Tuesday, April 1, 2014
As a result of the above settlement, this blog will be closing down very soon, in accordance with the promise made to the HCT senior management. Certain postings will also be removed from the Dave's ESL Cafe website.
I would like to give my thanks to all the supporters of this blog - and its detractors - for their time and attention over the past years. Together, we have managed to prove that persistence does indeed work, and that the choking fumes of negative (but true) publicity can be used to positive effect.
Monday, August 5, 2013
Sunday, June 30, 2013
I found the daily stress there to be untenable. Not only was I on mandatory overtime (22 contact periods per week - ridiculous in a "collegiate" environment – though some colleagues were working up to 25), but they emphasize paperwork/professional development/meetings at the expense of doing a quality job in the classroom.
There were mandatory office hours - 8-5 Sunday to Thursday. In fact, when I arrived the mandatory hours were 8-4, but then we got a new director and assistant director. The ‘Supervisors’ would roam the massive faculty room to ensure all their teachers were at their desks until 5.
All faculty (approx. 70 at FWC) are relegated to one huge room in which they are assigned a workstation with absolutely no privacy. It was noisy as well. Administration insisted that such an environment promoted communication, collaboration, and coordination (the infamous 3 C's of HCT). They push "teamwork" ad nauseam.
Some students were OK, while many others were nightmares in abayas. Basically, HCT focuses on increasing the student population (thus bringing in more money from the government), resulting in "students" who shouldn't be there, young ladies who view college as a means of providing a social network. Often classes were out of control - several teachers walked out of their classes during my last semester there, including me (twice).
The curriculum went from bad the first year I was there to ludicrous the second year. They switched from an integrated skills curriculum to strands, requiring us to teach language skills in separate classes. That curriculum proved to be a debacle.
If you like meetings, then HCT is the place for you. As a rule, I hate them. I believe that, with few exceptions, meetings are a waste of time. At a previous college in Saudi Arabia we had one mandatory meeting per month, and I found that marginally acceptable. At HCT I had two mandatory meetings per week. That was simply insane.
And the conferences - mandatory, mandatory, mandatory. And they would punish you if you didn't attend them.
They pushed professional development ad nauseam as well - PEP, goals, meetings, seminars, etc. They even went so far as to hire a PD company from the USA to impose PD activities on us. At the first staff meeting for the new year we found ourselves playing in "teams" with pieces of rope for about 30 minutes. Again, it was insane, and a colossal waste of time considering the formidable teaching schedule and new curriculum for which we needed to prepare our lessons.
My first week in the classroom I was observed by my supervisor - and get this, it was also my first time with one of the classes. Insanity again!
I got little relief from the stress as work when I went home to my apartment. An Emirati family with two small children lived directly above me, and the noise would extend into the early morning hours. I complained to them, the apartment manager, and HCT for nine months with NO relief.
When you arrive they "give" you 30,000 dirhams and one week to buy all the stuff for your dwelling. You have to buy everything, including kitchen appliances, washer, etc. Keep in mind that this is a LOAN, and it's amortized over the course of your 3-year contract. If you resign early, you pay back part of that loan. It's not so easy to sell your stuff, either, unless you happen to be there when new teachers arrive.
I will give them credit for paying me on time every month and for providing me with a decent annual travel allowance (for me about $2800). They were also generous with the gratuity when I left. But that's all the credit I can give them.
Basically, HCT was a major disappointment for me. I don't consider them a college. The environment there, especially the behaviour of many of the students, reminded me of a middle school setting. With HCT it's all about window dressing, smoke, and mirrors.
Don’t go there.
Friday, December 28, 2012
Sunday, November 18, 2012
Date: Thursday, 11 October 2012, at 12:47 p.m.
The Higher Colleges of Technology is a key component of the United Arab Emirates’ strategy to be part of the global marketplace, to develop and diversify its economy, and to maintain a unique cultural heritage. Established in 1988, the HCT is the UAE’s largest Higher Education Institution with more than 19,000 students enrolled at its 17 men’s and women’s colleges across the country. It is helping to shape the future by preparing young Emiratis for productive, satisfying roles in the local workforce and the global economy.
It is an exciting organization that has employees from over 60 different countries, including the UAE, USA, UK, India, South Africa, Lebanon, Australia, the Philippines, Canada and Pakistan. These employees are drawn by the adventure, travel and excitement of living in one of the youngest, fastest developing countries in the world, a country of rich diversity, of great tolerance and of progress.
