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Bureaucratic MazeTHE PUBLIC ON-LINE SCHOOL - CONT'D

Seeking a course

Now let's assume that one of the "possible" courses miraculously matches the child interest and so you decide to proceed to the registration. Well, you can't. It so happens that the on-line course is offered by a different TC from where your child actually lives and you need to wait for their registration periods, not child's TC's registration period. But, in order to make things interesting, the child must register in his/her TC for the on-line course… using a process that was not designed to do so. As a consequence, all kinds of "manual" fixes come into place. Leave a note here, leave a note there. Ignore these instructions and add a letter there. Let us know and verify that everything is OK. Use the magic ad-hoc form and scribble something relevant at the bottom. Once you have done it, wait, wait, wait and then wait some more. Oh, did we mentioned that the child may not get into the course? If there are no seats left, which other alternate course would the child like to pursue? You see, as the on-line courses are developed and managed by teachers from the "other" TC, vacancies are filled with their students first and if there are any left, the students from other TC's. But, you won't have this information until it happens.

But let's assume that by some sort of miracle, there are enough seats and the child gets in. Hurray! Well… not really.

The nightmare begins

The child is now enrolled in "the course", but this does not mean that the child can actually access the course. First and foremost because communication from the course to the child (at least the initial one) is done through the local TC, and so the child needs to wait for information to trickle down from the delivering TC to the local TC. This could take up to two weeks. That's OK. Losing two weeks of class time could not possibly have any impact on student performance. They will catch up. Or not. Who cares.

But let's assume that eventually access is granted and the child can access the course. Well… not. It so happens that for unknown and unknowable reasons "the system" is not working properly. This is more than strange since the platform is owned and controlled by the MoE and other on-line courses are OK. But not to worry, "people" are working on the problem… at a slug's crawling pace and "eventually" it will be solved. By then, the child is about 3 to 4 weeks late in terms of class time. That's OK. Bureaucrats have retained their jobs, and this is the important thing worth remembering.

But let's assume that now the child can indeed access the course. Hurray! Well… not really.

As the child access the first activity, the child realizes that the information in such activity is logically inconsistent, contradictory and written in a very poor language, with grammatical as well as typographical errors. The main problem, however, is that the activity in un-intelligible. It is exceedingly difficult to understand what's going on; what is the lesson and what is the homework. But not to worry, the teacher is there. The teacher posts the template to complete the homework (which, of course, does not match the on-line text to a large degree) and seems to have been cobbled together with hastiness by a 10 year old kid that knows more about Microsoft Word than the teacher does.

The child then naturally asks the teacher…who promptly does not answer the e-mails. If the teacher is called by phone, the conversation is even more confusing leaving no doubt that the teacher is mostly disconnected from reality and probably had too much caffeine.

And so the child does what any child would do; plows ahead. Guesses. Makes up. Assumes. Ignores and then delivers.

The course goes on like this activity after activity, until, eventually, the teacher grades the first assignment… with which he is OK but un-satisfied with the grammar. It turns out that the grammar was correct and the teacher's dis-satisfaction is mostly a matter of subjective evaluation and so the child complains… to which the teacher never answers. Not to mention the fact that if the course itself would have to be graded by the same standards, it would fail miserably.

The final exam

It so happens that the course has a final exam. Well… no. Or yes, we are not clear about this, but don't you worry, we will let you know. The entire school year goes like this. The teacher can't tell if there is going to be an exam and for some mysterious reason, the teacher is very secretive about this whole affair. This is clearly understandable because such information may compromise national security or even start a war! We would be secretive too.

In any case, a week prior to the end of class, the teacher proudly announces that yes indeed, there is to be an exam. A week prior. To which, naturally, children and parents are overjoyed to know that to make this critical determination it took the bureaucracy only "a few months" of thoughtful deliberation. Furthermore, children and parents are also overjoyed to know that there simply isn't enough time to study for the exam nor to plan for it, which is obviously a good thing because "diamonds are creating under pressure" and "what does not kill you makes you stronger". Silly us. And we thought that planning was the key to success. No. We were wrong.

In any event and as expected, a large number of children and parents felt like expressing their opinion on the matter while gathering pitchforks and boiling tar… for… educational reasons…that's it.

Once the higher echelons of the bureaucracy were made aware of these "developments", they decided to CYA (Cover Your Ass) and proudly declare that no, there indeed was not to be an exam and thank you very much for playing. Come again!

COMMENTARY

These are two real-life examples of the differences between public and private organizations.

Private organizations want customers and strive hard to serve them well.

Public organizations want to keep their jobs and they are not interested in interacting with people beyond the minimum effort they have to put in not to get fired.

Private organizations are keenly interested in improving their service because this will provide them with higher profits.

Public organizations are not interested in improving anything because this only adds to their daily tasks, for which they are paid regardless of the outcome.

Private organizations provide good and needed services despite of government interference.

Public organizations provide some services that may or may not be needed based on bureaucratic needs and politician's wishes, where the creation of useless bureaucratic "red tape" is a priority.

For private organizations, customers matter.

For public organizations, customer only matter in so far they pay taxes.

CONCLUSION

When it comes to government, there is no difference in which area they interfere with. Everything that the government does goes against people's wellbeing. Paraphrasing a well-known song, the government operates on the basis of "money for nothing, everything for free" (just not for you).

If you don't believe us, that's OK; it is your choice and only you can make it. We are here just to present you with the facts. What you do with them is up to you.

Note: please see the Glossary if you are unfamiliar with certain words.

 

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