Saturday, 1 October 2011

A Doctor Writes...

Please allow me to use your column to share my sad experience in the Business Faculty at the Sharjah Women’s College of the Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT). I am from South Africa and joined the Sharjah staff in August 2010. I loved being in Sharjah and I loved being at the college. I wish I was still there. I had and still have the greatest respect for the supervisor of the Business Faculty, Ms Lauralee Kilgour. I hated it when her staff said unpleasant things behind her back. Every time I heard Dr Farid Ohan, the director, speak, I was impressed with him. I liked the man and he always spoke a lot of sense. I still recall him with great fondness.

I enjoyed the students, and I generally liked my colleagues. I drew the best response from my students when we read a textbook in lectures and undertook to be competitive in marks. The students liked to hear me speak of their need to be educated to international standards and their need to be globally combative. The students may remember me: I was the academic who refused to be called Sir because it is a term directly from the annals of dubious British colonialism. There is no place for sir and miss or ma’am in academics.

I took no notice of expatriate colleagues who told me that the students were retards. I overlooked the deep fear I found in the hearts of my Sharjah colleagues, lest they share a fate like mine. I did my best to persuade some colleagues not to set tests and assignments that had been used for the previous seven years.

I was saddened by how little was asked of the students. One American colleague boasted that what was covered in 19 weeks in Sharjah would have been covered in two weeks at an American university. I did not listen to colleagues who said the students were not to be trusted.

Almost every student wanted to learn. However, they were not encouraged to learn. Reproducing slides in assignments, tests and examinations is not a form of being educated. Too many of my colleagues spent too much time reinforcing their poor perception of students. I never heard the words inspire, encourage or instil confidence. But I heard the word retards a lot, was told daily how weak the girls and boys were, and was told what the students could not do.

Half way through the second term Mr Ged Ryan, the second in charge, told me I had not passed my probation because my being at Sharjah was not working out for Ms Kilgour or for the college. I was never given a more explicit reason for not passing my probation, and I didn’t ask for one. That decision surprised and saddened me. I thought I was doing rather well in raising academic standards towards international levels and educating the nation. I also wondered how a decision could be taken to fire a person after eight months.

I gather that the HCT is in financial deficit. I am sorry about that. However, that is not surprising. The HCT spent a lot of money to get my family and me to Sharjah. To fire me after eight months demonstrates little ability to recruit the correct staff, a great waste of resources and a lack of managerial ability to manage staff.

I was amazed that the HCT provost, I think his name is Marshall Drummond, signed my firing notice without even talking to me. As the provost, he is the custodian of the HCT’s global reputation. He should have at least spoken to me. I might have been fired for purely personal reasons. By firing me without bothering to speak to me, he put me in the position where I might have mounted an international campaign against the HCT. He should not have risked the reputation of the HCT and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) with a completely unknown person.

It is not in my nature, however, to mount a campaign against the HCT. Instead, I will say just that if anybody thinks it is moral, scholarly, fair or proper to fire an academic after eight months, then they have been in sheltered employment for too long and their standards are too low. Firing me after eight months was against all commonly accepted scholarly practices and would be illegal in most countries. It pains me to say that in my opinion the Sharjah HCT has tarnished the reputation of the UAE in the scholarly world and as an employer. The UAE and its students deserve better than that.

I wish to stress that I hold no personal grudges against any of the people mentioned here. I accept that you did your best for the Sharjah HCT. I am sorry that Dr Ohan, Mr Ryan and Ms Kilgour did not want me. I liked you and learnt from all of you. I accept that you fired me because I represented the future.

There was little correlation between the wonderful UAE country I found and how the students were being prepared at the Sharjah HCT for their future. If the plan was to produce pleasant, low level government servants functioning without insight, then the plan worked perfectly. However, to be sustainable, the UAE needs incredibly well-educated graduates, who have been pushed at university to read, think, reason and perform, who subscribe to life-long education, are driven to be world leaders, and do not call colonial educators sir or miss. If anyone thinks that the UAE government is preparing the country for its future by setting students the same assignments for seven years, or hiring staff who celebrated the incompetence of students, and then reinforced that incompetence, then they are wrong.

Let me assure the UAE government: the students at the Sharjah HCT wanted a world class university education. They were intellectually capable of responding to world class university education. The students knew they were receiving an education of a lesser kind. I saw the hurt and embarrassment in their eyes when they were dished out sub-standard education. The UAE students may not for ever accept being educated for a second rate role in their country. In my opinion the Sharjah HCT let down its students, given the global challenges that the students will face. The Sharjah HCT was run by lovely people, but their thinking and academic contribution needs updating. I left lamenting the lost magic for myself, the students, the staff, the people of Sharjah and the people of the UAE.

