Mahdi Abu deeb Jalila Al-Salman (Vice President)
(Bahrain Teachers Society President)
Jaw Central Prison
Education was, and still Nations’ laissez-passer towards improvement, urbanization and prosperity. This is what all nations are aware of and all what religions as well as all reformers have worked to establish throughout the history of mankind. The first contact that Quran began with earth was the word “read” and this is the Messenger of Mercy tells us to “Seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave.” Teachings of Allah and novels from the Messenger of Allah and his family, in addition to the legacy of his valued companions, continued to guide us towards education and learning to the extent that Prophet said “Seek knowledge even if it is in China” and “Seeking knowledge is obligatory on every Muslim man and woman”. When Muslims civilization launched from the jungles of the Arabs’ desert to invade the world, it dominated with education, the education that erupted in the corners of the youthful state as a result of cross-fertilization and intellectual openness to the Nations which were surrounding the Arabs Island. Arabs benefited of Sciences of those nations because they have lived the philosophy of Islam based on non-discrimination between human beings according to their origins, color of their skin or their intellectual and ideological affiliations or even religious “preferred not to Arabic outlandish, nor to white on black, but piety.” The criterion is efficiency and what is required is upgrading. The way is science. Isn’t it that “an hour you think is better than the worship of a Year”? Even faith is built on science and not on ignorance. Nothing lifts Europe from the ages of ignorance and darkness except the light of the science that put them in the forefront of nations today and also because Europe did not care about the source of science but by learning it. East Asian countries had witnessed their economic and industrial development only thru science and the development of education and making it an anchor for Human Development, which is indeed the real capital of those nations, where neither oil nor raw materials but only human and education. Bahrain was – always – a beacon of science, oasis of scientists and cultural radiation center for the whole Gulf region. Moreover, and in some scientific joints, especially science, it was a beacon for the whole Islamic world, has its brilliant history, open culture and individual scientific achievements. At present and since the start of formal education, education passed thru multiple roles built, since the very beginning, to tighten the grip one spectra of society on education. All leaders of education to this day belong to this spectrum in addition to employment policies, career development, promotions, missions, etc. It also applies educational policies of giving priority to the thought and culture of this spectrum at all levels, including the different curriculums that shines evident in Islamic education materials, history, popular culture texts, national education and even geography and other subjects taught in our schools. However, things were not always this cruelty and clarity; this was not the systematic behavior over the decades since the start of formal education in Bahrain in the beginning of the last century. The opinion – without doubt – to do this “ethnic cleansing” which is directed to one of the most important spectrum of society starting from education with qualitative, quantitative and direct things as it is since 1995 (i.e. since militarizing education) to date. It was not this overheated widening, as it has become since the appointment of the current minister and as flagrant focus as it is since 14 February 2011, and I’ll show in this paper some of the most important things upon which this characterization of “ethnic cleansing” of what is happening in education is built on. I will talk about two of the most important projects: “the destruction of education,” which is called “Teachers College” and “installing volunteers” and the role these two projects had on the Mother project “sectarian cleansing”. In addition I’ll briefly clarify why Bahrain Teachers Society / Association was marginalized and kept away from all educational projects and decisions as well as the reasons for the onslaught on Teachers Association specially its chairman and his deputy then the board members, teachers and students, and why “Teachers College” students were loaded the brunt of what happened at the university, in a quick tour – dictated by my imprisonment. I’ll shortly highlight the formal education in Bahrain and its role in the dangerous project is – in my humble opinion – faced by the nation and which extends through the arms tentacles of power to stifle every home and convert it to sectarian cantons which served at the end only the authorities and some influential and henchmen power from this criminal project which is inhuman, immoral and contrary to the teachings of Allah and the human laws and customs.
2-Education in Bahrain:
The external view of education in Bahrain is beautiful, but the inside is something else which suffers from many problems, and the Economic Development Board reports confirm that our education system is deteriorating in terms of the educational outputs at all levels (academic or requirements to engage in the labor market), and this was confirmed by the papers presented by University of Bahrain, Ministry of Labor and all participants in the seminars organized by Economic Development Board on the status of education in Bahrain. They rang alarm bells about education and the level of its outputs, and also cast serious doubts on the unprecedented students’ results which are approaching perfection and then many of these students fail to succeed in both the labor market and at the university, which means that there is a clear defect and some missing rings in the loop that makes the context illogical.
