Archive for April 7, 2008

Deceit or Conceit in Kazakhstan?

What is going on at our institution of “higher learning” is also happening in the real world of Kazakhstan.  The only difference is that we don’t have dead bodies for Exhibit A or B, western teachers and professors just leave.  Read the following of what Doug Landro, someone I know from Ukraine, writes in his blog “The Big Orange.”

         It did not take long for the [Kazakhstan] government to move against freedom.  It is no coincidence that the first independent newspaper to be closed in over a year was closed after Kazakhstan won the chair of the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe).  On February 14, “Law and Justice” was closed down by the government for alleged registration problems.  As it turns out, the company with errors in its registration document is another firm with the same name.  It is hard to believe that the court could accidentally make such a mistake, especially when the newspaper brought it to their attention.  The newspaper is known for its coverage of corrupt activity by judges, about illegal rulings, and violations of human rights.


     Employees of another independent newspaper “Stonebreaker” arrived at work on April 1 to find bullet holes through the windows of their office.  “This is a warning for us,” said Ermurat Bapi, the newspaper’s founder, adding, “We often deal with corruption and sensitive cases within the government.”


     The day before, journalist Bakhytzhan Mukushev died after being in a coma for seven months.  He joins another half dozen journalists who have been “mysteriously” killed or injured in car accidents.


A disgruntled faculty member from our institution of higher learning wrote the following in an open letter to all faculty and administration.  Being a LONG letter, I’m sure some people missed what he wrote and parts were very entertaining, other parts were way too close to the truth.  I’ll let you decide what you think of the following:


CEIB (China-Europe Institute of Business) in Beijing started up at about the same time as our university did.  According to the author, “CEIB is run by a German with unlimited funding, I would believe, located in the capital of the economic super tiger, China. Kazakhstan is a dwarf by comparison, relatively speaking. And still our light already shines. a couple of thousand miles from the middle of nowhere.

The AACSB, the former American Association of Collegiate Schools of Business, now going by the name Association for the Advancement., judges accreditation candidates by the fulfillment of their mission.  If that is to train nomads to spend a couple of hours every day away from wild horses and learn the ways of business, and succeed in that training to where the nomads can read and write, manipulate computers, explain their business plans for staging rodeos, oil and gas companies, new airlines, and pass CMA and CPA exams. Accreditation does not look at who is the best.

The standards of fulfilling the mission accredits, not the level of academic complexity, so that Bunker Hill College is accredited based on the same criteria as Harvard or MIT, said Dr. Louise Zak from NEASC when she met our faculty on 4th April 2008.”


So, what has happened according to Doug Landro on a national level, could happen or IS happening at our university.  Also, the “powers that be” are exploring the idea of awarding Ph.D. degrees to aspiring Kazakhs, they just have to get that program up and running to make that a reality.  However, what I see of the M.A. programs that exist on our campus deeply saddens me.  Graduate students who are Kazakh or Kazakhstani are following a pattern of an American style degree program where they are expected to read much literature in English, their second or third language.  However, I don’t see much reading going on and certainly even less writing. 

I think once the Kazakhs get their coveted western degrees (without leaving Kazakhstan), they will expect the same salary level that westerners get.  The one beef that the aforementioned disgruntled professor has is that we as foreigners have high rents to pay and expensive airfares to absorb in order to have the privilege of teaching Kazakh students who don’t really want to read or write.  Gets back to orality vs. literacy, the Kazakhs want to stay with their oral traditions while having the appearance of being literate.

The challenge to turn the other cheek against such deceit or conceit gets tiring.


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“Democratic Traditions are Fragile Flowers”

apricot tree“My background was replete with horror stories of social injustice from my grandfather, but I also knew about the behavior of Stalin and his sacrifice of thirty million to the greater good of communism.  I had intuitively understood the importance of the doctrine of the Fall–according to [G.K.] Chesterton, the one doctrine that needed no proof–but I needed to apply it more thoroughly.  Many times I sat down with students to point out that the communist formula was based on an untrue premise:  we are not reliably altruistic.  Lenin understood this when he wrote almost immediately after the Bolshevik revolution, ‘It is necessary to legalize terror.’  The people never got their utopia.  Our own democratic traditions are fragile flowers, which amongst other things need to be rooted in individual, self-imposed civic restraint.  That is only logical if the doctrine of the Fall is true.  The widespread assumption that humankind is basically good makes retraint nonsense, so it is not surprising that it has become a diminishing asset in these days of libertarianism.”

by Dr. John Patrick, Clinical Nutrition and Biochemistry, University of Ottawa from Professors Who Believe  published in 1998

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