The Rape of Bahrain Polytechnic

In a gesture of insult to the international higher education community, the Bahrain regime has chosen the anniversary of the University of Bahrain violence to complete its violation of Bahrain Polytechnic, established in 2008 when the Bahrain 2030 Vision still meant something to supply the kind of quality higher education that the criminally incompetent University of Bahrain has failed to provide for a generation.

Bahrain Polytechnic has been under assault by the regime for over a year, because the regime fears real higher education: informed, empowered students graduate to become informed, empowered citizens who demand rights, freedom, accountability and democracy.

The regime prefers institutions like the University of Bahrain, which are designed to churn out “disciplined subjects” rather than active citizens, using approach to management, learning and the individual that have more in common with a prison or the army than real higher education.

The Bahrain regime’s English language propaganda sheet the Gulf Daily News gives the official account of what’s being done to the Bahrain Polytechnic:

http://www.gulf-daily-news.com/NewsDetails.aspx?storyid=325771

So-called Education Minister Al Noaimi uses financial impropriety as his excuse to attack the Polytechnic, bizarrely arguing that BP’s incorporation into the Bahrain civil service and University of Bahrain systems would be a solution to these supposed irregularities. Anyone who has ever had any dealings with the UoB and the Bahrain civil service knows the truth about the financial propriety of these institutions.

As for Noaimi, an ex-army “safe pair of hands” with a very limited grasp of what education is, read what the Academic Freedom Committee of the Middle East Studies Association has had to say about him:

http://www.mesa.arizona.edu/committees/academic-freedom/intervention/letters-bahrain.html

What we are seeing with Bahrain Polytechnic is the rape and pillage of a fine higher education institution, they are treating the Poly the same way they treat Bahrain’s villages. The regime might as well get jeep-loads of white-helmeted goons to spray the Poly full of tear gas.

The following article is from the UK’s Times Higher Education Supplement, written on 6th February 2011, when the Bahrain Polytechnic was still a leading reform institution offering world-class higher education, at that time BP was the only institution offering such quality education in Bahrain (BTC had already been undermined by then):

http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/story.asp?storyCode=415087&sectioncode=26

This is what Bahrain Polytechnic was all about:

“. . .teaching a raft of capabilities that apply to successful engagement with work and life, regardless of specialisation”. . .a problem-based approach that puts the emphasis not on steadily accumulating large bodies of knowledge, but on developing students’ initiative and their problem-solving and teamwork skills in course areas such as engineering, business, logistics, design, web media and office management. . . .”

This is the real reason for the rape of Bahrain Polytechnic: the Bahrain dictatorship simply has no time for a higher education system that develops students initiative and ability to solve problems, lest they dare take the initiative to solve Bahrain’s biggest problem of all, its dictatorship.

Make your own mind up, which account of Bahrain Polytechnic do you trust, that of the Gulf Daily news, 14th March 2012, or that of the Times Higher Education Supplement, 6th February 2011?

The rape of Bahrain Polytechnic provides yet more evidence — as if more were needed — as to why no respectable international higher education institution, professional body, or accreditation agency should have nothing whatsoever to do with Bahrain until fundamental social and political change has happened there.

24 thoughts on “The Rape of Bahrain Polytechnic

  1. Absolutely spot on, Mike. It’s so bleeding obvious that ever since the rift between the liberal Crown Prince of Bahrain and his hard-line uncle Prime Minister, Bahrain Polytechnic was a dead duck. The Poly was the Crown Prince’s baby and the students who came from the villages that are now being tear-gassed every night were overjoyed to study there purely because they knew that if offered them a significantly better opportunity to obtain ‘real’ jobs when they graduated. Now the place has been taken over by Khalifa’s “yes” men and it will merely become a smaller version of the UoB, if indeed it survives at all. Excellent staff and students were sacked and expelled, programmes and plans were knocked on the head and it is a mere shell of what it once was, even after only three academic years of existence. Those responsible for destroying this fine learning institution should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves.

    • But these people have no shame. Despite their titles “Dr” this and “Professor” the other (I have powerful evidence of senior Ministry of Education person asking me to write their PhD thesis for them, by the way, but I’ll keep that one in my pocket for when they try to smear me), they no practically nothing about education.

