There is nothing wrong with admitting that we are still working on our IT infrastructure, or that we need some time before we can develop an e-government. It is an embarrassment, though, that we continue to delude ourselves into thinking we're the e-capital of the universe.
Today apparently Bahrain sponsored some international UNESCO award and claimed credit for the e-learning project."the first of its kind in an Arab country." Bahrain was represented in Paris by the Minister of Education Mr. Majid AlNoaimi (shown). But the really interesting part? We (Bahrain) sponsored the award! In fact, it is called the "UNESCO-King Hamad Awad." We pay $435,000 annually to fund the award, $50,000 of which is the amount awarded plus administrative costs.
Of course, the award is designed to publicize Bahrain and its electronic schools "of the future" that we claim to have. Nice sham. Please tell me you don't consider scanning books into pdf and introducing 1 computer classroom per school as e-learning! I even got a username and password for the ministry's online teachers portal (legally! I cajoled someone to let me try it) and I was stunned: the folders were empty! No one was even posting anything and it has already been three year! Speaking of board, the physical e-white boards, as I saw also, were basically just used as projectors so a teacherwould present on powerpoint instead of writing on the baord. Some e-learning!!
Now, I would be proud if we actually used techology to develop more effective teaching methods, but our practice of deluding ourselves and the world just to get publicity and recognition is completely destructive. We are not achieving any real development in our education system, especially when we celebrate the superficial and ignore our real problems, and we have many: unqualified teachers, over-loaded classrooms, outdated curriculums, poor management, etc. I remember an education workshop held last year by the Crown Prince where poor performance of Bahraini students was exposed to be at the tail of every international benchmark-- and some reform initiatives were launched. I almost unbderstand why reforms don't move forward-- whenever the CP exposes a problem, the Ministry in charge just smoothes it over then pretends we're the best!
Btw, would someone please update the Ministry of Education's super-e website?! It still has the headline "Private survey launched." The survey results were announced in November 2005.
Note: I made corrections to the post after double-checking the UNESCO website (note to self: do not trust local news!)