A story of an Algerian teacher II

The Algerian baccalaureate examination took place last week, and before we get the results (which will probably deserve a special post) I thought I would call back my imaginary teacher to tell us a little about the Algerian university which will open its doors to those lucky “bacheliers”.

My story started here but the readers might just read this second part as it relates my new life which has little connection with the previous one. I indeed got promoted very quickly to head of the high school and then to inspector before I retired. And as most Algerians, I was still young when I retired and could still contribute to the well-being of the society and at the same time get a second income (some aspects do not change). So a few months after I retired a friend of mine told me about a teaching position at the university. I know I am no doctor but my experience is valuable and Algerians love experimented workers, which is why many positions in public and private companies are given to retired men and women. Plus, many qualified university teachers have left the country in the nineties and basically anyone could teach at the university. So I became a pedagogy teacher.

That was it about me. I decided today to give you my insider’s view on the university through some events I have witnessed.

As the year was about to start the teachers started looking for the programs they are supposed to teach. So the offices of the different faculties heads  were always packed. Ours was full too but the head of the faculty was still enjoying his holidays in Spain. His secretary had no clue on what we should teach and randomly chose the programs just to get rid of us. It was obvious that she was mistaken but who cares… Most teachers are not there to teach and the students are not there to study so the situation suited everyone.

Two weeks later the first strike started. The students’ committee didn’t like the sportswear the university residence gave to the various university sports teams. They wanted Nike and they got Le Coq Sportif so they blocked the entry to the university and the administration. It lasted 10 days and ended only after the committee’s demands were satisfied. I was told to never mess up with any committee member, and if I was unlucky enough to have one in my class, to give them bad marks (because that’s what they wanted, stay in university ad vitam aeternam). Perhaps the Nike sportswear will help one of the teams to finally win something.

I will spare you the details on the other strikes this committee has started during the year but just so you know, they blocked the entry to the university and administration at least four more times and for at least one week each during that year. Once it was because the security crew didn’t let a female student go into the males’ residence; a second time was because the residence director didn’t allow the committee to organise a “gala” (and it was during the exams period). A third time was because the same director didn’t allow the committee to take the picnic food from the university restaurant, and I do not remember the fourth time but be assured it’s probably a similar reason.
I must say here that the committee’s budget is given by the state and is all used for the benefit of the students committee members and their friends.

And as I mentioned the director of the residence, I’ll tell you something I noticed. The first director was from Bouira and we had noticed that all the subcontractors he hired to perform some tasks at the residence or restaurant were from Bouira. And then we got a new director from Boumerdes, and guess what, subcontractors, food providers, some new employees, all came from Boumerdes. And they dare tell you the Algerian Pouvoir is clanic and regionalist when all the society is regionalist!
And by the way, I also noticed the increasing number of pré-emplois. They were so many (paid only 7000 to 8000 DZD/month) that not only the regular employees stopped working (leaving their tasks to these poor pré-emplois) but the pré-emplois themselves didn’t have much to do. It’s like the Algerian factories in the wonderful socialism years when unemployment was reduced by hiring 10 times workers than needed. So thank you Bouteflika for this “back to the future”. Who cares about efficiency after all and I am not one to complain, many of my family members, long-time unemployed, could finally get jobs, and since the “Arab spring” they are now paid 15000DZD/month so thank you again Mr. president (without sarcasm this time).

Back to academia now. Many of colleagues were magister students (supposedly the best of the best) who were unable to write correctly, let alone give lessons. They spent most of their time gossiping and competing on who’s bought the best car, etc. I noticed that the students (including these colleagues of mine) were as ignorant as I had left them when I was teaching at the high school. I wonder how this situation could improve when the teacher knows and cares as much as his/her student.