      In their mind education is about (a) cramming a vast number of useless and often out-of-date facts into students mind, to be tested by summative exam, preferably multiple choice, and (b) disciplining their “subjects” so they reproduce the kinds of behaviours that the regime deems acceptable. The result is students wasting 3-4 years on an almost useless “education”.

      The Crown Prince, to his credit, understood this, and embarked on a project to reform higher education. The first fruits of this were Bahrain Teachers College and Bahrain Polytechnic, both excellent institutions as they were originally conceived.

      But the last thing the rest of the regime want is a system of education that encourages creativity, initiative, the ability to solve problems, and empowerment. So they undermined both institutions. BTC, at least the REAL BTC was done for by August 2010, BP held on for a bit longer, now its done for.

      I suspect is happening is that they get some pseudo-intellectual from somewhere else in the GCC to argue that PBL, collaborative learning, learning by discovery, alternative assessment, and. . .shock, horror. . .empowering, student-centred learning are all very well in “the West” (wherever that’s supposed to be), but it isn’t “our culture”.

      Then will follow the piloting of some kind of Saudi model of higher education. The problem is that Saudi Arabia has a massive unemployability crisis that makes Bahrain’s one look benign. Even Saudis admit the existing education system there can’t deliver the goods. So it’s no solution at all.

      As with everything else about this regime, it is the students, especially those from the villages, who suffer. I don’t think the regime even understands what it is they are destroying.

      The politics of it they understand, politics in the low, devious and shitty sense; but on an educational level they are destroying some of the finest higher education institutions the GCC region ever had almost unwittingly, as a child might destroy a watch.

  2. The problem here is the implication of corruption. Just one person doing something a little shady or inappropriate can be used for political purposes.

    This is such a shame and the losers will be the students and, in the end, the country. It was wonderful to work in a place where innovative teaching practices were encouraged and students were so engaged in learning. I miss that buzz and I’m told the students do too.

    • Were BP’s finances 100%? I just don’t know. Given the intensive and high pressure context of the 2008-9 start-up, I doubt it. So what. The point is that the vested interests who have no real interest in meaningful higher education can seize on little things and make an issue of them. At the end of the day, we all know what’s really going on. The REALLY sinister thing is “Dr.” Majid Al Noaimi’s invocation of UoB of Bahrain Civil Service and UoB procedures as some sort of safeguard against financial impropriety, corruption, &ct. Anyone who has had to deal with these bodies knows of the profound corruption that these policies mask. I could offer detail about monies that have gone missing or been clearly misappropriated at UoB, five-, six-, or seven-figure USD sums. But I won’t do so right now. If UoB/the MoE/the regime resort to trying to smear me, as I suspect at some point they will, I want to keep these little treasures in my pocket as a counter attack.

  3. One suspects a bit of the pot calling the kettle black going on here. The newpaper reports mentioned examples at the Polytechnic such as presents for staff with new babies. Which in somewhat insignigicant beside 7-figure sums. Yes, I agree with you. Mismanagement is not quite the same as outright corruptionl

    • My daughter was born in December 2008 in Bahrain, Jan. We got a card, a bouquet of flowers from BTC, and some nice confectionaries, nice ones, admittedly. All-in-all probably about 50 BD’s worth; no, hardly the same thing as 7-figure corruption! It was merely a decent gesture, but no doubt the Education Minister would disapprove and try to argue it was proof of something-or-other. Really, the gripe is that it was mere university faculty who were getting ‘hospitality’; think of the millions that must be squandered on ‘hospitality’ to pro-regime visitors, the suite of blood jewels given to visiting minor British royalty back in December, for instance!

  4. It is a bit simplistic to think that what happened to the senior staff has a direct relation to their involvement with the unrest last year. Ernest and Young audited the finance arm of the polytechnic and so did the audit court of Bahrain; there were very clear cases of financial embezzlement done by these senior staff, not unexpected, especially that John Scott has a rather dark history as a CE at CPIT (you can refer back to NZ parliament minutes and search his name and CPIT)
    To add some of what they were up to (according to local arabic newspapers in Bahrain, the Bahraini parliament and the Ernest and Young report) in april and may 2011, 2 senior staff members claimed around NZ$ 100,000 for their private travels, CEO sold some of his collection of photoshopped pictures for NZ$ 30,000 each ! and sold around 30-40 plus many many others embezzlement.

