Anwar Dafa-Alla

ASSISANT PROFESSOR, King Faisal University - Hofuf


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Politics for Education

Education needs resources...including a political representative...
Resources are usually allocated to politicians or on their hands at least!
Many NGOs tiny or giant (e.g. UNICEF) trying their best to leave no child behind and it seems like it's open-ended thread.

Through analyzing our situation here in Sudan...and believing on Education as the way and only way to develop. I came up with this idea:
Forming a political party for Education.

According to Sudan political parties regulations we need 500 members to register officially...we started a Facebook group "Sudan Education party" last Monday, July 23rd, 2012... today, Monday, July 30th, 2012..we're nearly 1000.

As far as I know, this is the first of it's kind in Sudan (Don't know if you're aware of such initiative else where).

We'll resume our efforts to bring OLPC to Sudan, and make use of all of these TED talks/initiatives...this time with our own political support...

Your thoughts/input is highly appreciated.

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    Jul 31 2012: education is rising. politics is in decline.

    political parties no longer represent the people (if they ever did) and this is evident in education worldwide, where politicians are merely barriers to improving education.

    I applaud your determination to improve education. it is people like you that will save education, not politics or politicians.
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    Jul 30 2012: the last thing we want in education is government presence. compulsory state education is failing all over the world. the freer the better.
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      Jul 31 2012: The only way for true democracies to function is for all its members to be educated enough to make informed decisions in the control of the government's direction. If you eliminate universal education, you will reinforce a ruling class of economic elites. What would be the moral justification of an ruling economic elite? A better possible solution than to just say "get government out" is to give every student in the nation an education stipend and allow private schools to compete for the enrollment. Government would not be running the schools, but all students would have the same funding level, and share the same starting line. Financially handicapped students would have a more equal chance to succeed in life, and the schools might be encouraged to improve by competition.
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        Jul 31 2012: and how is that going? we have nonfunctional schools that churn out practical illiterates.
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          Aug 1 2012: You didn't read my post. I was offering an alternative. Maybe we shouldn't even try... or maybe only kids whose parents can afford to pay for it should receive an education?
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        Jul 31 2012: true democracy is a beautiful lie.
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          Aug 1 2012: I agree that it is right now. What do you recommend instead? The pursuit of an ideal is usually what leads to coming to a closer proximity to that ideal.
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        Aug 1 2012: decentralising democracy.

        in New Zealand, local governing bodies are being amalgamated into oversized bureaucratic leviathans which are termed "super-councils" and other such grandiose names. In reality, they are even less efficient and flexible (and more expensive!) than ever before.

        there is a lack of transparency in political goings-on which leads to abuse of privileges and power that is rarely dealt with unless the media gets onto it (and even then, there is often very little real justice).

        the idea of having one general vote every 4 years is no longer in keeping with the pace of information dissemination and communication in these modern times.
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          Aug 2 2012: Thanks Scott. This leads me to think that maybe now that communication is so instant, a direct democracy without representatives may be possible. There has to be some solutions out there somewhere, someday. All I know is the more I learn, the more I realize my ignorance. Nice to be speaking with someone from New Zealand again. When I was younger I worked for a wonderful lady from New Zealand. (That was in Casper, Wyoming in the States.)
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      Aug 19 2012: I think people have become smarter and more literate than in the past. Most of this is through the efforts of governments. I have to disagree.
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        Aug 20 2012: you are free to think that despite all the evidence.
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          Aug 20 2012: I think that because of the evidence. Thank you for giving me the freedom to do so.
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        Aug 20 2012: ah. secret evidence, that must be.
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          Aug 20 2012: And how did you deduce that idea?

          If you have a question, by all means ask it. I will not be offended. You can use as many words as you like as long as they give a full meaning to the question you are asking.

          I'm Jewish, which is to say I believe in Judaism, not that I'm Hebrew or Israeli.

          What is your dispute with my answer? Is it related to the "Government" part? The reference to "Muslim" or the distinction between North and South Sudan? Or is it related to the "People are smarter" statement?

