Thursday, March 27, 2008

3 dead, 3 missing...and they are passing the ball around

Hi all,

First the results for last poll:

Yesterday, was a really bad day 'meteorologically speaking'. There was a tropical depression which had adversely affected the local weather and it was rainy and windy throughout the day.

Early in the morning the several people were expressing their concerns about whether or not there should be school. However our Meteorological Service said that there was not enough rainfall to issue a rainstorm warning and consequently all the little students went to school!

So i got to my office and started working through the day. At eleven I had to go and meet someone from Mauritius Telecom, as i needed some about their SMS voting product. I am looking at the possibility of implementing a service whereby we can get a better feedback from students in large cohorts, as we all know that some of them are quite shy in asking questions.

I am thinking of the system being as follows:
At regular intervals in the lecture slides (say every 'n' slides), there will be multiple choice. The student is required to work the question during the lecture, and choose an answer which he will note down somewhere. Lets assume we will have 'm' questions in all.

Then around 10 minutes before the lecture, the students simply has to take his phone and send a message in the following format:

'<'Module Code'>' '<'Week number'>' '<'Student ID'>' '<'A,B,D,A,C,B...'>'

Where A, B, D, ... are the answers to the m questions.

Having discussed with someone from the Marketing Department of cellplus yesterday , the option is feasible.

We now need to convince management that this is a feasible and interesting option to increase interactivity in our large cohorts, and that it will give us real-time data about the degree to which the students have really understood. It follows the same idea 'in principle' of the clicker used by other universities.

So i need to write up a little report on the specification for submit to Mauritius Telecom.

Anyways that how i spent half of the day!!!

On my way back to Uni: I think the picture below speaks for itself:

When i got there, i learnt that the test got cancelled, called some of my students to inform them.

Well at about half past two, we received an e-mail informing us that uni would be closing at 15 00.

I got a lift home and on my way i took pictures on the way.

I am sure that all sensible Mauritians a deeply shocked by the fact that the Meteorological Services were not proactive enough, and this coupled with our minister's Go-Cool attitude has lead to the loss of three lives.

In his interview, the minister said that there are 350 000 students attending our schools and colleges daily and its sad that 'one' of them died". Well one is already too much. The life of one person cannot and should not be expressed as a percentage... can you say that 1/350 000 is negligible...well statistically yes, its very close to zero.

But not if this is a life expressed as a percentage. A single person's life is invaluable. So dnt talk about numbers...we cannot talk of collateral damage when it comes to life.

As many ministers do, he looked for an escape goat, and said they were acting on recommendations on the Meteorological Services.

Passer meme boule banne imbéciles

We have to accept and admit that there are short-comings in the system.

Is it only now that the meteorological station along with the ministry has seen the need for metrics other that rainfall measure to call a day-off for students. Other metrics could be wind speed, visibility, and soil permeability...

So you see dear students...only when people die do changed happen. Only when accidents happen do they remove bull bars from 4*4, only when a child gets run over that they put speed humps...

Enough it enough. I remember on the day when the cyclone warnings got cancelled at 08 45 (and caused immense traffic jams) during the evening news, the presenter gave credit to the director of the Meteo Service..saying he got diplomas and degrees from here and there. Well Mr the Director, looks like the degrees are not helping you. I do not remember hearing you yesterday either explaining or even apologising....

Well on the day the warnings got canceled, the Director said that one of the parameters was the Economic impact of a cyclone warning. And also the security of people on our roads. The water yesterday morning was definitely worse than that when we had a class 2 or even class 3 for someof our previous cyclones.

I believe that failing twice in less than a year along with the consequences it bears...its too much.

People died for F$#@% 's sake!

At around six the rain stopped and not a single drop of rain fell at my place from 18 00 yesterday to 06 00 a.m yesterday (i wanted to measure average hourly rainfall, and my raingauge remained empty)... Did the Met Services not say that the depression would be at its closest point at midnight....well it it were at its closest point, then i presume we could have expected winds and rainfall...but well, this is what a logical person would say!

The funniest thing i heard on radio yesterday was during an interview:

Les previsions meteo ne sont pas fiables a 100% a cause des imprévus..

Prevision ..... imprevus.... i fail to understand the need to have previsions abt unpredictable stuff!