    Bahrain Polytechnic was getting raped by the SMT since 2008, and Tony, I am pretty sure more staff has “resigned” because of problems with the CEO than staff getting sacked for whatever is going on in Bahrain for a year now.

    I am not saying Bahrain is having its best days, or that gov REALLY wants to fix things with the poly NOW! .. there are agendas, and what the author mentioned might be valid, but we should never claim that Bahrain Polytechnic was a heaven were staff and students were exercising what Polytech was aiming to be! it was a huge flop, a clear management failure from the SMT, BoT to EDB !

    It is sadistic to blame the goverment on all the ills while anyone who have worked or know how things are going at poly would clearly understand what was going under the “SMT” table! – from they day CEO promised its staff not to accept students wearing abayas to staff getting sacked and sent home in a weekend for disputes with the CEO to unqualified (related to HR director) acting deans working for years to truck drivers cum PD directors to bicycle repair person getting paid NZ$5000 per month to staff members son getting IT contracts to 19% of staff are related to stalling Bahrainisation in academic staff !

    blaming the government in this case in particular sounds more like you approve what was going on on managerial level.

    That being said, I have no doubt Bahrain Polytechnic was doing “relativley” a great innovative job but no one can deny that it could have been a much better place with a less corrupt management.

    Nick A Harr

    • Nick raises some important and interesting points, which I’ll discuss in depth in a subsequent post shortly. MD

  5. Dr Mike Diboll, I have rarely read such sensationalist nonesense. I love it when a man uses rape as an analogy. It shows how deluded and out of touch he is. In my opinion like that of Nicks is that the polytechnic was pillaged by the kiwis first. The ministry are only trying to regain some control from the excesses of John Scott. John Scott was like a used car salesman or a cult leader and unfortunately for Bahrain some people were lost under his spell. The racism of the New Zealanders was amazing from the do you people do this to the why do you always wear black. I remember Lorraine telling me an anecdote about a staff member not wearing a black head scraf but changing to a coloured one. Or boasting about how luxurious first class on emirates airlines is. The leasing of photoshopped artwork. The rampant employment of spouses especially if they are from new zealand. Every role of responsibility was given to a kiwi regardless of qualifications. The business department is the biggest joke going. Online courses with no student logins. SMT left the polytechnic in a massive hole. I have no idea what the ministry will do but i hope they use the talented staff members and get rid of the hangers on feathering their nests of their own personal fiefdom. The cronyism and employment of their best friends for example the gym. I am sure the poly really needed a kiwi to run its gym as no Bahrainis could run a gym.

    I will give the ministry the benefit of the doubt the kiwi mafia have left me disgusted and ashamed.

    • Dear ‘Virtual Hub’; thank you for your input: I generally prefer to interact with people who have the courage to use their real name, but you and ‘Nick’ raise some very important issues. It’ll be my pleasure to engage with these shortly in a dedicated post. . . . MD

      • Mike Diboll, with reference to posts by Nick A Harr and Virtual Hub on 21March2012, it is now exactly 5 months since you wrote (on 21March 2012) that you would “discuss in depth in a subsequent post shortly” and “…engage with these shortly in a dedicated post”. How ‘SHORTLY’ will this be???

  6. Well, guys, I’m not going to disagree with anything you’ve written. But I am going to add that I have never worked in a place where my team was so well-resourced and left alone to get on with the job. There was some educational rigour that I won’t take away from them. Perhaps it was a result of the experienced staff on the ground. However, I’ve been micromanaged too many times not to appreciate being treated like a professional. One tick for them.

    • Since, “Thomas”, you are in the special position of knowing “the truth” on all this, perhaps you can enlighten us all by posting it on an open forum?

  7. Stop your lies this is disgusting. The truth is that the head of Bahrain Polytechnic has put all his friends and family in the high positions! You are British exploiting Bahrain. You should be ashamed of yourself.

    • If you’d bothered to read my posts on this subject in detail, Noora, and the discussion below, you would see how utterly irrelevant your comment is. As it is, you’ve probably just read the headline and jumped to conclusions. 2+2 always = 5 in the eyes of those who want it to. This is Bahrain’s sickness at the present juncture, espactially on the so-called ‘loyalist’ side. BTW, the former head of BP was a New Zealander, not British. Just a small matter of the two countries being on the opposite sides of the world!

