The Illiterate’s Vote

Be honest, most of you guys reading this right now are fairly new to politics. In fact, most of you don’t even know what the purpose of democracy is all about. Try to answer it, go on. Dignity? Rule to the people? Rule by the people? Minority protection? Majority rule? Well, you’re all wrong. This is not what democracy is about, and what it tries to achieve.

Let’s take a break for few paragraphs. I’d like to mention some important points for you all to consider, which will eventually enlighten you more about the goals of good governance, prosperity I mean. I posted on Twitter the other day about how excited I get every time my iPhone tells me that an update is available for one of my apps. Then, someone responded with a ‘Bahrain needs a political update’. How true is this?

During my time as a Media Attaché in Washington, D.C., I had the privilege of meeting the staff of the National Democratic Institute (NDI). We spoke about many things, but two in particular stuck in my mind. The first, was when Leslie Campbell (Senior Associate and Regional Director for Middle East and North Africa Programs) told me that he was in Bahrain advising Wefaq Islamists when HRH the Crown Prince initiated the first dialogue during February and March of 2011. When I asked him what he advised on, he said that he was urging them to accept participation in the dialogue. Of course, I won’t say if I believed him or not, but that’s a different story. The second thing he mentioned as well was the fact that NDI published a research a couple of years back stating that Bahrain has the best political model in the Middle East and that all other Middle Eastern governments should adopt our political structure. I was not able to find it online, but I will soon ask him to send me a hard copy of that publication.

Whether we now need a political update or not, doesn’t really concern me as much as needing an update in our educational (home and school) system. I recently completed reading one of the best books I have ever read in my life. The title of the book is ‘That Used to be Us’ by Thomas Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum. In a nutshell, the book highlights that America should not give up this century to China by just allowing itself to fade away and give up to the rising powers. The authors state that America used to be a very innovative country where American students were the best amongst the world’s students. Now, the average American student has fallen way behind its own standards, while Asian, as well as Scandinavian students, are excelling.

There are many creative ways to raise an innovative generation that will eventually carry their nation’s future towards glory. And I’m a strong believer in that. Friedman and Mandelbaum talk about how important it is to focus on students, teachers, and parents. To develop all three together is to make sure forward thinking is to be goal oriented all the time. I, for example, also believe that teaching should be one of the highest paying jobs. We need quality parenting, quality teaching, so we can end up having quality education, and thus, quality generation.

For now, in Bahrain, what’s trending today is a discussion on whether or not we should extend the time a student spends in school. I have no personal issues with His Excellency the Minister of Education, but I cannot stand the argument and reason that other students in other countries spend more time than our students per year in school. Here’s something, why don’t we talk about what happens inside the school premises instead? Now I’ve been blessed by studying in IKNS, a private school, and then doing my undergrad and grad schooling in America. But I felt that I had a responsibility to share my knowledge to university students in Bahrain. Therefore, I taught for a year and a half in two different local universities. What I found out was shockingly sad, very sad. Not only cheating and plagiarism is the norm, but students coming from local private schools and others coming from Bahrain’s public schools were absolutely different. They were so different, in totally different leagues, in totally different worlds, that I had to create two different programs for each single class. Who to blame? Nobody but us.

Now think about it, if you’ve been stabbed with a knife and it is still stuck on your back, and poked with a toothpick and it is still stuck on your thighs, which would you remove first?

I trust an innovator’s vote a heck of a lot more than an illiterate’s. And as Friedman and Mandelbaum said in their book, I am a frustrated optimist.

Categories: Bahrain, Politics, Social

Tags: , ,

9 replies

  1. I agree with u 100% about the education system.the problem in Bahrain is that our teachers do not believe in the educational system.but they do believe in their salary.

    I do believe in the future of Bahrain and just like u, I am optimist.but Bahrain will never go forward if the law only applys on some part and not the other.even when u go to court and ur up against some one with power or as we call it in Bahrain. Was6a.u can tell u will lose the case.

    I Admire ur thoughts and ideas.I really did enjoy reading this.


  2. Thank you for enlightening us. For those of us who understand that the first step of democracy is to create a system which seperates the core aspects of state, partly to ensure that national resources and priorities are not subject to abuse, it would be great to hear how you think this would happen. Education is a product of the system so does the system not have to change first? In the 1970s Bahrain had one of the best state education systems in the region. How did we lose that while entering our most prosperous era 1980s – 2010?

  3. So, when we had the reputation and the people, functioning institutions and money we didnt improve. So now when we have less of all of the above and the same system that allowed the wastage of our national resources and potential, we are expected to believe that we can improve without a major system change?

    • We need a realistic vision and a strategy that follows. If the strategy calls for a major systemic change then so be it, if not, then why do so. The strategy is key here and everything else follows.

  4. I totally agree with you,, reforming the educational system in Bahrain is crucial. I myself am a graduate from a public high school and when I was in CPISP ( crown prince international scholarship program) I could see how the private school kids were REALLY from a different world, brought up in a better academic discipline I would say .I had to rely completely on myself to excel in English, school didn’t provide much of a resource for learning. Yes sadly, when I got into college last fall in Canada we were required to write a research essay I had a sudden realization that I haven’t written a single essay in my life, but I have plagiarized many in my school years.

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