Wednesday 26 May 2010

Kids with no nationalities who need our special attention

Well, I am playing with words here, but I am ashamed to say that I have been in the UAE for few years now, and today was the only day I go to a function by children of special needs. Of course the most moving scene was when they brought the little ones who are handicapped and carried the flag for the national anthem; I couldn’t keep myself from crying, as I cannot imagine living like one of these kids. The mood changed a bit when they started to do the shows, the fashion shows, and display the products that they made to sell in their newly opened cafe. The stuff these kids make vary between wooden stuff, bags, cloths, baked products and knickknacks that could be used by the largest company for their corporate gifts and at the same time the corporate responsibility is maintained. All of us business people put aside a large sum of money to buy memorabilia that is utterly useless, and the funds go in the pockets of other businesses, of course all businesses deserve to survive, I am not asking that all our corporate gifts' money should be spent in the special needs kids, as they may be slow and we dont want to use them as memorabilia machines either. But some of the money need to go there as the schools are mostly self funded and not for profit.

I would also like to add, that at least one of our coffee mornings a week should be spent in the special needs cafe, the money will be used for a good cause and we will also have fun at the same time. Why do we always think that someone will do something for these kids, rather than thinking that "I" will do something for these kids? we all possess a profession that we can teach these kids, we all have a special talent that we can transfer to those kids, or to the teachers that spend hours trying to teach these kids to make them feel useful.

I would like whoever is reading this blog to think a bit, and not to feel shy, my friend who is the fund raiser feels shy to ask for the money, but from today I will not feel shy nor should anyone else feels shy, I will ask each and every one of us, to spend at least one hour a month spreading their talent to "THE KIDS WITH NO NATIONALITIES WHO NEED OUR SPECIAL ATTENTION"

Tuesday 25 May 2010

Bringing Salman Rushdi as a keynote speaker to Nafsa conference? is this right?

I have been a member of NAFSA since 2005, and was always keen on attending its conferences. I find them important and interesting, and also useful as we get to gain more networks and possibly more knowledge. This year I gathered enough funds that will cover my ticket and hotel, and the conference fee, but just before I filled the form, i looked through the agenda and noticed that the keynote speaker is Salman Rushdi, so I decided not to join and I certainly hope that others will follow suit as having him is against the philosophy of NAFSA.

Now I am not an Islamic activist, nor am I against having one’s own opinion on certain religions. My argument here is that Education insists on scientific research evidences, and scientific findings, and at all the universities in the world, all of us have to show that our opinions are based on real facts (and real research methodologies), whether these come from surveys, questionnaires or checking historic data and trends. The book that was slammed by most Muslims "satanic verses" is not based on any of the above, plus it insulted the 2 billion Muslims in the world because it comprised of cynical, false information about the most influential person on earth, PBUH prophet Mohammed. The fact the he is the most influential is not according to us the Muslims, because we are always branded as chauvinists, discriminative and extremists; its according to Mr M. H. Hart who wrote a book in 1978 about the ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History, this book was reprinted in 1992 with revisions. It is a ranking of the 100 people who, according to Hart, most influenced human history. Mr Hart did not come to this conclusion on the basis of what we the Muslims had written, but on the basis of "research" into historic data.

If I am NAFSA which is {an Association of International Educators, NAFSA is an association of individuals worldwide advancing international education and exchange and global workforce development. NAFSA serves international educators and their institutions and organizations by establishing principles of good practice, providing training and professional development opportunities, providing networking opportunities, and advocating for international education}, then I would expect NAFSA to practice its mission statement and not to have someone who is totally against these principles and one who writes misleading and useless information in the name of "freedom of speech", to be its key note speaker. I would like a response from NAFSA about this fact, and i would like NAFSA and its members to convince me that having him at the conference is correct and its not against the main principles of "education".

Sunday 23 May 2010


it was a splendid day, my son and i went to the museum to check out the new educational activities created by one of my ex students. of course seeing her was great, and as i was telling my son this student was with me since she was doing her bachelor degree at Zayed university, then in New Zealand while she was completing her masters degree. what amazed me is the group of special needs kids that came to the museum to learn and practice, of course the enthusiasm of these kids made the day go so fast. anyway, my story here is about the visit to the bookshop at the museum. i saw a whole wall of books and auto biographies for Sheikh Sultan Alqasimi, in arabic, english and french and many other languages. but what cought my eyes are the plays scripts, so i asked the sales girl if these are also written by the sheikh, she said yes of course, she was surprised that i didnt know that he is a script writer and that one of his plays is on show in Egypt. i told her that i didnt know this, so she said that i must be ignorant! well maybe, but is this a way to critisize clients? i dont think so, maybe i didnt know becasue there isnt much publicity about his plays. we hear about all of the singers and films etc, but we never hear about a play by the sheikh. in actual fact i hadnt heard about his autobiography either, but i dint say anything as otherwise i will be double branded as ignorant.

we are ignorant in life, and no matter how much we read and learn there are new things to know aobut and read about every day. for example, did anyone know that there was a book sale at Dubai women college today? and that the proceeds was going to be sent to a school in Gaza? maybe you know, and maybe you dont, why? i am not sure, but by far you are not ignorant, as there must have been many things in your mind prevented you from learning about this fact.

lets celebrate ignorance as its the only way we try to learn more.