Faculty members are responsible for providing effective instruction in English Foreign Language (EFL) at all levels, from beginner to advanced. Curriculum is taught to second language learners within a student-centric learning environment that fosters respect for students, their culture, and traditions. Emphasis is placed on Aviation industry specific vocabulary terms, speaking and listening are emphasized as that is the mode of communication mostly utilized by pilots.
The position is for the Khalifa Bin Zayed Air College in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates.
However, you really need to be aware of the following item of information too:
Anybody thinking about applying for one these HCT jobs at Khalifa Air College is seriously advised to think again.
The long and the short of it is that the department has been in an increasing state of disarray ever since a certain Amy Subaey took over as Supervisor of the HCT Military Languages Programme in Aug 2011. Within a few weeks of her appointment, she had totally antagonised her whole teaching team - an antagonism which from the word go was intense, instantaneous and uniform across the whole teaching team. As the year progressed, the feeling went from bad to worse: she brooked no opposition, and by the end of the year (June 2012) she terminated the contracts of SIX long standing teachers with good track records at HCT (i.e. half the teaching team).
The department has been short staffed for the last six months, with the result that classes get doubled up, or just don't get taught, and two teachers have been absent for substantial periods over the past term, undergoing treatment for clinical depression. Most of those who have been recruited on casual contracts are getting out as fast as they can go, and those who are there on regular HCT contracts are mostly trying to get transfers to other HCT departments.
The chances of any improvement in the situation are pretty slim as student numbers are set to rise again in March, but they haven't even got enough teachers to cover the existing classes.
Well done, Amy Subaey - another candidate for punchinthefacebook.com!
Sunday, November 11, 2012
According to the ACBSP accreditation standards, faculty teaching loads are supposed to be about half what many HCT lecturers put in. The organisation’s accreditation manual clearly states the following:
Teaching Loads: The appropriate teaching load for a full time faculty member at ACBSP Accredited Baccalaureate Institutions has historically been limited to not more than 12 credit hours per semester, with appropriate release time granted for administrative duties or for graduate teaching. Overload teaching has been prohibited as a business unit policy, and has been accepted by ACBSP only under emergency circumstances.
However, those who were teaching last year at Dubai Women's College, Higher College of Technology in the United Arab Emirates, faced a permanent (not overload) teaching load of 20 credit hours per semester. A faculty member there can typically expect to handle five four-credit courses. All of the full-time business faculty members taught 20 hours per semester, and some instructors taught even more. This was not an emergency circumstance, but was ‘business as usual’ – i.e., they were bullied into taking on more hours and courses. Nor was this an isolated event, as almost all of the other HCT campuses follow suit
At the Business Department of DWC, for the two semesters of the 2011-2012 school year, the following instructors taught 20 or more credits during one semester: Sanaa, Russell, Selvan, Sudip, Ces, Gareth, Neil, Ross, Debby, Graham, Indrani, Sudipa, Karl, Sita, Tamir. For this teaching load, all instructors are paid the base salary - for 20 credits. However, some instructors taught 24 credits in one semester: Humayan, Ces, Jihad, Patrick.
One thing to note when looking at the Business Department schedule is that some faculty members also taught in other departments. For example, there was one instructor who taught a microeconomics course to Information Technology students. The Business Department schedule does not, therefore, include every course that Business Faculty teach, - another way that HCT can mislead its accreditors.
Of course, it’s common knowledge that DWC violates more standards than this. And yet, while that accreditation has been granted, HCT continues to assign 20 hours. In fact, some faculty members teach 24 and 28 hours to fill in for faculty shortages – especially when faculty get fired.
In short, HCT was awarded a ten-year ACBSP accreditation in 2008, yet they still continue to assign a twenty credit load in 2012 - in clear contravention of ACBSP rules.
So well done to the 'ethical' HCT - and to more dodgy business exposed by Suede Oasis!!
Monday, August 13, 2012
One person who disgusts many people is Dr Monica Gallant, the head of the business department at Dubai Women's College. I once overheard her trying to convince a student to not drop out. This student had been interested in taking Tourism and Event Management courses, even though they are not in fact offered. The college website lists Tourism and Event Management as a major, but no courses have been offered, due to insufficient enrolment. Monica told the student that Tourism and Event Management courses would be offered in the following semester, and the student should continue to attend college. In truth, the program had already been scrapped. No more courses - at all. Period. The information on the website is, in fact, mere window-dressing. Or rather, a pack of lies. However, Monica still tried to 'sell' the non-existent program, forcefully and aggressively. You would have thought she was selling a used car.