One of these magister students (part-time teacher) passed a national exam and was awarded a state scholarship to study in France. The poor guy had to travel to Algiers many times to get his files sorted. Once he was told to go home because the man working at the MESRS was himself enjoying his scholarship in Canada. Anyway, the student is still in Algeria and I wonder if his scholarship wasn’t given to someone else. And as I am mentioning going abroad, I don’t know if you remember last year’s story about the Algerian university teachers who got themselves scholarships to Syria. Apparently even the Syrian universities didn’t understand what was going on and alerted the MESRS which finally stopped this practice. Well I knew two of these teachers and they told me they did it to buy garments and enjoy some vacation in beautiful Syria (ok it is ugly these days and I wouldn’t like to be there now) .

I have many other stories to tell but it looks like I wrote too much already so I will just stop here. I also think of retiring for real this time, I don’t want my students to tell me Irhal and I guess it is about time I stop playing with their future. My point here was to say that Benbouzid is of course blameable for many of the university’s illnesses but the teachers, the administrators, the students, most of us deserve the blame.


8 thoughts on “A story of an Algerian teacher II

  1. C’est l’histoire du Bottom=>Top ou Top =>Bottom dont tu parlais l’autre jour.
    L’histoire de l’éducation aujourd’hui est une histoire compliquée, personnellement parce que je vis ça avec mes enfants qui n’en sont encore qu’au CEM, je sais qu’il s’agit du “Top”. Même si oui, les profs ne sont ni tous compétents, ni tous aptes à l’enseignement, et malheureusement moins ceux qui sortent des universités, que ceux qui suivaient les ITE ou PEM avant. C’est a dire qu’avant, les profs et selon leur niveau scolaire étaient dirigés vers l’enseignement à travers une formation spécialisée. Ils suivaient à travers cette formation des cours de pédagogie, psycologie, etc… bien sur il y en a toujours dans le lot de plus intelligents que les autres, de plus compétents que les autres, de plus aptes que les autres, malgré cela, ils suivaient une formation destinée à l’enseignement précisément. Ensuite bien sur et sur le terrain, les inspecteurs continuaient à les suivre et à les évaluer. Et ils continuent eux aussi en même temps leur formation à travers les journées pédagogiques et autres séminaires, etc…
    Aujourd’hui, il suffit d’avoir une licence pour être “apte” à enseigner. Sans autre formation “spécialisée”. Dans le lot toujours, il y en a des plus intelligents que les autres, des plus…… mais aussi des vraiment trop nuls. Lorsqu’un prof de français ne fait pas de différence entre le féminin et le masculin… lorsque ses fautes d’orthographe ne se comptent plus… C’est ça le système que le ministère veut instaurer aujourd’hui. Alors que des profs sans licence universitaire mais tout de même compétents sont démis de leur fonction (de vacataire bien sur) parce que n’ayant pas le niveau.
    Sans parler bien sur du programme, des textes étudiés, et de la pression à travers trois évaluations trimestrielles au lieu d’une seule, et des profs qui doivent passer leur temps à rédiger des rapports au lieu de préparer leurs cours. Les cours que les élèves maintenant doivent préparer et (presque totalement) étudier avant le cours lui-même en classe…. C’est du grand n’importe quoi… et là le Top en est responsable, pas le Bottom. Parce que de mauvais profs il y en a toujours eu, comme des très bons. Mais quand le Top n’encourage pas les très bons, et quand il fait que les mauvais soient au même degré… c’est à en pleurer…

    • Evidemment que le top y est pour beaucoup, la formation des enseignants est nulle et ce n’est pas en exigeant encore plus de diplomes qu’on va l’ameliorer. Mais je pense toujours qu’il n’est pas possible de surveiller tout le monde. Les gens doivent pouvoir faire leur travail correctement, ou du mieux qu’ils peuvent, sans avoir besoin d’un controle continu de leur hierarchie. Et je reviens a mon idee de toujours, la vision. Si chacun savait pourquoi il travaillait et qu’il partageait cet objectif et y croyait alors il y mettrait l’effort necessaire. Aujourd’hui notre systeme repose sur la bonne volonte des gens. Ceux qui reussissent reussiraient meme sans enseignement et ils y arrivent seulement grace a leurs seuls efforts et elqodra el ilahiya.

