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the final countdown
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battleshipb_b



Joined: 14 Dec 2006
Posts: 185

PostPosted: Fri Feb 03, 2012 8:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The million riyal question is what are they going to do with all those extra teachers? They need to get their act together and start offering specialized English language courses, it's the only way to go. I wonder why they are still advertising: I remember seeing an ad not too long ago on this website. Why do they need more teachers? They need a pro-active action plan to reinvent their program. They should be providing specialized language support. It's really a rotten deal for all those teachers to be landed in a mess like this. For this kind of mess, you need good leadership and people with vision instead of grudges.
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veiledsentiments



Joined: 20 Feb 2003
Posts: 15612
Location: USA

PostPosted: Fri Feb 03, 2012 3:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There is an obvious answer to that. They advertised because they had no clue that this directive was going to go into effect. Notice just came out in the last week or so.

Fortunately the grudges are mainly held by those who are long gone. Laughing

VS
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yellofello



Joined: 05 Jun 2007
Posts: 68

PostPosted: Wed Feb 08, 2012 5:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

battleshipb_b wrote:
The million riyal question is what are they going to do with all those extra teachers? They need to get their act together and start offering specialized English language courses, it's the only way to go. I wonder why they are still advertising: I remember seeing an ad not too long ago on this website. Why do they need more teachers? They need a pro-active action plan to reinvent their program. They should be providing specialized language support. It's really a rotten deal for all those teachers to be landed in a mess like this.



It appears as though the students are asking for the same thing!!!


Quote:
Even those who welcomed the decision called on the university to introduce special courses to teach English language to meet the requirements of the labour market.“Many oppose the decision for fear that learning the subjects in Arabic will affect their job prospects, especially in the private sector. The Ministry of Labour should interfere to force private companies to employ qualified people, even if they are not proficient in English language,” said a participant.“It is not necessary to make English as the medium of instruction in all subjects. There are hundreds of other ways to study English. Studies have shown that the performance of students who studied the core subjects in mother tongue is 30 per cent better compared to those who studied them in a foreign language,” wrote another.
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stickleback



Joined: 01 Jul 2008
Posts: 76

PostPosted: Thu Feb 09, 2012 5:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Even those who welcomed the decision called on the university to introduce special courses to teach English language to meet the requirements of the labour market.“Many oppose the decision for fear that learning the subjects in Arabic will affect their job prospects, especially in the private sector. .


So why don't they listen to the students and introduce these special courses. Most of the Foundation courses and playschool courses anyway. How is old Paddywhacks doing in L2. He loves to spy and catch you out and then thwack and whack. It's time they got down to serious business and offered serious courses not the time-wasters they were filling the stduents' heads with. They even teach them to make movies!!! Now why aren't they learning that in computer class? The students deserve better.
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stickleback



Joined: 01 Jul 2008
Posts: 76

PostPosted: Sat Apr 14, 2012 6:39 am    Post subject: Confusion, chaos and committees Reply with quote

Heard it on the grapevine.

The latest is that there will be four 9 week Foundation courses each lasting 23 hours a week Levels 1 -4. This is overload. Currently these fur levels are taught over two years. Now the program will be squeezed into these 4 nine week sessions. The question is: will Foundation teachers get paid overtime for this as the Post-Foundation will continue the 15 week two semester program? The PF teachers will be teaching fewer hours and fewer weeks. There will be a major teaching load discrepancy.

The whole Foundation program is being revamped with a vengeance. Curriculum specialists were brought over from Lebanon to assess and advise. They invited specially selected teachers to join the "Taskforces" to help revamp the whole program. There have been three Taskforces so far: Taskforce 1 - dismissed; Taskforce 2 - disbanded, and the latest - Taskforce 3, a very inexperienced group ruling the roost and making important decisions for which they have no background experience. Some of them are allegedly pretty clueless.

Most of the people on Taskforce 3 are apparently newbies with little teaching experience, either overseas or back in the States. Most have never worked in the ME and don't really understand the way things work. They were chosen for the Taskforce 3 on the basis of being techno-savy in the classroom. This is really dumb way of selecting a decision-making team. Techno is only a part of learning experience and it is not always the most effective way. Its success usually depends on whether you have decent computer facilities (QU foundation does not) and classrooms set up for computer use (like Education City - the classrooms at Carnegie Mellon are what QU should model theirs on).

