Education business: Originality or shameness [Archives:2007/1099/Community]

November 1 2007

By: Maged Thabet Al-kholidy
[email protected]

Education has a supreme aim that is recommended by all the religious, moral and social norms. “A teacher”, says our prophet Mohammed, “was about to be a Messenger”. Accordingly, it is commonly believed that a teacher has to “convey a message”. If this aim remains, it will promise a betterment of the nation. However, what would be the case if another aim(s) starts dominating the field of education?

We may “hear” about some educational institutions, which honestly respect education, do best to maintain its supreme aim. The current state of some educational institutions, however, “also honestly respect”, but new goals or it is preferably to call it “interests”. One of these interests is “Business”. Some educationalists, and/or academicists do not only call for such new goals but “severely fight” for them as if there are not only an educational duties, but rather religious ones.

“Business is Business”. And there should be no expectations of “education-quality” since the “quality of incomes” is superior to anything else.

You, dear readers, may think that I am talking about the “private sector” like schools, universities, etc. People, I think, get used to what is being done in this sector and since it is recommended by the “Ministry of Education” and being owned by “investors” who expect incomes, no need to talk and interfere in this sector.

What I am talking about is the public institutions, where the “quality of business, incomes, and commissions” has been the most important goal, of course not as our prophet says, but what mood, pockets, and personal benefits encourage them to do.

Moreover, I am not talking about the fees and other requirements of these governmental educational institutions. Also, it is not the cost of books and references that the students may need to widen the horizons of knowledge.

It is not a puzzle, dear readers. You may get it normal to know that teachers do business through lecturing or through selling handouts. But I am sure you will be surprised when you know the new “modern” techniques of raising the incomes of what I can call “the education business”.

Teachers of a well-known academic institution have started a modern commercial way that proves successful in making “teaching”, a very moneymaking project. It does not need capital money, and the owners- “teachers” do not have to pay any “water”, or “electricity” bills. The only think needed is to have a “stump”, costing not more than one thousands Rials to be paid when accomplishing the first bargain.

A handout consisting of 30 pages (not papers) costs 400-500 Rials, while its normal cost is not more than 150. “It is printed in high quality”, the photocopier says whenever asked by any student. The print quality is there because the size of typing is “big”, and “bold”, “may be to be readable for the shortsighted students”.

The real cleverness of this project lies in the idea of making a “stump” at the last two or three pages, which include questions and exercises to be answered as a homework, or “research” for which the students are to be evaluated for 25% of the total marks. “These pages without the original stump are not accepted”, one teacher told the students. The stump is the essential thing in the homework even if they are submitted without any answers. A similar second-handed handout from the previous year(s) is also useless because the stump year is invalid.

The stump must be original, and I say the idea is really “original”. Originality is required especially nowadays with the invasion of unoriginal products, thoughts and ideas. It is rather better to have “original thinking” about the other parties whom teachers deal with.

“Poor and kind students” are the marketing target of this project, and education is the only product. I may be wrong or partial, dear readers, but it is an advice for myself, for you, and for such teachers to think about the matter, considering all its pros and cons, and then logically and impartially balancing it through the mind's eye.

Majed Thabet Al-kholidy is a writer from Taiz, currently doing his M.A. at English Dep, Taiz Uni. He is an ex-editor of English Journal of the University.