However, hats off to the private radio stations..they did a wonderful job in connecting people, and inform people about flooded rivers, obstructed roads. missing people...!

Please Vote!


Anonymous said...

Its really sad watever happened yesterday..le matin mem kan guet sa letemp ti p fer la,enkor whole nite ti rain la veye.. dimouns fini koner le temp pou dan bez en zourne..atleast to b on the safe side ministre de leducation ti cav donne ban zenfants en conger,like the previous ministers used to do..dpi gramatin,avant rente lekol mem ban zenfants la fini tremP,et ena certain lekol where delo ti p accumuler..ek seki pli dan bez enkor minis la in pren decision largue lekol 2hr,not pa ti ena lekol..atleast one of the victim's life cud hav been saved..

Anonymous said...

Concerning the SMS voting system I think it is not only a good idea but it would be a good innovation (we need some more real innovation at the uni right now). But you have to keep in mind that Mauricians are: ”Ene race crever” . So my guess would be that the students will prefer spending 60cents for other purposes than learning (I don’t want to discourage you, I just prefer a realistic view of the situation).

Today it is really sunny here and I’m wondering why am I here at home with such a sunny weather without the need to go university when yesterday I had to fight against mother nature just to get there?

Yesterday should have been the day where there shouldn’t have been any school/uni etc.

I wonder who is to blame? Is the Meteorological Services or the ministry, or both? The situation is such: it could be either the MS (writing like dat im too lazy to write the whole word) who didn’t issue a torrential rain warning? Or it could be the Ministry who got the report from the MS and said: nah its ok with what happened last time with the false warning class 3, no need to take into consideration that report. Or else it could be both…

[quote]“In his interview, the minister said that there are 350 000 students attending our schools and colleges daily and 'one' of them died. Well one is already too much. The life of one person cannot and should not be expressed as a percentage... can you say that 1/350 000 is negligible...well statistically yes, its very close to zero.”[/quote]

It’s really lame for a minister to say such a thing. Is he too, considering people as mere numbers in a report?

It seems right now that we are witnessing a “Wise after the event” attitude from many of those who were supposed to take decisions. I wonder how many palab we will hear before they either take a decision good decision(which will really surprise me) or we hear no more about what happened(which is most probable at the moment)

I’m wondering if we live in country where the government reacts only when there are ppl who die or when injured?


Anonymous said...

You are right about your post. But the first picture really showed me that the Mauritian mentality really, well really, sux!

They even go as far as dumping their wastes in the middle of Lord Kitchner street in the middle of a downpour. What would have happened if that had caused an accident, considering the limited visibility? People have no idea of the consequences of their actions.

As for the poll, met services are to be blamed for their always-wrong predictions. I'm still waiting for the "heavy rain at midnight". And the Ministry for their in-action. Seeing the rain, common sense dictates that they should have closed schools, without waiting for their fabled 100mm of rain or whatnot. Their in-action resulted in loss of life! But as one lecturer once said, "common sense is the least common sense"...

Anon :P

G@V!N said...

Well Mr X, pointed out the following: what if the wrong predictions could come from an erroneous simulation package at the Met Services? What if they use the package and come up with wrong predictions? .....oh!oh! It means a computer programmer failed somewhere!!! Scary!

I once read something funny and it went like:
To err is human, but it takes a computer to really screw things up!

No progress is possible unless you have the right people in the right place, i.e meritocracy.

However, instead of a 'Politique de Competence', whereby the best person is in the most suitable place, we have a 'Politique D'appartenace', whereby one's friend is in the right place, though the friend might not have the required competency to be there.

As for the phone-based thing...
I will write up the specifiction report to send to Cellplus. .In the best case, Uni's Management will accept it, because in my opinion it is an innovative initative.

Its an additionnal tool which will be given to the student, whether or not they make judicious use of it, well that none of my business. they are not kids! I do not think about 60 cents per lecture is much asking for. Its only going to be less than Rs 5 per week for all the modules!(6 large cohort lectures => 6*0.60= Rs 3.60)

It will give the lecturer a very good feedback abt the real degree to which the students have really uderstood/assimilated the lecture..Well this is provided the academics are willing to click on a hyperlink to see the results, some might not be interested, to see, or some might even be scared to see!

I am just trying to improve things!

Anonymous said...

It's so nice we have so many bloggers these days rather than before 2005!