Taskforce 3 is responsible for changing a 2 year 4 level program (each level is currently 14 or 15 weeks) into a 1 year, 4 level program (each level will be 9 weeks). Talk about a crammer -the idea is to squash all the important bits of the previous 2 year program into the new 1 year program and hope that the students will be ready for the essay/research based Post-Foundation program of 2 (credit) courses. Good luck. This cannot happen overnight.

With the annoucement of most of the departments in the university using Arabic as the medium of instruction, hundreds of current Foundation students dropped out as the Foundation classes were no longer compulsory for them. However, they are still required to do the Post-Foundation courses which they were not ready for (naturally).

Then Taskforce 3 or The Powers That Be (not sure who) came up with a scheme to put all these very weak Arabic-medium bound students (who are not even remotely capable of doing the current Post-Foundation courses) into a new Post-Foundation -t he PFB or weakie strain. Now instead of doing a research essay (the Post-Foundation program is pretty good - I taught in for a while) these PFB students are doing a crash course in paragraph writing. Remember these students can be from Level 1 (weak) to Level 4 (intermediate - they called L4 advanced but in reality most students are just at intermediate level).

Basically things are in a state of major flux and reflux. There is no job security and teachers are worried despite assurances. Those assurances proved worthless when I worked there and I don't think that has changed.
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landcruzer



Joined: 15 Apr 2012
Posts: 26

PostPosted: Fri May 04, 2012 1:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It seems the SEC has picked up on the fact that the problem is not QU and its teachers but the SEC schools. However, training students to do the TOEFL and IELTS if their level isn't high enough is not the answer. They need to offer higher salaries to good expat language teachers. The salaries for expats are very low (9000/month with no accomodation). Most expats have to pay 1/3 to 1/2 of their salary on housing which leaves very little survival money. Only desperate people from neighboring countries accept such conditions and from what they said at the TESOL confo a few weeks ago, they are barely coping. Many of them rent an apartment and share the costs. They have to leave their family back in their home country. They said they do most of the work for the least amount of money. The situation is worse in the boys schools.
In the girls schools many of the expat teachers may be wives with accomodation from their husbands but these poor guys I talked to sounded pretty desperate. Also the girls' schools have female Qatari teachers while very few male Qataris go into teaching. It is a bad situation. The SEC should require these independent schools to provide accomodation and not include it in the salary. They should be earning 9 or 10 thou plus accomodation, not 9 thou with accomodation as part of the salary. The answer when they complain is that there are hundreds of teachers just waiting to take your place!!!

By the way, a QU teacher said they were told the same thing! Educational institutions that thing teachers are a dime a dozen really are the limit! You may get quantity but not quality when you underpay or treat teachers as if they are a commodity.

http://www.thepeninsulaqatar.com/qatar/192937-science-terms-in-english-please-schools-told.html
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blastermill



Joined: 30 Aug 2011
Posts: 101

PostPosted: Mon Jun 04, 2012 5:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It looks like a final countdown as one quarter of the English foundation department teachers prepare to leave. There's no fire without smoke - something is drastically wrong with what is going on with the new program, otherwise why would all these people quit?
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funderburke



Joined: 18 Jun 2012
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Sat Jun 30, 2012 7:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

blastermill wrote:
It looks like a final countdown as one quarter of the English foundation department teachers prepare to leave. There's no fire without smoke - something is drastically wrong with what is going on with the new program, otherwise why would all these people quit?


Yes, you got it - drastically wrong. We're leaving because some of us can't take anymore of this garbage.

Good-bye and good luck was the good bye message from the HoD assistant in his last memo to teachers. Same to you buddy and I will say the same to everyone else as I am now on my way out of Qatar for good. The RFID scanners in the buildings is another good reason to check out and move on.