          Please be clear my friend.
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        Aug 20 2012: in case i was not clear, you are welcome to present ideas how the government increased the level of education compared to what we would have without the government.
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    Jul 30 2012: I agree with james . besides giving a lap top the most important thing is educate how to think, tohave a critic sipirit and to know how to contextualize.
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      Aug 20 2012: Actually, the most important aspect of education is freedom to express ones self and their views. Without the proper, free environment, most educational systems are limited to a certain class of people who embrace the political view of the government that rules over them. If that government has no laws allowing the people to to have expressed individual freedoms, education for the masses will invariably suffer or never come to fruit.

      What good does it do the build an educational system only to have it torn asunder by war and civil strife?

      Freedom is not free. It cost blood, sweat and tears. Before you can properly decorate a home, you have to clean it first.
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    Jul 30 2012: It sounds like you exceeded your goal of enlisting five hundred members, so congratulations!

    The political and policy structure in different countries is different enough that I think I probably don't understand why there needs to be a "political party for education" in Sudan. Is there not universal access to education for children up to a certain age? Are there political parties that do not support education or universal education or improvements in education?
    In the country where I live, any political party must support universal access to educaton, just like they would have to support the franchise for all citizens. There could not be a party that is anti-education here. Similarly every political party and politician supports the idea of improving educational outcomes and innovation in education. It's absolutely not controversial.
  • Ram Xz

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    Aug 24 2012: Its pretty cool to see people who still believe on education.

    Education is a hard topic to talk about, if you have all the money and if everything you suggest is automaticaly done, how exactly you are going to solve it? How to achieve that every student become a genius?

    Is that possible?

    Most people who talk about education tell us what not to do becuase education is affected by that, but no one tell us what to do to achieve that our students learn better, all ideas are about what not to do instead of what benefits good learning.

    When i talk about education i focus on Maths, if you can make that every student become a math genius, you solve education problem.

    I see around the world, and every effort to improve education require lot of time and money, and you can spend lot of money and at the end of the day the result can be worst that the original situation, I mean sometimes ita better do nothing than try to do something, is a high risky bet, is worst when you put your name on that, you spend money, time and got nothing.

    The most important piece on education is the smartnes of the student, if the student is very smart he will learn even in worst conditions, and if is pretty dumb he will be dumb even in the better conditions, middle smart students will be affected by external conditions if are good he will be a litle good if are worst conditions he will be a litle dumb.

    I am developing a non memorizative learning to make smart students so wherever they grow up they can become genius.

    Thats what I think about education, beyond money, go for what it can improve education, answer this question:

    If we do this, it will solve education problem? Or it doesnt? Because all people say where the problem is but nothing about solution.

    Yes Computers will better, but only with that it solves it? Good teachers is good but it solves it? What does it solves it, what make our students smart? I think the problem is in how we learn today, I propose a Non Memorizative Learning
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    Aug 24 2012: This is a laudable project.
    But be aware that good intentions are not enough to guarantee success or excellent excecution of ideas.
    There must be administrative structures that would ensure probity and accountability; so that donations and funds are channelled majorly to education; and not to political jobbers or opportunists who think they should get financial rewards for every input.

    Thanks for your effort.
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      Aug 25 2012: Thanks Feyisayo...

      Any input on how to interpret these good intentions into reality rather than NGO arm for the proposed political party?

      We're opening up everything for discussion on our FB group
      "Sudan Education Party"
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        Aug 27 2012: The vision and objectives of the party should be clear to all members and supporters so that someone would not be expecting the party to do something that is not in line with the party programmes. For one, I know that the party is not like the typical political parties where people make donation and expect to be rewarded with contracts and offices.