The education process consists of several overlapping elements, including:
1. Education goals.
2. Educational policies.
4. Educational materials.
5. Educational mechanisms, including teachers.
6. Students who are the target of the educational process.
7. Educational leadership.
8. School environment.
9. Surrounding environment (home, parents, community with its religious, sports, cultural and social institutions, culture, composition and economic level)
Where is the fault? As usual, Ministry of Education put the blame on teachers (the scapegoats). Note that what was proved later is that everything I referred to above suffers from critical problems which had the larger role in the deterioration of education and its decline.” Bad educational outputs” means “weak curriculum” and this means “inappropriate educational goals” meaning “failure of educational polices “and that means “ineffective educational materials” to provide anything to students and all this confirms that we are having “incorrect evaluation”. The result reached by any sane specialist or non-specialist that “there is significant fault in the management of the educational process”. This is clearly a result of the “obvious deficiencies in the performance of educational leaders.” Why? The answer is simply “they are unqualified” and “not suitable for educational leadership”. So why put in this vital and sensitive position? “. They are there to implement objectives which have nothing to do with education” and what are those goals? It is a set of goals to achieve the main project, “ethnic cleansing at the national level.”
About 5 years ago, Economic development council has launched five initiatives for the development of education. The media cheered for them and huge budgets were allocated, so where are the results? Were those initiatives, in fact, for the development of education? We hope so, but the reality does not actually help us a lot in this wishful thinking. We will talk later about “Teachers College” which is one of the five initiatives launched by the Economic Development Board for the development of education, which gives a blatant example of “ethnic cleansing”, beginning with education.
3-Ministry of Education:
This ministry is the largest ministry in the State in terms of the number of employees (if we exclude ministries of interior and defense) where workers at the Ministry of Education represent about one third of workers in the public sector (and I think they are currently more by adding of three thousand volunteers or more at once). There are four processes that worth observation in trying to figure out the core of the problem that eat away the body of education to be a real stumble in the face of the completion of any progress at the national level in any of the areas necessary to achieve human development to get the quality and level of performance required for the success of the educational process. These processes are: recruitment, training and apprenticeship, promotions and leadership positions stated according to their importance. In the Ministry of Education, these four operations are based on “discrimination and exclusion” upon employment on the identity, training, promotions up to the leadership positions. At different levels you see the “filtrations” in its ugliest forms where the mixture of different colors of national spectrum vanishing so that the Ministry of Education remain with only one spectrum that imposes its own agenda on everyone without the slightest heed to the national interest or even the rights of citizenship. It is enough to take a quick tour in the corridors of the ministry to see that all departments responsible for these four operations, like all departments of the ministry, are controlled by those belonging to one color based on discrimination and exclusion. When I say they are from one color, I’m not talking about the sect to whom they belong, all communities have all the respect and appreciation, but I’m talking about the ideology and thoughts that they belong to, in the implementation of their clear exclusionary project.
4-Ministry of Education leadership:
After Mr. Ahmed Al-Omran as a minister of what was known as “Knowledge Management (the x-name of ministry of education), Sheikh AbdulAziz ALKhalifa became Minister of Education followed by Dr. Ali Fakhro, who was sacked in the first cabinet reshuffle during the events of the nineties to be replaced by AbdulAziz ALFadhel followed by Mohammed ALGhatam and finally Majid AlNoaimi. The last three ministers were soldiers and officers in Ministry of Defense before the last two of them heads University of Bahrain. ALGhatam was the head and AlNoaimi his deputy who then he became minister and AlNoaimi head the University before becoming himself Minister of Education.
