Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Missing Link

Every summer, Aramco is bombarded by summer students and interns yearning for a sniff of the all mighty ARAMCO…

Although it is usually the relatively new employees who are stuck training and tutoring the even younger employees, we never seem to mind it because you feel that they deserve to be taught and enlightened. Because when you were new all you really wished and hoped for was for someone to hold your hand and walk you through the ins and outs and do's and don'ts…

I am bothered by one thing though… Why do we still have colleges that teach in Arabic?

I am very proud of my Arabic heritage and language. What I am not is ignorant enough to believe that a person who is a Finance graduate with a 4.0 GPA will be able to survive in a 100% English based corporate culture. Is it just easier for whoever is responsible to turn a blind eye and fall for the we need to hold on to our language and one day Islamic Finance will take over the world and then we will strike, then we will convert all the Financial lingo into Arabic, and force every bank to comply or face bankruptcy…

I, ignorantly, thought that the point of having schools and colleges and universities (mind you I am calling them universities in the loosest sense possible) was to prepare the youth for the job market, to prepare them for the real world. However there seems to be a missing link between what is taught at school and what the real working environment is like. I am not even asking for strong academic bases at these schools and I am not asking them to compete with Harvard and LBS. I just expect some common sense and some realism is the preparation of the youth.

I might be blowing this simple thing out of proportion, but I should not be blamed because I am only scratching the surface of these academic issues. I am sitting at my desk, listening to my colleague struggle to explain basic financial concepts to a summer employee because of the language barrier. The summer guy looks smart enough, but I wonder if he can survive in the real working world.

The saddest thing is, he is not the one to blame.

p.s. I mean no harm with this post, and I have met many exceptions to this post, but I am talking about the general public who are only taught English when they turn 14 and don't use it in their everyday life.


Saudi Dawn said...

it's not a link anymore, it's a HUGE BARRIER REEF!

Can't start discussing your story, coz it will be a loooooooooooooooooooong comment.

suffice to say, our education *used loosely* system needs a total re-working! It needs career guidance from the 7th grade, English from 1st grade, and Life Skills too!


Fadiosis said...

painfully true (sad face)...

education, you can write volumes about the gaps and stupid policies and useless methods!!..

what we need is someone to slap those who sit on their chairs and do nothing but smiling and pretend to care about youth in whatever college they're working at. *really angry right now*

sometimes, all I think of, is how on earth have we -me and the people I know- survived thru public education and those last 3 years in college????????

Ex-clamation Mark said...

I don't want to sound optimistic and naïve here but let me just point out that in the past two years, a preparatory year is now mandatory at colleges and universities here. They go through levels of English and basics in calculus , etc. While I do acknowledge that this isn't enough, it is a step in the right direction.

I do, however, agree with you on the missing link between the actual qualifications required in labor market and skills taught at universities. They are simply not preparing their students for what's really out there.

Great post.

Chiara said...

There is always a disconnect between what is taught at university and the workplace but certainly these days a mastery of English is necessary for advancement in most professions. I hope that the standards improve for those who have invested time and energy into a degree expecting that they are being given the necessary skills.
Great topic and post!

Lamya said...

Great post.

It would be excellent to remember that formal education as a field in Saudi Arabia is still relatively young compared to other countries worldwide. Considering that Saudi Arabia started their first schools in the past 100 years or so (I might be wrong as to the exact number, so sorry!) I dont think that we're doing that badly.

That said, in order to compete internationally one has to have some mastery of the english language as well as have a working understanding of basic theoretical frameworks in the field you are doing your internship in.

Now that Im done sounding half lame, just wanted to let y'all know Im back.

His Sweetheart said...

Totally agree!! there is this lady with me who got her master in US in I forgot what with excellence and 3.8GPA yet, she finds it hard to understand the simplest English sentences! She got hired though because there-is-this-someone-who-wants-her-to-get-the-job! I wonder how she got that GPA in a native speaking country!!

Been a year since I last posted! Missed your writings~! Where are you man? :)

PrimaDonna said...

Hmm, Start with a complete change in government tactics while your at it. I don't see anything changing in the next few years, I'm afraid" Saudi" is after all Saudi why do you think they added "Arabia" at the end?
I know I'm speaking clearly out of spite here! But to Heck with it! I met some of the most inspiring people here, one of which is a doctor, she graduated med school, works like a bulldozer, and still has time to read the classics! And did I mention she went to a government school?!
I mean with women like that striving under such a strict, suffocating environment and still considered secondary? WTF!

Change in education?! Is that the only problem here?! I think not.

SA needs to place female rights a priority, open up the realm in education! At least get better private schools and nurseries.

Anonymous said...

I'm a med-school graduate.
Trust me, everything is accesively dramatized in the world of a female trying to surpass the constant trials of Medicine.
Don't get me wrong,they strive to acheive the impossible but that's simply their own perception of "impossibility"
That being said.
My point of tackle is targeted on the demand of more rights for women in Saudi Arabia.
I bring to the platform simply one question..
Do the benefits outweigh the chaos?
If these demands are met..the Saudi financial structure would Freaking
Tumble down like a Perfect house of cards.
في اولى من حقوق المرأة الحين.
خلونا نفتك من مصايبنا هالحين
بعدين خلنا نشوف حقوق المرأة

vampyress said...


the whole education system is a disaster ,it's partly to blame for the terrorism in Saudi,,

about the language,,ya sure the government should definitely add English to the curriculum from elementary till college,but parents (educated ones) should also teach their kids and not rely on this system

Meena said...

I'm in the US and I feel like that about ppl here. It's not so much teaching, but a lot of times its the mindset of learner.

Also, if you have a few minutes - can you please fill out the survey on my blog - its aimed at writers.

Roe said...

AGREED! Aham shay the "(mind you I am calling them universities in the loosest sense possible)" LOVE IT HAHA! So true.
Also thank you for being nice to interns, I was an intern.. they werent all that nice to me.

coralbead said...

Here where I am I teach in a special program where graduating students are given extra training in English geared at getting students to gain enough competence and confidence to use English in the workplace.

Extra programs or a year of prep won't be enough---it also depends on the mindset of the people.