(MENAFN - Arab News) An increasing number of women teachers have applied for early retirement. Some have applied between five up to 10 years before reaching the regular age of retirement. According to a Girls Education Administration's 2011 report, 96 percent of women teachers want to retire early.
Elham Abdullah, 54, a teacher who applied for early retirement six years before she was eligible for a regular retirement pension, said the reason was mainly work pressures and the change of curriculum.
"I don't think a teacher at my age that has been teaching the same subjects and curriculum for long years has the capacity to comprehend the changes that are happening now and succeed in conveying the curriculum content the way she used to. To do this successfully takes effort and research and there are no incentives that encourage an old teacher to overcome difficulties and exert more effort," she said.
Teacher Fatima Al-Mirghalani, 46, retired early because she "could not cope with the developments in education, especially the changed curriculums." She said she wanted to be free to start a business.
"When I applied for early retirement I knew I would be done with the long working hours and exhaustion that I suffered when I was a teacher. I think any teacher that has the courage and some financial capacity to start a business would not hesitate to make the decision to retire. But they should compensate the portion of their pension that they lost by retiring before their regular time."
Sadiya Al-Muwallad, 48, another early retired teacher, said the reason for her decision to retire was the desire to take care of her children and home. "I wanted to have time to what I had been to busy for while teaching," she said.
Al-Muwallad still has 13 years left to complete her service and receive a full pension. "But the fact is that my family needs me. Also, I didn't have enough energy to continue educating and coping with the new changes in the field," she said.
Al-Muwallad said she is now living a relaxed life away from the distractions she had before. "Money is not everything. Taking care of my home is way more important. I don't regret it, actually, I feel reborn," she said.
Arwa Al-Bandar, 40, said she applied for early retirement because of the changes in teaching methods and the constant performance evaluations. "It is a very wearying field, especially when you're getting older." She said she was unable to keep up with the development researches that the ministry requires. "Lately I felt nervous every time a pupil asked a question.
I became unable to convey the curriculum content as I used to." Because of this, she decided to do without the salary that used to represent a large support.
Azzah Al-Harithi, an educational information supervisor at the Ministry of Education, said that many of the women who retire early have a long experience.
She said that many complained about the constant evaluation. "The evaluation is necessary and important for the success of the educational process.
Unfortunately, it seems that it has been applied in an environment that was not ready for it yet," she said, adding that maybe the early retirees thought it would be faster and easier to escape the many extra-curricular activities and classes.
Munira Al-Masoud, another educational supervisor, said she did not agree that change was the real reason for early retirement. "We compelled teachers, principals and school officials to train for using computers in teaching.
For instance, they would learn how to put homework on CDs and correct them on the computer. They benefited from the experience and thought it was great, including those who disagreed with the idea of change."
Psychology and educational consultant Nizar Ramadan said women might think about early retirement for several reasons. "A woman could have other responsibilities at home that put more pressure on her. Another reason is psychological.
When a woman reaches her late 30s or 40s, especially when her children have married, she might feel that it is time to rest. She would want to be free for hobbies, to exercise at sport clubs and enjoy her life in general."
Some would feel that they have not been fulfilling their duties toward families so they retire early to compensate, he added.