The first three ministers were civilians and late three had militarism background. ALFadhel was appointed as a minister after Fakhro during the crisis of the nineties when militarization of the ministry began in order to control schools and students movement and the work started on a new era to change the composition of employees in the ministry by replacing the existing educational system of secondary education at the time ” courses based system ” with another hybrid one as this system which was introduced by Fakhro did not suit the task for which ALFadhel was appointed as a minister which is “control the security situation in schools” and not “the development of education”. Therefore, the clear decline and the clear sectarian targeting had begun with ALFadhel. ALGhatam phase which was short was an extension to ALFadhel with a bit of lust that is characterized by the man’s personality. So he was quickly replaced with a submissive amorphous charisma which created the perfect atmosphere for Ministry of Education to be hotbed of discrimination and sectarianism based on the identity. There is no longer a place for efficiency. Sectarianism, affiliation (tribal, family and political) became a laissez-passer to promotion in this ministry. Corridors of the ministry were filled with one color and the rest of the society components were excluded in a shameful manner. And with all our respect to all spectrums of society, all the ministers who were in charge of Ministry of Education are one sect. The undersecretaries and the assistant undersecretaries barely seen to be from the component, and if it is, look to the nature of his political loyalty. Directors of departments do not breach this rule. Did you think ever “Why?” It is simply to sanctify the sectarian case and expanding their base already ramparting throughout the ministry meaning the exclusion of the other component treating ministry as a prey that must be preserved. Can we, for example, imagine that the other components in the community do not have the necessary competencies to be qualified for these leadership positions? This is a remote possibility with their x-proportion of their presence in the community and the nature of functional orientation. Despite all the obstacles set by ministry to their employment, more than 70-80% of the workers in the ministry lower jobs offering their sincere efforts to perform their apostolic mission. Why do not they reach leadership positions? It is the “ethnic cleansing” where controlling education means controlling minds (in police customs and authoritarian approaches) and certainly the objectives unrelated to the interests of the nation, not even the interest of the sect to which they belong but it is the factional and personal interests that meet the interests of power in evacuating education of its content by giving an outer glamorous image and inside is empty and dark with no productive educational content, repellent to the rest of society components who cannot be more than pawns on a education chessboard moved by the generals.
It is the core of the educational process and its heart. It is the most important mediating link between the objectives of education and the overall educational process. Curriculum designer must take all the elements of the educational process in consideration to put it on the right track in order to achieve educational objectives and therefore the curriculum bear the brunt in the success or failure in achieving those goals. Apart from delving in curriculum in detail, we ask ourselves this question: Do curriculums in Bahrain play their assigned roles to achieve the educational objectives which can be summarized in the “graduating good citizens?”. Everything in education tells you from your first day as a student at Bahrain government schools that you are ” a citizen of some degree “citizen with a degree of … ” I’m Not going to specify the degree, but certainly you are not ” only a citizen ” but “citizen followed with classification”. In fact, local curricula do not care about your existence. Instead, they deliberately deal with all what you believe , your values, what you’ve learned in your social surroundings and upon your family taught you as sin incurred on your shoulder so that you feel nihilism or “does not exist”. The other does not exist in the curriculum, because all what ministry offers comes from a single origin and represents exclusionary one point of view. It is clear in all curriculums such as Islamic education, popular culture, ancient and modern history, Arabic literature, and even education for citizenship that have been developed originally “This is the stated and hoped goal ” to devote good citizenship based on the sincerity of belonging to the homeland and its soil, based on the principles of justice, freedom and equality, which derives its existence from Islam and the spirit of all religions and principles of human rights and the perception of humanity. But unfortunately – like all the joints of Education – give the student only a facial knowledge that put him in a set of contradictions between the reality and the information obtained from his books and school which his young mind cannot find logical solutions for it except separation either his family or his school. This is the easiest option for him, and this is what mainly education has aimed with such curricula.
Manipulation of scholarships (for both students or MOE staff scholarships) by giving them to those who do not deserve them and deprive those who deserve them was – always – one of the subjects complained by MOE workers , students & their parents and institutions involved in education. Several political and governmental parties in addition to Ministry of Education had worked on to sanctity this behavior, which is “a moral crime against citizens and nation’, as you rob scholarships from THE most superiors who deserve to complete their education in the majors they wanted and made strenuous efforts to gain it and awarded this opportunity to others, for nothing but sectarian affiliation. You confiscate their natural right to continue university education or higher education (post-graduate) and this, of course – be reverberate negatively not only on the person and his family, but primarily on the nation in the first place which loses their efficiency, efforts and the possibility of continuing the development and creativity. This problem has become more visible than ever in the last two years where the personal interviews to students applying for scholarships raise whom they want to the top and lowered others. The standard is nothing other than affiliation.