  8. Thank you mikediboll for your clear view of the actual situation at the bp. It is refreshing to read something that is truth and not just govt propaganda. It is sad for me to see that some seem to find it easier to blame the few than looking at the whole picture and understanding the politics as you obviously do. I truly believe that now that kalifa has his way he will destroy what was one of the most exciting reform projects seen in bahrain.

  9. Bahrain Polytechnic was raped indeed…..by the Kiwi Senior Management, who misused, exploited and betrayed the trust the Bahraini Economic Development Board placed in them. It was a corrupt, racist and unprofessional bunch of con-artists- posing as educators!- for whom the only motive was to loot as much (money and benefits) as they could, and mis-use the power they’d (undeservedly) been given.

    Nepotism was their mission, evident from all the Kiwi ‘friends and family’ employed in roles that should – and COULD- have been filled by Bahrainis, given that the Polytechnic’s main strategic objectives was Bahrainisation.

    These charlatans have not only damaged and looted Bahrain, but have severely damaged the reputation and credibility of all New Zealanders in Bahrain….a dis-service to their own country.

  10. Dear Mike (and hi Jan and Tony!)

    My name is Chris Gosling and I was formerly Chief Operating Officer at BP and one of the three “top officials” supposedly sacked by the Minister of Education. I have followed this blog with interest but have felt unable to comment up to now. I did not want to make an anonymous contribution but was unable to make a public comment while my family was still in Bahrain and thus at risk of retribution from the regime. Now we are all safely back in NZ, I can finally respond to the lies that have been told. I have attached to this message a copy of a letter I have sent to the GDN (which I have no confidence will ever see the light of day!) which sets out my brief response to the Minister of Education’s statement in March. Also attached is a message I have sent to a number of my former colleagues at BP which looks at just a couple of the specific allegations (more accurately termed “lies”) that have been made. I will let these statements speak for themselves, but I do want to comment on one issue which has really concerned me in reading this blog. First of all, I salute you Mike, your analysis of the political situation in Bahrain is spot on and I congratulate you on your courage in taking on the appalling UoB and the regime. But what I find really interesting and depressing is that even with your analysis and understanding, you (and I’m sorry, you too Jan) have allowed the totally unsubstantiated lies of the regime and its hacks about John, Lorraine and myself to sow doubts in your mind – and by doing so, you play into the hands of the regime. I honestly do not understand what you mean by “the very real failings” and can only assume that you have allowed yourself to be convinced by the unsubstantiated lies of the same people who suspended, sacked, arrested and tortured people based on similar lies. I’m sorry, I don’t mean this to be a personal criticism but I have found this to be salutory lesson. We seem to be so attuned to the “where there’s smoke there’s fire” cliche (or perhaps that “management” is inherently incompetent or corrupt!) that we accept there is some basis for statements made even by those who we know are complete liars. I guess, more charitably, we find it hard to accept that another human being could simply tell absolute baseless lies. And perhaps that naiveity is something we should be pleased to retain! Anyway I hope that the following statements will make it clear that there was no fraud, there was no “corruption”. Let me be clear, I’m not saying that I’m some sort of saint or charity worker! I was well paid for my job and enjoyed a good lifestyle in Bahrain and of course we weren’t some sort “perfect” managers. But we were all committed professionals who had a vision and passion to try to build an institution which would develop capable and independent thinking young Bahraini – clearly anathema to the current regime in Bahrain. Neither I, nor to my knowledge (and I would know!) any of my colleagues were responsible for anything except operating in the best interests of Bahrain Polytechnic as we saw them. Thanks again for your commitment Mike.

    Letter to GDN:
    Dear Sir

    On 16 March 2012 you published a statement from the Minister of Education regarding Bahrain Polytechnic. The article was headed “Three Top Polytechnic Officials Sacked”.

    I was one of the three “officials” identified in this article and I absolutely reject the allegations made by the Minister in this statement.

    I categorically deny that I was sacked or forced to resign from Bahrain Polytechnic. I resigned from my position as Chief Operating Officer as I had no confidence that the Polytechnic would continue to honour the terms of my employment contract. In addition, as a founding Executive member of the Polytechnic I could not countenance the changes instituted by the Minister of Education and his instrument, the now acting Chief Executive. The terms of my resignation were set out in a letter of agreement signed by the then Chairman of the Board of Bahrain Polytechnic HE Shaikh Mohammed bin Essa Al-Khalifa and included the full payment of my contractual entitlements up to the expiry of my contract.

