Sunday, September 27, 2009
Is it just me, or does the title of this blog post just strike you as.... incredibly stupid? You mean the Education Ministry is studying the impact of a shortened school term? Really? They have to study it?

Is this a case of a vast wedge of kids not knowing their ABC's and how that's going to affect them? I can see it now in 13 years time, when these kids graduate - "Oh yeah man, I was part of the class of '09-10, we never learned the alphabet because we were at home because of the swine flu".

Really. Come on guys. You need to study the impact of a shortened term? Is it not painfully obvious? Modules don't get taught, key core learning areas are not achieved, kids remain uneducated. It's not rocket science, and takes about, oh, I don't know, maybe a 2 hour meeting to hash out all the possible outcomes of not teaching kids various items in their syllabus?

Another 3 people have "officially" died from H1N1 in Oman in the last 10 days, I guess that brings the official count to 21. The World Health Organization issued its latest weekly bulletin on Friday, wherein it said the disease had killed at least 3,917 people in 191 countries since it emerged in April. 3,917 people have lost their lives - which is terrible - but I think more people died in that same time frame from a whole raft of causes - starvation, aids, cancer, traffic and so on. Is it really sensible to keep the schools closed? I have said it before and I'll say it again - if you are going to cancel the Muscat Festival, and keep the schools closed, then you should also ban gatherings at Mosques, close the Malls and cancel all football matches. Hypocrisy.

Speaking of footie, the HM cup started on Friday, and Muscat won their first game against Jalaan in Nizwa 3-0. Good for them :)

Hopefully everyone had a nice time during Eid, and in response to some comments in previous blog posts... no, I had a "Staycation" this Eid. The highlight of my Eid is a toss-up between:

1. A friends misfortune as he totally wrecked his front axle on his Hummer H3 trying to get up the hill from Bandar Kiran. 5 hours of towing finally got him up the hill.... and onto a flat-bed truck. The poor bugger, I hope the repair bill isn't too bad. I suspect it will be though :(

2. Visiting Bahrain. Those crazy Saudi's really do drive like maniacs. It was cooler there than it was here in Muscat.

3. Managing to sleep until 2pm on one day. It reminded me of days at university when I used to feel a sense of achievement at having gotten out of bed in time to watch Neighbours at 1:30 in the afternoon :)

Thats all for today.

le fin


Blue_Chi said...

When they say they are going to study the impact of shortened semsemter they are doing an analysis of alternatives for making the students catch up, example, make the remaining days of other second semester longers to accommodate for more lessons, or shorten/cancel the summer holidays for 2010. You obviously can't decide how much time you need to catch up if you don't know how much you are missing.

Sythe said...

My point still stands though.... You don't need to study it... it's a simple 2 hour discussion. No?

You line up what's been missed, match that to various alternatives, and the difference is what is cut out of the curriculum. It doesn't require study. It's remarkable that the schools have not started up yet. The only people who are going to suffer at the end of the day are the kids who are not getting taught, will most certainly not work through their entire vacations, and will almost certainly not work more than 2 hours extra a day to catch up. The teachers are going to gloss over stuff so quickly that it wont be taught properly either. All because of a fear of a flu thats killed 21 people in Oman. More people die on the roads here every month, so under the same school of though, we should just boycott school all together because it's too dangerous to actually drive to school.

It's a dumb move, no matter what way you look at it.

ThatsWhatISaid said...

It must be horrible for the families to loose their loved ones.

14-year-old girl who was suffering from cerebral paralysis, bones and spine deformities
26-year-old woman who was suffering from kidney failure.
89-year-old woman who was suffering from high blood pressure, cardiac problems and diabetes
And all threes cause of death was swine flu, not their various major heath problems

omanobserver said...


And it's worth repeating that the risk of complications and death from this form of flu remains extrememy low (at MOST it's 1%)*, and it is certainly no more dangerous overall than 'normal' flu. The panic and nonsense that's spouted about it in Oman seems out of all proportion to the real threat. Other countries I've visited recently seem much more calm and mature in comparison.

Yes people have died, but that is normal with any flu and there would certainly have been just as many cases of the types that That'sWhatISaid mentions above in any seasonal fu outbreak. It's just that every cases gets (over)publicised now.

* It's worth looking at the WHO coverage of the pandemic:

In particular this comment from their most recent update is telling: "As of 20 September 2009, there have been more than 300,000 laboratory confirmed cases of pandemic influenza H1N1, 3917 deaths, in 191 countries and territories reported to WHO. As more and more countries have stopped counting individual cases, particularly of milder illness, the case count is significantly lower than the actually number of cases that have occurred".

The point here is that reporting of cases has virtually stopped in a lot of areas, whill flu-related deaths are still reported - so the death rate of 1% is artificially inflated; in reality it's probably far far lower.

The real mystery is why the public in Oman in particular is in such a nonsensical panic about this.


Karim said...

Your hypothesis will be true if we talk about a single school, but with thousands of schools spread across Oman, with integration with university entry requirements all over the world, and contracts for things like catering, cleaning, pest control, new books, MOE portal, teachers leaves, salary payments, and a whole raft of issues that need to be sorted out, makes it a very complex undertaking. Its not a matter of increasing the next term time by a month, or reducing the mid term break, you need to think of all the issues related to this time slip.

Further more, H1N1 is a very contagious disease, it has the potential of shutting down entire schools. Gas fields operators in Oman have been identified as critical, and will be among the very first people to receive the H1N1 immunisation jab because if you have an outbreak in a gas field like Yibal, the whole of Muscat will be without electricity and water within 5 days.

Anonymous said...

Karim - yes, if we lost production from Yibal or Saih Rawl, Muscat would be affected. But that's not the same as "if we have an outbreak" in one of those fields. It takes two guys at any one time to operate a gas plant and a few others to be available for emergency maintenance. Some PDO staff have already contracted H1N1 and there is plenty of contingency to cover for them. So it would take a lot more than "an outbreak" to shut down a critical gas field, and in any case there is greater than a 99% chance that the guys originally affected would be back at work in less than a week.

Let's stop this ridiculous overreacting.


Sythe said...

Karim -

Thanks for the comment. There might be thousands of schools on the Omani system in Oman, but they will all be on the same Syllabus and all have the same term times and hours.

It is not the teacher's problem if the MOE decide to postpone opening - they are on Contracts which will no doubt protect the employee's. I'm sure the bus drivers are a bit irritated, but they are probably getting paid as well.

You give me the impression that you think H1N1 is unlike the common flu. It's exactly like the flu, because it is a flu. I had the flu a 6 weeks or so ago, and it took about 3 weeks to clear completely, but I was off work for 3 days. This kid-glove treatment of the schools and closing them is pure lunacy. There is not a shred of common sense behind the move, in fact I will go as far to say that whoever it was that ordered the schools to remain closed should be releived of their position. But of course they wont be.

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