A recurring problem in the business school is plagiarism. Students at DWC plagiarize papers to get passing grades without doing the required work. Many students have poor English-speaking and writing skills, and will turn in these purchased papers. Monica's brilliant solution was to tell the faculty to pretend that a fictional 'review committee' existed. She asked faculty members to tell students that this fake 'review committee' would not accept a plagiarized assignment. The faculty, however, refused to employ institutional dishonesty to tackle student dishonesty. Monica clearly lacks integrity, and was genuinely surprised that faculty refused to go along with her fabrication.
She's like ‘Miss Piggy’ at ADWC - porcine, delusional, self-absorbed, over-aggressive, and ambitious to an absurd degree. She is more concerned about how other administrators perceive her than she is in doing an ethical, effective job. However, unlike Miss Piggy, Monica is creepy, dishonest to faculty and students, has stringy greasy hair, and tells lies to save her bacon (pardon the pun).
So there you have it - another fine example of HCT's 'management muck'. Do you have your own favorite management tyrant, stool pigeon, or lickspittle to nominate? Don't hold back there!
UPDATE: I received an important addition to the story of life at DWC just today. Enjoy this one too!
DWC's Business faculty are expected to 'teach' students through pointless socializing activities like games and field trips to the shopping mall, and maybe a guest speaker, as long as he/she is entertaining. This reminds many of us of Mary Poppins - a trip to the park, visit Dad at the bank, visit an old person, sing a few songs, play some games, and then have a dance with a chimney sweep. Yet at HCT, the nanny, Mary Poppins, needs to have a PhD, or at least a Masters degree or two.
However, the worst thing about the place is that the students know that they can complain to the head of the department and swiftly get the faculty member into trouble. The students will outrgeously lie doing this, and get away with it easily. The head of the department, our dear Monica, believes these unethical girls at their word and will reprimand a business faculty member without a second thought. She hates for a problem to go to the Dean or the School Director, and will do anything to not look bad in front of these two morons.
The Student Counselor, Fatma Thani, is odious. Actually she is the Supervisor of Student Affairs at DWC, but she's just a stool pigeon who works for the head scumballs in Abu Dhabi. She's an Emirati, of course, and always assumes that her little darlings aren't treated well enough by the mean Western teachers. The administrators go poo poo in their pants when she's involved, mainly because of her contacts in Abu Dhabi. She seems to run the place by way of threat. She is pure evil.
Friday, July 20, 2012
Over the past few years, HCT has become a slum. There are so many unhappy people just biding their time here, finding ways to cope, but not enjoying any job fulfillment. The English program has been further dumbed down to a curriculum based solely on books, where teachers are dictated to, told what to do, and even what to wear. Nowadays, working in ADMC’s J-block is a constant reminder of where you are and where the students are in the eyes of the system – it smells, it’s overcrowded, and a constant in-your-face reminder that you are one step from being a car washer.
Educating is no longer at the center of the college’s purpose, and it is the (former) director at ADMC whom I guess is the source of misery - a scrutinizing director who only seems able to have a duty thru the administration of his absurd 'dress code'. In short, he is (was) pretty pathetic. HCT has acquired a non-professional, non-education centered atmosphere, where teachers feel like factory workers and the lowest of the low. Unfortunately, one has to find ways to survive in this autocratic system. It is a very unfulfilling job, and mostly we feel hated.
At work, I also feel the profile of those recruited has become much lower. The English departments now feature fewer and fewer first language speakers. The atmosphere is poor, not what I experienced as true faculty back home. There is no longer any enrichment. Now it’s a matter of having to step in line, be subservient, subordinate yourself, and hopefully clue in to the very few who do want to learn something and enjoy some of the students upon whom you know you made a difference and sparked a fire or opened their eyes ... yes, there are a few.
So much here in the UAE is a farce, a showcase, unsustainable and very sad indeed. It’s a hollow shell, with a population that does not value productivity. A rentier system that has created mini lords who are fortunate to live with so much wealth they can live like in the ancient Greco-Roman empire, feudal lords or landed gentry symbiotically. If only they were educated, informed, so that something showed beyond flat screens and BMW's, and our students’ favorite hobby - sleeping. Museums are being built for the blind. I would like to think it would change, and the populace could be brought forward culturally, but there is little sign of that among the majority. It is sad in a pitiful way, if not desperate - and HCT is a reflection of it all.
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
So, farewell then
Doctor Simon Jones
Captain of the ‘Happy Ship’
You have deserted your boat
For a land-locked regime
A ‘Puppet President’
You will surely be
In the middle of the steppe
Your veritable ‘Elephant’s Graveyard’
Will welcome you warmly
And freeze your balls off