Saturday, January 24, 2009

a note from the office

Before posting my part 2 Dubai entry, I feel compelled to write a bit about what's going on at my workplace right how. I am sitting in my office at the college. For the second day in a row, there are no students. Yesterday was the first day of the second semester, but everyone's still at home. Despite similar happenings last semester, it still shocks my western sensibilities to experience such a laissez-faire attitude to education. This is supposedly one of the top colleges in Oman, and no doubt, there are some stellar students here. But how can a country hope to really bolster its international reputation and encourage the success of its young generation if there are no consequences for delinquent behavior? The students decide when school is in session and when it’s not. The students decide the dates of their final exams, and often their final grade itself. The power is in the hands of those being educated. This seems like an progressive, avant-garde approach to education, but it only works if the students are motivated en masse to succeed and move forward. The fact that the majority of the women here will graduate and promptly get married and start families, and the majority of the men will follow in their father's footsteps, means that their years at college are something of a blip on their life tracks. I do not mean to generalize. Many students here use this opportunity to their best advantage and go far. Many study late into the night, and accept a bad grade as a result of their failings, not as a typo to be changed with a bribe. This being said, there are a lot of things that definitely need to change around here before top-tier education is offered at local Omani colleges.

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