As for what happened this year (2013) in scholarships, it is considered as morally and nationally catastrophic steeper with the deep sense of the words for many reasons. Some of which are the followings:
Employ media trumpets known with sectarian hostility before, during and after scholarships distribution which in turn for several reasons, including: cut the way to any criticism or feedback from any party and advertizing to ministry and government plans and their style in dealing with scholarships as well as inciting the government and ministry to discrimination persistence against one sect. Moreover, they create permanent tension hotbeds between people and Authorities by hiring thread politically and promotion of tit-for-tat situation by creating an illusion that the other sect has benefited from scholarships when Mrs.S.D. was in charge and other sect -as they claimed- were “marginalized”, therefore they must be deprived as they benefited previously.
Continuation of Ministry of “stupidity and demolition” in its approach and its exclusionary sectarian differentiation using so many mechanisms to pass its project especially the personal interviews, carried out by whom, the provocative nature of the questions, the biased evaluation and unfair decisions operated by a rickety conspiratorial mindset.
The government’s decision to restrict all scholarships to be distributed and supervised by them and even have the higher approval to prevent one sect from providing any scholarships or grants or assistance or financial loan for any student in any specialist or level (BA, MA, PhD or others) only through the ministry and with their consent, while we do not find these restrictions imposed on the parties affiliated to the other sect , traders and their sectarian associations nor the financiers of the ruling family, or Crown prince scholarships or even those to be passed by the ministry behind doors or in light till the stinky smells for these abuses become very clear every year, but it has increased significantly this year.
Continuation of the government defiance for people feelings and emphasize on its obnoxious sectarian approach by appointing who suggest the idea of controlling Ministry of Education on scholarships to be Assistant Undersecretary for Human Resources in the ministry although they everyone knew his role in inciting sectarianism through the newspapers and the media, where he was and still a permanent pro-government member of the Sectarian Spirit band.
The inevitable result of all the above is the loss of justice in scholarships and the loss of graduates rights, their parents and nation loss of vast distinct energies and deepening sectarian discrimination and rift psychological suffered by those students since the first day they enter school – as mentioned above – the ministry continued to deepen the negative feeling among students of the two sects so self-retreat and denomination cover become the alternative to all instead of belonging to the homeland. The gap between students increases based on sectarian affiliation and circumstance become entirely appropriate for “ethnic cleansing.” A Note worthwhile about Ministry of Education, it’s enough to know who the leaders are, strengthen by whom, and their behavior throughout their history in office and before to know that the nation cannot gain any justice from them in dealing or even maintaining an acceptable level of education. They should be no less than what they are.
Ministry of Education, the Economic Development Board and all those interested in learning talk about (education improvements), (education reforms), and schools quality committees scouring (improve schools performance), and often directed fingers for (teachers) and to a lesser extent (school administrations) who are teachers any way. Ministry of Education always blame (teachers) in the decline of education and the low level of the students. Isn’t it that teacher is the (main pillar in teaching-learning process)?. When Bahrain Teachers Society (Association) calls for hiring unemployed teachers who most of them holds the needed qualifications to be a teacher, ministry refuses to employ them giving three reasons:
- Weakness of their level and lack of competence.
- Lack of vacancies.
- There is no budget to hire them.
Despite all the solutions posed by the BTA to accommodate them and take advantage of their potential, the ministry has always remained intransigent with them. During the crisis of 2011, when teachers went into strike for 3 days preceded by a day of sit-in in front of schools, MOE opened the door of volunteers widely without any standards (some volunteers did not know how to read and write in the first place), so as to put pressure on teachers (in contrary to the international laws that protect workers from replacement while they are on strike), although there were no students in the schools which went on strike and only few number of teachers were on strike in schools with students and it was possible to send teachers who were not on strike from other schools. These volunteers (we did not know volunteers working with contracts and paid salaries; unless the state and MOE states another concept to volunteer we do not know). In that period, they have reached more than 6,000 (according to Ministry of Education). And despite the teachers’ return, the ministry has asked the volunteers to continue to work and even forced teachers to train them. The vast majority of these volunteers are not qualified to teach, some of them – as noted above – were originally uneducated and others won a fraction share of education. This happens while the ministry puts set of criteria and standards to be a teacher, most important (to be a bachelor’s in Education holder or bachelor + Education). The government has ordered to fix 3,000 volunteers in the system, as they are training about 500 trainees at the Bahrain Training Institute alone. This assure the conclusion that the volunteers: are not qualified created vacancies for equal to about a third of the staff working as teachers and administrators in schools allocated for this issue Big budgets required not only for employment but also to teach and train them. Isn’t this surprising?, to send education towards the unknown in this barbaric way through bodies crying about students losing a studying week while they sacrifice education as a whole, which means sacrificing the future of the nation? What kind of (education reforms) will the Economic Development Board talk about now, what (education improvement) and what (outputs) can be found by the university or the labor market? And what (schools performance development) will Ministry of Education will show after this disaster?
