As easy as it would be to forget about my experience with Shabaka Training, I am writing this in order to fully inform people about what they're getting themselves into. As the company bribes people to write positive reviews, there are no honest reviews online from the past 5 years. However, these things need to be said.
This program is most concerned with money so neither quality nor ethics are important to the leadership.
The first thing that should be noted is the unethical way in which many of the "teacher testimonies" on their website were obtained. Many of the teachers who were leaving (quite a few who were not asked back for arbitrary reasons) were told that they had to write a positive review for the site if they wanted to receive a letter of recommendation. I personally know teachers who wrote fake, positive testimonies in order to get their letters of recommendation, as they felt they had no other choice.
Despite claiming to foster a family environment on their website, the company fosters a negative environment in which seniority rules, rather than quality or experience, and people are made to think that their jobs are at stake if they don't do what they're told. The director and a few of the loudest members of management lacked people skills and were unable to lead by example or talk to others with respect. None of us were treated as professional adults; we were all treated as if we had no idea what we were doing.
Despite asking for feedback throughout the year (as is required by their accreditation), they did not take even the smallest criticism well and were not interested in improving the program. We always heard the same answers: either an excuse for whatever the problem was or "we'll fix it next year," no matter how simple the changes were, such as editing materials that were full of mistakes, even though they had teachers willing to help.
The female teacher that each woman Skypes with before officially signing the contract is upfront about what it's like to be a woman in Saudi, but not about how the company is run and how you will be treated (as she is also in a position of leadership there and gets paid to recruit female teachers). I felt prepared for life in a small town in Saudi but I felt in no way prepared for a company of such low-quality or such a negative work environment.
Overall, the program has potential and they claim that they are much better than they used to be. However, Shabaka Training does not value their teachers, care about the content of their program, treat teachers or students with respect or care about student improvement.
If you are a teacher who cares about quality, professional development, honesty, your work and your students, this job will be very frustrating for you.
-People on the compound who were inexperienced and just wanted to earn money quickly and without having to do much work felt fine there. If you just need a year or two of money and experience, it's fine, but don't think that that's what most ESL jobs are like. Elsewhere, you will find jobs where you'll be treated with respect.
-lack of respect for teachers and students
-low quality program
-negative work and living environment (as the people in both places are the same)
-"professional development" consists of people who aren't necessarily qualified observing your class and either passing or failing you (It is more of a scare tactic than an actual development tool.)
King Khalid Rd, Al Koot Al Naathil, Al Hofuf 36361 31982, Saudi Arabia
Teacher at Shabaka Training