Department for the gifted and talented at the Education ministry,Boundless ambition! [Archives:2003/698/Community]

December 29 2003
Mr. Waleed Qaed Mukred
Mr. Waleed Qaed Mukred
Reported by Nadia al-Sakkaf
Yemen Times staff

It's a known fact that the youth are the foundation of tomorrow, and it is being said; if one would want to develop any society one must develop its youth, and not just any youth but especially the talented ones. Stemming from this fact the minister of education Dr. Abdulsallam al-Jawfi has issued a decree to establish a new department early last November for the gifted and the talented students, which Mr. Walid Qaed Mukred had been appointed to head.

The beginning
The evident progress seen in many Arab countries in education has been an interesting inspiration for Mr. Walid Qaed Mukred the person behind establishing the new department at the ministry, he wanted Yemen to follow this progress.
“The real trigger to this positive step was my experience in both Egypt and Saudi Arabia where I had gone to attend the 5th Forum for the gifted children last year in June and August respectively. I was impressed by the way they cared for their youth and how there was a specified general department at the ministry of education for care for gifted and talented children. When I came back to Yemen, I proposed to have a similar department here at the ministry and my proposal was approved!” – This is what Walid Qaed said when asked about how the issue started.
The new department had a number of objectives behind its establishment;
– Discover and care for talented students and to develop their skills
– Encourage the talented ones to fulfill themselves and work on their individual and group talents, to open new dimensions for them
– Continuous training for teachers working with special talents
– Follow up of the new talents and direct them to constructive lines so as to serve developing the society and improving productivity
– To care for the talented students products and works, whether arts, science, literature, vocational or research
– Develop students abilities to handling problems and problem solving in scientific ways
– Spread a sense of clean competition and good spirits among

Action Plan
Based on the above objectives, the department is planned to have five main sections with efficient and dedicated cadre working hard to achieve those goals, the coordination and follow-up section, the planning and programs section, and 3 sections for the elite and cultural and scientific creativity of students, the technical and social creativity and the physical, sports and scouts creativity of students.
Each of those sections has got its own fields and categories through which the various talents of students are discovered and nourished. It is hoped that through this structure the various dimensions of this educational project are covered, especially when the department is seeking excellent staff and trainers for taking care of the young talents.
“The ambition is just too much and we are in a phase in which we have so much we can do yet we are handicapped because of the funding!” Mr. Qaed commented. He added that in reality the department although has an official name and all the official paper completed is not yet activated. “Every passing day without doing something constructive means a wasted talent” – he expressed.
However, there have been steps taken in this line although they too are ink on paper needing to be implemented. A plan for the activation of the department has been devised, there are a number of parallel steps that ought to be taken in order to allow full activation of the department; firstly, technical issues regarding the structure of the department such as the various responsibilities of each sections must be decided and efficient cadre to work in those sections must be hired, as well as funding the equipment and establishment of the department so that it can become operational. Once this issue is cleared a generic plan must be drawn so as to organize the department's activities throughout the year, then data collection must take place through gathering names and information about all the potential talents around the republic. When this database is created, contacts with the related persons must be done and coordination must be done with the affiliated offices around the republic so as to implement the action plan and result the desired outcomes.
These were the main guidelines that Mr. Qaed had explained about the action plan, “we are still stuck in the first part, and looking into furnishing our department in Sana'a, we need computers and other administrative equipment so that we start working!” he said.

Government's role
About the government's role and why isn't it supporting this project financially, Mr. Hassan Saleh Baom, deputy minister for the education sector indicated that the ministry was quite supportive when the idea was suggested and immediate actions were taken to issue the decree and establish the department. “We are working currently on getting both the operational and activities budgets approved by the ministry by next year 2004. However, we do realize that unfortunately getting the financial support which would fulfill our ambition would take a much longer time considering the small budget the ministry already struggle to work with and the other more demanding and more priority budget lines.” He said. However, Mr. Baom expressed the ministry's interest in supporting this project, and hoped that the department would be successful in availing sponsorship from international organizations and local associations.

Publications and Work plan
In spite of the fact that the department is in its early stages a number of publications were issued totally based on personally efforts by the department's staff led by Mr. Walid Qaed. Teacher guides and instruction booklets, school activities manual, and a seasonal magazine of which the fist issue was published last month. The purpose of these publications is to form the knowledge infrastructure amongst the educational cadre and those working in the education field as well as in the society such as students' parents and citizens. And we are hoping to avail support and funding for our publications so that we are able to produce them in a more professional and academic way and to be able to distribute it among many more people and around the republic.

Requirements to activate
the department and
ensure its effectiveness

– Technical support to establishing of rules and regulations that control and organize competitions, programs and other activities for talented children
– Administrative support in the form of office equipment, computers, photocopy machine, video and TV tc for the head quarters in Sana'a.
– Administrative support in the form of office equipment, computers, photocopy machine, video and TV tc for each of the branches around the republic.
– Support educational publications such as bulletins, newsletters, leaflets, posters and other educational publications that help raise awareness among and about the talented children and their families.
– A center for the gifted and talented children where they can perform their activities, and get training. Such establishment is necessarily in the capital city and in all the governorates and should be affiliated to the ministry and should be able to accommodate students' activities in all levels.
– Support camps and outdoor activities as well as enriching, cultural, scientific, creative, technical, religious, social, sports and skills activities.. etc that aim at discovering talents and nourishing them.
– Establishing special schools for the elite and the talented students or/and dedicating some of the existing ones for such students.