My experience has left me in the position of saying expatriate academics at the Sharjah HCT offered a form of education colonialism. Their work served only to perpetuate the development of the intellectual underdevelopment of the UAE and its students.

The colonial education I saw served mostly to alienate the young people of the UAE from education and a better future. Such alienation is perilous to the future of the UAE. What I saw in the Sharjah HCT was a form of education less helpful to the students than bantu education was in apartheid South Africa of years ago.

I ask the question: does the government of the UAE not care that the Sharjah students are being turned against education and acquiring knowledge? When students said to me they hated the HCT and hated learning, I was saddened. I wanted to make their learning fun, exciting and exceptionally demanding. The students were bored stiff at Sharjah and many of my former colleagues were even more bored. The Sharjah HCT, in my humble opining, needs to be modernised, reformed and stripped of the fear prevailing in the hearts of staff and students. I did not detect much pride in the hearts of the staff and students at being at the Sharjah HCT. I did detect great suspicion. The students were not encouraged to be independent enough nor take enough responsibility for their learning.

To the students I have left behind, I say good luck. You were not being educated to take your rightful place in the world. You were being educated for subjugation. I am sorry I am no longer among you. Of my colleagues I ask one question: would you enrol your children at the Sharjah HCT? If your answer is no, then you are part of the problems that your students have to contend with.

How ironic: I wanted to stay teaching at the Sharjah HCT; countless colleagues told me how lucky I was to be getting out.

If the UAE Ministry of Higher Education would like to learn more about the Sharjah HCT, they can contact me on The most loyal people are those who tell the truth.

From Dr Martin Challenor B Soc Sci (Hons) MBA PhD.
Durban, South Africa.


Anonymous said...

I guess some Sharjah inmates will have a few comments to make about this one!

Anonymous said...

What a nauseating mish mash of servility and self importance.

Anonymous said...

At least he had the balls to leave his name!

Anonymous said...

What he didn't understand is that the HCT is a form of a social welfare program designed to keep the youth off the streets where they may begin to foment politic unrest.

Anonymous said...

You thought Mark "Give me my Check and Forget the Rest" Drummond would care? Read this email to get a sense of his caring for faculty-
From: Dr. Marshall Drummond
Sent: Tuesday, June 07, 2011 8:58 AM
Cc: Salma Elansary; Christine Luscombe-Whyte
Subject: settlements

Directors – I have just received a number of final settlement forms to sign which trouble me greatly. Most of these employees:

- Have accumulated leave of 20 or more days

- Are working through June 16 or June 23

- Most are “general interest terminations”, terminations or non-renewals

Why on earth we would not manage down this leave completely stumps me. I refuse to sign these liberal “going away” leave payouts for these employees.

Please take immediate actions to advise any and all departing parties that meet these specifications that today is their LAST WORKING DAY. In that way we can manage this excessive leave down a bit.
I know that there are occasional exceptions but overall I view this as sloppy management.

You will be notified of specific names by Salma this morning.

Mark Drummond


Anonymous said...

I especially like how he sucks up to Dr F and the human maniquin GR while throwing LK under a bus.

The laughable part is where he makes reference "... when we read a textbook in lectures". I have no idea who this poor man is - but delusional describes his state of mind.

Raja Karma said...

So 'manage down' means 'stitch up' in Drummond-speak, right?!

And that comment about 'sloppy management' makes me heave with laughter, especially when he proposes 'today is their LAST WORKING DAY' - in complete contrast to HCT's own regulations AND the law!

More of this hilarity, PLEASE!!

Anonymous said...

I think the good doctor did not rubbish Dr F or Mr Ged or even Miss L because had he done so then readers would have assumed it was just sour grapes. He got his point across but used wrong terminology eg lectures when everyone knows that teaching at HCT is not done via the lecture format nor would it be the correct medium.

Anonymous said...

My Special Request:

More HCT Goon Squad emails please.

Whoever you are, please post more!

Anonymous said...

Yes- that was typically bitter fruit from the withered HCT vine.

More please.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations! HCT sucks and ADWC have been blocked by the UAE proxy server. You have really pissed the goons off!

Suede Oasis said...

Pissed them off indeed, but the block will have no influence on this blog, as the majority of readers are from the UK and the USA, Canada, etc.

Our target audience is mostly those potential HCT employees outside the Enirates. Pissing off the HCT goons has always been a game, a sideshow, but never the real purpose.

Smart move, King Tubby - you show your lack of insight AGAIN!!

Anonymous said...

I think what Martin didn't realise was that Sharjah Business Dept has a history of getting rid of PhDs from reputable universities because the PhD holder does not wish to suck up to the supervisor

Public Figure said...

Surely you're not suggesting that 'Dr' Lauralee was in fear of being upstaged by a REAL PhD?!

Anonymous said...

