If I was a Minister

As it is the habit of Egyptians during summer, rumors about an imminent change in the cabinet of ministers start to propagate, speculations, names out, names in, this is not only hear say from mouth to ear, it finds a place in the newspapers, apparently due to the Egyptian adoration of rumors, handling this particular issue helps these newspapers raise their distribution figures resulting in attracting more advertisements. 

The topic of cabinet change is the way Egyptians express their dissatisfaction of their lives which in a sense is the results of policies form the government  that in many cases does not involve the stakeholders. This particular issue has been the major defect of the current cabinet headed by Dr. Nazif.  And being Egyptian, I like to hear political rumors as it gives the chance to start wishful thinking about who should leave, and who did not meet my expectations, as I have my own views about the government and my own reservation about its performance. 

Influenced by the intensity of the rumors, I found myself daydreaming, I pictured myself called for the new cabinet, I had to choose what ministry to hold, so my mind took me on a long trip to evaluate the current state of things, the role of the minister, the executives that help him, and from what I heard several times the major problem is moving from rhetorical to action, implementing change and overcoming resistance to change by the armada of civil servants available in each ministry. 

The first position I thought of is the ministry of education, what a challenge, one minister responsible for shaping the future of generations to come and build the future of the whole country, one minister supposedly supported by armadas of employees, employees who are the main hurdle to improvement, whoever is going to accept this assignment has a huge hurdle to overcome, beside having to handle a multifaceted problem; increased demand on classes which require building schools and more schools, this means a need for more teachers, the main service provider, quality starts here. Thirdly curricula that needs updating. One major problem is the Arabic language, how to make pupils love it and hence learn it. My decisions would be to adopt the curriculum of UK, USA France, Japan or Korea in sciences and math, revisit civil studies as history and geography, start a committee for the development of Arabic Language education, bearing in mind that the Arabic we speak is totally different from the Arabic we write and read. Languages specially English would start from primary education. I will separate the administration from the content and education in order to avoid the administrative barriers of rules and regulations that are not fit.On the thanaweya ama front, I will reestablish the exams as a discrimination tool, exams should be more difficult, I will communicate with parents the advantages of having lower final results that are spread over a wider range in improving the chances of students. today 0.1 % difference could deprive a student from a chance to join the faculty of his dreams. We can also apply qualifying topics, these do not affect the total score but would help access particular studies.I would also start on three fronts 1st year primary, 1st year preparatory and 1st year secondary. 

The second position would be the minister of  information and I think that I should hold both information and culture in one bag again this is a position that is responsible for shaping the minds of masses. I think that a major restructure of the Egyptian TV is needed, and this will be my first priority, training for program editors and presenters is a must, continuous tests and accreditation specially on cultural issues, the quality of the output is always proportional to the depth of knowledge, and no one would be allowed to access the public with shallow knowledge. The second arena for reform is drama, this is a very serious area as it is the major attraction of the masses, as such drama should carry a message, it should present values that are missing, avoid negative stereotypes and be scientifically right. The major values of work and wealth creation through work should be enforced frequently. A third area would be More science based programs, more history programs and no more metaphysical content. People have to understand the value of science and its contribution to humanity. 

The third position is health, again this is an area of a very complicated status, as education to meet the increased demand more hospitals have to be built not necessarily public but also private one, what is important that each Egyptian should have access to decent healthcare. This would mean a separation of financing from service provision the ministry would act as the financing body, hospitals have to be run with the right cost this is important to ensure quality of service, the next step is to raise money for  covering this cost, partly some of the funds could be obtained through taxation some through subscription. Items that could be taxed are cigarette, liquor and fuel, management of the fund should be based on actuarial studies and risk assessment.  

The fourth would be the ministry for higher education and scientific research, one of my first activities would be to examine the researches of the private universities to see whether they qualify to be called universities or just higher education institutes, second I will launch the Egyptian research fund, a merit based funding body for scientific research, where all institutions will present their research proposals and through a competition some will receive the funds other none. The source of this fund would be the contribution of the industry, donors and the government. Priority would be given to multidisciplinary multicenter projects, involving a number of researchers, Biotechnology and nanotechnology are the top priority as these are areas that are still in their early stages. 

The fifth position was the minister of labor. In this position transformational training, skill upgrading and attitude change would be my agenda, I would act as the central authority to ensure  that skilled labor is available for the industry, this might require an integration with the ministry of administrative reform, and the minister of higher education as highly trained technicians are needed. 

In general, I will hire the previous minister as my personal advisor to ensure continuity, I will seek to know what are the projects progressing, what were the strategies adopted, I will start by putting forward a vision for the ministry, gain acceptance through meeting with staff, then implement it. I will have to identify critical areas that may lead to disaster in order to avoid crisis, I will inform the people about decisions about to be taken and why they are taken, I will seek input from various stakeholders, this is not a popularity race and pursuit but a way to share views with people to gain their support. 

I am not fit for the ministry of interior or that of justice, but if I would be in either I would revoke all exceptions no one is above the law whether it is a small traffic tickets or a major act of fraud. This by itself will reinstate the law and reinforce it.  

I was still dreaming that I am not interested in other positions, when the dream was abruptly cut by the voice of my wife asking me Hey where are you? What are you thinking about?  I kept it for myself and replied nothing, nothing just a moment of distraction.


2 Responses to “If I was a Minister”

  1. 1 rafiknakhla September 3, 2007 at 9:39 am

    Finally I found the way to allow comments on that post

  2. 2 mohamed abdel raouf November 11, 2007 at 1:54 pm

    hi dr:rakif
    i admear so much with that report because the ministeries represent the goverment if any one isn’t powerfull as the other all the goverment will dropped
    i agree with u that the most important ministery is the education ministry which need some care in our country like
    the most important one is to increase the saliery of the teachear to prevent the private licence
    & i agree with u that we must care with our langue because the student don’t like it & many of them like the english language!!!
    and in my opinion the second ministry in importance is the high education minstrey . we need the student to make research with themself & increase more practical in their education
    then the thierd ministry is the health ministrey

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