A major problem facing university students in Yemen needs a solutionStop those teachers [Archives:2003/635/Reportage]

May 12 2003

Ibrahim Addahhan
It is well known that universities are the powerhouse of human resources in any country. In other words, they are centers of illumination, progress and development. We can not think of development in any domain of life without enhancing and empowering universities in the country in question. This is because universities are the place where research is performed, and minds are built for the betterment of societies. They feed the community to fill its needs in the fields of innovation, development and change for the better.
No doubt, the most important part of universities is professors and teachers. These people are always embraced with great respect and reverence. People see them as factors of progress in the society because they are the minds thinking and producing qualified individuals who will eventually promote their nations.
Many university professors and teachers in our country really do honor their academic position and behave accordingly. They never tend to violate academic regulations and norms. It is sad but true however, that some do violate them.
When university teachers lose their sense of responsibility and act immaturely, they become tools of destruction rather than tools of development.
In many instances, those professors act irresponsibly by favoring some students over others in giving marks, which is a real crime against all the ethical norms of this noble profession. When the relationship between a teacher and his students turns to a business venture or an alliance, we can safely say that the future of the university education is at great risk. The society might turn a blind eye to such indecent behavior in schools, but when it comes to universities, a danger bell rings.
In the campus of some Yemeni universities, you could easily find instructors talk for hours with their girl students to solve their course problems and assist in homework, but the same instructors don't spend even minutes with boys. What does this imply?
Furthermore, some teachers exploit the freedom granted to them because of their academic profession and take advantage of the absence of university supervision and do whatever they like.
What is even more abominable is the double standards some teacher apply in dealing with male and female students. I am not against female students in this point, but what I mean is that in class, there should be no difference in treatment between the two sexes. Both should be treated as students only and nothing more. Sex should not affect the way the work of female and the male students is evaluated. It is a crime to evaluate a person based at his/her sex.
Even though most of the teachers who act this way are non-Yemenis, that does not mean that Yemenis are perfect. There are some of them that do behave in this way too. But a teacher coming from abroad -mainly Arab countries- is the focal point of criticism here. I am not against the freedom given to the university teaching staff. But the university administration should observe the actions of instructors more closely. There should be an evaluation of the merits and demerits of the teaching staff, particularly the non-Yemeni staff members. This is because some of these teachers come to the country and start behaving in a way that does not conform to the local social values in the country.
There were even reported stories of some instructors who tempt female students to visit them at home and on this basis they evaluate their performance. They complain about the low salaries they receive. They overlook the fact that their salaries received in US dollars- are much higher than those given to Yemeni instructors. On the other hand, some university teachers are not willing to listen to their students, they just come to class and deliver their lectures and leave without giving students a chance to participate, interact, or ask some questions. And during exams, if a student tries to add information obtained from his own resources, he is subjected to reduction in his/her marks. Most instructors urge students to exactly copy the notes written on the blackboard and in this way they produce parrots rather than scholars.
Many students appealed to me many times to address their plight and convey it “to whom it may concern””. Some students told me that they do well in the exams