Absolutely Mr Public Figure - afraid to death of losing the job, surrounds herself with suckups.

Suede Oasis said...

Re the block on this blog, my stats for so far today indicate that interest is still high in the Gulf region:

United Arab Emirates 14
Oman 8
Qatar 4
Turkey 4
Saudi Arabia 3

Clearly a lot of people in the UAE know how to get round the block with a proxy server!

Anonymous said...

Yep, heard from a friend in the UAE that he is still managing to see the site

Anonymous said...

Did anyone see the article by Melanie in the national? About money for students that can not afford it?

Can someone explain to me where the money for this HCT Foundation goes to?

Can someone explain to me why they are allowed to have stupid events like EWB and Festival of Thinkers?

Seriously, this is a bunch of bull****. Someone should go in there and get rid of the indians, handcuff the arabs. Crooks.

Anonymous said...

I think Martin had a good point when he mentioned the amount of money it would have cost HCT to bring over him and his family only to axe him for being more qualified than he had a right to be. And, how dare he try to change things! What's wrong with old assignments that keep being churned out?

Anne said...

Martin you are a tad too decent for Freddy the Maniac and his crew. I wouldn't even feed that bloated goat a piece of dried excreta.

Jeez Suede you must have squeezed the limes out their behinds to get banned in the UAE. Wear that accolade like a badge of honor. You have done well.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations Suede! Banned in the UAE, it is an accomplishment and only makes you more dangerous to the status quo! Good work!

Anonymous said...

Martin was too decent for the Sharah Business Dept. Refused to be a Stepford Wife - smiling and nodding with nothing between his ears. You had too much integrity Martin.

Anonymous said...

From the Mail and Guardian dated 18 Aug 2009....

"Martin Challenor of Graduate School of Business at the University of KwaZulu- Natal says his course teaches "intangible things'' such as courage, perseverance and "that it's OK to be an entrepreneur''. His exam question remains the same every year: "Defend the statement: 'Entrepreneurs are national heroes' ''."

Kind of blows away his argument about not using old tests and exam questions.

Nice guy expressing sincere sentimentss though.

Anonymous said...

However Sharjah Business Dept have the same assignments year after year and that just means that students can copy others work and present it as their own. If you have to write the answer to an exam question under exam conditions then there is no doubt that what you have written is yours. I also sat an exam from a university in the UK that had the same question each year and this gave us (the students) the opportunity to prepare for it. What Martin appears to be doing is telling students to research and think about the question and then put their thoughts and ideas down on paper within a certain amount of time. No problem.

Anonymous said...

.....and give them the opportunity to browse the net to look for the ideas of others, to crib ideas from previous years.

The only difference I can see is that you assume that Martin's tudents in UAE are not to be trusted to cheat whereas his students in South Africa are to be trusted.

Neither the approach of Sharjah nor the approach of Kwa Zulu Natal are educationally valid given the information available.

When I taught Business in HCT I had some concerns about the validity of their assessment processes and dealt with them as a professional educator as best I could.

Giving students the question and allowing them to research etc is no different in Sharjah or South Africa in my view nless you have a bias against one or the other and choose to interpret the two things differently.

The UK higher education system is riddled with cheating and plaguarism as are most higher education systems in the world. Many are much worse than Sharjah e.g. USA, India, China, Egypt etc etc

I understand Martin is saying but I just feel that his approach to assessing learning in South Africa itself leaves a good deal to be desired given current info I have.

Anonymous said...

Public Figure said

Surely you're not suggesting that 'Dr' Lauralee was in fear of being upstaged by a REAL PhD?!

I wasn't aware that there were PhDs in secretarial studies

Anonymous said...

You asked for another email and one follows but first a little background. ADWC is full of Friends of Vice Chancellor Kamali (FVCK). They are often trying to outdo one another to see who can be the best FVCK. The CLAW normally wins which is why the Provost has become her best friend. Mark ”My wife wants a condo and I just want a drink” Drummond was attempting to gain greater favor with the VC when he sent out the above email ordering immediate dismissals. When word came back that it might be leaked to The National, he freaked. He wanted to be the favorite FVCK and this could doom him. So he sent the email below blaming the Directors for not understanding the above email. This is why we love him, enjoy:
From: Dr. Marshall Drummond
Sent: Wednesday, June 08, 2011 11:01 AM
To: HCT-COLLEGE-DIRECTORS; Christine Luscombe-Whyte
Subject: managing leave
Directors – there are a number of employees complaining to the press about being “forced” to use accumulated leave prior to separation. My note to you was a general critique about management of accumulated leave. Some of the departing ones had 40+ days of accumulated leave – which to me is unacceptable.
In cases where teaching faculty accumulated leave during the Spring Term and have not been able to utilize it – my suggestion to you was to work with them and try to get them to agree to leave early and thus use some of the accumulated leave. If they absolutely refuse then you will have to honor their leave balance but you should have this conversation with each and every one of them. From the reports coming out today I think that some of those conversations have been muddled.
At any rate – you need to always be on top of accumulated leave balances for all employees and be certain that you subordinates are working with faculty and staff to plan to use any and all accumulated leave.
We should not get surprised at the end-of-service by demands to pay out extraordinary amounts of unused leave.

