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The eve of December 27th, my mother was aimlessly checking her facebook news feed when she noticed that many of the people on her list had statuses pertaining to the historical schools of Alexandria. She called me over to read what had been written and to our shock, the Egyptian Minister of Education had changed the schools in to ‘experimental’ schools and he had also changed both school names. Current and former students of the school were furious that such a decision had been made. To make matters even more distasteful, the governing staff of the school didn’t inform the parents ahead of time that such a change was being made. The student’s found out after they had saluted the Egyptian flag and in their morning lines were told that the school was now called ‘Madrasat El Mustakbal ElTagrubeya’, which roughly translates to ‘Future Experimental School’. To add to the students shock, they told them that they were no longer permitted to say ‘Good Morning’ in English but the equivalent greeting in Arabic.

For those of you who are not from Alexandria, you might not be able to comprehend the loss that these people are experiencing, so let me give you a little background on the schools. The English Girls College opened 76 years ago, in October 1935 by a man named Sir Henry Edward Barker. The 20 acres of land on which the school was built on was donated by the Alexandrian Governorate. The school was a girl’s school. Students from K.G to High School attended. The facilities of the school were un like any other in the region. The Headmistress had her own quarters, which was a villa attached to the school, the school also had a dorm are for borders. One of the most famous borders was the current ‘Queen Sophia of Spain.’ I have done a search on Google to find out more information about E.B.S but I wasn’t successful.

When the news of the fate of both schools spread through the city like a wild-fire, protests in front of the Alexandria Governors building and outside the school began. Students boycotted school and dressed in black refusing to go in. The Niece of Egypt’s former President, Gamal Abdel Nasser a former EGCian herself announced on her facebook status that she was going to appear on television to voice her opinion about the wrongful decision that was taken.

Others member of the alumni are trying to get in touch with former classmates and graduates to raise awareness and to raise funds, in the hopes of keeping the schools names to preserve the history and preserve what the institution stood for, as well as trying to rebuild it to the way it used to be. The question that is looming in many people’s minds at the moment is ‘WHY was such a rash decision made?” I do not know for certain, but the rumor at the moment is, is that the board of trustees or members of the board of governors we steeling funds from the school, which landed both the schools in severe debt.

“Various school Trusts were therefore set up as charities to use the income to promote and maintain the teaching of the English language and culture in the Middle East, especially in Alexandria. In 1972, the Victoria College and English Girls School Trusts amalgamated into the Alexandria Schools Trust, and were joined in 1980 by the British Boys School Trust.

http://baheyeldin.com/places/egypt/e-g-c/e-g-c-english-girls-college-or-el-nasr-chatby-college.html

As you can imagine  a combined trust fund must have held quite a substantial amount of money.

I suppose if the rumor is true, it would explain the drop in standard and maintenance of the structures, but I don’t think changing the school in to an experimental one and its name is a way to improve the situation. I would have thought changing the board of governors, getting better teachers and contacting the alumni to help raise funds would have been a more logical and acceptable solution, but that’s just my opinion.

I wasn’t an EGCian, but in the years that I have lived in Alexandria, I have met a great number of the schools former teachers and Alumni and when I hear them re tell stories of their teaching experience or youth as a student their and see what ‘ladies of society and intellect’ the school produced, as an Alexandrian I am saddened by the thought that a Minister of Education would so easily want to wash away an important piece of our cities heritage and a legacy that had been built to educate.

The final blow and update that I have read in one of the E.G.C facebook groups is that the teachers have now been replaced. The question weighing on every ones mind now is, which school will be next to receive the devastating news?

Will it be Victoria College (aka Victory College), where King Hussein of Jordan and Omar Sherif Attended or will in be St. Marc the renowned French boys school?

Links referring to EGC and the protests against the Ministers decision are below;

1- EGC – Yehia GABR presents the EGC, Alexandria – the finest school in the world

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x4x4v9XCi2w

2- video clips about the protests

http://www.masry-now.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1115%3A-qq-q-qq&catid=51&Itemid=162 3- ‘we are not experimental’ (E.B.S – E.G.C) facebook group http://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=lf#!/pages/ahna-msh-tjrybyh-EBS-EGC/171491752889818?v=wall

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                Have you noticed how rude some people can be and some times for absolutely no reason at all? It has been brought to my attention several times and in many instances. Have the days of sterling manners completely gone or is there still hope

             The people of this region were well-known for their social graces and hospitality that would charm the pants off of anyone. The gentlemen and ladies that emerged from institutes like Victoria College and The English Girls School for example were renowned for their social etiquette. Unfortunately, the generation of those who attended those schools back in the day are becoming fewer and far between. They may have passed on their teachings to their children but as it filters down the branches of family trees the teaching becomes watered down especially when family time has been replaced with play stations, cartoons and other forms of distractions.