“Qatar University shall be a model national university in the region, recognized for high-quality education and research and for being a leader of economic and social development.” This is a very fine goal yet unfortunately teachers in the Foundation Department have been blamed for students not making the grade and for the many complaints in the newspapers and on Twitter these past eight or nine months. The Foundation English Department has been openly accused of not providing high quality teaching by the PTB. This is a completely false allegation; I have worked with some real workaholic and dedicated instructors who are genuinely committed to their jobs. Nevertheless someone had to take the fall for the problems generated by the admission of unprepared students with poor English language skills and poor learning skills. The problems for these students began well before they came to the university. Even so, the blame was foisted on the Foundation, especially the English instructors; despite years of hard work and positive results, the department was still not doing good enough in the eyes of some. Instead of reevaluating weak high school language programs and restructuring them, it was decided to restructure the Foundation instead. They even closed down the Foundation Computer Department and have restructured the math program. Many of us agree with the comments my angry colleagues made on a survey we were asked to complete:

Quote:
“Ha! Never worked anywhere where I've felt so trod upon. Tired of being the
Target of vitriol by both Qatari society and other QU colleges both. Someone
needs to sit down and explain to Qataris that their school system sucks and
that until they decide to improve it (properly, without a search for 2 year quick
fixes), remedial education such as that provided by the FP will remain
what we do, why it is importannt, and how we're all on the same team. I'd
think that would be the President's job, but I'd be wrong, wouldn't I? I'm very
tired on the snide comments from other QU members. I regret taking work at
QU and can't wait to leave.”
For the past six months, the Foundation Program has been hit with a series of destructive bombshells and blowouts. The first bombshell came a few months ago when we were told that the whole program English program would change from 2 years to 1 year. Okay – fair enough – it was tough on students to hang around for two years trying to make the grade – but why blame the teachers? When students are still at beginner level after 10 or 12 years of English language instruction, you have to ask how that happened – not blame the people who try to fix the problem.

The next bombshell learning about a ‘secret’ task force that would make the ‘necessary’ decisions and changes. As we later learned, there had already been 2 secret task forces which we’d never even heard about. Why secret? These people in each task force had been definitively told not to discuss anything that went on in any meetings with anybody, in other words – to keep their mouths shut! Of course, teachers became worried about this lack of transparency and trust on the part of the Task Force 3 and the administrators behind them – a curriculum specialist from another country who has never worked in Qatar (or even the Gulf from what I heard) and a self-styled emperor from the HR who was once a high school math teacher. This person is known for his unprofessional and rude emails, not to mention his aggression to certain teachers and actually calling some of them ‘liars’. And they think such a person is qualified to make important decisions and lead a task force????? The selection of task force people was also secretive. These people were chosen on the basis of whether or not they had used e-learning in the classroom or had given a presentation on e-learning – some really great selection criteria! Some of the task force people had never worked in the Arab world before so had no appropriate points of reference on which to base some of their decisions. Everyone else in the department was left out in the cold, including our management team, wondering what was going on. According to one survey respondent
Quote:
“The lack of consultation, openness, transparency and respect for all faculty,
including management, in the recent months of planning and restructuring
developments of the proposed new foundation programme would indicate
that objective 2.2. (above) had been disregarded.”


These management people (I have no issues with most of them) have been attacked a lot on this forum; while some of the complaints were valid (i.e. the annual firing purge), others were not. Basically these people did a fair job; what has been really unfair and shocking is their removal from administration in another very covert operation initiated by the emperor. Most of us first got wind that there might be a ‘regime’ change when w These guys were never told what was going on and were wondering about their own situation for months. Some took action and resigned. The next thing we heard was that there would be a new head (actually a pretty good choice all things considering) and then that all of the management would be pushed out. Some of these people were never told formally that they would no longer have their position. How is that for good HR management? This deliberate lack of information to the management team about their jobs and future just shows how little the HR emperor knows about good HR skills and behaviors. While the HoD has made a few bloopers in my time, including withholding information, basically he’s been OK. His biggest blooper was the way people are fired for no good reason – or maybe the good reason is for hiring new people. Maybe he was told to do this. Nobody knows the firing process was done.Teachers who are fired are never given an explanation. One major flaw is that here is no checks-and-balances system in place to help mentor teachers the management think are in trouble – in most workplaces people whose work is not up to scratch are giving warnings and improvement plans. Nothing like that exists here so when somebody gets fired it is a shock because they have never given advice to improve or an opportunity to discuss their problem areas.

