Wednesday 29 December 2010

Preparing a magazine is a huge responsibility

Every year I work on the new educational magazine for the office. We had two of them only, one for Canada education, and the other one for New Zealand education. I normally do the research, and prepare the counselling materials that come to my mind from the many questions students ask me about. Then work with a designer and a translator then the printer, and abracadabra the magazine is out. This year we decided to have a global education magazine, containing information about all the main educational destinations in the world. We thought that our students deserve the best. So the research started by hiring two interns who worked mainly on the materials, whilst I was working on the counselling materials. my son took over the project and was discussing the various bits and peices with the various people. The printing cost, the designing cost, the translation cost, the pictures, the content and any other things needed for the magazine. The main thing is we are showing our students the best in each country and how to get there.

The project started in June, and for the past four days four of us were checking the integrity of the materials and the validity of the information. Google was a great help, google translate was also open as a window, and the good old wiki was extensively used. We had the first print that my son prepared with the designer, it made 222 pages in total. So the drill was I look at the print, my son looks at the english part on the screen, the translator looks at the arabic part on his screen, and content validity checker on the third screen, my screen was open as the final authority. I didn't realise that so much information was in my brain, and I thought that alzaheimer had taken a good part of it :), as usual, we had to standardise many information, Removed many more, and added more valuable content, also we found that few sections were not in the first print, which means the designer was half asleep when he was preparing our masterpiece (sorry HUSSAIN), so we had to relook at each page and confirm it's truth or untruth then we cross read the arabic and english to make sure that our arabic students are not missing out on the good stuff.

All I want to say here is that after we spend over 200,000 dirhams, we are going to distribute to our students one of the best educational magazine there is. My son is seriously thinking of Pulitzer and also working hard on the trademark.

If any of you want a copy please email me and I will be happy to send you a copy. Of course I will value your comments and contributions for our next edition.

Happy reading

Monday 27 December 2010

Old school versus the new school

A very interesting discussion came about today between my house guest and I. She is young and enthusiastic and I am old with old thinking style. She is a real intellect and wants to make a difference in this world. I on the other hand is stuck to my thoughts that the children of this generation are laid back (I call them the facebookers and twiters’ kids).
Anyway, what really enthused me is that she thinks that the new school of thoughts can only take over when we (the old generation) die; i.e. the new generation will set idle waiting for us to die then they will implement their new ideas and new thoughts, and improve the world. This also means that we the teachers will never see the results of our hard work in upbringing this new school generation as they are worried that if they start to apply their thoughts (which to begin with were instilled by us) we will be upset. And why will we be upset? She says that we the old school are the main creators of the red tape, this stops the new school of thought to apply their thinking and improve the situation.
Ok, what is this situation that requires change? I mentioned for example that if Bahrain allowed my husband to enter Bahrain, I would never have moved to Dubai, she said that due to the red tape this had happened. We the old school want authority, and want to have our opinion heard, them the new school are the owners of the "teamwork", the owners of "tweeting", the creators of "facebooking", all of these platforms allow people to talk and criticise. Thus red tape prevents them from venturing out and disallows free thoughts and free movements of intellectuals. She says that the red tape is the main reason for the brain drain from various Middle Eastern countries.
I must agree with that, even though I will not be alive to witness this change, I am very happy that my kids’ generation will not have to face what I faced.
when I mentioned to my house guest that I had 18 house moves in my 30 years of living overseas, she almost fainted, as her mum (my friend) moved only twice during those years.
I must say something here though, I can be an expert in moving, I must start a movers company and leave it as a legacy for my kids' kids in case the new school of thought people were not able to apply their thinking.

Monday 20 December 2010

Higher education cost in the UAE

I attended a conference with NAPO on the future of education in the UAE. I enjoyed the conference very much. One of the lectures was very interesting and an eye opener, the speaker mentioned the cost of higher education in the UAE, and the figure per EFT is startling. Thus I have some suggestions here if applied properly may reduce the cost tremendously.

1. To increase the participation of local industry in the education field. For example in USA and other advanced countries the major companies fund some projects or buildings at the higher education institutions in that country, and many awards or buildings are named after the company or even the person that donated the funds from the community. The reason they do this is because these higher education institutions are the ones that contribute to the society and bring out the best in the young adults. This requires a whole new strategy and a team of people either from the local government or a special company to be set up for this purpose. As you may know local companies do not pay tax, and do not contribute to the society at all, and on top of this they higher imported labour that actually take out money from the country and send it overseas, the country thus loses. This will be their contribution to the society.

