Gulf Crisis Prompts Saudi Firm To Recruit Teachers

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The Saudi Arabian Oil Company is looking for a few good teachers.

Due to increased oil production spurred by the Persian Gulf crisis, the petrochemical firm anticipates that it will need more teachers next year to work in schools that the firm operates for the children of expatriate workers.

"As a general rule, we are doubling our hiring " said William Tracy, a spokesman for Saudi Aramco in Houston.

Saudi Aramco is the Saudi Arabian-based successor to the Arabian American Oil Company, once owned by four top American oil firms. It still employs several thousand4American and Canadian workers at its extensive oil facilities in Saudi Arabia, and it operates free schools for the children of employees in three Saudi cities--Dhahran, Abqaiq, and Ras Tanura.

Before the Gulf crisis, the schools enrolled close to 1,400 American students and employed 160 American teachers.

Since the Aug. 2 takeover of Kuwait by Iraq, many American workers' families have stayed out of Saudi Arabia because of the unstable political situation, and school enrollments have dropped by as much as half. (See Education Week, Sept. 5, 1990.)

Because of the embargo on oil from Kuwait and Iraq, Saudi Aramco has increased its output from a pre-crisis level of 6 million barrels a day to 8.2 million, with plans to increase to 10 million by 1994, Mr. Tracy said.

To do that, the company must add engineers and other technical workers from North America. At least 800 will be added by next year, he said.

Despite the crisis atmosphere, company officials believe many workers will bring their families, increasing the need for teachers.

Mr. Tracy notes that school enrollment has been gradually climbingel10lback toward its normal level. Of 1,400 women and children who left Saudi Arabia in the early weeks of the crisis, some 800 have now returned, he said.

Mr. Tracy said the company normally pays teachers about 30 percent above what a "good" public-school district in the United States pays.

Recently, it added a temporary 15 percent increase for all workers that will last "indefinitely" because of the heavy workload stemming from the political crisis.

The firm is sending representatives in February and March to teacher-recruitment fairs in Boston; Columbus, Ohio; Cedar Falls, Iowa; and New Orleans.--mw

Vol. 10, Issue 13

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