Tuesday, July 24, 2007

12 Years in Prison

Warning : Long Post Ahead

First of all, I apologize for not being able to write earlier than this. This inconvenience is only fractionally the fault of myself, and mostly due to circumstances out of my influence. I'd also like to take this opportunity to thank Sleepless and his team for their effortless works on the making process of this blog and hope that it will turn out as they please.

I wanted my first appearance here to draw the truest image of me and carve it as a first impression. An extremely angry individual. No extremely angry individual is born one. It's a painful process in which one or many factors come into play in carefully carving patience and consciousness out of that individual leaving behind an extremely flammable human being. Here, I tell the story of the factor that I'm the result of.

For most of the past 12 years, I've been a student studying under the educational system orchestrated by the Ministry of Education. After I've completely finished with it, I took time to digest the value of my time and effort there. Wasted. The people in charge made sure it went that way. This, non-arguably, left me deeply frustrated, which intersects to only one of two paths. Depression and surrender, or Anger. I've chosen the latter, and that my friends, is the factor that bred the anger you see today.

I've always thought of school as where I could go to ask questions, not to get asked questions. The Ministry Of Education has improvised an educational system inspired from the advanced elaborate educational systems from the Western world. They stole a small proportion of the application in those systems, and disregarded many important parts in the operating mechanisms of these systems. They also disregarded to learn the purpose of these important parts and how the desired result only comes from the correct integration of all these parts.

This improvised strategy has so far not been successful and did not create any notable change in the way education touches us. From one part the proceedings are constantly revised without noteworthy outcome and from the other, the curriculums and methods are completely disregarded and neglected. This, instead of paving our way into the future left us steadily falling towards ignorance.

I, as an Omani citizen, just like any citizen would, expect three things from my country. Education, Opportunity, and Peace. Education has clearly left me very well disappointed. Opportunity, is bound with education, and since the first one is a rotten apple, it ruined the entire box. That, too, was a disappointment. Peace, as much as I'd like to say I'm not disappointed, I can't. Knowing that there's a number of ill-educated disappointed people, it's just a matter of time until I feel ripped from the luxury of peace. It's starting to becoming worryingly evident these days as proof of that withdrawal.

Am I disappointed on being an Omani citizen ? Yes, maybe I am. I'm only a little disappointed about the things I said above. The larger disappointment comes from the fact that in terms of Education, the system has taken a wrong turn in every possible one. The system failed in being the very foundation of our future commitments towards the betterment of this blessed country.

But It's very difficult not to tackle these commitments. The foundations of our future have been rattled because Education has refused to be part of that journey. It has refused to understand how education is not a burden, but rather an investment. This refusal has developed a mentality that plays counter to our potential as a country. A mentality that left old men with old short vision in places of decision making, and refusing to let them go when it's time to. A simple mistake, that also caused the advancement ladder to stop short from target, which eventually created no new opportunities for the newer generation. Unemployment.

That would make sense of why governmental based colleges are considered so low in terms of quality. It isn't a safe investment for the government to consume financial and strategic resources that will not return beneficial. If you don't put effort in something, don't expect a good result from it. That's why we will never be in par with the country which is geographically that closest to us. The United Arab Emirates. Despite the little resources they have in comparison with our country, they've moved forward where we halted. Their firm belief in proper investing has paid them well, where our lack of investing has returned us with a lack of resulting.

