A word about Yemeni students in England [Archives:2003/658/Opinion]

August 11 2003

Alawi Abdullah
[email protected]

I read an article about 'Grammar Translation' in the Yemeni Times. I work in England, as a Student Support and Outreach Worker for Yemeni students in College. The reason I am in this job is because a high percentage of Yemeni, Pakistani, Somali and students from the African Caribbean communities are not achieving. The reasons are many, i.e. language barrier, isolation, cultural and lack of self-esteem due to not grasping the English Language but these are just a few. The way we've tackled this is by developing support mechanism which outline below and they've worked.
To celebrate the diversity of achievement and that means, when a student achieves even a point never mind a diploma, the College, the School celebrates it. It sets an example to other students and others then want to also achieve but what about students who still having trouble, who are struggling, and who can't grasp the English language?
The School and College need Student Support Workers. These support workers support not only the students but also the tutors. They liaise with the tutors and find out the issues the students are facing. The Support worker builds a strong relationship with the students by creating activities, trips, and they get to know the Support worker to be able. Females have female support workers and males have male support workers. This does something remarkable for the School and College. The student slowly respects the School/College because they've gone one step further. They find someone to talk to so any issue arises it's dealt with fast and lastly, the support worker creates an action plan for student showing what can be achieved and how, and they work together to make it happen. The results. Alhamdillah, I am so proud of the Yemeni students. They are achieving!
The trust is built and now the liaising begins and the Student Support Workers sees who is struggling in the class by liaising with the tutor. Sometimes it's not about the language. Sometimes it's about what the student having difficulty at home, or inside of them selves. The job for the student worker is to find out before it's too late. Too late meanings before the exams come. Way before. This kind of work must start from 9 tears old, because trust doesn't take months. It takes years.
I have encountered female student sometimes have no time to do their homework, put more time in her studies at home due to responsibilities. So, we give her support by having a female support worker working together with the student, the parents, personal tutor, the College and build a support mechanism. We are doing this now and you should see the positive change in the female students. It's about getting the community involved and it's amazing what you could see now in the Yemeni community in Sheffield.
It could be the male student hasn't got enough self-esteem and this plays a great role in lack of achievement. It is at this time to inspire students by Cultural Content, using names of Muslim achievers, Yemeni Achievers, show these students that these are your own people and look what they have achieved. You are no different. We bring in top Yemeni businessmen and women, Journalists and Yemeni's from different fields to do talks to students and the students to interact with them. The positive change it has made it just outstanding. I am now working towards build the first Yemeni Student Association in College and work is so successful it is going to be adopted. For the first time ever we had a launch for Parents Education Awareness Day where we for parents to discuss with the College, Tutors, and for Tutors, students to share their experiences giving parents an insight of College life and issues students face.
Also using Bilingual Yemeni support workers to translate words, mathematics formulas using Creative culture, our Yemeni cultural background works wonders!
Students are human beings and we must look at the challenges through eyes of not statistics, methods but as human beings. They walk into Schools and Colleges bringing with them issues and these issues must be dealt when they are young and onwards, swiftly. They are the future generation, the next doctors, scientists, computer experts, nurses, designers, engineers and for them to lead in these fields blame should not raise but we must work together, as a community, as a nation.
And to put the record to students in Yemen who are struggling with education. I too struggled greatly without parent's help or anyone else, and left without any qualification. Yet I do the marketing, lead people, known for speed of my work and large projects, and people asking me to join them in new jobs but I am going to say something now. Learn from my mistakes. Qualification is for life. Do not make the same mistake I made or you will regret it for the rest of your life. The world will not tolerate people without qualifications! Not in England they won't and I want to see my people working in top jobs not sweeping floors in England! If you think its hard now in a classroom then wait when you go out into the world. Be proud to ask for help, take pride in knowledge and to excel. It isn't cool to be standing proud in not respecting your teachers or knowledge. And no woman who is smart enough wants some student who didn't have the courage to fight for his life and future or ask for help now! Nothing comes without hard work and if it does, it doesn't last and it doesn't make you worthy of its achievement or gives you self respect. And my Yemeni sisters, did you know the computer was invented by a woman? Get studying! We need all of you to lead us the way to a bright future Insha-Allah!