Sunday 16 May 2010

Education Forum- DIAC

This was the best initiative of DIAC. It shows that they are open minded and want to make changes to create a real educational village in the country. Ok now of course there will be teething problems, nothing that we cannot solve with constant discussions, the wheel is created already and all we need is to adapt to what the top universities in the world had done to make our universities come in the top list. It’s sad to find no Middle Eastern university in the top list: and even sadder that we are not aspiring to be on that list. In actual fact universities over here defend themselves when criticized rather than try to implement the change and aspire to meet the top list criteria.

The discussion at the forum revolved around making Dubai an Education hub. Discussions went over the accreditation and the choice of programmes offered, also some discussions on business participations and contribution to the research done by the university (if at all).

In my opinion, all the universities in the UAE should be accredited by the ministry of higher education and scientific research (CAA), we cannot avoid this issue at all, having DIAC accreditation is fine, but a more understood accreditation process is far more reliable to overseas universities especially for those students who are pursuing their higher education over there. Also what we need to do is to pursue international accreditations for example
engineering schools should be accredited by ABET, business schools should be accredited by AACSB, education schools should be accredited by NCATE, and so on, there is no way that we can avoid this and still consider ourselves a hub? The two things cannot go together.

The second thing is the choice of programmes on offer, we are limiting these to a few, if we search any top university we will find in the same faculty many choices for students, for example some universities have over 25 majors in the business field only, these majors are linked to the career choices students are provided with at young age at their schools. Many schools lack this feature and career advice is lacking in most if not all government schools. Are we taking measures to correct this deficiency? I guess not.

The third thing is research, it was mentioned at the forum that most universities stress on research. In actual fact the lecturers have a formula that they work with, most of the time its 20% research and 80% teaching at undergraduate level and this formula reverses at postgraduate level. "Publish or perish" is taken seriously in most of the advanced world as it’s the only way the university can make a room for itself in the hotel of 7 stars universities. We have two reasons on why our universities are not even close to that hotel. The first reason is the love for making money, they hire the cheapest teachers and not the best teachers. And the second reason is lack of funds for research or ( lack of available funds for research).

However most of the top universities are able to do research because the companies and the government pump them with funds, and most importantly research questions, is this done over here? I guess not.

The companies and businesses in the UAE neither pay tax nor do they have that mindset of contributing to the betterment of the society by providing cash to the institutions to do research that improves the world that we live in; They are not even thinking of sending their business problems to the universities to enable them to find answers via student/teacher collaborations. If this happens it will have many implications, the business will find good candidates for their future recruitment process and the universities will have money to spend on research, and the country will prosper as we are in actual fact able to recruit more overseas students to come to Dubai and enjoy the country and study at the same time. We have many brilliant qualities, but we lack in the important ones. So I wish the next forum will discuss ways to improve this side of the equation.

Is it a women issue? Or the whole world had gone mad?

My weekend was full of people, I loved it, its the first weekend in such a long time that I really sat and talked and had a good and relaxed dialogue with friends and acquaintences. Discussions on jobs, life, politics, Thailand, the volcanic ashes, poverty, education ( my favourite) and many more things. However one things struck me as being odd. All the women ( I must say all of us!) have one thing in common, husbands are bad. I dont want to talk about what happens inside homes, and I dont want to mention names and nationalities, but I just want to say that it seems that no one is happy as the husbands are in one way or the other are not loving or having mercy on us the women. One person takes beatings from her husband, and when she had enough she went to the police who called him in, he said that he did beat her, and he is beating her and he will continue to beat her, and lets see who is going to stop me? arrogance? no, its confidence that the system is not strong enough to protect the soft glass ( as god call us). So what should we do? I for one will not want my girls to get married unless I subject the husbands-to-be in to a pschometric test that can expose the weaknesses and the hidden complexes. I do not want my great girls, the ones I spent time, effort, money and love on to be like that woman?

Where is the humanity? and why do we go on talking about things that does not relate to our well being. If our mental health is not in perfect conditions then we cannot help any one in this world. We have to think of what is the best way to acheive this mental health and then be able to help the world be a better place to live.