Thousands of students of International Indian School, Jeddah gathered in their school auditorium on Thursday, the 4th of this month. They were informed that this was their last day at school because the premises had to be vacated following an order of a local court.
The school, founded in 1969, acquired this premises in the early 1990s. Since then, thousands of Indian students, residing in a foreign land, had received formal Indian education here. Over the years, the school premises had seen innumerable Indian cultural events being organised on the eve of Republic Day, International Yoga Day and other such occasions. It had been the cultural hub of Indians residing in the city with events like Mushaira being organised annually. Under the patronage of the Indian Ambassador, the school catered to the needs of over 10,000 students and employed around 700 people, almost all of them Indians.
In a circular released by the school on 4th October 2018, it was announced that “the owner of the premises has served a legal notice to the school through a local court to vacate the building on or before October 09, 2018. In this scenario, the school left with no choice but to comply with the eviction order”. This comes in the backdrop of the owner of the premises demanding an extraordinarily high rent which the school apparently couldn’t afford, reported India Today.
The move is likely to affect all students and staff since classes will be shifted to another building of the school which are already engaged with other classes. The school will operate in two shifts to tackle this, the circular notified. This will also severely affect extra-curricular activities and management due to the lack of space. Coupled with this is the problem of stacking furniture and other equipment which is being removed from the premises.
Saudi Gazette, a local newspaper quoted the Head Boy of the school Farhan Mohammed Faheem as saying this, “All great things at our campus came to an end all of a sudden and it was so heart-breaking as we never thought of it. However, this is not the end, and we IISJians would overcome these tough times very soon with the support of our parents and teachers.” Adding to it, Mustafa Hashmi, literary secretary, was quoted by the Saudi Gazette as saying,“Though it’s definitely heartbreaking, we will surely come out of it producing better results.”
The positivity of the students was also reflected in their actions. On 6th October, they took to Twitter, appealing to the Indian Minister for External Affairs, Sushma Swaraj for help. They also tagged Prakash Javadekar, Indian Human Resource Development Minister for help. Tagging Swaraj and Ministry of External Affairs’ official handles, Daud Arif, who served as the Head Boy of the school in 2011-12, tweeted, “Indian students in Jeddah need help, our school that existed since years is being shut by authorities. #IISJUnite #Sushmajipleasehelp”.
Responding to a tweet, the official twitter handle of Consulate General of India tweeted that the Ministry of External Affairs is cognizant of the issue and is taking measures for continuation of the students’ education.
Image source: Saudi Gazette