APTECH: Leader in promoting qualitative computer education in Yemen [Archives:2002/38/Interview]

September 16 2002

Mr. Khaleel Al-Gabal, Chairman of Al-Gabal Group and one of the distinguished young Yemeni businessmen, took the courageous and wise step in establishing a strong and concrete basis in a field that has become the center of the world’s interest, i.e., Computer Education and Information Technology (IT).
Through the establishment of APTECH in Yemen, Al-Gabal Group has brought to Yemen a valuable institution that had until now trained, qualified, and taught a numerous number of IT professionals who are now working in various key positions throughout the country.
To know more about APTECH in Yemen, Mohammed Al Massani of Yemen Times met with Mr. Khaleel Al-Gabal and filed the following interview.
Q: How do you asses the level of computer education and IT sector in Yemen?
A: Computer education was unavailable to the public in Yemen two years ago and was then limited to a few private institutes. Teaching computer-oriented courses was random due to the lack of awareness of the significance of this technology as well as the lack of international, governmental and private institutions that offered computer education.
As a result of that, we have collaborated with worldwide renowned APTECH for Computer Education and established its program in Yemen.
To your knowledge, APTECH is considered the number one computer education institute worldwide according to statistics released in 2002.
Q: What type of collaboration is there between APTECH and the government in order to develop computer technical educational skills for Yemeni citizens?
A: We have taught hundreds of government employees and we still receive more trainees from different governmental bodies. Those steps are part of a governmental plan to qualify its employees and apply IT mechanisms in all governmental bodies towards establishing a complete electronic-government (e-government).
We need to realize that the IT sector became a necessary means for successful administration in both the private and public sectors. By today’s international standards, those who do not know how to use computers are considered illiterate.
Q: How do you look at the future of Yemen in the IT sector?
A: I think we are still at the first stages, but as we heard from the Minister of Communication, the government is planning to implement the e-government technology. But this requires more time and effort because when comparing the number of computer users in Yemen with the same in neighboring countries -let alone developed countries- you will find that the percentage in Yemen is extremely low. The same applies to the use of the Internet.
Before going for the e-government project, I think we should first try to eradicate computer illiteracy by including computer and English courses in the basic educational curriculum as compulsory subjects.
Computer equipment should also be exempted from customs. Only then will we create an atmosphere that encourages the use of computers, which could ultimately results in an environment that can form a real e-government.
Q: What kind of services do you offer to the public?
A: We provide qualitative computer education with an international curriculum taught by qualified staffers, who will help produce a well-qualified skillful generation in terms of computer and IT knowledge. This will reflect itself directly on the development of the country because a technically qualified labor force can help in the development of our country. Without those qualified cadres, there could be no commercial or industrial development.
At present, the demand for a qualified technical labor force is increasing and taking into consideration the decent human resources that we have, then all is needed is appropriate guidance and care starting from the very beginning of primary education and going through the different educational levels until reaching high university degrees.
It is the responsibility of the government to do the right planning in this regard.
Q: What is new in computer education offered by APTECH?
A: APTECH is distinguished in its trusted curriculum which is updated annually to cope with the latest developments in the IT sector. The latest at APTECH is resembled in providing high quality (net) technology courses, which were included in the new curriculum for 2003 and courses in C++ programming along with courses on electronic commerce (e-commerce), which is still in its infancy in Yemen.
Q: What are the problems that hinder growth in your field and in e-commerce?
A: Providing qualitative computer education in a country with very low average incomes is a difficult equation. Such education would be too expensive for average-income students to afford.
Another problem is that most students have no good command of English and this is due to the insufficient educational focus on English language in basic education.
Investment in computer education should be supported and all obstacles that hinder its progress should be removed because it benefits the whole society and the more you invest in such a field, the more turnout and interest you receive.
Q: What are your future plans?
A: We are thinking of establishing a company to develop software programs. There are hundreds of bright students who will graduate in the next two years and they hold the potential to be the basis of such a project.
Q: Do you have social concerns concerning computer education?
A: Providing education is a human and social duty even if it’s paid for. But we always try to help those who deserve assistance as we granted free seats for the Association for the Handicapped and we are willing to establish special classes for these segments of the society.
Q: Any final remarks?
A: I would like to say to the youths: ” You are the foundation of any development because the country is depending on you to build the future. Hence, you have to qualify yourselves in using and applying all modern technologies, which will contribute to the development and prosperity of your country.”