    The accusations by the Minister simply represent his attempt to undermine the important and progressive work being undertaken by Bahrain Polytechnic to develop the young people of Bahrain and in particular to attack the governance of the Polytechnic which was providing enlightened and forward thinking guidance to the establishment of Bahrain Polytechnic.

    It is no co-incidence that shortly after the my resignation and that of the then Chief Executive, seven of the nine members of the Board of the Polytechnic including the Chairman and highly respected Bahraini business people were replaced by the Minister.

    I absolutely deny the allegations made by the Minister regarding “huge irregularities”.

    At no time during my five years at Bahrain Polytechnic did I or, to my knowledge, any other executive obtain any payment or benefit beyond employment terms and conditions or business related reimbursements. All actions made by me and, to my knowledge, other executives were made at all times for the best interests of Bahrain Polytechnic and without any personal financial gain.

    All business decisions were made based on the best available information, in accordance with normal management practice and for the benefit and development of Bahrain Polytechnic, its students and staff. As in all operations and in particular with start up organisations, many decisions were made on limited information and procedures were fast tracked to ensure that staff, facilities and resources were in place to provide quality education for our students. However, I reiterate that at no time were decisions made other than in the perceived best interests of the Polytechnic.

    I sincerely hope that the Polytechnic may continue with its mission and that its students will enjoy the benefit of a quality education, however I strongly suspect that that is unlikely under the current Minister of Education and the leadership of the Polytechnic.

    Given the severity of the allegations against me published in your newspaper, I hope that you will have the common decency to publish this brief response.

    It should be noted that my resignation agreement included a confidentiality requirement. However, in light of the outrageous accusations made publicly by the Minister, I have advised the current Chairman of the Board that I consider that the Polytechnic has breached this agreement and I believe that I have no alternative but to publicly set out my position.

    I regret the long delay in responding on this matter, however my wife and children have only recently left Bahrain and until they did so, I did not consider it safe to make any statements on this matter.

    Email to BP Colleagues:

    Dear friends and former colleagues

    Please find attached a letter I have sent to the Gulf Daily News regarding the statement made by the Minister of Education regarding my “sacking” which was published by the GDN on 16 March this year.

    I have no great confidence that this letter will ever be published, but I have held my tongue too long and, now that Jane and children are safely out of Bahrain, I feel able to at least attempt to put the record straight regarding the outrageous lies contained in the Minister of Education’s statement. While my family was still in Bahrain we had a real fear (backed up by legal advice) that the arbitrary and capricious nature of the authorities in Bahrain might endanger their safety if I was to make any public statement. Given the extremely serious nature of the Minister’s accusations I felt that I had no option but to leave Bahrain on the very day of the publication of the Minister’s statement and I have not felt safe to return to the GCC since that date. Make no mistake, as a professional chartered accountant, these accusations against me are extremely serious.

    What I have not referred to in the letter, but which perhaps causes me the greatest sadness is the way in which some staff at the polytechnic and other members of the Bahrain community have so readily seemed to accept that there is some validity to these accusations and, in some cases, participated in circulating stories in support of them. Despite the fact that they emanate from a person and a regime which can not conceivably be seen to have any credibility at all. This is the same person who was responsible for expelling dozens of Polytechnic students for their heinous crimes – which of course were untrue – and the suspension (and in some cases imprisonment) of fellow Bahrain Polytechnic staff members for equally spurious reasons.

    And yet when this same person accuses Polytechnic executives of “huge irregularities” and says that he has sacked them, some staff and others appear to revert to a “where there’s smoke there’s fire” approach and happily exchange stories that support this line. Just a couple of these stories which I have heard that I can categorically deny are:

    1. the Polytechnic paid John Scott for copyright or some other form of payment for his photos which were used around the Polytechnic. I even heard a figure of BD30,000 mentioned! Absolutely untrue. Ironically, this wasn’t even a matter that was in the audit reports – it is a complete fiction. I can state categorically that John received no payment whatsoever for the use of his photos. The only Polytechnic payment related to these was to local Bahraini companies to print and frame them. I assume they still hang on the wall of the Polytechnic as possessions of the Polytechnic.

    2. the Polytechnic paid for Lorraine Webber’s farewell at La Fontaine. Sounded like quite a party – I’m sorry I missed it. But I know for a fact that the Polytechnic did not pay for it!