2. Allow foreign students to study at the higher education institutions, for example there should be a quota of say 8-10%. These students will be paying commercial fees and the colleges and universities will benefit, plus it would let the local student learn from the hard working of these foreigners and probably work harder.

3. Share the faculty between the colleges and universities and do satellite campuses.

4. Insist on graduate outcomes. Rather than just % GPA

the thing is< who is listening.

Friday 17 December 2010

Gender diversity

Gender diversity

Belgium has the lowest gender pay gap followed by New Zealand then Poland then denmark. GCC countries have less than 1.5% women on boards and 78% of Mena banks do not have women board members those that are there are not hired on merits.

Nasser Saudi chief economist of DIFC authority says that they are announcing a joint venture with Hawkamah and Madura institute for development of women leaders as they enter boardrooms, and forming of a network of women entrepreneurs. He said there is lack of education in fields that will allow women to excel in corporate management, he also said that “We educate women and then park them at home? What a waste?”

On the Same day as this was written in the papers there was a meeting between Sheikh Mohammed and the GCC ministers of education and the Arab bureau of education discussing a host of education related issues. The ministers came here to be in the 21st general conference.

Queen RANIA raises funds in a charity dinner in Bahrain for her project "madrasati Palestine women's network” with Sheikh SALMAN who by the way chairs the most important conference in the gulf on education (annual conference for Educators)

Also yesterday Dubai Academic City held their education forum discussing research and developments and improvements in education.

All of this happened in one day only. If we scroll through the dozens of newspapers, magazines, radio podcasts, TV news, emails from Arabian business etc, you will find so many initiatives on education, and so many talks about improving it in our world. At the same time you find a stupid policeman whipping a woman in the streets of Sudan despite the profit’s saying that we should respect woman and carry them like water on a plate.

Who are we kidding? I am not a pessimistic person, and everyone says that I have so much positive energy, however when I read all of these items and attend the conferences and the seminars I become more and more pessimistic in seeing any improvements, maybe not in my life time? Maybe the kids of my youngest daughter will see a change?

What do I want to see? I don't want to see efforts and money spent here, there, and everywhere on conference and seminars. I don't want to see a non unified efforts on improving the lives of women, I don't want to see charity dinners to raise funds (the meal itself can feed a lot of poor and hungry stomachs) I don't want to see ministers meeting, and what they discussed never gets cascaded to the people who are actually doing the work. I don't want to see individual initiatives to empower children, men or women? We need an educational revolution, and we must start from the top down?

For example, have you seen an email from a minister in your life? I surely haven't seen one, despite sending many to their secretaries. Have you seen a reply to a letter from a top person in an important place? Nop, have you been able to showcase your idea without fear of it being stolen and applied? Nop again

If I was the government I will be living in the streets for people to talk to me and ask me things, I will have secretaries (like the movie letters to Juliet) who will answer letters that the public had sent to me and never be guards that prevent people from talking to me. I will have networks by neighborhood, and listen to kids, and see projects that children designed as maybe they are the ones that can change the world.

But I am not the government; most of our governments are scared that if they walk in the streets people will ask them for money? Or will shoot them? And as the saying goes, if you fear something it may happen to you. So why fear? And why anticipate? Why not imagine that those who are going to stop you in the streets are people with ideas that will improve the lives of other people? Why not have a Chanel where people go and say their ideas and initiatives without red tape, and without fear of losing their intellectual property. Many why's, with no possible answers.

Tuesday 7 December 2010

Global village fraud

I haven't been to global village since 2007, everybody keeps bragging about how nice it is and how we can find bargains blablabla, but I kept on resisting it, the last time I went we ended up spending on rubbish, and the food that we ate gave me stomach ache for days afterwards.

Anyway, I had to go tonight as the kidls insisted, There were five of us, so I gave the ticket girl fifty dirhams, and asked for the receipt! She gave me a thirt dirham one? I asked her it's not the right one, she said that she punched the wrong button, so I accepted it as I didn't want to creat a scene. Then when we entered, the girl at the entrance scanned the tickets to open the gate for each one of us, and kept the tickets. I was wondering why she kept the tickets, I realised later on that she must have kept them for a reason, then I saw her retrying to the ticket stall and handing those same tickets to the girl at the counter. Why? Well, to me, they are trying to pocket some of the money. I am not sure why the management changed the rules. In 2007, we used to receive pre numbered tickets, that has a raffle drew, this time (of course I am not sure what happened in the previous two years) the tickets were not numbered, and we couldn't keep them, so those that worked there could try a scam without the management knowing about it. Of course not many people would want their receipts so you could be paying the ten dirhams to the girl and not to the administration of the global village. Someone should figure out a better way to remove the possibility of any fraud.

