Saturday, 31 May 2014

The Boy with the big tyer who gave me the finger!

One day I was driving in one of Bahrain roads to reach my appointment on time, minding my own business and listening to some classic music on Studio one channel, when few masked boys came out of nowhere with huge car wheels and plastic cans with some liquid inside them and stopped us all from riving on.  I started honking my horn extensively, hoping that they will let me through before they start what I envisaged they were going to do! I came out of my car begging them to let me go as I have an appointment, and before I knew it, they were pouring kerosene on the wheels and were about to light them up, I shouted, screamed, said that this is ridicules and that they are not respecting us as most of us are in a hurry.  Then one of the boys (the one with the largest wheel) gave me the finger.  I lost it at that time, and started to tell him off, demanded that I meet his parents and what not, by that time the fire was so high and the smell made me run to my car as my asthma flared up. 
I waited in the car for over an hour calling the police and explaining to them that they must come and put the fire off, no one came.  So I decided to think instead. 

First of all, if these boys think that I will elect them to become my future leaders, they are dreaming, as I will only elect people who respect others and will not delay us from getting to our appointments. Raising the middle finger shows some utter disrespect for us the elderly, and I hope that the parents will read this article to feel shame on how their children are treating the public.

Secondly, why are they not in school? And where is the principle and the teachers who should go to the homes and summon the children, and if they are not at school someone should be told off.
Thirdly, why don’t the kids follow a series of extracurricular activities? What is stopping the hundreds of societies registered in Bahrain from preparing programmes to teach etiquette to these kids? Or at least some manners?

Fourthly, why is the government keeping quiet about this? Shouldn’t we have some programme to have the youth busy all the time?

I think its our responsibility to bring awareness to the kids that these behaviors are in actual fact "haram".  They are wasting our time, damaging public property, damaging the environment, and on top of it all they are damaging our health.  We need to have a serious programme to train the children on important educational matters and take them out of the streets.

I have a programme in mind, for those interested please contact me.

The Hotel Clerk

This was sent to me by my dear friend Ms Layla Kubba, 

On a stormy night many years ago, an elderly man and his wife entered the lobby of a small hotel in Philadelphia, USA. The couple approached the front desk hoping to get some shelter for the night.


“Could you possibly give us a room here?” the husband asked. The clerk, a friendly man with a winning smile, looked at the couple and explained that there were three conventions in town. “All of our rooms are taken”, the clerk said.
“But I can’t send a nice couple like you out into the rain at night. Would you perhaps be willing to sleep in my room? It’s not exactly a suite, but it will be good enough to make you folks comfortable for the night.”  When the couple declined, the young man pressed on. “Don’t worry about me, I’ll make out just fine,” the clerk told them.
So the couple agreed. As he paid his bill the next morning, the elderly man said to the clerk, “You are the kind of manager who should be the boss of the best hotel. Maybe someday I’ll build one for you.”  The clerk looked at them and smiled. The three of them had a good laugh.
As they drove away, the elderly couple agreed that the helpful clerk was indeed exceptional, as finding people who are both friendly and helpful isn’t easy.  Two years passed. The clerk had almost forgotten the incident when he received a letter from the old man. It recalled that stormy night and enclosed a round-trip ticket to New York, asking the young man to pay them a visit. The old man met him in New York, and led him to the corner of Fifth Avenue and 34th Street.
He then pointed to a great new building there, a pale reddish stone structure, with turrets and watchtowers thrusting up to the sky.

“That,” said the old man, “is the hotel I have just built for you to manage." “You must be joking”, the young man said.
“I can assure you I am not”, said the old man, a sly smile playing around his mouth. The old man’s name was William Waldorf-Astor, and that magnificent structure was the original Waldorf-Astoria Hotel.
The young clerk who became its first manager was George C. Boldt. This young clerk never foresaw the turn of events that would lead him to become the top man of one of the world’s most glamorous hotels.
George C. Boldt

Genuine compassion is always rewarded…..sometimes most unexpectedly !!!!

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Students that travel and schools that wait for them

Last week one of my students went to Canada to pursue his education, of course this student had so many issues with his visa and what not, so it took us almost 9 months to sort him out.  The day he departed we all jumped up  saying Yaaay, he left; not knowing of course what is in store for us.