    And what of these “huge irregularities” cited by the Minister from the audit reports. The auditors had a team of 10 people here for six weeks looking in detail at everything that had been done. There is not a single case of fraud or personal gain in any of them. Yes, we cut some corners on tender board bureaucracy – staff and students would not be sitting in the relatively good quality classrooms and offices they are if we had not. Yes some decisions were made which, with the benefit of hindsight and further information, were not the best. It’s called management – you make the best possible decisions you can on the information you have and you learn from your mistakes. This applies even more so in a start up environment. There was absolutely no personal gain in any of these matters. Yes there was the odd SMALL reimbursement made without a receipt – exactly the sort of issue that any audit report of any Polytechnic in NZ or elsewhere in the world would find and comment on regularly. Turn 10 auditors loose for six weeks in any institution in the west and I suspect you would uncover a similar range of issues.

    The closest true transaction to “personal gain” was the fact that the Polytechnic paid for the printing costs for some photographic books consisting of photos taken by John Scott. These were used as giveaways at a variety of Polytechnic events – for example many of you may recall them being given to students who answered questions at orientations and so forth. Let me be clear, John was not paid any money for these at all. The concern raised by the auditors was that the polytechnic had paid for the production of the books – and they were used only for Polytechnic PR purposes. This was the closest example that 10 people over six weeks could come up with of “corruption” at the Polytechnic.

    The fact is, of course, that we were just minor casualties of the political struggle overtaking Bahrain. The Polytechnic was an initiative of the Crown Prince and governed by his aid and ally Shaikh Mohammed. As part of the ongoing campaign to undermine the Crown Prince, the Polytechnic management and Board needed to be discredited and “brought under control”. Hence the replacement of seven of the nine Board members including Shaikh Mohammed, the CE of GPIC, the former CE of BAPCO, the one international representative and so forth. Were these people complicit in all this terrible corruption!

    So why did some staff choose to believe – let alone propagate – these stories of corruption? Sadly, I guess they are prepared to play into the hands of truly unpleasant people like the Minister of Education (and he is truly unpleasant – I have sat with him while he produces page after page of facebook entries from ordinary Polytechnic students simply expressing opinions, and demand that something be done about it!) in order to support their own little personal campaigns regarding perceived injustices at the hands of Polytechnic “management” or, even worse, because they see the opportunity to obtain personal benefit from the fall of others – no matter how unjustified that fall may be.

    I make no apology if I sound bitter. I am bitter. My professional reputation – which is very precious to me – was pulled through the gutter by a corrupt and vengeful government Minister, completely without justification. I was separated from my family for five months – ever fearful that they may be blocked from leaving the country or suffer some other injustice.

    But I am also bitter that a few of my former colleagues seem to have felt happy to revel in the “fall” of myself and my colleagues and in fact to take personal advantage of that fall. I have no hope that anything I say will have an impact on them, but I hope that you will understand, and believe, what I have set out above and understand the reason why I have taken some time to set the record straight.

    To those of you who are seeking to move on from Bahrain Polytechnic I wish you well. For those who are choosing to stay on for the students, I wish you good luck and sincerely hope that the tide will turn again.

    • Thanks for your feedback, Chris. This is very valuable in clarifying certain issues. It speaks volumes that you didn’t feel safe to comment while your family was still out there. At one point, I was on an arrest list as a ‘threat to national security’ if I tried to go back! ‘Reform’ is clearly meaningless until after substantial political change has taken place.

      You’re spot-on when you cite the marginalisation of the CP’s reformist cadre by the regime’s hardliners as the real reason for the vandalism that has been inflicted upon all phases of education in Bahrain. I’d only add that this PRE-DATES the revolution of 14th February 2011. I saw how the CP and those close to him and tried to implement his reform agenda started to become less effective from about April 2010, and this intensified as the elections of that autumn drew near.

      By ‘very real failings’ I am, of course, being wise after the event,speaking with 20-20 hindsight. I mean for example that, worthy though the CP’s reforms were, they were still imposed in a top-down manner, with inadequate consultation of all stakeholders, insufficient data on learning needs, &ct., and a lack of communication of the change message and the reasons for change and reform. This created certain structural weaknesses almost from the word ‘go’, and also meant that there wasn’t sufficient ground-swell of support in actual communities when the going got tough.