        I think members and supporters should be well educated so that they can give what they have......sound education.
  • Aug 21 2012: Keeping the people in ignorance is one of they Master Keys that dictatorial regimes use to keep ruling the countries , such a thing would be strange for people who leave in the First World countries.
    But this is the fact , when people have knowledge and science they would start asking many natural and fair questions regarding their rights and freedoms , which is a RED LINE for such regimes
    wish you all the best in this journey Dr.Anwar
    BTW: i'm one of the attendees of the course which you gave about KM at the beginning of this year
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    Aug 20 2012: I don't think there is enough space to adequately describe the process. In short, Governments establish departments of education and require minimum teaching methods and subject matter, etc. I don't know of an organized educational system in these modern times where the government is not involved.
  • Aug 20 2012: Generally, I believe better educated and informed citizens make better decisions concerning their countries, or their communities. At least that is the plan.

    Now who and what oppose that? Politicians and money. Those are the two things that must be gotten rid of.
    Now everyone will ask, "who is going to pay for it?" Well, it isn't money if it is politician's money, and if there is no real profit in it for them. One form of profit is keeping citizens uneducated, poorer and needing money to climb out of both holes. It's called power.

    So, it isn't money that "gets things done". It is people. That is what everything costs. Me thinks humans would be better served by getting rid of money and politicians and forcing those corporations, who contain many citizens hard at work, to keep them open, delivering, distributing and manufacturing the commodities we all need, as we make a better, fairer and just world. They need them too. They don't need money.

    Good luck with your dream and goal. The very idea that you have it shows you are the kind of human the world needs. To become beholden to those who hold you down, in order to get there, is one of the landmines/risks you have to be careful about stepping on or into.
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    Aug 17 2012: So if this Sudan Education Party wins office, what are they going to do about the chronic food shortages across the country? How are they to fight crime? How are they going to manage electricity supply? What about medicine? And transport? And communications? And environment? And humanitarian aid?

    Who is going to decide how to help the older generations and protect those school children?


    However, you could form a Non Governmental Organization that pressures government in the field of education, or even become an education minister? Try that.
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    Aug 12 2012: Also, there should only be one public school, you should raffle to take classes there, and everything else should be online. Public school should be cheap and mediocre, but make you competent. As millions of people engage in online education you can pay your best teachers incredibly well, and sort them out through test scores, parent ratings, and student ratings.

    Make an enourmous public school campus on the coast, with a solar concentrating desallinization plant and research center. Pay the best teachers in the country to lecture. Tag every question asked by a child every year, and post the answer online... Just seems to me like the way to go, school wise.
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    Aug 12 2012: Wow. Great minds think alike. I actually started a facebook page for the exact same thing a year or so ago, on a lark. I never really filled it in, but the first few ideas and entries I wrote might be a fun read for you. Also, I took "The Education Party" Facebook page, so if you want it... send me a message on Ted, I didn't end up taking it seriously. I volunteered for Richard Aguirre an independent in the California governor primary instead.

    During that primary I had a revolutionairy idea that theoretically could work wonders on the coast in the Sudan. I convinced the primary candidate to build a large "solar concentrating desallinization plant and research center" in UC San Diego, or Santa Barbara. Basically, you use concentrated solar energy (mirrors and fresnel lens), to boil salt water, which turns a turbine for power. Since the water has been boiled, the salt will naturally come out, and most bacteria in the water will be killed.

    A large plant like this on the coast of the sudan could provide an enormous pumping station for fresh water into regions of drought. It was a bit too crazy, as was the third party candidate I was supporting... but it's still one of the best ideas I've ever had.
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    Aug 3 2012: What people have to realize before any significant progress can be made in education (titled The Economics and Politics of Education):
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    Jul 31 2012: What if countries with low percentage of literacy in its popualation open education that focused solely on improving literacy and mathematics for a certain amount of time, would that be a good suggestion?
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    Jul 30 2012: Anwar, I just read through your countries history. I cannot evaluate how acurate the information I have is. It appears that there are may political parties. The article refers to the Sudan as radical Islamic country. The major part of the article references wars, coups, and problems with neighboring countries. In all of my reading I did not see mention of industry or education. It did mention in several places that the population was predominately Muslim.

    Based on a thumbnail sketch ... I offer my opinion. It is good that you have made education an issue in your country. There are not statistics in my article on the percent who can read and write in Sudan. I would guess it is small or the need to form a political arm would not be necessary.