I am not going to talk about the merchandise on sale at each country's village, nothing of real value, and most if not all is of similar quality to what is available in Dragon Mart, except the price, here it is double. I must say though that the games machines were not crowded, and the food was tastier, also the cheeses and olives on sale in Palestine and Lebanon, was of superior quality. On another note, I had to buy me a pair of flip flops, and a pulley, my shoes where not comfortable enough, and the stuff that we bought were too heavy. Of course the area the village is built on is huge, so anyone would feel tired, especially if one buys stuff that is low in value but high in weight.

Monday 6 December 2010

Social Network

How many of you watched this movie? Well,I did last night, I bought it will be one of those boring documentaries, but to my surprise it was so thrilling, that my kids and I were watching it with great interest. How the idea of facebook had developed, and how it was stretched to attract every human being on this earth (if I have one, then everybody else would have had one to), also how the product proved to be one of the best ideas on earth after sliced bread.

However I am sure the rest is history, but I must dwell on the point that intrigued me from the movie. How many can be the single reason for people to drift apart, and how it can make us manipulate each other, and how it can turn friends into enemies. I am not naive, I know this for a fact, as it happened to me in many shapes and forms, and it happened many times that now I cannot really care anymore about losses as much as I care about losing friends. Friendship (that single most important relationship) that takes years to flourish can come to an end in a flash of a second because of greed. Why are we greedy? Why do we think that we are better than anyone else including our friends? Is money so important that we are ready to be alone in this world?

Many questions with no answers, probably the enquiries above resembles what the new authors say about the quantum system that we humans live in, apparently we have multiple level systems that we live within, each one of them is unique and each one of these systems is correct, but we cannot function without all of them put together. Even history, it's not one history, but every possible history. Can this be true? Well I will tell you more once I finish the book that my 18 year old nephew leant me, the book is called "the grand design". First few pages are intriguing, don't know about the rest.

Sleep well.

40th anniversery of UAE national day

I am not sure how many of you were on the roads the night of the UAE national day? Well I had some errands to do and what I saw horrified me. Something like this only happens in uncivilsed areas of the world! Kids spraying the pedestrians, cars decorated including the glass all around the car, people dressed haphazardly and supposedly in flag colours? All of this is fine! But to obstruct traffic and have the poor police chase after the culprits and the innocent is not something we are all proud of.

So please everybody hear my suggestion and let's do this for next year: let's have a real carnival, we will call it the 40 great years of the UAE. We will build things around our cars, and have the national guard play music, have some real fireworks and show our cultural identity. Of course only those that pre register and have a built up car with a pre approved design can Join the carnival. Members of the public can watch, or participate by blowing wessels, dressing up in costumes or just be there to cheer their teams. We can sell memorablia and build cars that resemble our national icons such us Burj Alarab and Burj Khalifa etc.

I think the police should look after this carnival and I think we need to start from now to develop the idea. Many countries have carnivals, Spain, Brazil and argentine is amongst some of them

I can help in any way to stop the madness of the night of the 2nd of December.

Thank you

Banks with no SOUL

I am complaining about some of the drastic measures that banks in the UAE take to recover their funds.
Noor Islamic bank is one example of extortionate behaviours that we can live without. I think they need to change their names, as what they are doing has nothing to do neither with Islam nor with being human. I would call them “murky Sprite Bank” and would encourage people to start re-naming the banks to names that represent evil, or devil or anything but light or Islam.

Of course you would like to know what happened. They took a close person to me to prison in the midst of negotiations for postponement of the mortgage repayment without any consideration to who the person is, his background, his ability to repay, his position or even being a father of three kids. This bank has no responsibility and no conscience, and in my opinion should not be open to the public and even offer any sort of help to grew.
Us the public are victims of bankers, we work hard to make do in our living, and the bankers are like a saw, they benefit if they are paying, and they benefit if we are paying. I think that the central bank should evaluate the behaviours of bank before they put the country in trouble. In USA if a person declares bankruptcy no one can touch him/her, he or she live as a happy man/woman, however in our part of the world, a person cannot even tell the banks that they are doing something wrong as they will straight away be able to hand over his/her collateral to the police, and put him in jail.

When is the third world going to change, when are we going to start respecting our people, and understanding that we are individuals with problems. I would agree with those who took a runner and left the country over night, as if they didn’t then they would be playing chess with my close person in jail as we speak.

I am only writing this letter to vent my frustration. And for help if you have any.