      Je suis d’accord pour les ITEs mais il faut avouer que les dernieres cuvees n’etaient pas fameuses. Tu l’as dit pour les hopitaux et c’est le cas pour l’education, la situation (je parle des enseignants) n’a cesse de se degrader depuis les annees 80 voire bien avant.

      J’ai passe ce week-end a relire (et corriger) le rapport de stage d’un de mes stagiaires (Master 2), un (Bac+5) dans un pays africain + un nombre d’annees en France. J’ai commence par rire puis je me suis enerve et j’ai fini par des envies de meurtre. Il devait y avoir une faute d’ortographe tous les deux mots, il doit etre fache avec les articles car son rapport n’en contient pas, et je ne te parle pas du fond 😦 J’avoue que j’ai jete l’eponge et decide de ne pas relire la prochaine version, et puis j’avais decide il y a quelque temps deja de ne pas l’embaucher. Je comprends donc ceux qui se decouragent!
      Mais ca m’a “rassure” sur notre double appartenance a l’Afrique et au Tiers-Monde sur ces aspects de mediocrite du systeme educatif. Idha 3ammat khaffat…

  2. I love that teacher, despite the fact he started to get himself out of the circle of blame at the end 😀

    But I think university’s problem in Algeria, besides the incompetent teachers and the corrupt administration, is the student’s vision of university before they get in. At their high school years they get the idea that the Baccalaureate is the exams of life, so they get this vision of after the exam of life, everything would be less important, what could be more important than an a life exam?

    So university become some kind of a vacancy after high school, and that means free time, (watching) sports, girls/boys stories and at the end passing from one year to the other (with the less acquired knowledge possible).

    Not to mention libraries and the terrible lack of curiosity and discovery (in terms of studies). So I can say if we want to start with students, we should stop calling that Bac a life exam.

    • Good point ikseer! Let’s hope Benbouzid will have a long life and will achieve his secret goal of getting 100% success in the baccalaureate. We would just suppress the then-useless exam and let the students keep being serious while at uni.

  3. stand up for the teacher . show all respect . a teacher is almost a prophet .and this is Ahmed shawki the prince of poetry ,we all remember our stands up in every class , we weren’t allow to sit down until the sheikh say so , for the almost prophet teachers own knowledge and pass it on to people to improve their lives just like prophets did, and to bring back the algerian education system to life it takes two , both the teachers and the students and provide them to work in collaboration to strengthen teaching and learning to benefit all , and to resurrect our schools which they have been on life support , the students striking for some baseless demands it’s shame full and not worthy of calling them talabatu al- ilm. university in algeria is a place where boys meet girls and we having a big problem.

    • عدم القيام أفضل لأن هذا من المعروف في عهد النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم فإن أعظم الخلق احتراماً أي أعظم الخلق أن يحترم رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم ومع ذلك فإنه إذا دخل على أصحابه لا يقومون له لما يعلمون من كراهته لذلك.
      ف : عن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم (من أحب أن يتمثل الناس له قياماً فليتبوأ مقعده من النار)

  4. standing up for the teacher , it doesn’t necessarily means ( garde a vous ) show the respect teachers deserve by honoring the noble job they are doing , be a good student , it’s a rissala ( message ) we all have to carry on ,pass it on to the next generation , just like the Olympics torchbearers , it will never be a last one , i have never been a fan of standing up to nobody , i greet you , smile in your face , make you feel that you are the most important person in this world by paying attention to you , that’s stand up , and when we say … stand up for injustice ( hogra) stand up for yourself , fight , kick do anything you can to get rid off it the hogra, shukra oum el kheir for the link and peace on our beloved prophet . salaam alaikum.

  5. Am surprised pupils and their parents are playing along with Benbouzid’s game actually.
    Just goes to show, the people are worse than the opposition which is in itself worse than the government.

    So no wonder the power pyramid is at it is now and it will get worse in the future, especially if education is not urgently fixed. The only hope now is the kids.

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