    The need for powerful allies in your quest is absolute. You must align with the religious Imams to support your bills and programs. Your mission will cut into the available funds which means enemies to your cause. After religious needs the next largest expendature would probally be military. So here is my plan.

    Develop and position that would show the advantages of education to the economy, technical advantages to the military, and the health and welfare of the people which would benefit the religious needs. Who benefits for the education is not a issue. The planting of the seeds of knowledge is. If the military would teach their solders to read and write, learn technical skills, and then they could market these skill into the private sector.

    The point is that you need allies and cannot afford to endanger you quest. Show support for their cause and enlist their support for yours.

    Good luck.

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      Jul 30 2012: *Agreed*

      You need allies to get things done, and to get allies, you need to pitch your message to them to convince them that your idea is worthy of consideration.
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      Jul 30 2012: This can be very dangerous stuff...

      I would make it a prerequisite to find out who the players are and find out everything you can about them. Find out what their agenda is what keeps them awake at night, what they like, what they love, what their problems are, who their allies are, who their enemies are, etc. Do a VERY complete job of this.
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      Aug 20 2012: I disagree. It really depends on if your talking about North Sudan or South Sudan. The oil is in the South, along with most of the Christians and other religious organizations.

      There's very little you can do in the North because it is dominated by Arabic-Islamic government and will not allow women to become educated. They are an oppressive government that has little freedom for the people.

      Education will not thrive there.
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        Aug 20 2012: Your disagreement pertains only to North Sudan the islamic controlled part of the country. The country is divided by a civil war but is not formally North and South.

        You do agree that education could be obtained in the "south" or at least did not disagree.

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          Aug 20 2012: As long as the North suppresses the freedom of religion and individual freedom. It just won't happen for the common man.

          The South, if they can maintain their independence and develop a democratic form of government not regulated by religion, might do some real good things along those lines.

          Somewhere, I don't remember where on this site, I stated that before you can decorate a home you need to clean it first. And further, I stated that freedom is not free, it is paid for with blood, sweat and tears. I think they all apply to this situation. What good would it do to build a system of free education for the people (both males and females) only to have it torn down by war or civil strife?

          Back in 1981 or 2, I sold home and belongings in order to move to Colorado where it was rumored that HP was hiring Electronic Techicians. On the way, we paused in New Mexico where there was little funding for the educational system. My son spent four days in school where the teachers collected paper bags and cut them up to have paper for the students to work with. Some of the teachers were working as volunteers because the system could not afford to pay them. My son, for the first time, reported to me that he loved going to school and was sad when we continued our travel to Colorado.

          I add after getting to Colorado, HP laid off 1400 people. It was a ruse to get people to bring money to the state and many states were doing this. I couldn't happen today because of the internet or they would be doing it again.

          Robert, I understand clearly your advice to Anwar and the subtle meaning behind it. I recommend he not take your advice if he is at all democratic minded like those young people, seeking freedom for both women and men in Egypt and other Arabic countries.

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    Jul 30 2012: The idea or intention of No Child Left Behind was good. As for its execution, that's where I digress.

    I think this is good idea. Everyone pretty much agrees that education will help just about everything. To not have education is just not a good thing. So I think you're right in addressing a problem, is what kind of education or how should we educate them, is now the question.
  • Jul 30 2012: I too do nmot completely understand the issues he is concerned about. However, learning methods may be very different than those in the current industrial countries. It hwas been different in the short and long past and in different countries. one might look at Athens, stoics in the Roman EMpire, the House of Wisdom, the university of Padwa at the time of Jack CAsanove, etc. Look at Lincoln's very simple education. Use the resources avaIlable in Sudan and the customs and resources to dovetail the best you can with the rest of the World. That's not really helpful, but you are seeking to educate individuals not to create a particular system. I hope I am on the page.
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    Aug 29 2012: Thank you all for enriching the discussion. Appreciated!
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    Aug 27 2012: A political Party for education sounds too much like a political party for indoctrination.