I’m quite a people person and I enjoy going out and walking among the people of the cities that I happen to be visiting, living or working in. I enjoy watching their interactions with others and how they go about doing what ever it is that they do. It’s fascinating to watch. As a teacher I work with the young adolescence that will eventually be our future leaders, business gurus, doctors and politicians of this country. So, I guess it would be safe to say that I have observed enough behaviors to make an educated synopsis.

The problem of behavior doesn’t lie just within the borders of our region but it is a world pandemic! It’s as though some invisible virus is attacking and eliminating manners every where!

In my nine years of teaching I have noticed that quite a few of the students that are enrolled into schools these days are lacking in the basic common manners such as ‘please’, ‘thank you’, ‘excuse me’ and ‘may I’. These words have been replaced with ‘I want’, “buy me”, “hey you” and “give me”. It’s quite alarming and upsetting to hear and see such young ones being so selfish, rude and demanding at such a young age. What drives me in to a tail spin is that their parents don’t try to correct the errors of their ways and give in to their every tantrum and whim. That unfortunately is the perfect example of breeding greedy, selfish and uncaring youth.

I take the bus to and from school and on our bus are 3 other teachers, a bus matron and a handful of students. Some of the students on the bus are so rude not only to their friends but the bus matron and the other teachers who are sat on the bus. When they are asked to speak in a lower voice or to turn around and sit down properly, they will argue, talk back and be down right bratty! Honestly, it’s sickening to have to witness.

When the children are of upper class and talk that way some of them believe they have the right to because of their social status so they don’t talk to you or at you, they talk down to you. It’s so aggravating and it takes every fiber of my being and several deep breaths to keep from losing my temper and exploding!

I taught in a school where a student actually slapped the teacher across the face because she asked him to sit down! If parent’s don’t start stepping up and taking responsibility for their children’s upbringing instead of supplementing their time and parenthood with money and materialistic compensation we are doomed to have leaders who think only of themselves and corruption along with other behaviors will reign supreme.  ,

I remember when I was a student and I’m not talking that long ago, just a mere twenty years ago. A student would never have dreamed of speaking to a teacher or any one old enough to be our parents with disrespect. The punishment would have been severe and the dread of going home to face our parents later with the letter of what had occurred would have been far worse than any teacher could have cooked up.

I have had the experience of having some really spoiled children in my class and the first month of school was like having a bucking bronco that resisted everything that I asked. I felt like the horse whisperer, whose job was to tame and teach these children respect and manners. By the end of the year most of the class had learned to ask questions politely, to show respect and be courteous to others. Which I think is something that should be instilled mainly by their parents and not just their teachers.

Please don’t misunderstand there are LOTS of parents out there who take their children’s behavior seriously and have done an outstanding job, but families with well-behaved children sadly are becoming less and less.

Just this past weekend my mother and sister came down to Cairo to visit me to celebrate my birthday. We had spent the early part of the afternoon in one of the malls shopping. Shopping and spending money works up an appetite so we decided to have lunch. After we had satisfied our hunger, paid our bill and were leaving the restaurant a family of ex patriots were sitting in the outer area of the restaurant and one of their children was sat on the railing. As we walked by the young boy, who was sitting on the railing looked directly at my mother and said ‘You’re Fat”. My mother and my sister and I were dumb struck, we couldn’t believe how ill-mannered he was and to say such a hurtful thing to a complete stranger. If my sister or I had ever had the audacity to say such a thing we would have been clipped on the ear and dragged over to the person and been made to apologize. My mother who was the fastest to regain her wits about her simply replied ‘And you’re very rude’. Instead of the parent’s of this young 10-year-old boy apologizing for his behavior, they were red-faced and defensive. Actions like this boggle my mind!?!? What gives them the right to think that behavior like that is acceptable? I’m sure if the tables had been turned and they had been on the receiving end they wouldn’t have been very pleased.

Teaching children manners does take a lot of time and effort. Believe me the more they hear polite and courteous terms being used and exchanged between people, they too will pick it up and put into practice. Being polite and teaching manners doesn’t cost us anything! You can be poor and still have manners!

So, when you are in a store speaking to the cashier, in a restaurant placing an order with a waiter or at home speaking to the hired help or even your spouse. Make a conscious effort and observe the way you speak to those people because IF you are one of those people who orders and doesn’t ask, that could be something you learned as a child or something you are unknowingly teaching your children now Please make an effort to be part of the solution and not the cause of the problem..

I have made a conscious decision to do my part in the classroom. I want to try to bring back what may soon be lost before it is too late and all hope is really gone but I can’t do it on my own. I need your help.

So, when you are in your car and you’ve just picked up the kids after a stressful and hard day at work and you are stuck in traffic with the horns blasting on your way to   soccer practice and some inconsiderate individual on the mobile phone has just cut you off without checking in their mirror first and taken your parking space, your husband forgot to pick up something from the grocery store and your mother in law is driving you to the end of your rope, before you open your mouth to vent your frustration REMEMBER that your children are watching and they learn from you!

          “Treat others with the respect that you expect to be given in return”