave their classes, maids are usually seen waiting outside to carry children’s bags to the cars and often they even carry their drinks. It would be an understatement to say this is a little too supercilious.”
Most upper and middle class families in Saudi Arabia keep maids. Most parents argue they provide maids to escort their children to schools on safety grounds.
“Since I cannot drop my child off to school every morning, she has to go with a driver who I cannot trust completely, So I send my maid along. If my maid has to wait, then she does and that is that,” said Ghada Amdar, 34.
Others feel this is only an excuse for the way parents spoil their children.
“It is impractical. What about other countries or even children in the same school who do not have chaperons? It is lame to believe this safety theory. Children can hold their own belongings and look after themselves. That is exactly what they are supposed to be learning,” Ali Nadeem, 35, told Arab News.
Maids usually assemble before school ends to pick up children and help escort them home.
Sana Mahmoud, 25, thinks it is a chance for maids to get together and enjoy time off work.
“They enjoy the gatherings. I usually send my maid an hour before it is home time for the kids so she can hang out with her friends. She does not mind the wait.”
Private tutors say the idea of using maids is bizarre. “The girls always bring along maids who sit for three hours doing nothing. I have witnessed outrageous incidents where the student uses the washroom and the maid goes in to flush it and clean up after her because her majesty could not be bothered to do so. That is just shameful,” said one of them.
Mahira Awais, a 34-year-old parent, believes maids can hinder a child’s development.
“If this is the way then how would we instill a sense of responsibility in children? They leave trash lying around after break time but this is not their home and the maids should not clean up their mess. Except, with their personal maids at schools too, parents ignore the bigger picture.”
Maher Atallah, a 46-year-old father, believes it is a trend that happens at local schools only. “International schools do not tolerate bad behavior, it is against their ethos. Children need to develop independent traits and look after themselves as that helps build confidence.”