Another bombshell was when teachers found out at TESOL Arabia in March that newly recruited teachers were being offered a beginning salary of 17,000 QR – much more than the salary I was offered when I came here a couple of years ago. To add insult to injury, teachers were told the new salary would only apply to incoming staff. That really started a round of complaints and made many people think about quitting even though they would lose a year’s gratuity for quitting after the January 1 deadline. Most of the people who resigned (about 12 or maybe 13) gave late resignations. Some people will be job hunting this summer. I know of one person who is on a wait list and if that happens, that person will resign too. The whole restructuring process has been involved a progressive lack of transparency and secretiveness. Another survey comment:
Quote:
Unwarranted interference from the QU Academic Board to nominate
unsuitable candidates to redesign a course that was actually making a
difference shows that there a frightening lack of knowledge about
education at QU. No transparency, secretive meetings and knee-jerk policymaking
decisions to please disgruntled, unmotivated students
seem to be the norm. Clueless about managing change. Bottom line is that they don't
care about Foundation faculty professionalism
.

Nobody was told why and how the task force people were chosen; it only came out after some teachers insisted on knowing the procedure. A couple of weeks ago, there was a meeting to ‘reveal’ the hardcore facts of the new restructuring. People were shocked at some of the changes and some people asked for explanations of why and how. This was the first time some people were able to express their concerns vocally. (The Survey Monkey questionnaire results shows how angry and upset teachers are with the way the changes have been made and the lack of inclusion and consultation. There were a lot of very angry comments from teachers.) At this meeting, the emperor ignored their questions and continued his mantra. One of the most shocking announcements was the new contract; he did not make it clear and people were told they would have to work a 35 hour week. Teachers were stunned. The guy referred to some minutes that were ‘supposed’ to have been distributed and pretended surprise when teachers told him they’d never seen these minutes. A couple of hours later the minutes were e-mailed to people. The minutes said that the Foundation “will shift from running contracts towards full-time contracts where teachers will be available 7 hours per day (35 hours per week) in order to be available for students; -faculty will be monetarily compensated accordingly; -teachers will be able to shift to new contract as soon as they are implemented or can continue on current contract until time of renewal”. The implication is that if you don’t agree to the new contract, you will probably be fired. People were also upset about the new 36 week academic year compared to the current 30 weeks. He said there would be ‘compensation; but didn’t explain how this would be done – a pro-rata base or what? You’d think by making this decision they would have worked out the monetary compensation. They tried to reassure people that ‘no one would be leaving because of the restructuring aftermath’ but I think most people don’t believe this because of the reluctant way Task Force 3 has been about doling out information. Some people have already decided to quit next year.

There are about 20 of us leaving, most of their own choosing and some not. The ones who had no choice were the most recent victims of the annual firing to replace policy, as QU teachers call it, a situation that has existed in this department ever since I got here a couple of years ago. This policy was one of the most demoralizing things about working here. Every November people would hold their breaths in fear wondering if they were going to be fired or not. The stress around that time of year was horrific. Maybe a few cases were justifiable, but I don’t really think so - to my knowledge most were not. Most teachers were made redundant because in order to hire new teachers they had to get rid of old teachers – basically a hire to replace policy. The newest bombshell – days before annual leave was news in another memo (now when it’s pretty late in the day they are trying to be ‘transparent’) about the possible closure of the Foundation: “Intention of university is not to phase out Foundation Program, but if the program fails, then might consider eliminating Foundation.” How will teachers be able to work with this threat hanging over their heads? Bizarre. This means the poor suckers who are left behind will be blamed all over again if the students don’t make it through the new 9 week rush-rush intensive classes. They are still blaming teachers for the failure of students to work hard, to commit to learning and to understand that they are in a university not a nursery. All I can say is that I am lucky to be moving out this mess and on to a new job where I hope teachers will be treated with the respect and professionalism they deserve. So goodbye and good luck to those who are leaving for good and extra good luck to the ones who are staying behind. They will need it. Leavin on a jet plane...

So yeah all you good guys left behind: good-bye and really good luck!
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veiledsentiments



Joined: 20 Feb 2003
Posts: 15612
Location: USA

PostPosted: Sat Jun 30, 2012 3:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It seems that QU has moved to the far edge of the negatives of Gulf university situations and I suspect that it will take many years for it to recover. (it took 2-3 years for UAEU to turn around after its equally stupid end of the year Ministry fantasy changes)

I am always amazed at how efficient Gulf Ministries are at choosing the least competent of their staff and managements to plan any "improvements..." or bring in outsiders who don't know squat about Gulf students or the system within the country. Rolling Eyes And how they refuse to see that NO teachers can perform miracles to make ill-prepared young adults into academics in a mere year or two... yet it is always the fault of the teachers in the language center or foundations or PYP... whatever it is called. We TEFLers always end up being the fall guys.