It's time that we lay off the people who're having a hard time of understand modernization and change them with young people who have lived that modernization and not only witnessed it. It's time that we stop making the stupid mistakes we do with education. Stop building two schools, with two one-hundred class rooms, and two 1000 chairs and two everything. It's time we stop the sexual segregation mayhem and start making people understand that females will work alongside men in building this country and their refusal to do that should be accompanied with refusal of educating them. It's time we make just as much university graduates as school graduates. It's time we build more governmental colleges of high quality and equipping them adequately. It's time the Ministry of Higher Education enforces boundaries on private colleges and sees that the Six Million Omani Riyals granted yearly from his majesty to each private college in Oman is spent in favor of the Omani students, instead of against him when they raise their fees. It's time that we stop biting more than we can chew, stop stealing incorrectly from the west. Their systems are already established and ours are far from that, we should create a system which caters to our needs and not theirs. It's time we stop the joke that is the Higher Education Admission Center is, which basically is a multi-million-rial computer software program which ranks the students who are statically the most adequate in taking benefit of the governmentally allocated scholarships. No where in the world does a computer decide the acceptance for a scholarship and I dread the day that a probability software decides the fate of a human beings future. Take away HEAC, it's an immense waste of money and efforts. There's no way a computer with a software do what a human does with an interview. It's time we update the curriculums. Make them more digestible and relevant, and delete what isn't. Pay attention to teachers and professors, and honor their fine profession. They've taken a journey towards the greater good, instead of one towards self-fulfillment and that my friends, is a great sacrifice.

His Majesty Sultan Qaboos said in one of his speeches that knowledge without mind is like a fruitless tree. Not in defiance, but in contrast, I say a mind without knowledge is too like a tree. A dying one. It's our moral, social and national obligation to prevent that from happening. We have to make changes no matter what impracticalities they may face at first, because when its starts to produce, it will produce well. It will produce people who will be able to power this country the way it should.

In conclusion, I have to say that a person that can't do Maths or Physics does not necessarily have to be a person with little potential. Everyone has a way to project their intelligence, and only little of them can do maths. Intellectual adequacy does not have to necessarily be a product of academic ability. Issac Newton was not sitting on a school desk when the apple fell from the tree unto his head triggering the thought that later created the pillars of modern Physics. Albert Einstein failed his university entrance exam and had to wait an entire year before he can retake it and that did not stop him from creating a scientific revolution, which some of it's theories still mystify scientists today. Woody Allen failed his Film Production class in university before he later become one of the most recognized and distinguished people in the film industry and an Academy-Awarded director, producer and writer. Instead of standing still, let's take a step to the front with the right foot.



Amjad said...

I said it many times before, and here I'm saying it again. The only governmental university in Oman, which is SQU, is not satisfied with the system of the Ministry of Education and finds difficulties in evaluating the students' achievements with the system of the ministry and the system of the university. What else is the Ministry of Education waiting for to set their system on the straight track if the only governmental university is not satisfied with the system, and the ministry knows that very well?

This is a really great post, ti3gib. I salute you and wish that I had skills as well as yours to express my thoughts on the system of the ministry. I hope the authorities concerned get the message and do something.

Abdullah Al-Bahrani said...


First, I would like to acknowledge your writing and your ability to eloquently express yourself. If you are a product of the Omani Education system, then the system must be doing something correctly.
I do not necessarily agree with all issues discussed in your post, but I do appreciate you voicing your concerns. In the effort to establish a constructive debate I would like to highlight some points of yours we have different opinions on.

“I've always thought of school as where I could go to ask questions, not to get asked questions”.

I think you would agree that before you can articulate issues, and begin to ask questions that broaden your horizon in a subject you must learn the foundations of the subject. I would argue that the first 12 years of school and atleast the next two in college are to develop a knowledge base that you can eventually use to ask questions. Given your interest in asking questions and going beyond was it taught, I would say that you are a prime candidate for graduate work. However, before you reach that point you must show a grasp of the basics.

This brings me to my next point-

“It's time we stop the joke that is the Higher Education Admission Center is, which basically is a multi-million-rial computer software program which ranks the students who are statically the most adequate in taking benefit of the governmentally allocated scholarships”.

As I stated above, it is important that higher education be granted to those that have the best chance of completing the process. Our resources need to be spent on those that can do the most with the opportunity. Thus if one does well in high school, probability indicates that the student will do well in college. This does not mean that everyone with good grades will do well, and everyone with bad grades will do bad, but on average the higher the grades the higher the chance of success. I would hate for the gov’t to allocate Rials to individuals that would have a higher chance of failing.

