All the papers this morning are carrying this sort of news:
SEVERAL Bahrain schools and universities are failing their students, according to a government-approved report. Out of 20 public and private institutions reviewed, three were deemed â€œinadequateâ€, 13 â€œsatisfactoryâ€ and four â€œgoodâ€, while none achieved the highest level possible. Two out of four higher education courses analysed also received â€œno confidenceâ€ judgements, with the other two courses receiving â€œlimited confidenceâ€ rulings. Vocational institutions were also slammed in the nationwide evaluation scheme, with 50 per cent deemed â€œinadequateâ€. The revelations follow a Quality Assurance Authority for Education and Training (QAAET) report released yesterday during a Press conference at the Gulf Hotel.
GDN â€¢ 30 June, 2009
Is this the start of something very new in our culture? Where even an official entity calls a spade by its name? No, more than that, actually recognise that the education in this country is overwhelmingly shite? Where the only thing that so called “universities” care about is making money from hapless, helpless captured market?
Maybe there is hope for this here island..
but wait, there’s more:
However, despite the results QAAETâ€™s chairman and Prime Ministerâ€™s Court Minister Shaikh Khalid bin Abdulla Al Khalifa remained optimistic and called for all organisations to intensify their efforts to improve services.
In the immortal words of Shakespeare: Huh?
“Improve services?” What improve services? Is this donkey even alive? NUKE THE BUGGERS AND BE DONE WITH IT!
Improve services! There isn’t a “service” to start with! Well, I guess there is if the sound of their tills katchinging is classified as service.
Education in this country is a joke, generally. The only way that a parent can at least ensure that their children have a future in the world is to put them through one of the expensive private schools and then continue to monitor their progress throughout their educational career. This is a very dear exercise in both time and money. 16 years of monitoring the brutes to make sure that they at least have a better than par chance of getting accepted in a university or even polytechnic abroad to pave the way for hopefully a good enough employment when (if) they return.
I can tell you from personal experience that me wanting my children to tread that path was the main motivator for dumping my successful career with Gulf Air all those years ago and establishing my own company. I knew that to achieve the vision I have for my children, even the good salary I was receiving while being in Gulf Air as an Avionix engineer could not suffice. Not by a long shot. I’m happy that I have made that decision now.
So the QAAET has audited those braindead give-me-your-money-and-we’ll-keep-your-children-off-the-streets-hopefully-and-pretend-to-educate-them shops and found that the great majority of them don’t make the cut. Good. This is a first step.
The second is to impose major fines and bankrupt those who rape the dreams of our youth and make a good example of them. Let that be a lesson to the cowboy “entrepreneurs” and get the whole scene corrected. We have more “universities” than barber shops in this tiny island and there is absolutely no need for that. Especially not at this low quality.
We should also address their feed system, so let’s not forget those prisons we call our primary and secondary schools. Their curricula and method of teaching are the main cause of where we are as a country and society. Things will not change unless that decrepit education system is gutted. Until the Ministry itself is gutted from the brainfarts it contains and start anew. It is incumbent upon the powers that be to do this – if they do want progress for the next generation that is – because for over 100 years of formal education this country’s record of patents – if there is such a thing – is negligible and it’s scientific achievement is nil.
What they are thrilled about is the establishment of religious schools! Yes my friends, we have a mini-Imam Universities in both Sunni and Shii flavours here apart from the various “hawza”s (no that is not a cry one might emit after a shot of fiery liquid, but an Arabic word describing a “madrasah” or religious school) in every single village, sometimes more than one and often available for women separate from those for men. As if we need more numskulls travelling amongst us.
So the cat’s out of the bag. The chicken is out of the coop. The horse has bolted. The QAA has ascertained that the education system is brain dead. What are they going to do about it?
I don’t know, but I hope to god that they take the bull by the horns and get things properly changed, even if that means shutting down the schools for a whole year to sort them out – believe me, that shut-down will not be missed. In fact, it’d do the country a favour.