Again just a couple comments... most Gulf universities - public and private have the rule of 35-40 hours of being at the students' beck and call in the office. So it was in the early 90s and so it still is. Thus for QU to go to 35 hours is moving to the low end of this usual Gulf requirement. This isn't contact hours. The only employer that I had in 15+ years in the Middle East that didn't require this was the American University in Cairo which uses the more common US system of respecting teachers' abilities to do their jobs.

Also the turnover of teachers at QU has been about the same as every other college - percentage wise - with the exception of one year about 5 or so years ago when lots of what management obviously considered deadwood or problem causers got axed. Welcome to the Gulf... it is not the land of great job security... nor fair pay scales. Obviously with this year's situation, they knew that they better make high offers to get new teachers to take the risk... and the longer term teachers get to grumble about it. This is again a sadly common situation in the Gulf. Transparent pay scales are rare as hen's teeth. New teachers commonly get paid more than current teachers... and the rest of us end up having to wait for our contract to finish before we may get a raise with our new contract.

Good Luck (and Mabruk!) to those who have found new positions already and hopefully a few more will do so. Situations like this are way too stressful.

VS
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blastermill



Joined: 30 Aug 2011
Posts: 101

PostPosted: Mon Jul 02, 2012 10:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The problem does begin in the schools but somebody has to take the blame and the most likely scapegoats are the QU English teachers. What a saga! No wonder these teachers are frustrated and furious.
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blastermill



Joined: 30 Aug 2011
Posts: 101

PostPosted: Wed Jul 25, 2012 8:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The last I heard is that the teachers were informed by some sort of announcement that if the new program fails, it will be canceled. How is that for morale! They were also told that the new foundation is not to be considered as a first year university course but as a last year high school course!! I don't get it. I wonder if the students will. I wonder if the teachers do. This scheme is bouind to discourage the ones who do end up taking this new intensive foundation program as well as the poor suckers who will be teaching it. To top it off students need 70% to pass!! How will this be accomplished in 8 or 9 weeks? Nothing like pressurizing teachers and students. It makes you wonder what they are trying to do - it seems like the new program is programed to fail so it can be canceled as announced. The teachers must feel like crap. Planned obsolecence, just like electronic items.
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veiledsentiments



Joined: 20 Feb 2003
Posts: 15612
Location: USA

PostPosted: Wed Jul 25, 2012 2:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

IMHO, it is currently all hot air from on high. Bluster from those that haven't a clue of the realities of teaching or learning language. It is also not in their interest to have it fail. After all, it is their hair-brained idea and any EFL teacher with a couple years experience could have told them that it will fail.

Look at how UAEU's similar debacle turned out. A year or two of chaos and they are basically back to the system that they started with... Rolling Eyes

VS
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blastermill



Joined: 30 Aug 2011
Posts: 101

PostPosted: Sun Aug 05, 2012 5:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The situation is very political. Constant articles in the newspapers last fall resulted in this momentous decision to revamp the language requirements for many programs. Teachers have been told quite clearly that if the program fails, it will be closed down. They will supposedly keep the credit English language classes but the non-credit ones which means Foundation are at risk of being canceled. The quick-fix aspect of this new curriculum trying to rush through a whole level in 9 weeks is not pedagogically sound unless it is an immersion program in an English speaking country. These programs usually work because students are exposed to English all the time - a 20 hour a week program in an Arabic environment will not have the same results as if it were taught in Arizona (my old stomping grounds) where we have excellent EFL programs with a good success rate for these quickie courses.
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veiledsentiments



Joined: 20 Feb 2003
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 05, 2012 3:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Of course this new program won't work... I'd say that it is a given. What happens when it does fail is the big question mark. My guess is that a few heads will roll (not literally as this is Qatar) and a few more people who have never taught English will be hired to re-organize it. Then in a few years, we will be back where we were two years ago.

In the meantime, lots of TEFL teachers will be screwed...

VS
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2buckets



Joined: 14 Dec 2010
Posts: 255
Location: Middle East

PostPosted: Thu Aug 09, 2012 1:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hare -brained (as in crazy like a rabbit -like animal called a hare, but not used in Welsh Rare -bit).
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