Additionally, a statistical approach to granting scholarships decreases the potential for subjective allocation of scholarships. This clearly informs the students of the requirements they must meet.

Finally, I don’t think that stealing is the appropriate word in your sentence-

“…, stop stealing incorrectly from the west”.

I would call it a merger of some western tools with Omani social and educational values. After all, our goal is to extract the best of each system. If anything was left out of the western system, its either because that aspect does not work well in West to begin with, or because it does not meet the requirements of our society.

Once again these are just some points that I don’t share your opinion on. I, once again, congratulate you one a well written post and I look forward to reading more of your writing.

Luisa aka Balqis said...

lol this is my boy
All this fuss cause you sucked at math and phisics I assume
It happens to all the students of the world when they're in finals before uni
In case you missed Dubai ruler last speech on Emarati students performance, he told them loud and clear that the government monetary committment for their studies is just a waste cause they're ignorant like donkeys [didn't express it like that but that was the sense]
You write like a politician

weirdgoat said...

Per Your Request,
Studying with Ti3gib I can clearly tell you that his writing style has nothing or little to do with his education at the hands of the Omani Education System, our exam's most taxing writing test made us write about 200 words at most about something that needed no emotion or skill to express whatsoever.

And c'mon, our education is a joke and there's no denying that. Not only did we "borrow" things from the west, we took the worst they had to offer and somehow managed to just ruin that as well.

And Ti3gib... I've been waiting a little to long for you to start posting...
Where ya been? :p

Abdullah Al-Bahrani said...

Maybe you can elaborate in regards to what is not working. I left the Omani education system in the 8th grade, I studied in the “western” education system. To be honest, I envied my friends that remained in the Omani system. Their understanding of Math, Physics, Chemistry, and Biology surpassed my education. My education was overwhelmingly liberal in structure and saturated with “creativity”. It was an eye opening experience during the first year of college, to be honest with you my Omani friends coped much better. But maybe like weirdgoat says, this might not be due to our educational backgrounds!

TI3GIB said...

If I had the time I might consider translating it into the MOE forum. The last time I criticized the system and suggested a student body it was welcomed eagerly.

Wanna help out ?

Per Your Request,
I thank you for your kind words. I agree with you on most of what you disagreed on. Maybe if rephrase it, you'll have a clearer understanding of what I was trying to say.

".. learn the foundations of the subject. I would argue that the first 12 years of school and at least the next two in college are to develop a knowledge base that you can eventually use to ask questions."

I agree with you on the importance of a knowledge base, an appropriate foundation in which the intake of professional university work could be grasped optimally. I stress on the vitality of the correct foundation, because I'll come back to it.

".. but on average the higher the grades the higher the chance of success."

I too, agree, with you in this statement, but that only applies in the perfect well-coordinated system. The better the foundation, the better the structure. What we have is a huge problem in the foundation. 95% of all possible majors are tied with the incorrect foundation classifications. Maths, Physics and Chemistry are the requirements of which 95% of all majors are based on, a lot of which don't even have a hint of those requirements.

This is why I stressed on foundation. It not only has to be strong, but it has to be correct and appropriate. An excellent gravel foundation for a structure could cause it to collapse if built at sand. It's also why I specifically gave attention to updating curriculums, focusing on what's relevant and deleting what isn't. Instead of just putting illogical emphasis on criterias that do not play along with those majors. I say that because this emphasis covers almost all the majors I've seen.

"a statistical approach to granting scholarships decreases the potential for subjective allocation of scholarships"

Again. I agree with you. In a perfect system, this should be how it's done, but because ours isnt, I reassert using interviews, 101 is a direct way to deal with the relevancy issue in a way a computer never can. We could have the correct foundations and a computerized system to manage these grants, and that would work perfectly. Without changing the foundations, and changing the granting system instead, we can have a system that works acceptable. But having both is disastrous. I know the subjectivity has a much bigger effect than I'm giving it, but as I said, no matter what impracticalities change would enforce at the beginning, on the long run, it would be beneficial.

