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Representative Abdul Hadi AlAjmi, a former history teacher at Kuwait University, complained on the Council’s podium about the low number of students accepted to study in the Faculty of Medicine, despite the application of many “outstanding students”. He wondered, perhaps out of lack of understanding, why 1,000 students were not accepted annually, for example? He added that the doctor’s working hours in the Faculty of Medicine do not exceed three hours annually, and yet he receives large sums of money from the university, the Ministry of Health, and his private clinic! He also asked, often with bad intentions, the reason for the large increase in the number of teachers to students? He demanded that the professors of the Faculty of Medicine resign if they were unable to accept a thousand students every year, and that they be replaced, perhaps with a similar quality, by those who accept larger numbers of students to study in the faculty!
I do not know Representative Abdul Hadi Al-Ajami, the Rapporteur of the Education Committee, and I know almost nothing about medicine, but my ignorance did not prevent me from doubting what was stated by the representative, as he does not always mention the truth, and I have previously addressed, in more than one article, his historical fallacies, before he and others are elected members of the Council’s most important committees, and the least useful one, which is the Education Committee. I resorted to my questions to a number of professors who could be trusted, who took over the teaching, or who were in charge of the deanship in the College of Medicine, and their answers were shocking, as it became clear from them that none of the remarks mentioned by the representative Al-Ajami are correct, but rather they are all most likely intended.
Teaching history, or any other subject, almost without exception, is not the same as teaching medicine. The prestigious medical colleges, which Al-Khaleejia follows, rely on strict academic standards and requirements that cannot be tampered with, and losing them forced the Ministry of Higher Education, under pressure from the Ministry of Health, to stop sending medical students to Egypt and Jordan, and this is the subject of another article. A history teacher, for example, with respect to him and his subject, will not be bothered if it becomes clear to him that the number of attendees to his lectures exceeds one hundred or even five hundred. But you can’t imagine that happening in the study of medicine.
Its curriculum is developing and changing every day, at a time when there is no significant change, for example, in the subject of history. All modern medical colleges, including Kuwait, have been forced to abandon teaching medicine in the old way. Rather, the doctor has become obligated, in order to know the disease, to be familiar with anatomy, pathology, internal medicine and surgery, since the first years of study, and this cannot be done in large groups, but with eight students for one faculty member. Also, the limited size and number of study facilities, such as the morgue, classroom and hospital beds, makes it very difficult what the Faculty of Medicine can accept each year.
Accepting 100 new students requires providing 500 new hospital beds. Knowing that those who tried to prey on professors in the Faculty of Medicine, who are known for their honesty and competence, by accusing them of receiving large sums of money for three hours of work per year, the real hours of teaching are much, much more than that, and any employee in the Faculty of Medicine knows that, so how is it absent from those who consider himself a professor and a legislator? The deputy fell into grave fallacies, and what he declared was nothing more than an emotional populist speech, in order to tell the parents of those whose children were not accepted to the Faculty of Medicine that the Education Committee had done what it had to, and the blame rests with the teaching staff in the Faculty of Medicine.
The deputy should have been careful, as the issue was not in the number but in the quality, and his words are evidence of either his intentional taking advantage of others, or his lack of understanding of how to teach medicine and its complexities compared to the rest of the disciplines. The presence of Mr. Representative, and others, in the Parliamentary Education Committee is the best evidence that reforming education to keep pace with the requirements of the times and progress for the future is very far from us. He should have asked the government to expand the opening of more than one medical college, and to build teaching hospitals to serve them, instead of spreading rumors and accusations that have nothing to do with the truth!
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By Ahmad Al-Sarraf
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