BAD GODESBERG · Teachers of the now defunct King Fahad Academy are taking their case to court. They are protesting a lack of severance pay after their dismissal when the school closed down.
Standing in front of their former workplace, the King Fahad Academy, the teachers express their displeasure with the situation. “We are protesting against being let go from the academy without any severance pay,” says one teacher on behalf of 83 colleagues from Bonn and the Berlin branch. The schools had been financed by the Saudi Arabian state. No comment could be obtained from the school.
At the end of June, after the last 50 students finished out the school year, the academy was closed. The official reason given by the Saudis was that the German education system was sufficient and that they no longer needed to have their own schools. In 2003, the school came under fire amidst allegations of Islamic activities in its mosque. “We teachers were outraged about this. We had nothing to do with it,” said one teacher on behalf of the group.
A number of teachers have filed complaints with the Bonn Labor Court and the first cases are finding success. Other cases are being appealed. A spokesman for the court, Sebastian Neumann said the school is obligated to act according to German law.
“Germany is governed by the rule of law and an employer must pay compensation to employees before closing the business,” explained the teachers in unison. They were German citizens, so they had paid taxes for decades, and expected Chancellor Angela Merkel to help them in this situation. In her campaign for reelection, Merkel referred to the school closures as a success, saying her government had had some hard talks with the Saudis about closing certain academies in Bonn and that this had been carried out.
The teachers wrote an open letter to the Chancellor airing their grievances. A government spokesperson said it generally does not respond to open letters. One teacher commented that they had educated the children so well that they were now working as doctors, lawyers or pilots. “And now we are unemployed, over 50-years-old, and for that reason it is difficult to find us a position in a German school,” said one teacher who had worked at King Fahad Academy for 22 years. Currently, she is receiving unemployment benefits.
Some teachers asked which employers would even hire the younger teachers who have come from a school with this name. Another point was made by church community member Helgard Rehders - she noted that teachers with Arabic skills are currently being sought for work with refugees.
Orig. text: Ebba Hagenberg-Miliu, Translation: ckloep