On your last point. My attention was not to point out 'how' we took these tools out of the western systems, but rather how we incorporated them in ours. In exact, I'm talking about (Continues Assessment), which is a grading system, that has been blindly copied here, without a proper strategy to battle the circumstances that we have here that differ from the ones in the western world, which the system was optimized for in the first place.

I thank you again for your valued thoughts.

LooL. Don't make me ask you how much you got. Write like a politican, eh ? .. I know you're just trying to make me sound evil. Why not a humanatarian ? :D

Around and about.

TI3GIB said...

Per Your Request
Do you think that it was their early exposure to this new material in the first year of college that helped them cope better or their better understanding of the basics ? ..

If it was exposure, then that would only prove my point that curriculums needing to be revised. These weren't even supposed to be studying them when they were, and their exposure to this same material in their earlier year helped them.

If it was the better understanding, then it could be a group of reasons. Mostly of which don't directly compliments the merits of current system.

You also shed light to something I forgot about. You mentioned creativity and we have a dire lack of alternative programs. We 'unofficially' have the sciences program and the literature program, and don't have any other ones like Arts, Mechanics and Business.

Luisa aka Balqis said...

By the way am Ti3 online mum
Warning for everybody : in summer he is a pain in the a**
You just ignore his moods and he will be back normal in October

Abdullah Al-Bahrani said...

Thanks for clearing up the air!

Twister said...

I have read Ti3gib's post in detail and I think I can get the point he's trying to make. I've had more than one Omani friends over my 18 years of stay in Oman, and some of them were not totally satisfied with the standards of the education system. By standards I do not refer to the quality of the material within the framework of what is examined, but rather what is taught and examined.

In Australia, I see quite a number of Omani students. Many of them are very bright students who go on to get high achievements. However, The admissions departments of most universities are less than willing to accept the Thanwiya as a direct entry pathway to Bachelors degrees. As a result, many of the students who would have surely done well in Bachelors had they got direct entry are relegated to completing briding diplomas first, which adds around a year to their overall study period...and needless to say, wastes a year for the bright students.

But what has to be given serious thought is WHY the universities dont accept the Thanwiya in the first place...for the most part, universities blame it on the Thanwiya not laying enough stress on english language skills. This decision was obviously based on a generalised analysis, and more than often ends up disadvantaging some of the more capable students.

In my opinion, what Oman needs to continue growing as it is, and make His Majesty's visions a reality, is to overhaul the curriculum of the Thanwiya to place more emphasis on English language and sciences, update the syllabi periodically to reflect new discoveries/industry standards, and make the method of assessment more rigorous and hand-on (a la A-Level or International Baccalaureate).

Anonymous said...

I have to say that yours has been one of the most satisfying reads on the OCB. The state run education system is abominable and for many reasons. There is no history and culture of academia in Oman, or even in the Gulf. There is no culture of criticism where you can question everything. The state schooling system is just rote learning, the end result being 90% students have no thinking abilities. I am not talking just about Muscat, but the interior as well. the majority of males aged 12-15 in schools can't read or write in English OR Arabic. The ministry is ignoring this and using this lack of critical ability to its advantage. There will be huge social problems in the future. No one is addressing these issues. Then you have the idea that you can create good students just by having access to higher education, what rubbish. The Gulf is renowned only for its oil and gas and the wealth it brings in. No-one knows anything about education in the Gulf and it is regarded as having some of the poorest standards around the world.
What amazes me though are the highly erudite posts that this blog produces, why can't you guys run the country instead of these bumbling old fools in the ministry. There are departments in the Ministry of Education where they have directors with no staff! They just have positions and titles! It gives me some hope that there are such smart individuals here in Oman and that they don't just accept things and are upset about the way things are. You are a small shining light into all this nonsense and I hope you can convince others too!

Unknown said...