Anonymous said...

Drummond is a dipsomaniac who managed to ass lick his way into HCT after being fired (asked to leave!) his previous post in Los Angeles.

Khalifa Exile said...

In that case (Anon above), he is an ideal hire for HCT, as TK can control him and get him to do his dirty business - no other educational institute would be interested in such an outright loser.

Simples, really!

PS: it's equally simple to get round the 'block' on this blog, too (not so much of a block, more of a hoop to jump through, actually)

Anonymous said...

Wow! Sounds to me like everyone licks a@@e from the bottom all the way to the top. What a place. It really needs a good shaking up but unfortunately it aint gonna happen. You have absolute geriatrics running two of the biggest colleges and you have unqualified supervisors (as seen from the post by anonymous and public liability above) running departments. And in between you have total sociopaths.

Anonymous said...

Drummond took $400,000 plus USD to leave the LACC system. Not a rumor but a fact that was published in the LA Times. In the article, staff accused him of being a drunk and a womanizer. They were outraged that he was paid to leave.

Anonymous said...

Drummond takes leave from LACCD

Anonymous said...

How much did they pay him to leave Washington? See article
I wish we could vote

Anonymous said...

Wow! $428,000 to leave.

Anonymous said...

So this this how he found his current wife! Nice work if you can get it.

Anonymous said...

You seem to have enough for a feature on Mark. what else will a search turn up on this guy?

Nemesis said...

Oh, that's coming soon - no worries!

Anonymous said...

Rudy's there!


Anonymous said...

If this is all true how come nothing is done about it? Why is there no check on people like this? I am amazed that a place like HCT employing so many people from around the world and it appears to be full of so many misfits and sociopaths

Anonymous said...

The articles seem real to me. Too many to be fabricated. Call Mark on his cell and ask him. He can be reached at
050 662 6501

Anonymous said...

Fancy coming to work in an undemocratic country?,8599,2096232,00.html

Still fancy it now?

Anonymous said...

Seems Drummond no longer fancies the UAE. He has been looking for a way for more than a year. No one wants him

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Nice one, Anonymous (above). That has REALLY made my day - Dr Drummond on the prowl for female flesh!!

Anonymous said...

I'm sure no reputable organization would touch Drummond given his previous history and present position.

Anonymous said...

Sure, no REPUTABLE organization would want to be lumbered with such Drummond, as his reputation is beneath contempt.

But HCT ain't a reputable outfit anymore, and there are plenty of similar cowboy colleges in the Gulf who would be willing to pay the white man's dues for Dr D!

Anonymous said...

The question is....doesn't the UAE Govt read these blogs and if they do, why on earth would they allow him to represent them in dealing with the youth of their Country. Staggering head in the sand stuff !!

Anonymous said...

Thank you, SO, for updating the footer photo to read:

"No, I can't tell you the answer ... I'm as thick as a Sheikh!"

I would have much preferred:

"No, I can't tell you the answer ... I haven't a clue!"

That would extend system-wide!

Suede Oasis said...

Thanks for the suggestion, Anon above. Actually I'd like to throw this one open to the floor, and ask if there are any better ideas for captions.

Please put your suggestions below.


Anonymous said...

No I can't tell you the answer I'm a supervisor and I don't say anything that can be held against me and I don't put anything in writing that can be used as evidence. In fact I prefer not to do anything!

Anonymous said...

HCT sucks!!!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

This is my first time reading a piece of well-written and well-thought of piece of advice to an institution from someone who has been fired. Bravo! It's an example for others to follow instead of posting rants all over the internet.

What you said in the way the expatriate academics are encouraging and perpetuating the development of the intellectual underdevelopment of the UAE and its students, is so true all over the gulf area. There are few who are really concerned about the students, while the majority don't give a damn and consider the students as retarded and stupid lads.

Anonymous said...

Well said indeed.

Anonymous said...

Too damn true!!
This site is a good example of what to do when you get screwed over by HCT.
As that happened to me last week, after many years of good service, I shall be doing the same myself soon.
Dumped on and fired, and had my gratuity reduced by around 50% - thanks very much, HCT!!
Watch this space, suckers - you just picked a fight with the wrong guy!!

Kris Sharipov said...

Howard reed is gone. That ass weighed people and if you gained he fired you. The directors are nuts