Saturday, May 30, 2009

Teachers protest

Education and democracy

Today happened another teachers protest in Lisbon. Apparently the current minister of education has made some changes that are not pleasant from the teachers point of view. As an example, she instated that teachers shall only progress in their careers if, under some kind of evaluation system, they perform with a grade of “Excellent”. So far so good, the problem is there are quotas, meaning that even if the teachers of a given school all have “excellent” grades, only 5% will progress in their careers. So, the changes in career progression are currently seen by teachers as a measure to reduce costs and not to improve education.
I have personally seen one of these protests, the first one, with about 120 000 teachers protesting in the streets of Lisbon. It was the greatest exercise of democracy I have ever seen. Unfortunately the minister continues to refuse accepting the teachers point of view.
Statistics from protests held in Portugal are also another curious matter for the current Portuguese government. it seems that the “official” number of protesters is given by the real number of protesters divided by two. Also, if too many people come to protest, police squads are sent to the city perimeter to prevent more people of entering the city to protest. No doubt, this government has a distorted sense of democracy.
Now, who is this minister? Maria de Lurdes Rodrigues, also known as “LULU”, has been a perfect example of how you should govern if you are living in a dictatorship. I remember that when she visited a school, students threw some eggs at her car, and a few weeks later she sent some men to interrogate the students (!). 
This video shows her in one of these school visits. You can see that some students are protesting and she answers back in a very immature tone:

Friday, May 29, 2009

Sense of perspective

I work at this factory where i am (theoretically) a software engineer and also responsible for managing energy efficiency. Today, the boss was out, so i decided to go and help out some of the factory technicians. Mingling with other people in the work place is, what i have come to believe, a good thing in the sense that we gain each other's trust and most important thing of all, i like to show them that we are all equally important members in the factory. Portuguese hierarchy in the work place is something i do not appreciate, mostly because there are few factory managers who really care about discussing employee’s ideas on improving the work place, or any other work related subject.Helping out factory technicians is really nice, they show me how to fix a certain machine and latter on, we talk about solving the problem, as equals. They complained a lot about excessive bureaucracy which leads to inefficiency at work. This is not uncommon, because as i had explained to them, i already had said the same thing to the factory manager and had made some proposals on how to improve the work environment and reduce the use of paper, to which he laughed and answered that working without paper is science fiction.Many portuguese people hate bureaucracy, but when it comes to the real thing, few are those who actually want to make a change.

This may have two possible explanations: Either a portuguese ancestor accidentally ate a piece of paper, liked it (a lot), and it stayed somewhat engraved in his genetic code, passing on from generation to generation to present days, or, portuguese have a somewhat suspicious nature about one another and require some form of paper certificate to prove you are telling them the truth.Consequence: excessive documentation and a bunch of useless information nobody will ever use or be capable of process.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Dolce Vita

Recently a new shopping mall opened in Amadora, near Lisbon. If you don't know already, a good percentage of portuguese people love shopping malls. Going to a shopping mall on a Sunday it's almost a national sport. Anyway, this shopping mall is supposed to be the biggest shopping mall in Portugal, with the most advanced security  systems and a "super police station". Unfortunately, Amadora is a problematic city due to the high crime rate. Apparently, a few days ago a large group of teenagers and young men decided to go "shopping" in the first opening days. They "shopped" for a wide screen plasma TV, brand clothes and also a cash register machine (probably someone who was thinking of starting their own business). They were stopped by no one. As usual, the police squad arrived late on the scene of the crime.

It is curious that a society allows these acts to go unpunished. So many people, poor or not, work honestly their way into life and others refuse to take an honest job and prefer stealing instead of working. These same people are financed by the government with large amounts of money, and are even given houses to live in, for free. Others have to spend at least 40 years working to pay the house loan to the bank.

Giving free housing to poor people is a noble act, but so it is the one of providing proper education and a sense of citizenship. Perhaps in this way more people living in some regions of Amadora could learn to prioritize their need for a plasma TV.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The beginning

Here it goes, my first post. 

As you might have guessed, i'm planning to go to Norway, i am just trying to work my way into getting enough money for my personal adventure.

Why Norway? Well, i think it is a great country to live in, the closest thing to a civilized and democratic country that exists. So, in the next months i will try to post some of my experiences in Portugal and talk about my expectations about Norway.

Ha det bra! (Have it well!)