      Another weakness, I think, was that education reform solutions, be they from NZ,Singapore or the UK, were too often ‘off the peg’ rather than tailor-made to the needs of Bahrain society. My main experience was with BTC, of course, so maybe things were a bit different at BP. Certainly BTC should have had complete autonomy if ever it was going to have any hope of fulfilling its mission. The linkage with the UoB was always toxic.

      Have you taken any legal advice on the confidentiality clause in your settlement, and a legal opinion as to whether the ‘minister’ (they’re alla bunch of thugs, I hate dignifying them with titles they don’t deserve) has already broken it from his side?

      I actually lost everything when I left, bar what money I could pull out of the bank. My social networking was subject to surveillance, and was produced as ‘evidence’ that I had broken terms in my contract against ‘illegal political activity’, ‘bringing the institution into disrepute’, &ct.

      I still have not given up on getting some sort of redress. However, my immediate concern is to raise awareness of what’s going on in Bahrain so that no respectable higher education institution, accreditation body &ct will ever have anything to do with Bahrain ‘reform’ until change has happened — an academic and professional boycott, in fact.

      The UK Higher Education Academy, the UK’s lead body for ensuring excellence in teaching and learning in HE, was considering some sort of consultancy with BP earlier this year. This was being explored by one individual who has been Head of Arts and Humanities at the HEA since the new year, but worked at the UoB 2007-2008 before becoming First Secretary for Education with the British Embassy in Beijing, China — so he has good contacts with the UK FCO, who are, shamefully, giving strong support to the Khalifa regime. His link person at BP was an ex-UoB employee of BP. As I understand it the deal floundered because of the MoE insisting that the contract was drawn up under Bahraini law. I’d be interested in any update, since deals like this have to be contested, if organisations like the HEA (of which I am a Fellow) are to retain their credibility.

  11. Hello again Mike.

    Thanks for your response to my comments and your (as usual) insightful thoughts. I didn’t take specific legal advice regarding the confidentiality clause. My wife did take legal advice (from a Bahraini based British lawyer) on the risk to me of staying in Bahrain after the Minister’s accusations. And the response was that, while it was impossible to be certain, it was entirely conceivable that attempts could be made to impose a travel ban on me or to bring me in front of some sort of committee of inquiry – where of course we know that the truth would be irrelevant! I always thought that the risk was small but the consequences for me and my family if that were to eventuate would have been horrendous. We also sought legal advice on whether a case for defamation could be brought against the Minister and the GDN. That question simply elicited a smile and laughter from the lawyer!

    In terms of failings – as leaders of Bahrain Polytechnic I think we were clearly naive in our understanding of the complexities of Bahraini society and our faith in the security and strength of those in Bahrain who supported the Polytechnic project. But I’m not sure anyone could have predicted the scale of the events that followed and we were certainly blind to these as the Polytechnic went from strength to strength in 2009-2010.

    There are so many different and conflicting forces at work in Bahraini society that I simply cannot imagine where it will all end.

    Re your query about editing some of my comments, I am slightly hesitant as I still worry about my professional future – as an academic you perhaps have more courage and liberty on that front! Would you be able to send me what you are proposing to my personal email?

  12. Pingback: Bahrain Polytechnic: new evidence casts doubt on the rigour of the BICI, and on the credibility of ‘reform’ in Bahrain « Dr Mike Diboll

  13. There are a few staff left on the gound who continue to strive to do what the the poly was originally set up for but we are becoming more rare. There are a lot of new staff turning up with obviously fake phds who seem to know little about their subject and even less about education.

    As I understood it the Poly mission was to bring in people from industry to teach real world problem solving skills but it now seems to be trying to be a faux ‘university’ where these supposed academics now come in to class and give lectures based on slides rather than getting the students to solve realistic problems as they were originally intended to.

    I have seen the result of this in courses that I designed and developed where the ‘academic’ has come in and simplified the course material because they do not understand it and cant be bothered learning it!

    I think the poly had it’s high water mark about three years ago and is now being left to wither and die. Students will end up going back to UoB and watching slide shows, being assessed by multiple choice and end up learning nothing. Memorising fats and being unable to think will be the order of the day. As it was before and twill ever be.

    All our hard work will disappear but at least we produced a few hundred graduates we can be proud of.

    Bahrain is destined to sink into a mire of mediocrity and incompetence on the evidence of what I am seeing.

    P. O’Neill

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