2023-11-29 19:56

Kobus van Wyk

The Taj Mahal … a lesson in history for beaurocrats

The e-pioneer is a monument builder

The Taj Mahal is one of the most beautiful buildings on earth – it is not surprising that it is rated as one of the Seven Wonders of the World. 

This magnificent monument was built centuries ago by Shah Jahan, the fifth Mughal Emperor (in Northern India) as a memorial to his love for his wife, Mumtaz Mahal. 

Like the Taj Mahal, e-learning can be a beautiful monument

After her death it took twenty years for the completion of the Taj Mahal.  Shortly after that one of his sons usurped the throne and put his father in prison, where the sad old man died. 

Shah Jahan might have lost his empire, but his monument is still standing, providing joy to millions of visitors.

Let this be a history lesson for e-pioneers.  Some officials in the education system may support e-learning in the belief that it will boost their empire.  Bringing a function, with staff and a budget ‘under’ you is a well-used tactic for bureaucratic empire-building. 

E-learning is far too important to be used as a self-promoting tool.  The future of learners is at stake.  The true e-pioneer forgets about the empire, and strives to establish e-learning as a permanent feature of the organization – a monument of empowerment to all who benefit from it. 

Once you are gone your empire will pass into the hands of others – or it may disappear entirely as in the case of the Mughal Empire.  Remember: empires fall, but monuments remain.

Click here for more food for thought for e-pioneers.


  1. Recently I started thinking what legacy I will leave behind. Strangely enough the barber I usually go to in Parkwood was thinking about the same thing. We started chatting about it. He is a simple man with 30+ years service cutting hair. Yet he is very learned, something I found out later. Just a few things about him. He studied at a Bible college up to Masters level and teaches there for free. He is also on the college’s board of directors and writes material for them. He started a small church and serves as their minister for free. His only means of income is the barber in which he cuts hair and he buys and sells small items. Oh! Did I mention that he also was the inspiration for the hit show Joe’s Barber? He does not receive royalties for it.

    As a person in e-learning, what am I now actually leaving behind?

  2. I wish to comment against the back drop of the current Khanya status. Project mode life is described by the time lines given. The scope of the Khanya project has widened so much which makes it almost indispensable.
    The transfer of skills and knowledge of technology and curriculum integration have migrated so far into the territory of support and maintenance of teaching strategies that the project finds it difficult to end abruptly.
    Project mode must end as dictated by the time lines. However, the monumental processes established must be cherished and nurtured. The custodians of curriculum now need to realise that the ‘Taj Mahal’ of e-learning is a collective responsibility and not that of
    an individual. WCED now owns this as a permanent feature for the benefit of the children now and those of the future. How do we do this …

  3. I’d be careful of wishing to build an empire or wishing to leave behind a monument. Look at the poem “Ozymandius” by Shelley as a warning. Rather take comfort and pride as an educator in the fact that you impact on the lives and choices of the learners that you come into contact with over the years. Their lives, they kind of people they become and the careers they follow are testimony to your work as an educator. Make sure that the impact you have is a positive one.

  4. Good point Sharon. I like your focus … in that case the “kind of people they [learners] become and the careers they follow] become monuments! Perhaps the Shelley warning should be applied to e-learning in education departments: it may fall to pieces, and in years to come it may not be relevant at all, but what will remain standing as monuments are the enriched lives of learners!

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