There’s another rub that must be addressed: why is it that most kids go to pains to get a degree? The pressure is immense for kids to get an undergraduate degree in things that we don’t even need as a country! 85% of all graduates I’m told will come out with a BSc and most of those in business. Do we actually need that? How many of the thousands that graduate actually get a job in their field? Not many I think; hence the continuous demonstrations we get with people lifting pieces of bread signifying their out of job status, there was even someone driving around in his clapper of a car with his certificates stuck on all the windows trying to be noticed and given a job. I’m not sure what happened to him but I suspect at least his certificate afforded him some protection from the sun! And don’t get me started on those people who choose – actually choose – to go to university here and select the most unneeded subject ever because that “specialisation” is the easiest one to gain a degree out of! Social studies is it? Oh yes, go get one and come run this here bank… mind you, judging by what happened to TIBC and Awal, they might do a better job!
We come to vocational training… we used to have the Isa Town Polytechnic, which was converted to Bahrain University ultimately and through that unstudied move contributed to the dire straits the educational and labour systems are in. That then got “corrected” by creating the Bahrain Training Institute and Hotel Training and the other zillion little grab shops who claim to provide vocational education, some even being subsidised outsourcing-wise by 6 million, yes dear friends, SIX million Bahraini Dinaeros ($16m approx) to train tellers and hotel staff. If you happen to pass by that place, by the rubbish you find thrown about and the way they choose to park and meander and sashe across in front of oncoming traffic in front of that “school”, you know where those 6 million are being spent. Most probably in Geneva or other exotic locales rather than in a proper monitored program that would teach their charges how to respect themselves and strive to achieve by respecting others and taking pride in what they do.
I’m glad that that has been recognised by the report:
The reportâ€™s bleakest findings were those of the Labour Ministryâ€™s licensed vocational courses, with half of the eight providers judged inadequate overall.
Seventy-five per cent of the providersâ€™ and management was also deemed below satisfactory.
So ladies and gentlemen we have a real and stark danger that has already befallen our country due to haphazard policies which desperately need to be fixed. Courageous steps MUST be taken IF a solution is to be adopted. I humbly suggest that should that be the case, the following must be considered:
- Fire the Minister of Education and all of his deputies. They have had their chances and blew them. Do this first and do it NOW. Let the middle meddling managers run the day-to-day affairs of education, they can’t fuck it up more than it is at the moment.
- Fire the guy in charge of giving permits to private schools and universities. Give that job to the QAA at the moment and get them to suggest someone in that position whom they vet and accept, this might correct – somewhat – Bahrain’s higher education reputation so that countries like Kuwait and others won’t black-list a host of those money-grabbing-shops.
- Tear down the school’s perimeter walls. Something that is 10-foot high surmounted by barbed wire or metal spikes is not conducive to creating the required trust-based educational establishment.
- For the next 3 generations emphasise vocational training and gear the courses to programs that could provide good jobs that the country can benefit from and ultimately can get make the country self-sufficient in various trades
- Put professionals sourced from all over the world who are passionate about education and society building and pay them well and allow them to create environments where kids would fight to get into rather than scale 10-foot walls to get out of.
- To all officials, please temper your inflated egos. The country’s survival is at stake, we don’t care who you are or where you come from. Recognise your strengths and weaknesses and let professionals run the show.
- Above all, introduce courses and activities which promote critical thinking. Throw away courses which emphasise rote learning and allow people to question taboos. We can’t move forward as a culture if we continue to be stuck to untouchable subjects
- Throw away religious education. It has created more problems than solutions. But if this is not doable (it is doable, but requires big balls) then at least teach middle of the road Religious Education, not just the Sunni strain of Islam. Teach them about Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, and other religions in the world, get them to open up to other – even competing – ideas.
There is work to be done. The QAA’s report is a first step and while I am confident – knowing how things work in this country – it most probably has been diluted to ameliorate unjustifiably inflated egos, it’s a step in the right direction.