We are not against volunteers themselves and we want attack them (despite our opinion on the behavior of many of them against teachers, students and educational process). We do not hate them having fair job which guarantee them legal income when they are eligible, but we blame is on the government, the Economic Development Board and Ministry of Education, who took advantage of a country’s circumstances to blow up the remainder of Education which shed the last mask, and show the ugly face and get revenge of teachers, students and education. All that in order to scanty the Ministry of Education as an official sponsor of sectarian discrimination and exclusion on the identity and incubator suited for (ethnic cleansing).
Teachers in principle are all incumbents of educational and supportive jobs, and the largest bloc of them are doing the process of teaching students. They bear the largest burden of teaching and receive the blame for all the failures of everyone. Their salaries are the lowest. The ministry made teachers does everything other than good education. Teachers do uncountable tasks including clerical tasks, work of the security man, substitute teacher, writer, cleaner, and even working outside the working hours and in their weekends and vacations. All of this in exchange for what? They bear the blame from all sides; ministry of education, Development Board, the university, quality committees, performance and evaluation commissions, education specialists, educators, school administrations, students and their parents and … The list goes on … Why? When Bahrain Teachers Association calls for improving the status of teachers (career and livelihood) they were always turned down. And when a teacher tries to develop himself and promotes his specialism, he finds that the opportunities go to others unlawfully. They undergo fatigue working hours, lesson plans, media preparation, activities, exam and test preparation, corrections, continuous assessment, out class activities, etc. .. , Do you know why? So he will not be able to accomplish mission or teach. Why not given his rights? In order for the education profession to be repulsive, why not improve his standard of living? Because it means improving the economical situation for more than 6 thousand families of the spectrum who have to live on subsistence, barely thinking of his day living so he will not have the space to think about anything else, however, teachers are making great efforts to overcome their reality and they are dealing with their work with the greatest of professionalism, Sincerity and apostolic, are not they “heirs of the prophets”?
It is one of the five education development initiatives launched by the Economic Development Board before about four years. As it is supposed to be, the first batch of students have graduated and are teaching this year. Ministry of education is responsible of Teachers College, which was established in 2008, is and is responsible of admission, registration procedures, subjects’ arrangements and coordinating with schools in terms of training. The headquarters of Teachers College, at the University of Bahrain and interferes with the university administration in some administrative and academic aspects such as distribution of grades so the college is located academically under the umbrella of the university. It is known that the college is based on Singaporean experience therefore teachers at the college are usually from Singapore or Malaysia with some foreign teachers or Bahrainis. In the first year, about 86 students were accepted, only half of them were Bahrainis from both sects. In the second year, 150 students were accepted of whom less than half were Bahraini and in the fourth year the number was about 175, and also less than half of them were Bahrainis and the rest of them were the newly naturalized citizens, is not this a strange situation? Is it an attempt to change the numerical, intellectual, sectarian or national composition of teachers???
There are 4 cases during the national security associated with the university where its events were in the university or its surroundings and the share of college students was very high in a clear targeting to them. Why?
When we ask the Ministry of Education during our discussions in the Joint Committee to recruit teachers to the fourth degree in the educational pay scale instead of the third education, the ministry refused then agreed after painstaking efforts and then changed its mind to say that it will only be for the students of Teachers College and we did not agree and insisted that the applicability of the standards to any candidate is the touchstone and not the point of graduation. Now there is a clearer picture and the conspiracy yarns are identified, they are preparing the situation to serve a certain class of people contribute with them to apply their plans to destroy education.