My phone rang at 3:30 AM, and then at 3:35, 3:37, and so on, and I keep on switching it off thinking that a mad man is trying to ring me, and my grandson was restless, so I put the phone on silence.  In the morning, I found out that it was the father of the student who was calling!  well, at that time the student is still on the plane, he lands about couple of hours after that. So why did the father called that many times? I wondered?

I asked the father what happened and why was he calling so early? he said that he freaked out, and the mother freaked him out even more.  Then I checked my emails, and it seems that he had rung the Homestay emergency number at 3:31 pm and at every odd minute after that, at least in Canada they were in the afternoon, so no worries of waking anyone out!!  the homestay people reassured him and told him that they will let the son call as soon as he arrives, which they did.  However, that didn't help as the son went home afterwards, and of course being jetlagged, he must have fallen asleep, so the father for few days was so worked up, thinking that the son is missing or being kidnapped and so on. 

I am not blaming the father here, as its understandable, I am blaming the homestay company, and the student.  First, the student should ensure that he has enough battery life on his phone to tell his parents that he had arrived and safe. Secondly, the homestay company should have whatsapp or any of those free social media stuff that are growing by the minute on their phone to communicate with the parents that all is good.  Of course I blame myself as I didnt know that the father is a control freak, and the mother is so attached to her baby boy, so I didnt take precautions to prevent me from waking up late at night (such as switching the phone off!). 

The reader of this blog will think that I am selfish, thinking only of myself, believe me I am not selfish, I understand what went through the parents' minds, staying up the whole night! waiting for their child who had never travelled in his life to reach an unknown land, so we need a good solution, for this, help!

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Accrediting universities and programmes

This is a hell of a job, ask me, I have worked in this field for a while and saw firsthand what the proposers of new universities or new programmes at an already established universities go through in order to get the programme/university going.  The whole thing starts with an idea, like any new type of business, but businesses do not go through the sorts of bureaucracy that universities and majors go through! Maybe its academia, maybe it’s because everyone is worried about the kids that will go through these universities or study that major, and maybe its just a way to procrastinate things so the idea will at the end die.  However with over 10000 universities in the world I guess good ideas do not die that easily. 

Anyway, after going through all the details and establishing the ins and outs of the programme, the universities have to submit documents to the council of education in its country, and then to the ministry, and only after it fulfills all the requirements from staff hiring, to facility, to dorms, library, playgrounds, etc that it can start its work and enrolls students.  Then it gets checked bi-annually by the accrediting team of the various councils, Vice chancellors and what not, and before you know it, the university will also be the subject of accreditation in other countries, as all universities hope for diversification in terms of student body and professors.  And to reach the rank, the university needs to have research, and that too lots of research that is published in international journals. 
Ranking is the most difficult task, of course, and it is not easy, as it gets even more difficult by the day as we the educator find new criteria to rank the university by, for example peer review, and students’ opinion have just become a new parameter to rank universities with, not just how much research it has, or how diversified the university’s student body is.  So, for those that want to enter a university and want to know its rank, must first ensure why that university is number one, and if that suits the personality of that student or not.

Many countries have lists of approved universities on their websites, so the students of that country have it easy when they want to look for a place to study.  In Bahrain, we do not have this system, instead, the ministry of education depends on neighboring countries’ websites and advice students accordingly.  I think our ministry had forgotten that we started the education system before any other gulf country, and its them who must look up to us and not vice versa.  Bahrain has an abundance of intellect and of people that have a long time in Academia, so we can do this work ourselves and never to depend on others.  Saudi for example removes universities or blocks them for oversubscribed numbers of Saudi students, so if a university is approved today, and our ministry tells the student this fact, and tomorrow the university is blocked by Saudi, what will our student do? Will the ministry approve his or her degree?

We want our own system of evaluation instead of depending on some other system that had been established to suit the purpose of that country only; depending on anyone else to tell us which university to study in is an easy way out. 
We can evaluate universities by going through the sites of the various ministries of education in the various countries to see if the universities in those countries are approved or not; this is the simplest way to go.  The other way is to have an office at the ministry or the cultural attaché offices abroad that receives the dossiers of the universities and evaluates them.  That way our students are safe and will study with ease.