Aden University’s media department runs amok [Archives:2008/1168/Reportage]

June 30 2008
The media department, which is part of the Faculty of Arts, is located in an unstable facility full of breaches and clefts.
The media department, which is part of the Faculty of Arts, is located in an unstable facility full of breaches and clefts.
Firas Shamsan
For The Yemen Times

“The media department is about to collapse,” is the first phrase heard from media studies students at Aden University, followed shortly thereafter by the assertion that the college lacks practical training, has a non-specialized curriculum in dire need of updating and that students frequently are absent for long periods.

The building itself reflects the disposition of its students. The media department, which is part of the Faculty of Arts, is located in an unstable facility full of breaches and clefts. The three-story building has approximately 20 classrooms, but only 11 are suitable for studying and so are used by the entire Faculty of Art, not just the media department.

Students share broken wooden chairs as teetering ceiling fans circle overhead. According to students, freshman and sophomore classes sometimes study in the same room because so many of the building's rooms are unusable.

While media department head Abdullah Al-Huw refused to comment on the facility's condition, he did confirm that the building isn't just used by the media department, as other departments in the Faculty of Arts also use it.

Absences hurt the class as a whole

So many students are consistently absent that only around 50 young men and women are present in the department on any given day. This affects their studies by slowing down the entire class because they constantly must catch up those who missed previous lessons. It also discourages teachers, as well as those students who do attend regularly, to dedicate themselves.

According to Al-Huw, the department's 300 students attend classes according to a certain timetable, which he believes shows that the students do indeed attend class.

Outdated lessons means less work for graduates

Students don't hide their complaints about the lack of attention the college's administration pays to their department, but they believe the main obstacle to their studies is the absence of practical media teaching methods.

Senior journalism student Walia Baggash says that practical activities are considered unimportant. She published a newspaper entitled, “Asda'a Al-Waqi (Echoes of Reality),” which ran for only three issues, but she can't continue publishing it without her department's help during exam time.

“We never have a chance to do practical lessons because our study is mainly theoretical,” lamented one female student requesting anonymity due to family concerns.

Adnan Al-Khader, a senior broadcasting student and a member of the Aden Gulf Drama Group, maintains that his studies consist of inapplicable lessons focusing on theory, not practice. He adds that students are introduced to cameras only via initiative methods, rather than hands-on filming.

“When I joined the department, I thought my study would be practical in terms of wording news items and follow-up reports, but some courses have no textbooks and depend only on lecture,” says fellow student Wail Al-Khubati.

He continues, “There are no benefits, apart from memorizing important figures in developing information concepts. Even top-ranked students can't properly phrase a news item unless they're correspondents for a newspaper.”

Al-Khubati notes that students wrote numerous articles for their “University Horizons” newspaper, which stopped due to lack of necessary supplies.

However, Shatha Al-Alimi believes the university's media department has helped her a lot, despite its shortage of funds. She notes that efforts exerted by department professors, and particularly its head, have helped the department develop.

But she admits that intensive theoretical lessons still are its main problem; therefore, “I suggest enhancing its practical work, updating the curriculum and making it a separate college,” she proposes.

On the other hand, senior television and radio student Sali Khalid criticizes the media department's academics, maintaining that their experience isn't in tune with modern trends and has nothing to do with media, despite their participation in numerous training courses.

Improving the curriculum

However, department head Al-Huw refutes the students' comments regarding the department's practical training, admitting that while freshmen and sophomores can't implement their studies right away, juniors and seniors may practice at a summer training course.

He further notes that many activities were held this past year, including educational trips to news agencies and one of Yemen's national television stations.

“There's constant progress to improve the syllabus,” Al-Huw says, pointing out that a workshop is planned at the university at the end of this month to discuss methods to improve the curriculum.

He maintains that Aden University's media department is no different than the one at Sana'a University, which receives technical aid from international donors.

In conclusion, Al-Huw, in turn, criticized students, saying, “They're judgmental, impatient and may easily verbally attack the professors because they [the students] are losers.”