(March 14, 2011)
[Please include your first and last names, and your city and state of residence. Thank you.]
Education in MENA: Gilles d'Aymery's Blips #104 & Blips #105
To the Editor:
Much has been written and reported on the recent events in North Africa and the Middle East, but I have not seen one substantial report on the state of public educational systems in these regions. I wish someone would do an in-depth study of the matter and take steps to rectify the situation: then we might witness effective, and positive, change in these countries.
I have experience "on the ground" in Tripoli, Libya, and in Saudi Arabia. I taught in an expat school for two years (1987-1989) in Libya. At that time Libya was living with sanctions imposed on them by the West. Life there was austere, to say the least. I could not help but notice that there was not very much for the youth of Libya to do to keep them out of mischief. The boys often had rock throwing fights, pretty much like North American youth throw footballs, baseballs, and Frisbees. At that time I did not see any evidence of organized sports in the public school system. In fact, what I witnessed when children were in the school playground was a great deal of chanting and flag waving. I wondered about how effective education was for grade 1-12 students. Later (1991-2004) when I was teaching TEFL at a university in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, I began to take a keen interest in the Saudi public school system. I did so because I could not believe how unprepared my students were for what is expected from a university student. It did not matter whether the students were at the freshman, sophomore, junior, or senior level. I talked to many of my colleagues who were teaching mainstream subjects and I asked them what they thought of our students' abilities. Almost all said that they thought the majority of their students had no idea of what was expected of them. We estimated that only about 15% of the students who graduated would be able work competently in their field of "expertise."
After only a short time at the university I began to ask questions about the public school system in Saudi. I was informed that it consisted of rote learning, and hours of copying from the board. Also, that up to a third of classroom time was devoted to reading the Koran and to Islamic studies. When I challenged the Saudi administration at the university about the ineptness of the students, they begrudgingly acknowledged the problem and said that reform was underway. However, it is my humble opinion that even with a good solid educational system in place, it will take at least two generations to get Saudi Arabian children's level of education up to the point where they can function effectively in the work force. If one looks at the work force in Libya and in the Arabian Peninsula, it should be obvious that something is amiss. The infrastructure of these countries is kept going by an overwhelming amount of expat workers; without whom the infrastructure would grind to a halt. It will be interesting to see in the coming months what the outcome will be in Libya now that hundreds of thousands of expats have fled the country. There can be no real democracy in the newly "freed" societies of North Africa and the Middle East until the population of these countries understands what democracy means. And in order to understand what it means they have to be taught how to think and not what to think.
Calgary, Alberta, Canada - March 2, 2011
What about Libya?
To the Editor:
I couldn't see any articles on the Libya situation on your site. You've posted pieces on Zimbabwe by Greg Elich, which is just as controversial. Since many have been posted, why the drought? I've read Gilles's comments on Louis Proyect's site, so I assume he has adopted Louis's view. He too has adopted the view that Gaddafi is evil and so the insurgency is worth supporting. But at least he has posted, if only to refute. I know as I posted there till recently, when he banned me. Louis doesn't like dissent.
But Swans: Nada!
Given the preparations being made to invade the country by the U.S. and its allies, and the drumming up of pretexts to do so (invent stories of African mercenaries, non-existent bombings on civilians), at least Swans should be ready to alert its readership to a new colour revolution with jihadist overtones.
Some examples are the following:
From Diana Johnstone:
Black Africans attacked and killed by the rebels:
No airstrikes on civilians
Gaddafi and Libya: a different perspective
U.S. Has no "Moral Authority" to take Khadafi to Criminal Court
The United States "doesn't have a shred of moral authority" to take Libyan leader Khadafi before the International Criminal Court, says Michael Rattner, executive director of the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights. "While Israel was killing 1,400 people in Gaza, the United States didn't even try to stop it, much less take Israel" to the ICC. The U.S. is not even a signatory to the ICC. Military intervention through NATO would be illegal, says Rattner, and it is doubtful that the full UN Security Council would authorize an intervention. Unfortunately, the U.S. is no respecter of legalities.
Canberra, Australia - March 9, 2011
Right on Target: Gilles d'Aymery's Blips #105
To the Editor:
Gilles... brother do I ever enjoy reading your commentaries!
Your Blips #105 were right on target... I was commenting outloud as I read... Yes, and what about all the grains that we feed to the cows, which are farting us into global warming if there is such a thing? And what about all the corn that we feed to cars while depriving hungry folks? and behold, a few lines later you came up with the same arguments.
It's a great feeling when one's arguments find support in another's thoughts and analysis of what is really a very simple situation, made complicated by...complicating people, no more no less. We think alike brother, and I simply wish to say thank you for speaking out as you do. I also spoke my mind through a self-administered Web site for a time, and as you do I gave it freely.
I did this because therein rests the solution to our complicated socioeconomic problems: what God gives us all, which is all that we have, we ought to also give to one another without thoughts of profiting or exploiting one another. If we could do this, as a humanity, we'd be able to thrive and share in the abundance that Universe, Earth, and Sun are giving us freely for the goodness of our Creator.
Well now here I go, tearing up...
Thank you brother, keep giving the world the great perspective that Creation has endowed you with through the powers of intelligence, insight, and compassion.
Montreal, Canada - March 9, 2011
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