10-Teacher’s Association and teachers’ issues:
Teachers Association is the union body founded in 2000 and aimed, briefly, to improve the conditions of teachers’ living and profession conditions, their professional development, improves education in collaboration with Ministry of Education, claim teachers’ rights and defend their interests. This is what the association sought to achieve by all available legal means cooperating with all legislative and executive authorities and the related society forces. I firmly believe that the cases attributed to Association and its Board of Directors is not the result of the role played by the association during the revolution of February 14, 2011, but it is also linked by the history of its work and the role that has done to achieve its objectives mentioned above. The cases attributable to the association during (national repentance) were divided into only two:
The first in which President and his deputy were accused with a set of charges with the intention to punish them with the maximum possible verdict as the charges were considered as criminal charges.
The second of the rest of Board members who were accused by a group of misdemeanors were acquitted later in the regular misdemeanor court.
In the military court the president and his deputy were sentenced to ten and three year’s imprisonment. The deputy was released before the verdict after spending about five months after suffering during her arrest and interrogations and was arrested again after the ruling on the pretext of implementing the verdict. She was sent to prison for two weeks, while all demands for the release of the president were unsuccessful. After a period of national repentance in the Higher Supreme Appeal Court, the president was sentenced to five years imprisonment and his deputy six months, so she has a remaining of two weeks which she spent in prison before being released. And questions that present themselves:
Why do they targeted Teachers Association Board of Directors in this manner?
And why the Board of Directors had two cases and not a single case and the fact is the board was working as a unit and its decisions were taken in accordance with the association mechanisms?
Why the President was not released before the release of the military court’s ruling and to be implemented after the appeal verdict in a similar case to his colleague or postpone the implementation of the two until the verdict of the cassation similar to doctors?
Why there was a difference in the verdicts between the president (five years in prison) and his deputy (six months) while having the same indictment and both do not deserve imprisonment?
I will not elaborate much in answering these questions, but it is very clear from the beginning that President of the association is targeted in the first place and the vice president in the second place therefore their case have been isolated from the rest of the Board of Directors. A separate new case was formed for them where both have been accused with 12 charges. Despite of what the defense team have proven in the Appeal Court of invalidity of the charges that was attributed to them, invalidity of arrest and investigation procedures besides the torture they faced ” this is proven by the BICI report”, the politicized court which receives upper orders insisted on the implementation of the Vice-President the rest of the period governed by prior discrimination and insisted on the imprisonment of five years for the President, for the following reasons:
To punish him for the attitudes of the association of February 14, 2011 revolution and the role it played to protect teachers, students, schools and education, and even protect the community from sectarian strife that could have been – and almost – launched like giant from schools, and criticizing the authorities’ robust behavior towards people.
To keep him away and isolate him from the street movement fearing of any unwanted impact to teachers and specifically students.
To keep him with the rest of the prisoners as hostages and use them as bargaining paper to put pressure on people and opposition.
To manipulation education, teachers and students unsanctioned especially with the dissolution of the association.
At the end, education is the targeted issue and the desired goal is “ethnic cleansing.” It is important to recall that the dissolution of the association was at the beginning of the period (national safety). It was the only association which had been dissolved in that period and on the same day of president arrest. On the other hand, Ministry of Social Development allowed finding an alternative association based on sectarian with the green light and noticeable encouragement from Ministry of Education. It was headed by a teacher always known with her sectarian approach and intense hostility to Bahrain Teachers Association especially during the revolution and in the period of national safety. It has tried to replace the Teachers Association in regional and international institutions, but suffered a catastrophic failure.
Ministry of Education has always tried creating a bench and competitors to the Association and failed each time despite their efforts (and will continue to swallow the failures even while we are behind bars). Why was the society dissolved? Why finding an alternative quickly and tried to occupy the association seats in the regional and international organizations? Why Ministry of Education always tried to create replacements for the Association? Why the ministry, the government and Development council tried to scale down the association all the time and keep it away from educational decisions? Simply because the Teachers Association has always stood as a bulwark to protect education and teachers from liming, exclusion, destruction, emptying its content and insisted since its inception to be an active entity in serving teachers and education, and stood for justice, equality and resorting to efficiency and not for identification.
For every issue I had mentioned in this modest paper, I hope it will find its way to you outside my prison, I hope each jealous of his homeland and all those who are related to education and all those who care for human rights, individuals or organizations, to help us stop this bleeding wounds before it kills the nation.