14 January 2007

E is for Embarrassment

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celebrate the superficial and ignore our real problems, and we have many: unqualified teachers, over-loaded classrooms, outdated curriculums, poor management, etc.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!)


Dilmun said...

Majid Al-Noaimi, what a character! You know what I want to know is A. Which alleged educational institution awarded him a Ph.D and B. Why is it still certified by the Bahraini Government as an accredited educational institution!! I think we need follow up workshops.. all I see is tenders released for some kind of educational accreditation board no news whatsoever, a dead communication plan.. no surprise there! Its Bahrain, there isn't a single proper advertisement for the whole country except this junk bahraintourism.com and it would be better if it was taken off cause all the info on it is wrong anyway and ancient!!

And as it goes for Majid, I guess I'd say "M is for Moron"

Mooni said...

The funny part about the ministry of education is tht when they say they have wrote or developed a book! They change the cover, the layout and add/drop one or two lessons and wooooohooooo here you...YOUR BRAND NEW BOOK - 2007 PUBLISHED!! WTF!!

Barbara said...

La, nele questa per, lostonie? Glo vivo ele, da mattao nao, jam um kan yo. Woltaria leiral do fuomomeiosoa piamonacq naos, budizz, xada cheria diangantendi? Illostodad, ha dessozie far querry, fine braman.

LuLu said...

Dilmun: I'm yet to find answers to your questions-- and I ask a lot!!

Mooni: I was semi-surprised to find out that my little cousins are studying from the same exact books I studied from, 10 years ago! some of them even had the same cover but with different colors

MSB said...

i'm just happy i can check traffic violations online.. now, it doesn't always work, but the thought is there! :/

we've got a LONG way to go!!

isagreatphilosopher said...

Now this is sad.
Our education system completely misses the point of addressing many key skills. So sure, wasting money on putting all them ancient books on a central server and e-educating the upcoming generations is going to make the world a better place, or is it?

LuLu said...

msb- speaking of traffic, plzz check out their main website (http://www.traffic.gov.bh) it's a classic!!

Philosopher- yep the Ministry is entering all the old books and old teaching ways into new servers-- but in all fairness it will make them more efficient in screwing up students' minds.

Manaf Almuhandis said...

that is pathetic.
But its Just like saying our duty free is the best. Sharjah's airport is no. 1, saying our football team are champions (of what?).
Face it, Arabs like praise.

tooners said...

ppl like to pretend a lot here... make things up and say it's for real. i saw that a lot while working in the govt. the sad part about it though is that when someone calls these ppl on the carpet, nothing is ever done to change it. if the crown prince knows that there are problems, why let some minister pretend otherwise. stick to your guns and take action... if not, nothing will ever change.

LuLu said...

I guess this is sidetracking, but the issue in the crown prince initiatives is that by nature of the Bahrain system, he has no executive power. Ministers report only to Cabinet and head of Cabinet, so the crown prince is left to the strategy of trying to work around the system through political influence and lobying for backing by the King.. someteims it works, but sometimes it doesn't, unfortunately.